Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small,
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
For some of you this will be the long-awaited letter - for others, it will probably come as a bit of a shock. To put the news briefly: we believe God is calling us to move to Bristol to be involved in establishing a training programme for Christian workers. You can read more about it in the attached information sheet.
Most of you will know this is not a spur of the moment decision, but one more step (although quite a large one!) on a path we have been following for a long time. We have always been involved with missionary activity, and this is, in many ways, a natural progression from the work we have been doing.
We have also felt for the past few years that our time in Guildford was drawing to a close, hard though that was for us to grasp. Various commitments have been fulfilled: the Westy Club is well established and running without Sue's help, and the church building project which we helped to initiate in 1994 is due to be completed in May this year - apart from the 'minor detail' of repaying a loan from the URC. Our responsibilities in these areas have been fulfilled, we believe, and the door has been opened to an even larger commitment.
We believe in the importance of the training programme. While we may not remain with it for the rest of our lives - God only guides us one step at a time - we are convinced that if we were to stay, it would be a worthwhile investment of the rest of our lives. We are totally convinced that Europe needs evangelists, that the UK needs to send many of them, and that without this training programme (or something very like it) being established, many people will never go, or will go and be crushed by the demands.
Paul has been in Guildford since 1975; Sue since 1981. On a human level, we are overwhelmed at the thought of leaving everything we have known and built up over the years: the friends and networks of relationships, the projects we have worked on, the security of a regular income and the patterns of life we are familiar with. But from the outset, we said we would rather be obedient than comfortable, and God is now asking us to honour that commitment.
We have started to make plans for moving to Bristol. We have established contact with a number of churches in the area, found possible schools for Alan, Philip and Ian, and even discovered what appears to be the perfect house for us. But there is much more to be done, and much wisdom needed in all the decisions that have to be made.
We appreciate that most of you will be already be committed to giving to all kinds of causes. We don't want to detract from the good you are doing in this way. But if, after praying, you feel it is right to give us something each month, we would really appreciate that: a modest regular gift from a number of people would make a tremendous difference to us. And whether or not you can give money, please remember to pray for us over the months to come.
Paul & Sue Hazelden