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Gratitude. Sadly, it is too often in short supply, even in a church. I want to increase the supply through this article.

In a world where self-congratulations is the norm, expressing appreciation for others is increasingly a rarity. In a culture that can quickly criticise and complain to a social media crowd with a “thumbs down,” giving the “thumbs up” of a thank you is not so prevalent. But I want to take this opportunity to offer a huge “thumbs up” and say, “Thank you, Stuart.”

This month marks 22 years of Stuart’s employment at Brackenhurst Baptist Church. But more to the point, it marks 22 years of faithful and loyal and fruitful service to our church. Thank you, Stuart.

I think Stuart was 19 years old when he was hired to be my personal assistant. A fancy term for a not so fancy job. When I asked him if he wanted the job I warned him that there was nothing “glamorous” about it and that, if, after a while, he wanted to look for something else, that would be fine. I guess he must like his job.

Back in those days I preached from handwritten notes and God graciously granted to Stuart the gift of the interpretation of tongues! I am still amazed that he is able to read my chicken-scratch. But his diligence in doing this resulted in hundreds of sermons being put in print so people who want to can read them on the church’s website. Thank you, Stuart. Speaking of the website, thank you, Stuart. The ministry of BBC has literally gone to the ends of the earth through this medium, and especially so during lockdown. And what often astounds me is that Stuart taught himself about all of this technological stuff. When there is a computer challenge at the church premises, like Superman, Stuart is there like a speeding bullet to rescue us. I don’t ask questions; I simply get out of the way and he does his thing. Thank you, Stuart.

Each week our congregation is well informed (well, those who check their messages) about what is happening in the life of the church. Stuart organises prayer lists, and weekly roundups, and important announcements, and sends out devotionals, and articles, and special prayer requests, and, and, and… Thank you, Stuart.

But in addition to all of this administration, and so much more, Stuart faithfully serves as an elder who care-fully tends to the flock. Though reserved in nature (however he has a very witty sense of humour), Stuart has a heart for the sheep and serves us faithfully. Thank you, Stuart.

When it comes to teaching and preaching, well, thank you Stuart!

Stuart has one of the sharpest theological minds that I have had the privilege to encounter. People think that I read a lot, well, you should see Stuart’s Kindle.

His interpretive skills when it comes to the text of Scripture is careful, accurate—even courageous at times—dependable, and Christ-centred. My family has often commented what a blessing his preaching is (they are a bit too complimentary, in my view!). But seriously, thank you Stuart.

On a personal level, I am grateful for Stuart’s faithful assistance to me for nearly my entire ministry at BBC. Stuart has taken so many things off of my plate so that I can fill my plate with some often more urgent matters. Stuart has been willing to assist in any way that will help me to fulfil my ministry. The words of Paul about Epaphroditus come to mind when I think of Stuart: “my brother, and fellow worker, and fellow-soldier” (Philippians 2:25). Thank you, Stuart.

Brothers and sisters, make the opportunity this week to express your gratitude to Stuart, while thanking God for his gift to us. Take the time to say, “Thank you, Stuart.”

Grateful with you,