As for Me and My House, We’ll Serve in our Single Years!

Lore Ferguson from Texas, has determined not to waste her singleness: it’s not a time of waiting! It’s meant to be a time of productive ministry and growth!

Lore writes,“ I created a creed for my single years. It’s three-fold: my housemates are my primary binding relationships; my home is my primary place of ministry; my house is a place of peace.” For more see link a creed for my single yearsLORE





charles-de-foucauld (2)Charles Eugène de Foucauld (1858 –1916), a French Catholic priest, wrote this ‘Prayer of Abandonment’.

My Father,
I abandon myself to You.
Make of me what You will.
Whatever you make of me,
I thank You.
I am ready for everything,
I accept everything.
Provided that Your will be done in me,
In all Your creatures,
I desire nothing else, Lord.
I put my soul in Your hands,
I give it to You, Lord,
With all the love in my heart,
Because I love You,
And because it is for me a need of love
To give myself,
To put myself in Your hands unreservedly,
With infinite trust
For You are my Father!

“Loving God, loving people, is my whole life … “I would like to be sufficiently good that people would say, “If such is the servant, what must the Master be like?” Charles de Foucauld.

Charles de Foucauld came from a Christian family but turned agnostic as a teenager, in his own words, “running wild … I was in the dark. I no longer saw either God or men: There was only me.” He served as an officer in the French Army in North Africa but lost his rank after an affair. He then turned explorer in Morocco, disguising himself as a Jew as Europeans were forbidden in that country.

On his return to France, he found himself longing for adventure of a different kind: “Even though I wasn’t a believer I started going to Church. It was the only place where I felt at ease and I would spend long hours there repeating this strange prayer: “My God, if You exist, allow me to know You!”

At 28, a turning point was reached: he began to believe: “The moment I realized that God existed, I knew I could not do otherwise than to live for Him alone.”

Charles (he called himself ‘Little Brother Charles of Jesus’) lived as a Trappist monk for a while. He spent some time as a hermit in Nazareth within the confines of a PCharlesdeFoucauldoor Clares community. He was later ordained as a priest and in 1901 left for Algeria. His vision was, “to shout the Gospel with his life” and, for those he lived amongst, to find in him, “a universal brother”.

His house, in Béni Abbès in western Algeria was known locally as “the fraternity” and consisted of a room, a chapel and three acres of garden. People constantly came to seek him out: “From 4.30 am to 8.30 pm, I never stop talking and receiving people: slaves, the poor, the sick, soldiers, travellers and the curious.”

Charles longed for others to join him but they never came: “Pray to God so that I may do the work he has given me to do here: that I may establish a little convent of fervent and charitable monks, loving God with all their heart and their neighbour as themselves; a Zaouia (Islamic word for school or monastery) of prayer and hospitality where such piety radiates that the whole country is illumined and warmed by it; a little family imitating so perfectly the virtues of JESUS that all who live in the surrounding area begin to love JESUS!”

Inspired by his vision, Charles wrote down a plan for new religious orders, patterned on the life of Jesus.
In 1904 Charles left Béni Abbès to dwell among the fierce nomadic Saharan Tuareg people; he wanted to live among, “the furthest removed, the most abandoned.” He learned the Tuareg language, compiled a Tuareg dictionary and translated the gospels.

Charles’ premature death (he was murdered in 1916) saw his plans for a community unrealised; in 1914 he had written: “not a single conversion! It takes prayer, work and patience.”

Did Charles die feeling his life’s labours had been in vain? A solitary seed, buried in the ground, unproductive and forgotten? It was not to be! Later various communities such as the Little Brothers of Jesus and Little Sisters of Jesus were formed as they took hold of and implemented his vision and drew inspiration from his words. His legacy, unrealised in his lifetime, lives on. The solitary seed has multiplied and born abundant fruit.

“Above all, always see Jesus in every person, and consequently treat each one not only as an equal and as a brother or sister, but also with great humility, respect and selfless generosity.”

Event for Christian Celibates and Singles

The Jesus Fellowship in the UK has an evening event on Monday 8 September in Northants  for Christian celibates and singles and those exploring committed singleness or celibacy (7:45 start).

It’s going to be a great evening. Come along and bring anyone else interested!silver ring

For more information:

Tel: 0845 123 5550 (UK local rate)
+44 1327 344511 (International)

Were Lazarus, Mary and Martha Celibates?


Excavations at Qumran, near the Dead Sea

I’ve come across an interesting theory recently and, I have to repeat, theory. Reading the New Testament makes interesting detective AND GUESSWORK and, 2000 years later, I realise relying on the latter can lead us up the garden path.

The point in question is this: who were Mary, Martha and Lazarus? (mentioned in all four gospels). We are told they were siblings; there is no mention of partners, no mention of parents. Jewish girls would be married by the age of 16. Were Mary and Martha 14-15 year olds? Were they widows?

One explanation is that all three belonged to the group of Essenes, a Jewish sect which flourished at this time and had a community (and library) at Qumran in the Judean desert near the Dead Sea. They stood aside from mainstream Judaism, were into studying and practised holiness and strict observance of the Law; they looked after the marginalized and established houses for the destitute: children and widows. Some of them also embraced a celibate lifestyle.

