My Last Journey
My spiritual journey began locked up in a cell in Winchester Prison. It was there, through reading a Gideon Bible, I first believed and started to follow Jesus. Within months I began preaching the gospel. Now, after sixty years of preaching the good news to many hundreds of thousands, I am once again locked up. This time, in my own home for my own safety. Like my first imprisonment, I am allowed exercise once a day and, yes - I long do to be free again. As, with others, who like me have pre-existing health issues, the long wait for a vaccine is on. Patience is a virtue. Thank God for Facetime, Skype and, yes Zoom!
Right up to the middle of February this year, I was with you in Ukraine, and had already bought my ticket for the next trip. No thought then that I might never again see the country and people I have loved these past 28 years. I confess, there were tears when I was forced to cancel my flight.
Ironically, my last ‘in the flesh’ preaching assignment was at Chatsworth Baptist Church. I was invited to celebrate the anniversary of being welcomed into church membership there, just a few days after my baptism on the 28th February 1960. I recall on that momentous day that, as I came up, dripping from the baptistry, the congregation were singing,
I am trusting Thee for power, Thine can never fail.
Words which Thou Thyself shall give me Must prevail.
How prophetic! Two weeks earlier, after a Saturday morning prayer meeting, a guy called Tony Staite had turned to me and said, “Come on Jackopson, grab a chair and follow me”.
His was such a commanding presence that I couldn’t argue. I followed him to the end of Chatsworth Way, to the corner of the High Street. There, he stood on the chair and preached. In those days there were fewer cars, so a man with a loud voice could be heard.
A small crowd had gathered around him. As soon as he jumped down, he slapped me on the back and said, “Right your turn. Get up there and tell them what Jesus has done for you”. No warning. No preparation. I stood on the chair and was surprised by the volume of my voice. “You’ve all heard about Daz, how it washes whiter than snow. Well, that’s what Jesus did for me. He washed my sins away”. A few minutes later, I was hooked. I knew I would spend the rest of my days telling people about Jesus. And I have. Now, sixty years later, it is still my passion because I have seen thousands of lives transformed by God’s amazing grace.
But now, like the Apostles Paul and John, toward the end of my life, I am marooned in the cell of my home, exiled from the people I love in Ukraine. But wait! Did it stop Paul? Did it stop John. No! Paul told the Christians at Philippi, that his house arrest in Rome, had worked out as a benefit for the gospel. Phil.1:12.
So it must be for me.
Paul had such a strong affection for the believers in Philippi, with whom he had only a brief time and part of that was spent in prison, imagine how much love I have for you dear Ukrainian brothers and sisters, Our experience together spans 28 years.
Of course, I long to be with you as always, but circumstances make it impossible now.
I want in the months ahead to share some teaching from the Scriptures in order to encourage and perhaps provide come source material for preachers, especially those who have not had the benefit of a theological training. I want the first series to cover Paul’s letter to the Philippians. (You can listen to the first video today)
Look at the first eleven verses of chapter one, and you will see that Paul loved his friends in Philippi with the,, “Heartfelt love of Christ Jesus’. (Verse 8) That’s how I feel about you also. See too, how John on the Island of Patmos, writes in his epistles, affectionately calling his disciples, “Little children”. I feel that same affection for you. I have known many of you from your childhood, some even from birth, both physical birth and spiritual rebirth. How could I feel for you less than John did, when exiled on Patmos?
Therefore, just as Paul and John continued to communicate, with the tools at their disposal, writing on parchment and sending letters by courier over many hundreds of kilometers, I have chosen to use the most modern means that God has blessed us with. I have spent the past weeks, setting up a studio and this new website.
I hope that this will enable the largest number of you to access my blogs and videos. Eventually, all of my books will be here, as well as some new writings. I will share photos and videos of things we have done together, so if you have some, please send them to me. Because the website will be in English and Ukrainian, I hope also to share you with the wider world by doing some interviews and telling your stories. You can already see Anna’s story and learn about the work going on in Stepanki Baptist Church.
I hope it will be for you all a place where you can find resources. One resource is already available. That is the Ukrainian version, and soon the Russian version of my booklet Just Grace,
If this is to be a success, I need your help. This can only work if it is our project, something we do together. Let us make this journey together to make the gospel known to more and more people for the glory of God.
Let’s pray again, as we have so often over the years, that God would open a door for our message.
Your servant, bother and partner in the gospel.