Thursday, September 06, 2007

My Last 'Gopher' Prayer Letter - September 2007

My year as George Verwer's 'gopher' ended today... Wow, thank you to all of you for making this incredible year possible!

IN MY PRAYER LETTER (download it as a PDF here): (1) the last few months, (2) year highlights, (3) what's next

-new pictures of the year
-a youtube video of a 'special presentation' to me from George today
-what I've learned this year ("168 hours...")
-a transcription of my farewell speech to the team here plus six minutes of it on a youtube video
-pictures of Africa (with Lydia & my parents)
-a snapshot of the year


NIGEL BARHAM’S PRAYER LETTER · #4 of 4 · September 2007

Wow, it is hard to believe that today was my last day as George Verwer’s helper; what a year it has been! I am still trying to catch my breath. Thank you for making it possible!

Since my last (April) prayer letter I have been to Canada (woohoo!), the U.S., England, the Island of Jersey (between England and France), Korea, South Africa and Zambia. Here are some highlights:

Chrissie’s Graduation! Sometimes things are more than coincidence. I think the fact that George and I were scheduled to be in the Chicago area at the very time that my sister Chrissie was to graduate from college just a four-hour drive away was one of those more-than-coincidences. No one else from our seven-member family was within 2,000 miles of her; so it was great that I could be there. Congratulations, Chrissie!

A week on the ship.
It was wonderful to be back onboard the ship where, in 2004, I began my missions journey as an adult. (Remember the Deal-Bag Room? It’s still there!)

After the States, which nation sends more missionaries than any other country in the world? That’s right: Korea. It was an privilege to be in Korea during a 17,000-person missions conference and a 100-year centenary of the Great Korean Revival.

With Lydia in South Africa
. At the end of every gopher year, George’s gopher goes on a solo trip to put into action some of his learning. I chose Southern Africa (South Africa & Zambia) for this trip, and, by using some of her annual leave, my girlfriend Lydia was able to be with me for three of the five weeks I was there.

A week with my parents. My parents are just a two-hour flight away from where Lydia and I were based in South Africa. It was great to be able to visit them for a week! It was Lydia’s first time to meet them, and my first time to see them in more than two years. It was great to show Lydia around Mansa - my home of several years. Ministry-wise, I was asked to take the Gospel meeting in Lusaka Gospel Hall on the Sunday morning we arrived. I also preached at a youth rally in Mansa—with a globe identical to the one I had been blowing up for George all year!—and at the end of the message 30 youth stood in commitment to “go” wherever God might send them.

Three men come to the Lord. Both Lydia and myself participated in AIDS ministries while in South Africa. While Lydia joined the team that taught character-based AIDS prevention in rural schools, I had the opportunity to serve patients in an AIDS hospice. I was able to talk to men of all ages and backgrounds, and imagine the celebration in heaven when three men came to the Lord. One was an old man who said he had never heard the Gospel before.

6 continents
; 18 countries; 100 flights; 100 blog entries; met 5,000+ people; 250 meetings with George; dozens of organizations and denominations; spoke about 10 times myself; saw 15 or so come to the Lord; lots of opportunities to make mistakes and learn.

Some key moments. (You can read more about each of these on my prayer blog: Use the search bar at the top right of the blog to find what you’re looking for.

Meeting Lydia! We had been classmates for four years as children and then lost touch for 15 years, only to meet again when George had a meeting in Lydia’s city. (The story continues below.)

Getting detained at Heathrow airport. After being photographed and locked in a room behind a glass wall at Heathrow airport, I felt like a prisoner. I needed a longer-term visa and things looked bleak. But…

Becoming a British Citizen just a week later solved everything. Many of you were praying, and God blessed me with something I hadn’t even thought possible! (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Pakistan. Pakistan was the highlight trip of my year. I really connected with the team I worked with and felt humbled to be used of God to share His love with people who had never heard of it.


So, what next? One thing is for sure: it doesn’t end here! Where God will take me in the coming years and even months only He knows.

Needless to say, Lydia is a factor! We met in late September last year, immediately hit it off and, after regular communication, became an ‘item’ in March of this year. All along it has been a mostly long-distance relationship.

After talking with my church leadership back in Toronto, we feel it is sensible for me to move to Leeds—where Lydia lives—in order to pursue our relationship. A room has opened up for me in the home of a Christian couple around the corner from where Lydia will be living, so we thank God for this answer to prayer. Lydia will be doing a full-time Masters degree in Post-War Development, and I will be working full-time for an online book business I have been involved with. I am also looking forward to the opportunities to serve God I will have in the largely-Muslim community of Beeston we will be living in. It is the Leeds equivalent of T'cliffe in Toronto, so that is exciting!

Meanwhile, I am planning an extended visit of a month or so to Toronto to meet up with friends and some of the people who made this year possible for me. If you live in the GTA, that means you! I am also looking forward to reconnecting with you face to face. Also, I feel a strong linking to Toronto. I believe God is at work in this great city. I am particularly looking forward to reuniting with my church family at Leaside Bible Chapel. I am tentatively planning to begin this visit in mid November--not far away! I will keep you updated. (Keep an eye on my blog!)

Allow me to close this prayer letter with a prayer. Father, thank you for using us. Thank you, in particular, for giving me this year. Thank you for the people who stood with me to make it possible, and for the eternal fruit you brought about through their prayers. Thank you that it doesn’t end here, and that you have a plan for each of us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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