The Torch – 2015, Issue 3

Torch Trust
Torch House,
Torch Way,
Market Harborough,
Leicestershire,
LE16 9HL UK
Tel: +44 (0)1858 438260
Fax: +44 (0)1858 438275
email: info@torchtrust.org
website: torchtrust.org

The Torch Trust for the Blind
A charity registered in England and Wales no. 1095904
A company limited by guarantee no. 4616526

The Torch is available in the following formats: audio CD, braille, email and large print (17, 20, 25 and 30 point). It can also be downloaded from the Torch website as an HTML file.

Contents

Greetings!

Recently we have celebrated the festival of Pentecost - the day Jesus sent his Holy Spirit to his disciples, a day full of power and joy.

During the last Passover meal with his followers before his death and resurrection, Jesus gave a tender promise: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). How frightening to be left an orphan. Some of you will know just how it feels. It may have meant great sadness and hardship for you.

Jesus did not want his disciples, or us, to become spiritual orphans. That is why he sent us his Holy Spirit - and that is why the day of Pentecost, the day the disciples first felt the power of the Holy Spirit, is a day to give praise and thanks to God. Followers of Christ Jesus are not spiritual orphans because he has sent us his Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit loves to make Jesus known to us. He brings us the power of God in good times and in difficult times. When Jesus was on earth as a man, he could not be with everybody at once. Now he can, through the Holy Spirit. That really is something for which to praise God with a truly thankful heart.

So, happy Pentecost to you all!

Sheila Armstrong and the editors

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Let the scriptures speak

John 14:15-21; 25-27

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

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My Story

By Rose Heaney, Client Services Assistant

I had a happy childhood and have always known God in my life. My family were not churchgoers, but I was initially sent to Sunday School and then went along to church myself by choice. I was baptised as a believer when I was 16 and became a church member. When baptised the church gave each person a personal scripture verse and I quote mine from memory: “Even more, my friends exert yourselves to clinch God’s choice and calling of you” (2 Peter 1 verse 10).

I began my working life as an office junior in Coventry, eventually moving into the Civil Service before leaving to have my first child in 1982. During those years of bringing up a family I continued to play an active part in each church we belonged to and encouraged my three children to do so as well.

When we lived and worshipped in Witney I was able to start a new ministry for under fives and their carers. This involved two toddler groups and a weekly afternoon worship service that grew to be very popular in the town.

On our move to rural Nottinghamshire and after my youngest son began school I returned to work part time, initially as a volunteer for the Congregational Federation and then employed as an administrator in various departments over 14 years. Recently I completed a six-month contract with Otis Lifts in their finance department, which was very interesting as I learnt some different skills. It just goes to show that we are never too old to learn something new!

2014 was a year of great change as my mother-in-law died and she was the last of our earthly parents. It is a blessing to know that we have a heavenly father still caring for us. We also moved to a new home in the same village enabling us to continue to live near our friends and family. We believe God has always looked after us and led us to every home we have lived in.

We are blessed to have a close and caring family who love doing things together. I keep busy with my grandchildren, which means looking after three of them every Thursday as they live nearby, and a monthly visit to Liverpool to baby-sit for our youngest one who is nearly eight months old. I also enjoy reading, swimming and going to a local folk club.

I am really excited about coming to work with Torch Trust in Client Services, and my baptism verse is key; for me the knowledge that God has not only chosen me but also called me to work for him has been an important part of my life in everything I have done. My hope is that I can continue to do even more for him.

I pray that I can continue to clinch God’s choice of me by serving Torch Trust in whichever way God leads me.

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Partners

Three stories from Malawi, Central Africa

What a Friend we have in Jesus

I shall never forget the first time I met Fred with his flute!

In 1990, while visiting Malawi, I had gone to Blantyre to do some shopping. I was just getting out of the Land Rover when I heard a flute playing the hymn, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear – what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer”. There, just a few yards away, was a blind man playing a flute. It was Fred, who became a real friend and eventually my brother in Jesus as he later trusted Jesus as his Saviour.

Fred used to come and visit us at Torch House (Blantyre), and one day he arrived being carried on the back of one of the sons of another blind man. He had no children of his own to help him. He had been out walking on his own and had fallen off a bridge. His feet were very swollen and he was in a poor way. While I bathed Fred’s feet and cleaned him up, I suggested he play something on his flute. I can see him now sitting with his feet in a bowl of water playing that same hymn I had heard him play so many years before. “Do thy friends despise forsake thee, take it to the Lord in prayer. In his arms he’ll take and shield thee - thou wilt find a solace there”.

