Teaching, discipleship and the Christian lifestyle...
"Pure religion and undefiled is to visit the widows and the orphans in their affliction, and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world."
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Father of Faith
(By Joanna Barratt)
Barratt Ministries is a non-profit ministry dedicated to sharing true discipleship teaching, and challenging Christians to live the lifestyle that Jesus taught in the ‘Sermon on the Mount’. We have been doing this since the late 70s through the mediums of preaching, singing and literature. We produce books, CDs, DVDs, and other digital media, to get our message out - one we believe is vital for the church today.
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Me - a bigot? What an insinuation! I didn’t even fully understand what the word bigot meant. And yet how easy it is to live in our own private world, full of bias, shaking off other people’s opinions with the inward thought “they don’t understand” . Often people who work for somebody very famous or wealthy can be more proud and pompous than the person that they are serving.
I don’t suppose there’s anything worse for the ego than reflected glory. Human nature has a very funny side to it, doesn’t it? It’s amazing just how many of these characteristics are at work within each one of us. The minister at my church had at one time been quite a famous man. A Granada Television film producer once stumbled across him, and at Granada’s own expense, made an hour-long documentary of the church’s activities, which was shown to 10 million people at peak viewing time on the television. The film won an Edinburgh Festival award and was shown in Italy at the World Film Festival. The story of my church, Sharon, was then told in 37 national newspapers around the world. It’s not hard to feel one of the elite when God calls you to work for a man like this - in fact, I found that I slipped quite naturally into the position.
One Of The Elite
For some years Maurice and I travelled around with our minister before his retirement to conduct various divine healing crusades in Great Britain and a number of other countries. Maurice would arrange and conduct the meetings, I would sing the solos and provide the music for the worship part, and the minister would preach the Word and pray for the sick. We worked very closely together, being of one mind and of one spirit. All day long we would be preparing for the evening service, the minister would go into a room and pray on his own and Maurice and I would do likewise combining our prayer with fasting on liquids only and we would not eat until after the meeting had finished in the evening. We felt so much a part of the crusade that we put in as much effort as possible in the hope that God would work through us. So, it was no wonder that we felt very righteous - after all, we were doing our part.
The Dregs Of Society
I remember one particular 10 day crusade which we conducted in Birkenhead. The church was located in a working class area where most of the congregation were unemployed. In order to motivate the people of the church, Maurice and I invited them to come along to the church each afternoon to pray and fast for the meetings, and a few of those who were on the dole with time to kill responded. I remember looking around at them at our first prayer session and thinking what a motley crew they were! I didn’t know where they were coming from, having had no communication with them before, and to me they just looked like the failures and dregs of society who couldn’t get work. To break the ice I asked them to share their testimonies with Maurice and I as we didn’t know anything about them. One by one they testified, and as each one spoke God dealt very severely with my pride.
The first man to share with us made reference to the blue lines on his face. I’d noticed them already, but had just imagined they were blue veins showing beneath the skin. But then he told his story of how a number of years ago he’d had a motor bike accident and had found himself wrapped around a lamp-post. He was rushed to hospital and was so severely damaged that they actually needed to wire his skull together and what I was seeing and thinking were blue veins was actually this wire showing beneath his skin. The accident had left him totally paralysed, confined to a wheel chair for a number of years. His brain had worked perfectly but his body just couldn’t co-ordinate, and consequently people had treated him as though he was an imbecile. All the time his brain had wanted to scream out and tell people how he felt as he hated so much their condescending attitudes and the way he was treated like a child, but his body wouldn’t accept the commands given from his brain. His mouth couldn’t form the words, his hands couldn’t hold what was offered him, and so he was locked in a world of incredible frustration.
This man wasn’t a church-goer, but somehow he heard that Jesus Christ could heal him and I can’t remember if he was in his own home or a friend’s home but he cried out in his heart for God to do something in his life - and he was dramatically healed. He was a totally new man, and now he spent all his days whilst being on the dole distributing handbills and giving his testimony to as many people as he could meet in a day. He was 100% committed to God.
I turned to one of the other men in our small gathering and asked him to tell his story and was equally amazed by what he told me. Apparently he’d been a chronic alcoholic, and his slavery to drink had ruined his marriage and his life. He lived in a high-rise flat and was in constant fear of being broken into, consequently all his windows and doors were locked, bolted and even chained! He was watching the television one evening during a bout of drinking and went into the kitchen for something, and when he came back into his lounge he saw somebody seated on the settee. Panic rose within him and he ran to the door to see whether he’d left it open - and found that it was locked, bolted and chained.
