This week Fr Martin Magill attended People’s Church in Newtownabbey for the first time. Pastor George McKimm preached on the signs of the times and the importance of being a ‘watchman,’ as well as sharing some stories about his personal conversion.
Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing: People’s Church, Newtownabbey
This was my first visit to the church. There was a friendly welcome beginning from the moment I arrived in the car park. One of the people in the porch, Heather, recognised I was a visitor and showed me upstairs to the church. A number of people made a special effort to welcome me.
I was joined in the seat beside me by a young man called Jake whom I had met earlier. He told me about his involvement in church and the part it had been playing in his life. He was drawn to the church by an invitation from his grandmother and the presence of young people at the church.
After singing a number of hymns, some of them I knew, we had a time of prayer for people from the church. They were prayed for by name. This was followed by a collection and then announcements. We were encouraged to give more generously as it was Remembrance Sunday.
Two members of the congregation came forward to play guitar and one of them sang a hymn. Then the lead pastor, George McKimm, read from Isaiah 21: 1-14 and preached on the text.
The following are some of the points which stayed with me from it:
- the importance of the watchman in a city
- the pastor described himself as a watchman – it was a time for the watchman to say what he saw
- Babylon is a symbol of human beings without God – all that humanity represents. He then talked about an individual who was involved in church but who had fallen away from God. Yet on his death bed he was being brought to a place where he was being ready for heaven.
- We need a strong church in the last days – a church baptised in the Spirit – and not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.
- Our government does not want the gospel near it – we are fighting against atheism and liberalism.
- God’s people have fallen asleep – Prepare to meet thy God – “I’m sounding an alarm for my generation”
- The sins of the people are staring at us – a generation which has rejected God. There is lawlessness in our society – but he and she who endures to the end will be saved.
- It is only the beginning of the horrors to come. There are signs that Jesus is coming back – Religious crisis, military crisis, ecological crisis – we see these before our eyes.
Pastor George then gave a list of sins he saw creeping into the Church including the problem of drink among believers.
He asked: What is the point of trying alternatives when Jesus has told us he is the way, truth and life? Sin is getting more debauched every week: children are abused and children have gone missing. We live in a broken world – a world at war – a world in rebellion against God. There is a broken church – a church in chaos – facing power struggles – even believers arguing over seats.
We need to see sinners transformed – Jesus is preparing a spotless bride for himself. The urgency of the hour – we need to be ready.
I was particularly interested when George shared about his own background.
He talked about his parents being saved, and his father’s struggle with alcohol until he was saved. He himself had been arrested and put in prison.
He then talked about the importance of prayer – a praying church is a preparing church. We need to be ready – our individual prayer is important – “the urgency of hour will bring you to your knees.”
He then returned to his own story: “I read some of the Bible and a book called Left Behind. 6 months after release, I surrendered my life to Jesus – I did not want to go into eternity without Jesus. On 25th March 1979 I surrendered my life to Jesus”.
We then had more prayer which included an appeal: “Don’t play Russian roulette with your soul”. He encouraged the congregation to have the courage to say “I am living differently” and if necessary to get back in love with Jesus.
Refreshments and conversation followed. I was also shown around parts of the building. It was very clear a lot of investment had been made in children’s work.