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Story 6 - Not Standing Still

East Ham Baptist Church
Revd. Jeremiah Dawood in conversation with Suzie Abramian
 
You don’t have to speak to Rev. Jeremiah Dawood for long to sense the sheer amount of transformation that has happened at East Ham Baptist Church over the last 10 years, as well as the firm belief in the faithfulness of God underpinning it all.
Like many churches around the country, despite a rich history, EHBC had seen decline and a lack of growth to the extent that by 2008 the regular congregation had shrunk to about 20 adults and occasionally a couple of children. Without some serious alterations being made it was looking at closing entirely.
Story6 p1 Not standing stillIt is clear to see now how God was not only preparing the congregation for change but also the right leader to instigate it. As the faithful few left were praying for a new minister to take them forward, Jeremiah was also praying for a congregation who would move forward with the Lord and in 2009 when he arrived at EHBC to take up the post of minister there was a strong belief and support for his appointment and vision for the church.

Concerning that vision, Jeremiah recalls that there needed to be a rebuilding of many things, and not just the broken roof and walls! Appropriately the study of Nehemiah was key for the whole church at the beginning of this time but rather than being entirely inward focused on bible study alone or consumed by their own very real practical problems the church chose instead to be outward looking right from the start. Jeremiah notes how this has clearly shaped their decisions and plans of action simply saying, ‘the more we looked out, the more God brought people in.’ Alongside this intentionally missional focus was also the attitude to not only think of the present situations but to look ahead with expectation and to plan in faith for growth and fruit.
The church itself is placed in a special location of high multi-ethnicity and diversity and whilst it goes without saying that this comes with several challenges the church also saw that it opened the door for many opportunities to share the good news of Christ.
There are many ways EHBC has practically taken hold of these opportunities and ventured into new areas of ministry. Among those that stand out are the distribution of the Jesus DVD to thousands of people in the East Ham area. The church took on the purchase of nearly 5,000 copies of this evangelistic resource and have given it away freely through a variety of their ministries, ranging from organised street evangelism to chance conversations with tradesmen at the church’s building works. The objective set is to reach every home in the area in 5 years and as soon as a date is set for distributing the DVDs the church starts to pray about it and the Sunday preceding the distribution they go out to prayer walk in the streets they plan to give the DVD out in. It is evident that this resource connects with people in this area and many have come to join the church through it, often wishing to share the DVD with their friends and family as well.

Story6 p2 Not standing still Another focus has been in the training up of new leaders, as the growth in numbers also brings with it the challenge of providing care to the flock and more people prepared to share in that challenge. Jeremiah explains that there is now practical training in ministry given to leaders and a chance for mature members to lead the service, to preach, and to lead prayer meetings. The result is evidently leading to spiritual growth and increased confidence as well as being equipped and ready for the challenges ahead.
And finally, perhaps most importantly, there has been the constant emphasis on prayer. It is at the heart of everything EHBC does with almost daily prayer meetings, including an intercessory team fasting and prayer every Monday. Not only has the church's faith increased as they have seen God answering their prayers, but they are also growing in their understanding of how God works too.
With dramatically visible growth in baptisms, membership numbers and essential building works initially given a basic estimate of £400,000 but miraculously completed with additional works for £137,000 it can be hard to pin down only one testimony of fruit from this church! Whichever testimony you hear though, the faithfulness of God and trust in the ability for God to provide shines through. Jeremiah summarises this well when he says that, "we are normal people, it’s the Lord who does it all. God who has done it before will do it again".

Looking ahead at what may come, it is encouraging to see that EHBC are willing and ready to move into whatever God may bring. One clear example of this is in the vision to develop the balcony area of the church which has been redesigned and rebuilt in faith not only to provide multiple facilities for the present but also with the potential to adapt to the future as well. Renamed the ‘Jesus Centre’, the enormous balcony area alone has multiple facilities for different ministries but still with the option to re-open the balcony and make it operational for full capacity in the future.
 
It is perhaps important to remember that none of this would have happened if decisions had not been made and willingly taken up. Rev. Jeremiah notes that some of these decisions have at times been hard but that, ‘an easy decision is not really a decision!’ The fruit of this is evident and the hope is that many other churches will be encouraged by the journey EHBC continues to travel on with God.
 
For more info about EHBC please go to;
https://easthambaptist.org.uk

 
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Julie Craven
YBA, MA_Pioneering, Story21-30
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