I would like to introduce you to the 37th member of Brimpton Baptist Church, Charles. Charles is not a new member who recently joined, in fact, his membership seems to have ended sometime before 1875. He joined the church by baptism, which means he mostly likely heard the Gospel from the founding minister of this fellowship, Charles Rixson.
From what we know of other historical records the 37th member of this church was a farmer. Many of the members in those days farmed or worked manual jobs of some kind. Either he or one of his brothers farmed Burnell’s Farm, a farm not more than 2 miles from the church as the crow flies. Most days I drive past it.
We do not know anything about the man himself. But in 1850 we know the church was still a struggling church plant. Up until the 1840’s groups of believers that met to worship outside of the Anglican denomination had to register as non-conformists. In years past non-conformists faced oppression and at times imprisonment.
So those early believers who gathered at Brimpton Baptist Church did so out of conviction. For many church attendance was, and still is, little more than a cultural excursion, something done to satisfy the expectations of others, to bring about business opportunities or to make contacts in society and politics. It was somewhere to be seen.
Not so for Charles and others. They gathered and most likely suffered loss for their efforts. They were a minority. They were poor in the eyes of the world. Yet, in God’s eyes, they were rich.
I can only hope that Charles was a man of conviction and of prayer. I would like to imagine that his efforts, combined with those other early believers, sustained this fellowship and helped the beacon of Gospel light to remain shining and then be passed to the next generation.
I am interested in and grateful to all those early believers. But I have a vested interested in Charles, Charles Wickens, my ancestor. I have yet to find out the exact connection, but it seems he may have been my grandfather’s grandfather, or perhaps an uncle.
You do not know what impact you will have on future generations, but never doubt that your faithfulness can count today and for eternity. Perhaps in 170 years time one of your descendants will attend the church you now support and where you worship, perhaps they will be the pastor. If the Lord tarries His coming your descendants may only have your name on a list, all else may be forgotten. Perhaps they will look back and imagine and hope you were a person of conviction and prayer. Will they be right?