Sadly, Fred got malaria, had no medication and died. He knew that place of shelter in Jesus Christ and is safe in him.

Reward Guaranteed

It was a very hot day when I went to visit my blind friend Elena in the Southern Region of Malawi. The breeze felt like a hot hair dryer and I longed for a cool drink of water. My friends had been suffering along with many other visually impaired people with no food and damaged crops. Having no hope of a harvest I had gone to give them, and others, food and encouragement.

After arriving at the compound and greetings were over, Elena disappeared. A few minutes later she emerged from the house with a blue plastic mug in her hand. “I wanted to give you a gift,” she said, “we have no food. We have no harvest so I kept water in my stone jar knowing that when you came I would have something to give. I feel ashamed it is only water but I have nothing else. Please take it in the name of Jesus.”

There was a lump in my throat as I took the mug of water - my friend was giving me something that Jesus himself spoke about: “the cup of cold water given in My Name shall not lose its reward”. I drank the water - it was cool and I was so grateful.

I told Elena what Jesus had said. Her face immediately lit up. She was incredulous. A reward? Never, not for her, a poor blind woman, living in obscurity, despised and neglected by society. But, “You really mean it don’t you?” she asked. “Yes, I do,” I replied. “You are precious to Jesus and what you have done, he knows.”

A few weeks later I heard that Elena had died. Her relentless suffering was too much for her and she gradually grew weaker and weaker until she slipped away.

Elena’s reward is guaranteed.

A Purpose in Life

“My name is Lameck Tomasi and I am 48 years old. I am married with two children. I came to know the Lord soon after I went blind. I really thank God for saving my life and taking away my sight. I don’t regret having gone blind but I do thank God for the spiritual sight I received in exchange for my physical sight.

I received Jesus as my personal Saviour at one of the Torch Fellowship Group meetings at Konzere village. The speaker during the day spoke about Bartimaeus who cried for his sight from Jesus. I felt like him and did the same. I have seen a change in my mind towards the loss of my physical sight and the Lord has touched my heart and spoken to me in a special way.

As a new Christian I wanted to be hearing the Bible, but the problem was how to get the words to me. God has his own ways of doing things. I had the privilege of being given a megavoice New Testament in Chichewa which is really helping me. I am so happy that I can now hear the word of the Lord without problems. I see my life growing spiritually every time I listen to my talking Bible. It is also my closest friend for it is not easy for me to visit people or people to visit me.

[Megavoice is an audio device. If you would like to know more about it, please either call us on 01858 438260, or email: info@torchtrust.org]

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Here’s a thought

God chooses what we go through; we choose how we go through it.

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What good does anger do?

By Janet Stafford

I have had contact with someone recently who was always getting angry and it made me think about the subject as I wanted to help them. I trust these few thoughts will help you too.

Have you ever noticed that being angry never makes anything better? The problem is, if we have unresolved anger, we either explode or we implode; we either blow up at somebody or we fall apart on the inside. And often we take it out on a person who has nothing to do with what we’re angry about. It’s just a miserable way to live.

But getting upset is not the way God wants us to fight our battles. Instead, when somebody hurts us, we can choose to trust God with our pain or injustice and overcome anger with good. Romans 12:17-21 (AMP) says,

Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good.

What God is saying in those verses is there’s a right and wrong way to respond to injustice. We can get angry and get back at the person who hurt us or we can fight the way God fights, trusting him to be our vindicator while we bless our enemies and do good (Psalm 37:1-3). It’s certainly not easy to love our enemies and bless the people who have hurt us (Luke 6:27). In fact, this is probably one of the most difficult scriptures in the Word of God to follow.

There is true freedom in doing the right thing. And we can choose to do what’s right no matter how we feel. We have to stop being afraid of hard things and press in and trust God because the truth is he will give us the strength and grace to do anything we need to do.

Prayer Brings Peace

It’s so much harder to live with anger than it is to live with God’s peace, love and joy. And we have to take responsibility for our behaviour. One of the best things we can do is learn how to pray for the people we’re mad at. The first thing to do when somebody mistreats you is pray: God, this hurts and I’m angry about it, but I know my anger won’t solve the problem or change the person. So I trust you. I’m going to keep being nice. I’m going to keep doing good because that’s what you put me here for. And as I trust you and go about blessing others, I’m going to watch you vindicate me and do what needs to be done in this situation. That is the way to fight and win your battles!

Make a decision today that you’re going to refuse to live angry. Ask God to help you take control of your feelings. And if you do act out in anger, confess it and God will forgive you. There will be a lot of battles in life, but God has an amazing plan for you! As you put your focus on him as your vindicator, it becomes easier and easier to conquer angry feelings and walk in peace. And you will be a blessing as you overcome evil with good!

