This Sunday (3rd January 2016) we were pleased to announce that Ben Shaw will be coming to serve our church through a three-month summer internship.
Ben is currently studying for an MDiv degree in Worship Leadership from Southern Seminary, in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Alongside this he is a member of our sister church, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville.
Below is the audio file and transcript of Ben’s testimony about how God has led him to joining our church in the summer.
“It’s great to be with you all at Grace Church this morning, it’s a real privilege to be able to worship our great God together with you as we begin this new year fixing our eyes on him and remembering his goodness and faithfulness.
I think this is my fourth visit to Grace Church and, looking around the room, there’s a number of you who I remember meeting before; but for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Ben Shaw, and I’m currently studying at Southern Seminary, in Louisville, Kentucky in the USA. I’m also a member and an intern at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, so I bring you love and warm greetings from Jeff Purswell and Bob Kauflin, who I know you’ve met before, and from all your brothers and sisters in Christ there.
As you can tell, though I’m studying in America I’m originally from the UK, and I lived here all of my life until heading to the States about a year and a half ago to start my seminary studies. I grew up in Nottingham, and studied in Durham and Cambridge before settling in Sheffield where I worked as a primary school teacher and then as a ministry trainee at Christ Church Fulwood. Now you’re probably wondering how I’ve ended up in Bristol and why I’m stood in front of you guys at Grace Church today? Well, while I was a ministry trainee at my church in Sheffield, me and couple of other guys from our church came down to the first Worship God UK conference in March 2014. We’d been using Sovereign Grace songs at our church for a long time, and as a team we all loved Bob Kauflin’s book, ‘Worship Matters’ and regularly benefited from the wisdom he shared through his blog. So we jumped at the chance to be at the first Worship God UK conference. That conference was a really uplifting and refreshing time for me personally, and I went home with a renewed passion to serve the church, and better equipped to lead my church in worshipping God together. That conference came at a time when I really needed some encouragement. So thank you all for the ways so many of you served so humbly and sacrificially at that first conference and again this year. It really is a blessing to lots of people from across the country.
I was so encouraged by the conference that I wanted to express my gratitude to Bob Kauflin, so I got in the line of people to chat to him after the conference. Whilst waiting in the line with other slightly star-struck Brits, I noticed this short, bald guy who’d been rushing around working hard to run the conference, and surprisingly the queue to talk to him was much shorter! In fact there was no-one… so not wanting to look like too much of a Bob-Kauflin fan-boy I went over to thank this short, bald guy for all his hard work in putting on the conference. Little did I know that that conversation was just the beginning of a friendship that has come to mean so much to me. God obviously intended more than just that one conversation, and since then I’ve become increasingly more connected to Nathan and Grace Church, Bristol. I guess it began that weekend of the first conference. On the Sunday morning I clearly remember God put it on my heart to pray for this church as you gathered for worship, and I remember really wanting to be with you guys. From that day, God seems to have grown my interest and love for this church. As I said, God’s plan was obviously for more than just that conversation, and after the conference me and Nathan began emailing back and forward, and we both thought it would be a good idea to get to know each other better, especially as by that point Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville had agreed to have me an intern, and it seemed a no-brainer that if I was going to be involved with Sovereign Grace in the US I should at least make the effort to get to know you guys at this Sovereign Grace Church in the UK a bit better. So I got to visit for the first time in May 2014, and I had a great weekend getting to know the Smith family better, and meeting some of you guys on the Sunday morning. It just seemed that God’s blessing was over the whole weekend, and though I turned up just a mere acquaintance on the Saturday, by the time I went home it felt like I was one of the family, and I was full of anticipation and excitement at what God was going to do with this friendship with Nathan and the family and this connection with Grace Church.
Since then, it’s been great to keep in touch and catch up with Nathan, Peter and Matt when they’ve been over in the States, and I’ve been able to get down to Bristol to visit the Smiths and the church pretty much every time I’ve been home from the States. Though it always seems like every visit is too short. So I’m really looking forward to being in Bristol for a bit longer this summer. Since that first visit, me and Nathan have been discussing the possibility of me coming to be an intern here at Grace Church for a summer, and I’m really excited that I get the privilege of joining the church for about 2 and a half months this summer.
God, in his goodness and sovereignty, has so clearly had his hand on all this, with the timing of that first conference, that initial conversation with Nathan and the subsequent friendship; along with how he’s led me to the States for my training and how I’ve become so involved with Sovereign Grace through being a member of the church in Louisville. I love what Sovereign Grace churches stand for, and most of all I love the passion we share to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to worship Him, who alone is worthy. I know that’s what you are about here at Grace Church and that’s why I’m so excited to join with you guys this summer, and be a part of all the great work God is doing through his people here.”