Update from Rachel (September 2017)

Well, another year is over, which means I have done two of my three years of study. It has been an eventful year to say the least. This time last year I was thinking maybe that God was telling us to try for a baby – something that I’d almost given up on. A year later and the birth and loss of our daughter has become my most precious and most painful memory.

I write these articles to keep you up to date with my training but in truth I believe that these kinds of events are part of ministerial training. I am certainly not the only one on my course who has had to face a significant loss, and it seems that everyone goes through something. Of course these events are not part of the formal training program – they are certainly not arranged by Spurgeon’s college. But then it is God who’s in charge of the real training

C.S. Lewis wrote:

‘Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.’

If this is the case for the ordinary Christian how much more for those training for those training for ministry?!

So this year it’s almost been like the actual course has been running in the background while the biggest part of my training has been in my personal life. I have learnt too much through this to write it all here but some of the main things I have learnt are

  • That I don’t have to be afraid even when life is hard because God is in control and he is there by my side
  • Empathy with those who are pregnant and those who are bereaved
  • That the existence of a loved one, however short, is worth all the pain in the world – I can understand why Jesus would willingly go through crucifixion for his beloved creation.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported us through this year. You’ve been amazing.

On top of these things I have been continuing to develop in my preaching and leading. It was nice to be visited recently by a few Perry Risers who decided to come and hear me preach at South Norwood Baptist Church. I’m still learning my Greek and Hebrew. I’ve learnt more about the bible and more about church history. I’m coming to the realisation that this course is only ever going to scratch the surface of what is a very deep subject. But the more I learn the more awesome God becomes to me.

I’m just about to start the third year which includes a dissertation so I’ve started reading for that. I don’t exactly know where I’ll be at the end of next year except to know that God will still be holding me in his hand. Please pray for continued guidance, learning and provision over the following year. Pray that the Lord will show both myself and Andrew where he wants us to go next.

Love and Blessings



Update from Rachel (December 2016)

Hi everyone

I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last update. Time flies! It seems like only yesterday I walked nervously up the drive of Spurgeon’s for my first day but here I am in my second year!

College is still going well but it is still a lot of hard work. This year I seem to have more lectures about the church including doctrine of the church, church history and transforming congregations. This suits me well as the church is a particular area of interest for me. I want to know how the church can best embody the kingdom of God in this world and I think to do that we need to think about where we are, where we have come from and where God wants us to be. So for me all these lectures on church are great. We are also doing modules focussing on specific parts of the bible such as the Pentateuch (the first five books) and the Old Testament writings (Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs). I’m also continuing to steadily improve at Greek and Hebrew. I look forward to the time where I can read these with only a little assistance from the dictionary – I’m still looking up most words at the moment.

My placement at South Norwood Baptist continues to go well. I preach or lead a service about once a month. Pete, the minister there, is very supportive and ensures that I get the chance to be involved in a range of experiences. Recently I got to observe a wedding, which was beautiful, and a school visit of 2 classes of 5 year olds, which was fun.

The church itself is a friendly church with about 100-150 attending on a Sunday. We feel that lately there has been an increased movement of the Holy Spirit which is a cause for thanks and praise. We also pray that it will continue, especially as we have also noted a corresponding increase in spiritual battles facing the church. Another area to be thankful for is that after a number of problems we finally got our leaky roof fixed. Feel free to visit anytime. I’m sure you’d be made welcome.

Thinking of college again, Spurgeon’s is going through some upheaval. Our principal, Roger Standing, after an extended period of sick leave has decided to resign. I understand he is recovering but has taken the decision to move on. One of our vice principals, Peter Morden, has also decided to go back into pastoral ministry at the end of this academic year. Therefore the college is looking for a new principal and vice principal (as well as a doctrine tutor). So if you know anyone who might be suitable please let them know about the vacancies. Andy Stockbridge has been appointed as interim chief executive to support the college through this process. It’s not all people leaving though. We had Andy wright (vice principal), Zoltan Schwab (Old Testament and Hebrew tutor) and Katie jack (deputy head of operations) all start with us this year; all of whom are excellent at their jobs as well as being nice people.

I will try not to leave it quite so long before writing again, but in the meantime please could I request the following prayers;

– That I will continue to balance my studies well

– That I will continue to develop in my walk with God

– That God will guide us in decisions about the future.

– For South Norwood Baptist church; that we will continue to seek God’s guidance and that we will act according to his will especially as we explore our mission in the local community.

– For Spurgeon’s college, as they look to find a new principal and fill other vacancies. Please pray for wisdom and discernment as well as support during the upheaval.

You are always in my hearts and prayers

Rachel Jeffreys

Lots of learning

Hello Everyone

The last four months have felt a bit of a whirlwind but I have now finished the first semester. We have 2 semesters a year in which we take different modules. So this is a good time to review how it’s been going.

