Martin Erwin, Counties CEO
Martin is married to Rachel and they have three teenage daughters. Originally from Bangor, N. Ireland, Martin served the Lord in Herefordshire from 1991 to 2016 as a Counties Evangelist, based for 6 years in Ross-on-Wye, before moving to Hereford where, with a team, they planted Challenge Community Church. In 2016, the family moved to Melksham, Wiltshire, as Martin took on the Counties CEO role. Counties is a UK wide network of evangelists and church planters, and also oversees a variety of Schools resources such as GSUS Live and the Life Exhibition. Martin is on the Leadership Team at Queensway Chapel, Melksham.
Interesting times we live in! Even if you were alive for the last global pandemic, none of us have experienced anything like this before. The prevalence of the mass media coverage with 24-hour news, married to international access to social media, have only served to multiply the fear and magnify the panic that has been experienced in so many nations.
Psalm 9 talks about ‘the nations’, as David reflects on God’s righteous reign, and contrasts it with the fate that awaits nations who reject Him.
v5 You have rebuked the nations;
v15 The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;
v17 The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God;
v19&20 let the nations be judged in your presence. Strike them with terror, Lord;
let the nations know they are only mortal
There is a distinct contrast between the kingdoms of earth, and the unshakeable Kingdom of our God. (Hebrews 12v28)
As we move, in the UK, out of lockdown towards greater freedom, several key thoughts strike me as worth reflecting on for in the days ahead.
- The fear of death really did grip people’s hearts
This was no fantasy or illusion imagined by believers. The reality of death, and the fragility of life came home to so many in our nation. God has indeed ‘set eternity in the human heart’ (Ecclesiastes 3v11). Even as the lockdown eases, and restrictions are relaxed, many are still fearful for themselves and their families, worried to leave their homes.
- The gods of this age are fragile but stubborn
Sport, theatre, shopping, entertainment, all stopped overnight! Yet, as soon as B&Q, Primark or Nike reopened, the queues were around the block, and social distancing was ignored. The prophets of Baal, and the gods they served were clearly shown to be powerless, but their hold on the human heart is very real, as Elijah discovered in his day. (1 Kings 18)
- There is a new thirst for the Gospel
I have been amazed and thrilled by some of the news that has come across my path in this unprecedented season of life:
- 25% of the UK population accessed online Christian services in the first month of lockdown;
- On the 17 May, the UK church caused an international crash on Zoom, so large was the number of people accessing the service that Sunday morning;
25% of the UK population accessed online Christian services in the first month of lockdown
Amongst Counties Evangelists, we have seen remarkable encouragements, including:
- People coming to Christ through online messages;
- One Evangelist saw over 40 people attending an on-the-street memorial for a neighbour, as they were unable to attend the funeral;
- Several thousand new enquirers each week via online resource chatnow.org;
- Community engagement increasing, as local churches serve alongside their communities in provision of food and necessities, opening genuine opportunities to share the Gospel in person and with literature;
- Significant new online resources being made available, including Holiday Bible Clubs, preaching, devotional talks, and Church leaders provided for via the new Counties Connect YouTube Channel.
- Our God is Sovereign
The heart of Psalm 9 is found in verse 11…
Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion;
proclaim among the nations what he has done.
The Lord reigns, and we have been given a great commission – ‘go and make disciples of ALL Nations!’ (Matthew 28v19).
This season has provided some challenging times for many of us, but God has been gracious in providing a demonstrative reminder in these four key areas. Life is indeed fragile and truly precious, and the pleasures of this life, only for a season, are fleeting. But we have a glorious Gospel to proclaim, and Jesus is the only hope for the nations!
May this season prove to be a wake-up call for the Church to continue to proclaim His name, to declare His wonders and to demonstrate His love, with renewed passion and vigour, until He comes.
We have a gospel to proclaim
Good news for men in all the earth;
The gospel of a Saviour’s name:
We sing His glory, tell His worth