He was baffled as to how this man had got into his house, and when he questioned him about what he was doing there, this man started to tell him all about his life and his inward feelings, telling him things he’d never shared with anybody. When asked who he was, the stranger replied that he was Jesus. The man sharing his testimony told of his complete astonishment, because up until then he’d been a confirmed atheist and had never given God a second thought, but what he was experiencing now had changed his life completely, and from that day forward, he never took a drink, and gave his whole life to God.
A Humbling Experience
I don’t know how you would have felt if you had been listening to testimonies like these, but I felt a fraud. I had come into this working class church as a pompous, proud, arrogant Christian who had “a ministry from God”. I had been brought up from the age of 9 in a church and been taught and indoctrinated with the scriptures, but what I was being faced with now were people who had met God, and instead of hearing second hand from a preacher, they’d had a personal revelation from God which I’d never experienced. The testimonies of these men really humbled me and I realised that my “holiness” was all self-righteouness. Up until now I’d always thought of myself as being “special”, but now I was finding that I’d just had a good spiritual education.
“That’s My Jesus”
A few years ago Maurice and I were invited to speak and sing during the first part of a Full Gospel Business Men’s dinner, the main speaker being a man named Joe (Paddy) Whelan. It’s not hard to feel important when you’re invited to speak at a business dinner but when we had finished and Joe got up to give his testimony God reminded me yet again of the lesson He’d taught me in Birkenhead. Joe told of his life of crime and how after years of being in and out of prison for his many criminal acts he now found himself in solitary confinement because he’d taken a chisel to somebody in the prison whom he’d cut up so badly that he was totally unrecognisable. Solitary confinement is meant to be a very severe punishment, and during this time Joe didn’t have visitors, priests, or ministers, and his meals were passed to him and taken away when he’d finished. I don’t know how long he’d been in the punishment cell, but he said that one day he saw a tremendous light and Jesus Christ Himself visited him and dramatically changed his life.
I don’t remember much of Joe’s testimony, as it was quite a while ago when I heard it, but there was one phrase that he kept saying which seemed to hurt me every time he said it, and that was “That’s my Jesus, that’s my Jesus”. He kept speaking about Jesus, not as though he’d read about Him, but as though he personally knew Him. His life was dramatically changed from black to white, his foul mouth was cleansed, his attitude changed and the following day after this tremendous experience he requested a Bible. The prison warders saw the transformation and knew that this was no con job. It was for real - Paddy had met Jesus.
Only a couple of months ago I was again at a Prison Fellowship Rally at the Central Hall in Manchester where I was asked to sing, and once more I was reminded of the lesson God had taught me in Birkenhead because the main speaker was a man named Jimmy Rice who had no knowledge of God, was brought up in villainy and found himself in prison. This man didn’t even know enough about Jesus to be embarrassed about being a Christian, and when Jesus Christ Himself filled his cell with light one day and changed his life in a dramatic way, he found that his mouth was coming out with things that his mind hadn’t even thought of. He rushed up to a prison warden and told him that he wanted to become a Christian, and that he would also need a Bible. Whilst he was having this conversation with the prison warden, other inmates were standing around with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths, absolutely bemused at what Jimmy was saying. But he was so ignorant about religion and Jesus Christ that he didn’t even feel embarrassed to be talking about it! Jimmy’s life was turned upside down because he had been met personally by Jesus Christ Himself and given a fresh start.
I don’t know what God feels about the majority of Christians who go to church these days, but from a personal point of view I can honestly say I find nothing more stimulating, inspiring and motivating than hearing the testimonies of people who have had personal encounters with God when they’ve had no previous religious instruction. I find their lifestyles challenging because they change dramatically from what they were to something totally different and they’re usually not content to sit in a pew week after week soaking up sermons and reading their daily portions of scriptures, but they avidly read the Bible as though it’s a novel and take everything they read at face value - and put it into practice. When they’ve not been indoctrinated with religion they seem to have something fresh and real from God which makes them natural soul-winners because they’re not putting on a pompous show and trying to be Christians, they’re just natural and simply allow the changes that God has brought in their lives to shine through them.
Maurice & Joanna Barratt
For many years Maurice and Joanna have travelled extensively both throughout the UK and abroad. They will prayerfully consider any invitation to speak because they are so passionate about discipleship and challenging Christians to live and experience what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. If you would like to get in touch with them please complete the following form:
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