Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Friday, October 9, 2015

Poole's Pilgrimage

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecc 3:1)

Blessed are those whose hearts are set on pilgrimage (Ps 84:5)

Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the Kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Lk 18:29-30)

The peace which Christ gives you is to guide you in the decisions you make (Col3:15)

Well, the latest part of Poole's Pilgrimage is now getting quite close as we leave for Norwich in England on 2 November to take up our LORD's call to ministry at Meadow Way Chapel.
My pilgrimage since my call into ministry at the age of 16 has been quite a varied one: Dentistry study and practice ... 17 years ... full time ministry in Methodist church ... 22 years ... different home towns ... Virginia, Pietermaritzburg, Welkom, Ballito, Cape Town, Johannesburg ... now ... Norwich. All of this ongoing pilgrimage has been with a deep sense of call as set out in Genesis 12 at each stage and with our LORD opening and closing doors in His (seldom our) timing, which has of course always turned out to be the perfect timing. I have discovered, as did Abram, that the LORD's call is sometimes a call/invitation to "see the world." My great-great grandparents travelled 12 000 miles from Norway to South Africa to serve our LORD and we will soon travel a similar distance to Norwich as we continue our service to our LORD. Their journey took months by steam-boat ... ours will take hours by Dreamliner-jet ... how times change, and yet ... my message is the same as theirs ... the 2000 year old message of our LORD: 

I have been deeply moved over the last few weeks as my Leaders here at AMC have been praying for us as we prepare for the move ... sometimes one on one with me, sometimes in meetings, sometimes before the congregation ... and always praying not only for us, but for Meadow Way as well as they prepare to receive us ... this surely is how the church is meant to work. It's been a little like Paul's farewell to the church at Ephesus (but just a little, because I am only a little like Paul) in Acts 20.

According to Wiki, a pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance, and, for those called to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God, this means that from the moment you sense God's call, you are on a pilgrimage. As I have mentioned before, I come
from a family of pilgrims. My great great grandparents, Daniel and Caroline Nielsen (read some of their story here and here), sensed God calling them in Norway in the 1850's to leave home and family and travel to Zululand in Natal to labour with the Norwegian Missionary Society. A few years after they arrived in South Africa, the Theunissen family from Holland arrived in the area to explore farming opportunities. A few years later, the Coughlan's from Ireland and the Poole's from England arrived to work on the Kimberley diamond fields. One of the results of all this, was Cedric Poole, born in 1960, exactly 100 years after the Nielsen's arrived in South Africa. Caroline Nielsen longed for a son who could continue the Kingdom work they believed the family was called to. After 11 daughters, 7 of whom survived to marriageable and childbearing age, she did not think her prayer had been answered. Her 7 surviving daughters, however, were very fertile and produced many sons and daughters, many of whom continued the Kingdom work of the Nielsen family to the extent that I believe that even today, one of Caroline's descendants preaches the good news of the Kingdom on every continent (except perhaps South America and of course Antarctica) every Sunday of the year. We, the descendants of the pilgrims Caroline and Daniel Nielsen of the Zululand Tugela Mission, continue as pilgrims on pilgrimage.

My own personal pilgrimage began with my conversion at a Children's Mission led by international children's evangelist Tant Sannie in 1969. I was more of a regular backslider than a regular pilgrim during my teenage years, so I was horrified when, out of the blue in March of 1976 when I had to begin deciding on a career, I sensed our Lord calling me into the full-time ministry of preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God ... I didn't even "go to church" on a regular basis at that stage of my life.
There was absolutely no way that I was going to “become a preacher”, so I pursued a career in dentistry, through which our Lord truly blessed us … but the call would not go away. So, eventually, full-time preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God it was. I had warned Chris before our marriage in 1981 that she would one day be married to a preacher, but that that would probably only happen when we were very much older. Well, it happened sooner than we thought! Then, for quite some time in our ministry, but especially after a visit to Chris's parents in the UK in 1999, we sensed that one day we would continue our work for the Kingdom in the UK, but probably only when we were very much older ... perhaps close to or after retirement. Well, it has happened sooner than we thought as events of the last 18 months once again reminded us of our pilgrim inheritance and calling. Through a process of much prayer and discernment we have sensed God calling us to continue our ministry of preaching the good news of His Kingdom in the UK and in His perfect timing He has opened a door for us which we sense we must enter and pass through. The Meadow Way Chapel in Norwich would have liked us to start at the beginning of the school year (and therefore the “year” that most churches stick to when it comes to moving ministers around), which in Britain is 1 September. They graciously understood my inability to be available from that date, and my Society Stewards graciously understood our desire to not wait until the end of December before leaving.

The end result is that, because I still have a month of furlough due to me this year (we get 3 months every seven years) and because of the fact that when ministers move they cease involvement in the circuit at the beginning of December so that the nation wide moves can take place in our Connexion, I will take my final month of furlough in November, meaning that my last Sunday here at AMC will be 25 October. You might remember that last year we had a wonderful combined Harvest and Family Service followed by a family fun day on the last Sunday of October, and the Stewards have suggested that we do the same this year, which will certainly be a memorable way for us to leave AMC.

Chris and I have been overwhelmed by the love and support we have received from our AMC family over the last 18 months of this journey/pilgrimage and we covet your ongoing prayers and fasting for us, but also for Rev Fred Cilliers and his wife Louise as they move here sometime in December and begin their ministry at AMC on Christmas Day.

Much love,


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