What’s happening with The Smiths?
We wanted to pull back the curtain on what’s been happening with ‘The Smiths’ over recent months. For some of you this news will not be news at all, but for others of you who don’t know us as well, maybe it will give you some insight into what the Lord has been doing with us in 2015.
As we entered last year, we made a decision for Martyn to reduce the amount of the travelling he had been doing in 2014 - many of you will be aware of the fact that for the past eight years we had been looking after Linda’s dad who moved in with us in 2007. His health concerns were making travelling more difficult and, as the situation unfolded, we realised the wisdom of Martyn being more home-based. Hence, the only trips he undertook in 2015 (other than Sunday preaching in Vinelife churches and the KLA Seminars) were to India in March and Colorado in June (we sent you some testimonies of both trips as they happened).
Linda has been pretty focused on caring for her dad, and this has meant being more involved in the local Anglican church (St. Peter’s, Halliwell and the daughter church, St. Andrew’s where we ministered back in the early 1980’s). This has been quite an interesting journey as she was able to get alongside people to pray with them and encourage them with prophetic input. Some of these folk are people we’ve known for a long time, but others are new acquaintances and people who are on an interesting journey with the Lord.
Our wider family
As far as our family is concerned, it’s been a major task to keep up with them all. For those of you who are not familiar with our wider family, we have three adult kids (now with three spouses between them) and nine grandkids (you know - the rewards for not killing your own kids when they were teenagers!!!)
Phil & Sarah have continued to develop Vinelife Church, Manchester and are doing really well. In November they hosted the first Jesus Culture Europe Conference in Manchester and had probably close to 1000 delegates for the event. Phil spoke at the first session and he invited Luke up onto the stage to help him!
Jo has been in the middle year of her Ph.D in Educational Psychology at Manchester University so Tim has reduced his EP work to be more available for the children. Nyah’s transition into secondary school didn’t quite go as planned and she ended up being Home-Educated for nearly the whole of the Autumn Term - thankfully she ended up getting a place in the school Jo & Tim really wanted her to attend in the first place.
Becci & Michael continue to lead Manchester House of Prayer - they have also hosted a number of conferences and training events as well as developing their own training track called ‘Intro’. Developing their prayer opportunities, increasing their weekly hours in the prayer room, home educating three children and sending the fourth to Nursery seems to fill the rest of their time!
We mentioned earlier the fact that Arnold, Linda’s dad, has been with us for the past few years - the most life-changing event that happened with us at the end of 2015 is that he passed away on 8th December - peacefully, at home with us. The circumstances leading up to his death were truly amazing and a wonderful testimony to God's goodness and mercy. He was 96 in November - all the circumstances of the last few weeks of his life were really amazing.
His passing was really timely - Jo, Tim and family were booked to go away to the USA to visit an old University friend and, against all odds, we were able to have the funeral the day before they left. Martyn led the service and Linda had decided that she should speak (Abi, Phil & Sarah’s youngest also shared a little). What Linda said was very poignant and really spoke to people - well over 80 came to the service and even the funeral director (who is a Christian) said it was one of the most moving services he’d ever been to! The great thing was that people saw the light of God in a dark situation - testimony to the love and honour with which the Lord strengthened and empowered us! We were inundated with messages from people all over the world who were praying for us and encouraging us as we enter a new chapter in our lives.
Looking to the future
We really do have a sense that we are entering a new season - something fresh as we commit ourselves to God’s purpose for us. The other day, Martyn was talking to a friend in the USA and he said, “Things will really heat up for you and Linda now.” - we’ve been on the receiving end of many such encouragements from people. We both have a recognition that there is something fresh on the horizon for us. It would be easy just to plough into things and get moving, but we really feel the need to take time out to seek the Lord and hear him together. So, we have made plans to do just that. On January 21st we will fly out to California for a month and stay with our friends Kevin & Suzanne Springer. After such a long stretch caring for Arnold it will be good to take a break and take a fresh look at what the Lord is saying to us.
We know there are specific things the Lord has put on our hearts - the kind of people we should be networking with and impacting and the prophetic encouragement about how he wants to move in the nations. We also feel that our focus will be on:
- Welcoming people into the presence of Jesus
- Releasing people into a greater experience of anointing from the Holy Spirit
- Teaching people how to hear the voice of the Lord.
However, we feel that he will give us a blueprint and a strategy for accomplishing all that as we seek his face and come humbly into his presence to hear his word. Mary of Bethany sat at the feet of Jesus (Mark 10:39) to do just that and it had a powerful impact on her life - our desire is to do the same as we commit ourselves to fulfil his call on our lives.
Please pray for us!