Once again it is that wonderful time of the year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, look back over the past year, and look forward with anticipation to the year ahead.
For Esther and I it has been a quieter than usual year, and we find ourselves physically slowing down and relaxing much more. Having said that we have just checked our diary for the past year and have been surprised at how busy we have been. It reads like this:
JANUARY – Ministered in Coalville, Leicestershire. Esther had a nodule removed by surgery from her vocal chords! Ministered in Northern Ireland.
FEBRUARY – Ministered in Oxford. Michael preached at Kerith, Bracknell. Attended a “School of His Presence” in Croydon. Michael spent eleven days in Singapore catching up with our son Tim.
MARCH – We spent a day with the staff of Christchurch, Chorley Wood. We ministered together at the WEC Spanish Field Conference, 200 miles North of Madrid and taught for four days on the gifts of the Holy Spirit at a Bible School in Eastern Holland.
APRIL – A quiet month – preached in Bracknell, Greenwich, and Coalville, Leicestershire.
MAY – Taught missionary candidates at WEC. Spoke at a Conference for Retired Missionaries. Preached at St. Peter’s, Bracknell. Preached at Kerith, Bracknell.
JUNE – Drove to Northern Ireland via Scotland for a week of holiday followed by a week of ministry. A generally quieter month.
JULY – Michael Preached at Kerith, Bracknell. We ministered in Brunei, Singapore, Australia and Indonesia. This involved five weeks of travel and speaking in twenty-one meetings and included a belated 70th Birthday Party for Michael in Singapore.
AUGUST – Returned from Singapore. Trevor and Jenny Kallmier from Australia [WEC] stayed with us for nine days. Preached in Sandhurst and in Oxford.
SEPTEMBER – Esther attended a ladies conference in Ashford, Kent. Visited the Bible College of Wales in Swansea. We attended a reunion with old friends in Bristol. Preached in Leicestershire.
OCTOBER – Preached in Derby. Friends from Jacksonville, Florida stayed with us for ten days. This was a quiet month.
NOVEMBER – Preached two nights in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. We travelled to Singapore for a fifteen-day holiday, wonderfully provided for us by two Singaporeans friends. Such a blessing!
When I went through the diary and realized that we had been in Singapore three times, Northern Ireland three times, Holland, Spain, Brunei, Australia, and Indonesia, it was a busier year of travel than I had at first thought!
In addition to all this we had the regular routine events that are equally important. Michael teaches regularly on a weekly basis in our local church Bible School [the Academy] in Kerith, Bracknell. Esther is now also teaching several sessions in the school.
We have also made several enforced visits to see the oncologist for Michael. His PSA marker rose dramatically from June, and scans revealed three areas of supposed cancer cells in the bones of his spine. This now involves going for a blood test and then meeting with the oncologist each month. He is on a strong medication that is used to block testosterone feeding cancer cells. Each morning we pray over this medication, receiving what is good and rejecting any negative side effects and most of all looking to Jesus once again for healing. I have held back from sending out this newsletter until today because this afternoon I had my latest appointment with the oncologist. The news was encouraging in that the PSA marker has plateaued and dropped from 49 to 42, as well as other general improvements. I now have further scans later this month and then return to the oncologist again on 9 January.
Because of the constraints of having to have a blood test and seeing the oncologist a few days later each month, we are limited to a three-week window for ministry every month. We have made a decision to have one event away from home each month during that three-week window, and anything else to be local to where we live. In January we will be ministering at a Baptist Church in Greenwich, and an Anglican Church in the Cotswolds at Chipping Norton. February we will be teaching at a Bible School in Northern Ireland and possibly ministering there over a weekend as well. In March we will travel to Holland and teach in a Bible School near to Eindhoven. Do please pray for the right invitations for ministry and that we will be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit in what we take on and do.
We do love our home and are grateful to God for it. It is wonderful to have a place that we can retreat to and spend time relaxing together, Michael writing and working on his stamp collection, while Esther plays the piano, enjoys doing crosswords, and watching TV together. It is interesting that the older we get the more we enjoy watching antiques programmes. Agatha Christie once commented that the best kind of husband is an archaeologist, because the older you get the more interest he takes in you!” She was, of course, married to an archaeologist!
Many people have encouraged us to write our autobiography and we have become increasingly aware that this is something that we should do. Please pray that God would help us in this project, and also give us great wisdom. We only want to do it if it glorifies and exalts the Lord Jesus.
At the beginning of the New Year I will take up writing my devotional blog again after a two-month rest. I am grateful to all those who have encouraged me. To follow the blog and receive it in your inbox each day all you have to do is to subscribe at michaelrosswatson.com
A few days ago Esther and I were out walking and less than a mile from our home is this beautiful lake, that reveals so much of the glory of God. It is an autumn, not winter picture and for us as a couple we are in our autumn years, and God promises that we will be fruitful even to our old age.