Bethany, near Jerusalem, where Martha and Mary and Lazarus lived, appears to have had an Essene colony. Evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls (the library of the Qumran community) suggests they ran a hospice there. The name, Bethany, means “Poor House” or “House of Misery”. Perhaps this village was called after the hospice? Perhaps it helps us understand the words spoken in Bethany by  Jesus: ‘You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.’ (John 12:8)

If they were Essenes, perhaps, just perhaps, Martha, Mary and Lazarus were amongst the very first Christian celibates? An interesting thought! Whatever, Mary in particular shows an outstanding devotion to Jesus. Our first picture of her is sitting, captivated, at the feet of Jesus (the posture of a disciple) (Luke 10:38-42). Nothing distracts her. Later, we read of her anointing Jesus with expensive perfume, in preparation for His death. (John 12:1-11). As celibates, here is a woman to emulate – whether she was celibate or not.


Anne Wairimu Kiarie on the Challenges of Being Single in East Africa

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARecently I had the privilege of meeting Anne Wairimu Kiarie when she came to England. She is a member of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa and lives on the outskirts of Nairobi. She speaks of her experience of being a single Christian.

“Jesus is company for me. I’m not lonely,” said Anne. “God is my provider.

“I come from Nairobi, Kenya. When I was four years old my parents separated and my mother spent two years in hospital. I had to stay with friends and relatives. I did not grow up as a Christian.

“I have a son (I educated him myself) and I lived with my son’s father for four years. He used to spend money on drink and, in the end, I left him.

“I used to cry alone and I asked God to show me the way. I felt Him telling me to go the House of the Lord. When I went to the local church, I found some young women praising God. ‘Why didn’t I come here before?’ I asked myself. I gave my life to God at this time. The year was 2006.

“When I joined the church, I used to listen to the single ladies. They were looking for husbands. “Don’t’ spend your energies looking for them!” I said. “I began encouraging them, ‘Have God as your focus! God is the answer.’
“I am a single woman myself but not by choice. However, I’m not intending to get married unless God speaks. If He speaks … that’s different …

“As a single woman, I find God is my provider. I have no husband to provide for me! If you have no job in my country, you sleep without food – it’s not like the UK where you get benefits! I needed a job and God provided work for me. I have a contract now with ‘Kenya Power’.

“In Africa, being single is hard; your parents push you to marry, partly because they want grandchildren. You can even be cursed if you don’t comply.

“My ministry is to single ladies and I want to bring single and widowed ladies to Jesus. In the field (I’m a surveyor) I make friends and talk to them about Jesus. I know many single ladies who are alcoholics (alcohol is very cheap in Kenya). I talk to them and give them food and money. One of them has found faith in Jesus now. If you don’t give them food, they are hungry and how will they listen to you?

“We also give our time and money to the poor and orphans – there are many in Kenya as their parents have died of AIDS.

“In your church here in the UK I’ve seen sisterhood and brotherhood; you love one another and it doesn’t matter that you’re not blood brothers and sisters. I want this more and more in my church in Kenya. I’m really working at it. My friends know when I am down; they are closer than natural family – especially the single ladies.

“In 2012 I stayed at Abiding Rock (a Christian community in Northampton, UK). They loved and cared for one another; when I went back to Kenya I talked to my friends – ‘why can’t we do it here?’ I cried when I left Abiding Rock because the love was so strong. One of my ambitions is to have real Christian community out here. I tell myself, ‘where there is a will, there is a way; Jesus is the way. He is the provider!’”


One Direction

When we’ve been doing anything long enough it gets old; most married couples will tell you that. We get bored with our partner, job, our routine, where we live, where we worship … human beings just get bored.

It’s so easy when the tedium sets in to assume that there must be something better elsewhere, we might even have an inkling what that something might be; maybe it’s time to change direction. We often question why we started what we’re doing and why it doesn’t feel the same any more. I have been there several times with all kinds of commitments in my life, including my celibate gift. But, just as married people do, I made a promise and so there is only one direction left and that is God-ward. Recently, I’ve been appreciating afresh that God is love and that he expressed that love to us through suffering and covenant.

There is a humanistic wind blowing around that has created phrases like, ‘It’s not working for me’, but this is contrary to what Jesus said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’ Ouch!

Psalm 1 says, ‘Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.’ That’s a promise worth meditating on. Rather than listening to arguments as to why God’s various callings on our lives are simply not working and taking our wisdom from the prevailing wisdom of the world, let’s grab the promise of a fruitful, joyful life for those who focus rightly whatever the season.


Eternal Celibacy and Everlasting Love

WilfHere’s another poem from Wilf.

Wilf Copping was born in 1954 and made a commitment to celibacy in 1980. He lives in Christian community – ‘House of Living Stones’ in Northants.


Celibacy begins with the giving

Of one life to another,

And continues that way ever expanding

Until its glorious end; and then

It continues.

It never was alone

It never will be

The life of heaven has begun on Earth.


Children in the playground;

The same in every age and place,

Sometimes to the sound of bombs

Sometimes bells.

Still they come from mother’s womb,

Still they laugh and play.

Childhood has not been eradicated

Though here it is short lived

Before it is dressed

In the patchwork rags of adulthood.

But it will return on a new Earth,

Childhood’s joy and profound contemplation

Clothing us in seamless robes.


Celestial light shining through

The dirty canvas of this world,

Like the truth in the heart of a myth,

The meaning wrapped in a parable,

Something shines in the luminous gaze of lovers.

That we can fall in love is a gift from God

And though often defiled

It still reveals eternal secrets

To the pure in heart,

A Lamb

A Bride

New Earth

Everlasting love.