Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV)
London is the capital city of England and the United Kingdom. Located on the River Thames, to the South East of the island of Great Britain. It was founded more than two thousand years ago, around year 43 by the Romans, who named it Londinium. The city’s core, the ancient City of London, still retains its medieval boundaries. Since at least the 19th century, the name ‘London’ has also referred to the metropolis developed around this core.
With the authorization of our Presbítero de Zona (elder pastor of the church in charge of a particular geographical area) and our Superintendent, Pastor Presbítero Eduardo Valencia Martínez, my wife and I flew to London from Charlotte, North Carolina, in October 18th. Our brother Nixon Galloso from the church in Arauco, Chile, joined us. The goal was to visit our brother Saúl Barrios who contacted us through a young believer that was in London and was a member of the church in La Cisterna, Santiago.
Our brother Saúl Barrios welcomed us warmly at Gatwick Airport in London. We met his wife, sister Clara, and his sister in law Margarita. He used to be a member of our church in Rengo, Chile. He is also son of our dear Pastor Presbítero Luis Barrios, who sleeps in the arms of the Lord.
During our visit, we joined our brother Saúl proclaiming the Gospel in downtown London. This called my attention very much because even though he is alone there, he continues to proclaim the Gospel in the streets of the city, in both Spanish and English (Isaiah 52:7). It was very beautiful to preach in that place, but we also discovered the great need in that country.
The population in London is made up of a great variety of ethnic groups, cultures and religions. More than 300 languages are spoken in this city. The Greater London urban area has a population of 8,278,251, and the metropolitan area has an estimated population of between 12 million and 14 million. The total population in the UK is 62,641,000 inhabitants (2011). The biggest Latin American community in the UK is from Brazil; the biggest Iberian community belongs to the Portuguese; the biggest Iberian-African community comes from Angola. There are also people from Colombia, Ecuador and other South American countries.
While we were visiting, we discovered that not only our brother Saúl belonged to our church but that there were also other brothers who had emigrated from Bolivia. We also met some families from Chile, Ecuador and England.
We had the opportunity to go out to proclaim the Gospel and hold some meetings. There was an evident need in those brothers, an evident desire to participate in a service as we use to do them, as well as a profound love for the church in which they grew up. We have seen this in countless places. This makes us recognize how blessed the Evangelical Pentecostal Church is for belonging to a fold, having a Pastor and a beautiful place to worship God. Today, when our brothers are far away, they show all their love and care to their Pastors and churches, to us. They also tell us of their fervent desire to serve the Lord.
This brought to my mind what is written in the Hymnal of our dear Pastors: Around 1730, some people came to Wesley and asked him “to teach them to flee the coming wrath.” The same land from where the first British colonizers set out to North America, seeking freedom to serve God in 1600. The same land where John Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon and others announced the Gospel. Now, after about 300 years, a group of Latin American believers in that land ask with all their heart that we guide them by teaching them the sound doctrine.
I asked an English Pastor about the spiritual status of England, and he said, “Today only 10% of the population is inclined to the things of God.” Then I asked him, “Is the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ preached in the pulpits of the temples standing today?” to which he replied, “”Sadly, we are very few who are expecting the Lord Jesus Christ. That message is no longer very common.”
The former principal of the London School of Theology, Derek Tidball, in his intervention in the Keswick convention in Cumbria, said:
“Judging by the way the church in England behaves, we don’t have confidence in the Gospel.” He questioned the changes in England because in the past the most convincing ways to proclaim the Gospel were conversion and discipleship. He added that today, evangelism has been reduced to marketing, and that we are not selling cars or soap powder. We are engaged in a spiritual battle.
That is exactly what we witnessed. In the place where we started to proclaim the Gospel in the street, a Muslim group started selling their literature. We saw that there is a vast pool of religions all around – you just choose what fits you best. But during our preaching, people with hunger of God arrived. A believer from Greece told us how important it is to continue preaching. He said that of all preachers he has listened to, “this man (brother Saúl) speaks with a special blessing, even though most of the time he speaks in Spanish, and I don’t understand it very much. But I enjoy listening to him anyway.”
That special blessing is in us, and in this brief report, I have tried to show what God has allowed us to learn and to also give value to.
We send special greetings to the brothers who are alone in other countries. May the Lord help us behave as the young Hebrew men who decided not to contaminate themselves with anything from the country they were in, so that they could keep themselves entirely for God. The Hymn 139 declares this very well, “Show yourself steadfast and immovable, even though alone you may be,” Matthew 9:37.
During the time we stayed in London, God allowed us to reach out to many brothers that were not in their best moment spiritually – they had strayed from the Lord since they were in their countries of origin or they strayed from the faith because they did not find a church in England. God has given us grace and we have been able to reach many of them, 1st Corinthians 3:6-9.
May God continue guiding our brothers in London, who are now committed to continue serving the Lord united. We are praying for each one of them.
In conversation with our Superintendent, and considering the desire of these brothers to continue getting together under the umbrella of our church, the Lord has assigned me the task to support this congregation in its initial stage. Our brother Saúl has been appointed as the Head in that place.
God bless the new Evangelical Pentecostal Church in London, England.
“I can do all things through Christ…” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
Pastor in Winston Salem