It was great to be able to say good-bye to Paul Woodward this morning, if you know what I mean.
As previously mentioned, Paul and Jean are off to Teesside to lead Jubilee Church, and today was their last Sunday with us at Brickhill. So we let Paul preach, ate lots of excellent cake (something of a church speciality), and then a few of us paid personal tributes.
I was really grateful to be one of those, as Paul has played a hugely significant role in my life: helping me to see that God was calling me to leadership, offering me a job at Brickhill, allowing me to preach (without at all checking what I was going to say!), inviting me to be part of leaders' meetings, and having endless encouraging and patient conversations. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:15 says, “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” I think that pretty much sums up Paul's influence on me - I will be thankful to God for him for the rest of my life.
Like I said at the start, it was really great to be able to do this. Often no-one seems to say anything good about other people unless 1. It's some kind of synthetic, saccharine-sweet nonsense, or 2. The other person has died. The Bible is full of encouragement to be like this but, in Britain at least, Christians seem pretty rubbish at it. Hopefully moments like today will show us how good it can be.