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To those who wait

Stephen Atkinson, CWI's representative in America based at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, reports on how he is settling into life the other side of the Pond.

The beginning of the work of CWI in any new location requires equal measures of both patience and determination. I have discovered that I have more of the second quality than the first, which has been a hard lesson to learn. The bureaucratic American system and accompanying red tape have proved, time and again, to be a great test of patience. Throw in our zero credit rating (there is no transfer of this from UK to US), and banks that have difficulty communicating with each other, and you can imagine further frustrations.

Slowly, however, we are making progress and so (with patience) the dogged determination of my Irish blood kicks in and we are seeing results. On a positive note, both CWI and I have been wonderfully received by the Covenant Church pastor and congregation. They have exhibited hospitality, kindness, and collegiality on an exceptional level. My first Sunday preaching here was a blessed time. Visitors and local friends of CWI came away from the meeting with their minds buzzing with ideas of how they might help and what doors they could open for me. It appears that they are more than willing to help with the hard work of establishing contacts, and are excited to be able to introduce the work of CWI to their friends in other churches, both locally and further afield around the USA. May and June were months in which I endeavoured to get operational, as well as carry out some ministry work in Arkansas, Kansas and Texas. As I write, I am looking forward to the arrival of my wife Wendy and daughter Esther this weekend. Following this we will be finalizing arrangements for our new home and then I will be setting up both home and office, so I can really get to work on scheduling meetings for the autumn.

Ahead of this, I have already had the chance to connect with both old and new friends of CWI in the local area. I was recently invited to a large local Methodist church which is holding a Shabbat Dinner Celebration in July with ‘songs, prayers and traditions that are central to every Jewish family’s faith and heritage’. July will involve much more ministry. I plan to stay at Covenant Church through this month then move to other regions in August and beyond. I will be doing five children’s talks on Sunday mornings and preaching three of the Sunday evenings as well. These meetings will be advertised in the newspaper and around churches in the area as a ‘launching of CWI in North West Arkansas’.

So then, greetings from Arkansas to all my faithful friends and prayer supporters around the world. May the Lord advance his kingdom among his ancient people through our partnership in this vital ministry. 

This article was first published in the Autumn Herald 2012

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