Monday, August 21, 2017

Avalon Chronicles #84: "Divine Encounters-Part Two"

Avalon Chronicles #84: "Divine Encounters-Part Two"

by Allen B. Clark

The most "divine" and auspicious of all our multitude of "Divine Encounters" occurred in the village of St. Margaret's-at-Cliffe, three miles from Dover, which is situated only nineteen miles from the French coast across the English Channel. This is the shortest distance to France across the Channel. The village literally sits on the high ground above the iconic landmark of the "White Cliffs of Dover."
(We learned that in late May and early June 1940 Dover and the surrounding coastal locations were where more than 800 small fishing and pleasure vessels departed to cross the channel along with Royal Navy ships to to accomplish the epic evacuation back to England of 338,226 Allied soldiers, who had been pinned down at Dunkirk, France after the lightning attack of the Germans across northern Europe. The allied troops had been pinned down and surrounded at Dunkirk. I have already seen the new movie "Dunkirk." It is very graphic in violence so be forewarned, but it was timely for me after my return from the English coast."

Upon checking in to our hotel we decided to walk around the quaint old village we visited. It was August 9th, one day before the second anniversary from 2015 of the untimely and sudden death of Linda's only child, Vincent. It was anticipated by us both that August 10th would be very emotional for Linda. But, on its eve in that ancient village, the Lord provided and exceptional, poignant, and memorable "Divine Encounter" that was very healing for Linda.

Across the road from our lodging there loomed on the high ground, covered from the road by many trees, foliage, and vines, a large granite structure, dwarfing all the village buildings. We saw a sign that indicated it was the Anglican Church of St. Margaret of Antioch. We walked though its cemetery, populated by old tombstones. The church itself was locked, but the notice indicated the key could be obtained just down the road at a village store. We decided to obtain the key later in the day. After supper we decided to walk to obtain the key and observed a woman entering the grounds. We asked her if the church would now be open for us to visit. She said yes and we would be welcome as the choir was there for their weekly choir practice. We followed her with much gratitude. Linda proceeded to kneel and pray inside and I, as is typical for me on visits to English churches, sought out the ever-present memorial plaques to the military service deaths of the congregants of that church. In this church there were thirty one names from World War I and ten names for World War II. (The casualty list for World War I bore out what a worshipper told us in Brighton when we attended a service at its Anglican St. Nicholas Church. He said in some villages after World War I all the young men were killed in combat leaving the locale bereft of any young males. This obviously was the case here.) After a few minutes the choir director asked us to join the choir in the practice and sing with them!

We joined the choir for only one hymn, which they had been rehearsing. It was "Be Still For the Presence of the Lord." It is a beautiful hymn! Before we joined them in the singing, I stood at the back of the fifteen or so members and was touched as the joy of the Lord was evidenced in the choir members as they sang. They reflected such warmth and peace and contentment. I was touched emotionally to the point of tears. There are numerous renditions on You Tube, but I am especially drawn to the one dated 6/20/14 , a Christian Music Programme.

 A partial recounting of some the words include: "We stand on holy ground Be still for the presence of the Lord The Holy One is here. Be still for the power of the Lord is moving in this place. No work too hard for Him In faith receive from Him."

I was blessed to have the opportunity to say a few words to the choir and introduced ourselves as Anglicans from Texas. I announced we were decided  Anglophiles and had been met on our trip with much warmth from the English people with whom we had been in contact. As we departed one of the men hugged and embraced Linda. It was an incredibly amazing experience to help Linda face the emotion of the next day. We consider it the highlight of our entire visit to England.

Our Lord blessed us immeasurably throughout our visit. In faith we received from Him blessings and the knowledge that He can answer all prayers and no work on our behalf is too hard for Him. It is up to us to ask Him to perform the work. We just pray and step back. He fulfilled the "Divine Encounters" for which we prayed! Since our return I have listened and watched several renditions of this hymn on You Tube. Never do I cease to be touched. Perhaps you too will be?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Avalon Chronicles #83: "Divine Encounters-Part One"

Avalon Chronicles #83: "Divine Encounters-Part One"

by Allen B. Clark

Linda and I recently returned from a seven day voyage on the Queen Mary 2 from New York City to Southhampton, England with further travels by rail to Portsmouth, Winchester, Brighton, Dover, Canterbury, and London. We always begin our travels with a prayer for "Divine Encounters." It is my hope that the following account of the "Divine Encounters" we experienced on this trip will be  a source of inspiration as to how our dear Lord answers all prayers, big and small.