God bless you.

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Old Testament characters

By Michael Stafford

25. Jeremiah

After good King Hezekiah, Judah went downhill spiritually and politically, apart from a short period when good King Josiah reigned. It was during that period that Jeremiah prophesied and warned of the inevitable judgment that God would send on his wayward people. It’s not surprising that Jeremiah has been called the weeping prophet. His was not a happy ministry.

1. Jeremiah’s Call

Like so many whom God called to a specific task, Jeremiah was reluctant. Basically he was afraid of public speaking and felt totally unable to do so. He was like so many (including myself) who complain, when called to be a preacher or missionary, that they are not able to speak in public. The answer God gave to Jeremiah was that he would put words into his mouth and would rescue him if he found himself in difficulty.

There were times when Jeremiah certainly needed God to rescue him, as his ministry was mainly one of doom for God’s people and he would incur the wrath of many. God said to him: “What do you see?” “I see a boiling pot, tilting away from the north,” he answered. “The Lord said to me, ‘From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land ... Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them ...” (Jeremiah 1:13-17).

Again and again, Jeremiah repeated his terrible message to the nation: “Flee for safety ... for disaster looms out of the north, even terrible destruction” (Jeremiah 6:1); What a terrible commission to be given! It seems like unrelieved doom, and it was all the result of Judah’s wickedness and obsession with false gods. God is a long-suffering God, but there is a limit to his mercy. Before the great flood, God had said: “My Spirit will not contend (or strive) with man for ever ...” (Genesis 6:3).

2. Jeremiah’s Suffering

As a prophet, Jeremiah had competition from a host of false prophets, who were only intent on pleasing the leadership for their own advancement. All that they prophesied seemed to contradict what Jeremiah said, Pashhur was the son of the chief officer in the temple, and took steps to put Jeremiah in his place! He had him beaten and put in the stocks, but when released Jeremiah repeated his dire warnings: “I will hand all Judah over to the king of Babylon, who will carry them away to Babylon or put them to the sword.” (Jeremiah 20:4).

During the time of King Zedekiah, Jeremiah was thrown into prison, accused of trying to desert to the Babylonians. Zedekiah took pity on him and took him from prison to a more suitable place, though he was still confined. Jeremiah then began warning the people of Jerusalem to flee the city, in view of what was about to come. This was seen as a crime which was harmful to the people, and so Jeremiah was taken and put down a deep and muddy pit where he sank into the mire. Thankfully, he had a friend in the king’s palace, Ebed-Melech, who had access to the king and pleaded on Jeremiah’s behalf. The king commanded Ebed-Melech to organise a rescue mission, and Jeremiah was lifted out of the pit with ropes under his arms, which had been padded with old rags to prevent the ropes cutting into his flesh. The king then consulted Jeremiah about what the Lord had said to him. Jeremiah was brutally frank and said that unless the king surrendered to the Babylonians the city would be burned down and he and his family would be taken captive.

In due course Jeremiah’s prophecies all came true: the Babylonians captured Jerusalem, took away all the people who might be useful to them; destroyed the temple and took all its treasures; burned and destroyed the royal palace and the city walls; captured Zedekiah and all his noblemen who they killed, and then blinded Zedekiah himself before taking him captive to Babylon.

3. Jeremiah’s Confidence

Though this book seems to be unremitting gloom, there are gleams of light which shine through, due to the promises God gave to Jeremiah which gave him confidence despite all the threats and dangers he faced.

In Chapter 18 there is an account of God telling him to visit a potter’s workshop and watch the potter making a pot on the wheel. However, he made a mistake and spoiled the pot. Rather than throwing the ruined pot away, the potter then took the same clay and remade it into a perfect pot. Jeremiah then realised that God was showing him a wonderful truth: “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.

Though Israel was to endure many years of captivity, Jeremiah was given a promise that it was for a limited period and there would be a time of restoration to their city and their land. “... I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up ... I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” (Jeremiah 24: 6-7).

God told Jeremiah to buy a field, though he knew it would be part of the land captured by the Babylonians and would seem to be a foolish transaction, just as today a person would be foolish to purchase shares in a company that was about to go bankrupt. But Jeremiah bought it in faith, with God’s promise that Israel would be restored to their land. “This is what the Lord says: ‘When 70 years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:10,11).

Though we may have to suffer many things in this world, we also have that promise - that God gives us a future and a hope. If we are true believers in the Lord we will one day enjoy all the glory of heaven with him.

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