No 'Going Deeper' this time - cos I just never got round to doing it! Instead, today is about making connections, drawing together the threads.
By serendipity, our last hero, Brother Andrew, of Open Doors fame, turned out to be a great choice (in my not so humble opinion) as his story allowed all sorts of interesting connections to be made. I recalled the importance of Girls' Brigade in my faith story, and of how at a Young Leader's training weekend I'd bought the book 'God's Smuggler' which inspired me to support Open Doors for many years.
As it happens, we have someone in church who grew up inside the USSR and experienced its break up first hand; someone whose family were among the recipients of smuggled Bibles, tracts and greetings. It made a wonderful illustrative link.
This series has allowed all sorts and sizes of links to be made, here are just a few I made...
From my GB church to College St Baptist Church to William Carey
From one of my GB leaders a direct link back to the chapel Mari Jones attended in Wales
From Mari Jones, via the Bible Society, to Elizabeth Fry, Eric Liddell and Brother Andrew.
From Eric Liddell to one of my predecessors at the Gathering Place.
Indirectly at least from William Carey to David Livingston and Mary Slessor, and possibly (through the India link) to Mother Teresa
And so on and so forth.
A few folk have shared with me links and connections that have been meaningful for them, to this or that person, place, time, interest, and that's been lovely.
I've had so much fun reading and learing about these people, making new discoveries and being reminded of others. Today, I've loved setting it all in the context of the vision of Revelation 7:9-11 and the 'cloud of witnesses' of Hebrews 11 and 12.
As summer ends, I am, in the best possible way, really tired; this series has needed a huge amount of work. It has been so worthwhile though, and I have material I can use in other contexts in the months ahead.
I planned the series on a bit of a whim, because I thought there were stories worth telling, and these were the eight people I came up with. Somehow, that whim has translated into something of which I have the audacity to feel quite proud, and through which I - and I think it's fair to say, we - have been blessed.