The Queen Mary 2 announces for each day's schedule the time and location for gatherings of affinity groups. We attended the one for "Christians" our first day on the Atlantic. At this gathering we became acquainted with a pastor and his wife. He is involved with an international prayer ministry in the spiritual warfare arena. His wife teaches drama at a Christian high school. Linda has offered up prayers that there would be opportunities for younger women to take on the mantle of presenting the programs she has dramatized for twenty years of Women of the Bible ( The pastor's wife is eager to introduce Linda's scripts to her drama classes.

On the Sunday of the voyage an Anglican priest (passenger also) conducted an Anglican eucharist service which Linda and I attended. It went past the time at which a ship's non-denominational worship service was to begin. Attending late I went to the back of the auditorium and seated myself with some difficulty on a chair where my legs would be comfortable. There was only one other attendee in that section. Noting I did not have a program, she offered hers and went to obtain another one. The ending hymn was "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" with its prayer for protection "For those in peril on the sea." Most important through the centuries for all who sailed the "mighty oceans." Having observed my disability as I took my seat when I arrived, she approached me at the end of the service to inquire about my disability. As the conversation developed I learned she had been a British Royal Navy nurse assigned to a civilian ship converted to a hospital ship in Gibraltar. It sailed from Gibraltar in deployment to the Falkland Islands (east of Argentina) in 1982 when Argentina had invaded the Falklands and the British went to war over the incident. She served in the ship's operating room for the surgery of the war wounded amputees! Obviously we had much in common and met later twice with Linda to discuss her maiden name, Pugh, which was the maiden name of Linda's mother. She filled Linda in on much of the Pugh family history in Wales and England. Nicci Pugh is the author of White Ship-Red Crosses, the documenting of the Falklands War and its casualties.

In one of our destinations we enjoyed a delightful lunch after which the co-owner, an Englishman, whose family had been originally from Iran came to our table and a thirty minute conversation ensued. He said his deceased father had been a most generous gentleman, who provided much help to those in need. After the Iranian revolution of 1979 his mother returned to Iran and barely made it back to England safely due to a threat on her life. He said she took off her scarf she had always worn and threw it away never to wear it again. He related that the vast majority of Iranians/Persians do not support the mullahs in control of the country and said he wished our president would lift up the Iranian people for support in contrast to the leaders, believing this support might prove helpful for the people to rise up and overthrow the dictatorship. When we finished the conversation, he hugged us both! Very warm-hearted gentleman. We prayed for the success of his entrepreneurial endeavors. He offered us a drink on the house, but we declined since we do not drink any alcohol.

On the tour in England we worshipped at services in three cathedrals, Winchester, Canterbury, and St. Paul's. At Winchester Cathedral during the service I was in awe of the physical majesty of the edifice, but more importantly, my heart was filled with the overwhelming emotion that I was in worship in a place wherein my fellow Christians had been worshipping for over 1000 years.

At Brighton I read a Christian history of the town and discovered it was on a Brighton beach that Hudson Taylor received his inspiration to begin his China Inland Mission that has borne so much fruit in the propagation of our faith in that country.

At Canterbury we took a river ride on a small boat such as we know from Venice. On this one our boatman "punted" with a pole that propelled us through the shallow river meandering through the ancient city, originally visited by St. Augustine to introduce the Christian faith to England. He spoke about having been raised a Christian, but he did not worship today. He was still smarting from an experience in his youth when dissension in his church caused a split. I took this opportunity to define by being a Christian it was not necessary to attend public worship, nor adhere to legalism, but rather, in believing that Jesus is the Savior, Who gifts us eternal life, when we accept his purpose in coming to earth and dying on that Calvary cross. It was a simple rendition of our Gospel truth.

When we were at the Atlanta airport ready for the final flight home, we were at the location where I asked for a wheelchair to navigate security more comfortably and obtain transport to our gate. We observed a young man, who walked as I do, very haltingly as a double leg amputee also. He said he lost his legs in a train accident. He was at least half my age. Linda spent some time talking to him and gave encouragement to him in navigating his future life by pointing out the example of the richness of my life after fifty years as an amputee. I must declare that much of my richness is due to the blessings of my life companion, my dear spouse Linda.

Stay tuned for Part Two.