Day 120-131 The Final Stretch

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I find myself for a third time in the sunny climes of Isle of Wight, one of the highlights of this 131 day tour. However, before I can blink I am confronted with germ warfare. I sing in two venues: Shanklin United Reformed Church and Colwell Baptist in Freshwater, but the moment I stop singing my head feels groggy, my nose leaks and Kurols become my best friend very quickly. Over the next few days the joy of this place is replaced with groggy despair. I confine myself to my room for much of the time as I allow the body to manufacture antibiotics to combat the invasion. These things take time, and I resist the urge to toddle off to the Doc for a top up of the manufactured stuff.

It has been a long tour (they are all now 4mths duration, for better or worse) but I don’t find them arduous (as people assume), I find them invigorating, fulfilling and spiritually rewarding. To see people’s lives impacted with the hope of restoration at the foot of the Cross (the gospel message) is truly uplifting, makes everything worthwhile and gives a sense of a greater calling.

From Shanklin it’s back to the mainland. A Friday evening at East Sheen Baptist in London, and a Saturday night/Sunday morning at Southwick Christian Community Church Brighton. And yes the tour is over, complete, and I am still compos mentis, by the grace of God. I would love to do a list of highlights but really the highlights are always the people. I am not a ‘people person’ (I’m an introvert by nature) but this ministry gives me the opportunity to come out of my shell for a season and become a people-person, for the sake of the Gospel.  2019 will be an Asian Tour Lord willing, but it’s all by His grace and it’s for His glory.  I consider my life worth nothing to me, my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20.24

A big thank you to all the wonderful church hosts and accommodation hosts, the prayer supporters and spiritual warriors, my PAs Hannah Fairchild (Germany) and Karen Cullen (NZ), my family, the financial supporters but most of all to God the Father, who sent his son Jesus to die for me, so that I might have life and have it to the full.
The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  John 10.10

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Day 112-119 Dublin, Torquay

IMG_9714I am standing on the tarmac at Dublin Airport with a sense of resignation at the last-minute changes & delays this budget airline specialises in. I am reminded of a piece I wrote years ago ‘Dreaming, Leaving’ (published in one of my early books of poetry, now out of print). Dublin has been a disappointment to me. I had such high hopes as it was a highlight of the ’92 world tour. I want to record an album here. Fat chance. I want at least to sing & share in one of the churches. Sorry we’re busy, and your name is not Matt Redman (one of the pastors actually said this to me).  So, I consider a name change (Sir Matt Ridingman) but think better of it. I won’t be bullied by this once-vibrant culture. I won’t bow to the Almighty Dollar which seems to have taken over. I won’t play their game, I will take my music elsewhere. Jesus said: If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Matthew 10.14

On the plane I am seated next to an Irish musician Richard Jago. We chat. He agrees with me. The musical heart of Dublin has gone west and now resides in Galway he tells me. If I had been privy to this knowledge earlier in the piece, I could now have a master tape in my carry-on bag and a wider sense of satisfaction at goal achieved.

The plane arrives over an hour late in London. My host Rob is there with a grin on his face (fortunately). The website said the plane was on time. Hard evidence suggests otherwise. We both vow never to fly BryanAir ever again. Simple economics suggests we probably will. Rob loans me his 2003 Saab (the Grand Old Lady) and I drive to Torquay the following day, much of it at walking pace thru dense jungle traffic. I wave at a henge of stone (from a distance) and arrive for my sound check with 1min to spare.

Over the weekend I have four events. Friday night & Sunday morning at Barton Baptist (pastor Richard preaches one of the best sermons I’ve heard in a longtime), Sunday night at Okehampton but the jewel in the crown is an evening house concert at Brunel Manor Retreat Centre. It is an elderly group, so my expectations are low (no offence). But the anointing of the Holy Spirit is very strong, and hearts are touched. Heart-warming feedback and I sleep soundly knowing I was in the right place at the right time.

Day 112-114 Life on the Road #2

IMG_7301A solitary man   People feel sorry for me on the road. You must get tired they say. Yes, it’s true I do, but God created sleep to cope with this very situation. And following a calling, playing & singing to the best of your ability, sharing your faith regularly with others and seeing many touched by the Holy Spirit is not as tiring as slogging your guts out in a job you hate for 40 hours a week, year after year. No amount of tv watching will numb the fact God created you for greater things. But hey, I’m just stirring.. lol..

3000 Guitars   I heard that Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones owns over 3000 guitars. He employs a fulltime curator to look after them. I have one guitar, an Ovation, and I look after my own guitar. I bought it Aug 1978 for a TV appearance on the talent show of the day: Opportunity Knocks. Opportunity did not knock, but I still have the guitar and it has traveled the world with me. It will be 40yrs-old this August. However, the wooden soundboard has developed a split, so it will need some TLC on my return to NZ.

Tattoos   Wherever I travel I see hordes who now display tatts on their body. It has become a huge fashion trenda personal statement of the ‘me’ generation, but I am in two minds about it. The bible seems to suggest the inner life is more important than the outward appearance. I have no desire to mutilate my body in this way (in the past we considered this the domain of bikies, rebels & delinquents) but I must be careful not to judge my fellow humanoids. God loves us all, tatts or no tatts.

Life without the media   I used to enjoy intelligent unbiased journalism in the media (eg. tv Mark Sainsbury) and the NZ Herald. Now unbiased journalism is a joke. The media has become the political stronghold/mouthpieve of the Liberal Left. Since I’ve been away, I have not watched tv once, and reduced my news gathering to 2mins of headlines (to avoid missing the onset of nuclear war..) I am the better for it.

Scam   As a wake-up call I got scammed in Dublin. Booked accomm with Airbnb for 3 nights, but they took the money and ran. Fortuitously (the Lord’s provision), there was a cheap hotel nearby which took me in, and Airbnb refunded the money in full.

Revival in Europe   On facebook I have posted an article on the current revival in Europe, and Eastern Europe in particular (years of oppression has created a spiritual vacuum which is now being filled). It has been ‘liked’ by 4 people. It seems the West has no interest in what’s happening in the East. The truth is the church in the West is in decline, doesn’t know what to do about it, and shows indifference to how God is moving in other parts of the world. I have felt drawn to Europe over recent years, and not really known why. Coincidentally, I had my DNA tested out of curiosity and find that my dominant genes are not English as I thought, but European. Deep calls to deep.
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