Dear all,

Robert and Tami Fire

Those of you who were in church this weekend or active on social media will have heard by now about Robert

Fire’s heart attack on Friday.

We do believe that he is going to recover but it was very serious. The left side of his heart was completely

blocked and the medical staff refer to this colloquially as the “widow maker” because it is fatal unless treated


Robert’s life was saved because he happened to be working out with his trainer just a few blocks from hospital.

She called 911 and they were able to operate quickly.

His recovery has been far from simple, though. They fitted a stent in the artery affected but his pain was

increasing in an unusual way and it turned out that the stent itself had become blocked. It means that he suffered

a lot of unnecessary extra pain and that again his life was on the line. They operated again and he is recovering

but they have just been told (by someone with an abrupt bedside manner) that there is still a risk of damage to

the heart and we do not know what this means.

Every day has brought great emotional highs and lows of relief and concern like this. It means that there is still

the need for a lot of prayer and that we should understand that Robert and Tami are under considerable distress

right now. Tami herself is recovering from her own serious surgery from just a few weeks ago.

Because this is such a wonderful church, many of you have contacted me to see about what you can do to help. I

am sorry about not quite having the time to respond individually. Robert will be in hospital for longer than

expected and then will need to be alone under strict rest for two weeks, before another period of ‘unstrict’ rest.

We’ll communicate more about ways to help later.

Robert and Tami are some of the strongest believers that I know. We have all seen in public their gifts of

teaching and leading and we have all benefitted eternally from their choice to use their gifts in our small

community when they could easily have taken a more ‘successful’ path by the world’s standards.

There is also a spiritual dimension to this. As I said yesterday, scripture is abundantly clear in many places that

bad things happen to good people precisely because they are standing up for the gospel in public. The enemy

desires to disrupt, scare off and even kill off those who love the Lord. As indeed he tried to do to the Lord


He especially targets those who lead others. It is no co-incidence that this, and other serious problems are being

faced by our entire staff team at a time of growth and freedom and joy in our church life.

If you were there this weekend, you will have heard me speak about the litany of trouble we’ve all been facing

and my admission that we have discovered a limit to our own strength.

You will also know how mighty the Lord really is. In our weakness, he was glorified by some of the most

amazing services I have ever participated in. I wish that every week could be like this weekend was. We had

Reverend Alexander J. Shuttleworth, Rector | Reverend Constance K. Hughes, Associate Rector

tears, prayers, a prophetic word, the laying on of hands, and a testimony of how the Bishop’s Pentecost

challenge had changed someone’s life through the work of the Spirit. Because the Bishop knew that we were

struggling, he came to worship with us, perhaps expecting to find us at our worst, he got to see us at our very


It is no coincidence that the areas of our church most affected by this involve our children’s ministry and our

worship. The enemy hates our children and hates our worship even more. Therefore, I am so proud that Ben and

Hannah were there yesterday to witness such a day of worship. If they endure in their faith, perhaps yesterday

will be the thing that did it for them. Special mention must go to our choir, who, at very short notice, led us

through such moving and beautiful singing. Someone visiting from another church leadership team asked me if

our church was this amazing every week: “yes” I lied “isn’t yours?”.

But was it a lie, or just an opportunity to reveal what sometimes goes unseen? It is a blessing to be a member of

this team and this church. Moments like this reveal the true character of a body of believers. What an honor it is

to be your friend, pastor and brother in Christ!

As such, I must also say a strong word of godly rebuke. If you are in town (not away), and you chose to miss

out yesterday (for some poor reason), you ought to be regretting that decision right now. The worshipping

community is not a show, nor an option. Nether is it something to get a dose of from time to time. God himself,

in Christ Jesus gave his life for his bride the church and in his name so too have many saints. Church is not an

option, nor even a priority; it is in a qualitatively different category to all other things that we do. I would rather

have a hundred people worshiping like yesterday than a thousand on a ‘normal Sunday’. But in God’s economy,

times like this tend to grow a church don’t they.

Please use this to consider afresh how much our loving Lord is calling you in his grace to dig deeper into your

faith and give praise with me for the way our church showed its true colors yesterday. Please pray for our

pastors and in particular Robert and Tami.

Love in Christ



July 2017