Dear Peter [Hingeley], There is no easy way of saying this, but after months of praying, searching God’s word and asking for God’s guidance, I have come to the place where I can no longer carry on in attending the meetings.
This is not a decision I have made lightly. The reasons are very personal to me and I don’t wish to go into what they are with anyone at this stage. I only know that I can no longer be seen to be doing what is deemed right outwardly within the fellowship, but inwardly feeling so very different. I cannot personally be hypocritical – in fact trying to continue to cover my true feelings about this issue in recent years has made me physically and emotionally ill.
I have no bitterness in me and have no way lost my love for or faith in God, indeed, I feel through the last few months I have gained a deeper understanding of his love, grace and mercy. It is just that I have changed my beliefs in terms of how I want to relate to Him.
I would ask you to please respect my decision and encourage others who may speak to you of this, to do the same.
26th January, 2015
We were very sorry to get your letter on Saturday saying that you did not feel able to attend any more meetings. It was indeed quite shock as we had always thought of you as a person who was very zealous in God’s way; but I suppose tests come to us all and we had noticed that you were not getting to many meetings but thought that this was because of your illness. We would have liked to have seen you last week when we called but gathered from Gerald that you were not feeling well.
You say that you have spent months praying and searching God’s Word and have changed your beliefs in terms of how you relate to Him. My thoughts immediately went to Jeremiah 2, v 5 where God said “What iniquity have your fathers found in me that they are gone far from me?” Obviously you must have found something wrong but I can’t think what it would be. Certainly we are not perfect but the Way of God is perfect and I have never found anything in the Bible that would cause me to doubt that this is the true way of God”.
Sometimes people who start in God’s way think that because they have made their choice and begun to serve the Lord that things will now all go well because God is on our side. They don’t realise that we are now in a testing ground and God puts us through tests to try our faith. In some cases it is through ill health and this may be your experience as we know you have suffered a lot in the last few years. In some cases it is through disappointments and losses. Some of our loved ones die and we miss them. In others it is through persecution and imprisonment. In some through the scorn and mocking of the world. In some it could be through prosperity and wealth, the love of pleasures and other things. Whatever the tests may be God gives us the grace to help us to come through and we prove God’s help. Peter wrote about the trial of our faith being more precious than gold (1 Peter 1. V 7) and when we come through the trials we gain a reward eternally.
We have had trials ourselves lately, particularly through reproach and abuse over the internet, but we know this is one of the tests we have to go through and one would like to come out of it all with a right spirit as Jesus did. Not many friends know this, but after the tent mission we had last year we were subject to a stream of abuse over the internet coming not only from people in Norfolk but all over the world.
It all started when a photo of us and the tent was published in a Norwich newspaper and a woman in Australia began to say untrue things about us and our beliefs and then others jumped in and before long it snowballed. We hoped the whole thing would die down but it didn’t. The woman who started it all called herself Elizabeth Coleman. I have never met her but I do know the Coleman family and they are in this country and South Africa and Australia. So I rang Mrs. Lorna Coleman, a very aged and faithful lady and like the family matriarch and asked her who this person was. She said she had never heard of her. So then it occurred to me that this was an assumed name.
Then a man who is a Deacon at Norwich Central Baptist Church started putting stuff against us and carried on and on with others joining in. Needless to say, none of these people had been to the meetings and none of them were known to me. So, I felt I must do something about this, but I was not going to answer them in kind.
What I did was to contact the man who was responsible for the web site where this stuff was being published and asked him to remove it all, which he did not do. I also rang the Baptist Minister but he was out and his secretary said he would ring back; but nothing happened. So I made an appointment to see the Minister and told him the situation and what his Deacon was up to. I read to him some of the things that had been written and said it was all a lie and told him exactly what our beliefs were. I also told him that publishing defamatory material was a criminal offence and that I had spoken to the police, without mentioning any names, and that they had said I should report it. I told the Minister that if the material was removed from the internet than we would say nothing more about it but if it stayed on there than the police would be informed and it would then be out of our hands. As I left the church the Minister said to me “God bless you” and within a few days it was all removed from the internet.
The reason I mention this we are very aware that there is a lot of stuff against us on the internet and a lot of it is lies and deception and could hinder people in God’s Way, which is the devil’s purpose. It is not so easy to counteract this as a lot of these people are abroad and out of our reach, but they are not out of the reach of God.
After we called last week we went to see Mr. Jefferson and Mrs. Yeoul and found them very friendly and anxious to have more meetings in the village hall in Needham, so we may do this later.
I am at home at the moment as my father has just gone into a care home and is quite ill, but we hope he will recover. Our meetings continue in Pouringland and Lowestoft and you and Gerald are welcome any time.
With greetings in Jesus from
Signed: Peter Hingeley
Thank you for your letter and concern. I appreciate you cannot enter into my experience.
As far as losing my faith through thinking I should be exempt from suffering, illness etc…no time have I questioned why? When asked if I wonder why I have had cancer, I always say, Why not me! At no time have I felt bitter about my illnesses, but felt God’s love, Grace and strength helping me through each day. As I said my decision and reasons are personal.
I am sorry to hear you have your Father in a home, and not so well, it’s not easy to see your parents failing, I hope he improves. I hope all goes well for you and Dennis,
7th February 2015
Thank you for your letter this week.
Yesterday we saw Mrs Youell and booked some Gospel meetings in Needham village hall at 7.30 pm on Mondays, 16th, and 23rd Feb and 2nd March. We are using the annex at the back of the building.
When we saw Mr J and Mrs Y last year they were very keen that we should have meetings in the village, so we hope they will come, also yourself and Gerald and others from the village.
I hope this will be the means of restoring your faith and love for God. I hope you are enjoying better days and that the rest of your family are all well. We were glad to see your Father and sister recently.
We continue our meetings in Poringland and Horningtoft and are glad to see a few attending.
Will not make this longer.
With best wishes from
Peter and Dennis