2020 marks the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland (formerly Baptist Union of Ireland) in 1895. In February 1895 there was a “call to pray” issued to the churches, encouraging them to plead with God to move among the churches of the Union. Wishing to echo that sentiment the Executive Committee of the Association have issued a similar call: “unite to pray.”
Throughout 2020 the College will draw your attention to this call to “unite to pray” with a monthly “Friends of the College” blog post linked to the “unite to pray” prayer diary. The November notes encourage us to pray for a healthy and biblical perspective on giving. Below the Principal, Edwin Ewart, invites you to consider the financial need of the College.
Enlarging the Harvest
Since its foundation in the nineteenth century the Irish Baptist College has looked to the Churches of our Association to send us students for training and supply the necessary finances to ensure the viability of our programmes. It is with a sense of profound gratitude that I reflect on the great many students who have spent 3 or more years at IBC and are now serving God in various pastoral and missionary situations around the world. It is also enormously humbling to reflect on the prayerful and financial support that has come from our churches and individuals upon whose hearts the Lord has laid a burden for ministry training. In line with the pattern of the New Testament and the Spurgeonic tradition, the raising up of a new generation of pastors and preachers lies at the very core of what we do at the College. Today we are particularly encouraged at the huge potential which exists across all three years of our Ministry Preparation Course. Our students are progressing in their studies and in their ability to handle and communicate God’s word and despite the challenges of the present time, many of them have preached in recent weeks and months in a number of our churches with great acceptance. This work has continued for over a century and in the will of God will go on as we follow our calling to “entrust [what we have heard and learned] to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).
At this point in the calendar we have entered the last phase of our financial year (which concludes in January) and we are earnestly looking to God and his people to supply our needs so that we can commence the new financial year without a deficit. In this connection, the Association’s 125 Prayer Diary highlights the following as a prayer point for November:
Pray that your church would have the right perspective on their giving: not as merely a way to keep the building’s lights on, but as an exciting opportunity to “enlarge the harvest of your righteousness”
I recognise that in these challenging days with unprecedented restrictions, many churches are faced with uncertainty and not least with regard to finances. Nevertheless, the encouragement and promise of Jesus himself is that when we give, it will be given to us (Luke 6:38) and so I want to encourage you to support this vital work of ministry training with the assurance that this will “enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.” Earlier, I alluded to C. H. Spurgeon upon whose Pastor’s College the Irish Baptist College was modelled. Regarding ministry training he says:
The relation of the College to a large and active Church, by which it is principally sustained, and which takes a lively interest in its welfare, is one special means of its prosperity. The intercourse of the Students with the Members of the Church contributes much to their social and their spiritual welfare. (The Sword and Trowel, 1:197-198).
This intimate relationship between the College and the churches is something which IBC seeks to emulate not least in its practical placement focus. Therefore, unashamedly I want to encourage churches and individuals to stand with us as the churches sustain the College and the College supplies the churches.
For more details on giving click here.