It’s been going well. Some of the highlights of this semester have been:

  • Translating passages of John from the original Greek. I still need help to do this but I find it so moving as it helps me to really understand the writing on a deeper level.
  • Having time to study in depth. The essays we have to write are particularly good for this – for example, I wrote an essay on the trinity which gave me a chance to focus on something I’ve always found a bit confusing (If you feel the same way, don’t worry! The general conclusion of most theologians is that it is beyond human understanding, but we know it’s true due to our experience of God and the scriptures – it just points to how awesome God is).
  • Spending time with God. There has been time made specifically for reflection to help in our walk with God.
  • A moving talk from Christian Solidarity worldwide, who support those persecuted for their religion and raise awareness.
  • Worship and Preaching skills classes which despite occurring first thing on a Monday morning, have been inspirational for me. I have so much more to think about now in planning services but I also find it very exciting.
  • A role play of a wedding – I was a bridesmaid – it was a lot of fun.
  • Making new friends – there are so many great people at college and getting to know them has been fantastic.
  • God’s provision. Despite the fact we are now surviving on one income we haven’t lacked anything we have needed. Those things we have had to sacrifice haven’t been a problem. Also, thanks to the church and other supporters I have paid the fees for the first year and have started saving for the second year.
  • Good grades – all the results I have had back have been very good.
  • Settling into South Norwood Baptist Church. It is a very friendly church, not that dissimilar from Perry Rise in style and congregation although a little smaller. They have been very supportive through a few nervously delivered services and a sprained ankle. Pete, the minister, is also a great mentor.

It’s not always been easy. There has been a lot of work, much of which needs to be done on my own. At first I seemed to do nothing but studying and I had to learn to prioritise and study more efficiently in order to have time to do the other responsibilities of life (e.g. housework). Having to be alone is also difficult for me; I’m quite susceptible to ‘cabin fever’. But, I try to use the library on study days so I don’t get stuck inside alone all day. God is also helping me to cope better with it. Prayer for continued adjustment would be appreciated.

But as you can see the good far outweighs the challenges. I feel really blessed to be able to study theology and fall more in love with God the more I do it. God is also developing me as a person and as a minister. I’m excited to see where I am going to be in 3 year’s time.

I am still praying for you all at Perry Rise. I occasionally attend some of the evening services and have had opportunities to meet with a few of you at social occasions. It has been great to see those of you I have and I hope I will get an opportunity to see others of you soon.


Settling in

Hello Everyone

I’ve now been at Spurgeon’s College for 4 weeks and I’m starting to understand what I am doing. So I thought it was time I gave you an update.

College started with an orientation week which helped us to get to know each other. Spurgeon’s has a number of different types of theology course so not everyone there is training to be a minister and not everyone who is training is training the same way I am. Neither is everyone there Baptist. There are a number of Pentecostal students and some Anglicans too. However, everyone is friendly, christian and enthusiastic about theology. That makes it a very nice environment to be in.

At the moment I’m studying: Biblical Greek; the history of the Bible; mission; worship and preaching skills; practical ministry; and christian doctrine. They are all interesting but I am particularly enjoying learning about worship. There is a lot to think about in planning worship and I’m looking forward to putting what I’ve learnt into practice. In all the subjects its great to hear and read the range of different views on the topics. Due to the diversity of the students it means we can have some really good discussions. The lecturers are all really knowledgeable so they’re guiding us to think from many different view points. The library is also full of good books. We are learning Greek very fast and intensively; we’re already translating the introduction to John’s Gospel! It’s fascinating how much meaning it pulls out to study the scriptures in their original language and I’m looking forward to when I can actually read them properly.

The college has worship time in the chapel every day and all our lectures begin with prayer and a bible reading. So God is really kept at the centre. This is great because it has been a bit confusing and being reminded to reconnect to God is important. It is remarkably easy to study Theology and not think about God. Apparently there are many non-christians who study christian theology just out of interest. But at Spurgeon’s the emphasis is on studying theology out of a love for God; We are trying to understand more about the God we love.

But I am not just doing a Theology degree; I am training to be a minister. Therefore there is a practical side to my training. I am now starting my placement with South Norwood (‘Holmesdale’) Baptist Church. It seems to be a nice church and Peter Leveson (The minister) is supportive. It’s smaller than Perry Rise but that is helpful for my training. It also seems to have a family/community feel to it so I’m hoping to settle in well. As I will mainly be there, you won’t see me much at Perry Rise. But I will try to come from time to time and I’ll be asking Andrew for regular updates. I also keep you in my prayers.
Thank you for all your prayers and support for me. Some of my fellow students had to face difficulties to get here. I have had nothing but support and I thank you and God for this.

Rachel Jeffreys