ISSUE: 2015, Volume 12, Issue 3
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The words of Mark chapter 16 verse 15, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel’, are clear and well known to most of our readers. Despite being familiar words, they bring a great challenge.
Are we utilizing every opportunity that is available to us to spread the greatest yet simplest message in the world?
Our family has been given some unique opportunities to preach the gospel. I appreciate that; but I trust that as I explain what we are currently involved in that each one of us will seek to discover fresh opportunities to tell others about our Saviour!
August 2014 marked the centenary of the commencement of the Great War, World War One, 1914-1918. It was during that war that my great grandfather, William Harold Coltman, was awarded, among a number of other medals, the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery that can be given to any soldier. He served as a stretcher-bearer, refused to use a gun and kill because of his faith in Christ. He was, however, willing go to war to help, and save lives.
As a result of his courage, bravery, and devotion to duty, he is now described as ‘The highest decorated non-commissioned officer of the British army’.1,2
Graeme Paterson from Plains, Scotland, heard the story of William Harold Coltman and had the vision to organize the development of a professional powerpoint presentation which could be used in a wide range of situations. We now have the privilege of using this all over the country to spread the gospel. We are very grateful for Graeme’s vision and assistance.
Alongside the presentation, a tract has been written entitled For Valour, the two words which are inscribed on a Victoria Cross medal. This tract has been distributed at many events over the last twelve months.
The presentation not only describes the type of man William Coltman was, and how bravely he behaved on the battlefield, but it also gives historical details of the war. This is why schools have a particular interest in the material. Thousands of children have seen the presentation and, as a result, have heard the gospel. We have had the opportunity to run school assemblies and classroom workshops to raise awareness of the horrors of war. Schools right across the United Kingdom have been interested, and new schools are regularly being contacted to arrange further visits during 2015, God willing.
Early last year a military concert was held in the Town Hall in Burton-upon-Trent. Part of the concert was dedicated to William Coltman, so we sought to find the organizer, who agreed for all 500 who attended the concert to receive a copy of For Valour.
In Lichfield, Staffordshire, is the Staffordshire Regiment Museum. Here they have built a replica World War One trench, which is named the ‘Coltman Trench’. Having been refurbished recently, the family was asked to attend the reopening, and, again, we were able to give out For Valour tracts to all who attended this event.
During remembrance week, November 2014, the presentation was shown in schools throughout Burton, but also at the National Memorial Arboretum. This is a national place of remembrance where there is also a tree planted in memory of William Coltman. Each day the presentation was shown to groups of children. I was then invited back to the Arboretum in March 2015 as a guest speaker at their ‘Friends and Family’ day. Forty people were present to see the story of William Coltman, and many tracts were taken.
In November 2014 the family were invited to the opening of the ‘Coltman Peace Wood’, which is in the village of Winshill, just down the road from the Gospel Hall, and hundreds of tracts were distributed.
The close of 2014 brought further opportunities to speak to a group of young soldiers at the Territorial Army, and also the Western Front Association at their annual meeting. Both were very receptive to the message.
Over the last twelve months we have also been asked to show the presentation in many gospel meetings. This has been very effective in the spread of the gospel.
As far as future opportunities are concerned, we have just emailed the HQ of the Women’s Institute (WI) in Staffordshire and Derbyshire and we await their reply.
A date has also just been arranged for the presentation to be shown at the local library in Burton to give the people of the town the opportunity to come along and hear the story for themselves.
With all of these events over the last twelve months, over 10,000 people have been reached with the gospel, and 2015 looks to be equally busy with many opportunities to spread the good news. While we appreciate that we are in a unique position, you could also be presented with possibilities to spread the gospel that others don’t have!
The questions are:
Are we investigating every avenue and looking for fresh opportunities to send out this great message?
Are we pushing doors to see if the Lord will open them and that this may lead us to fresh opportunities to witness for our Saviour?
We are told so often that we are living in dark and difficult days, but on the contrary I think that we are living in days of great opportunity! Let us ask God for the courage to go out and preach the gospel where the opportunities arise.
1 The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997).