Baptist church on Songs of Praise
A Baptist church whose minister is battling cancer was featured on Songs of Praise last weekend
Filming for the BBC’s long-running programme recently took place at Hope Baptist Church in Plymouth, with the resulting edition broadcast on Sunday (10 December) at 3pm.
It all came about after the show’s producers were moved by the story of minister Andrew Gardiner, 59. Andrew was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May last year, which had spread to his liver by the summer of 2016.
During his treatment he has experienced sudden bursts of creativity, writing numerous songs and poems testifying to his faith in God. He has developed a new ministry, called Rising Hope, which has resulted in two singles with a third due to be released in December.
The writing was also ignited by the visit of Songs of Praise: in the four days between receiving the initial call from the show and filming taking place Andrew was inspired to write an Advent poem.
Andrew has arranged for the poem to be printed on bookmarks, which he is now encouraging churches to give to visitors and members at their festive services, and individuals to use as gifts for friends and family (for more information see below).
‘The people making the show said it would be great if I had a poem about Advent, which I could read as part of the service,’ Andrew said. ‘At the time I didn’t have one, but as soon as I came off the phone the words were forming in my head.
‘I wrote the first two verses immediately, the next four not too long after. When I next spoke to them, I said “I now have a poem”.’
It was in keeping with his experiences over the past 18 months. His songs, which have sold on iTunes and racked up several thousand views on Youtube, have all formed quickly. He believes they have been given to him from God.
‘I cannot explain it any other way,’ Andrew continued. ‘I don’t sit down and think I’m going to write a song now. They’ve just come to me, and I’ve caught them.’
It’s led to numerous opportunities. He’s been featured regularly in the Plymouth Herald
, while in March he was interviewed by Clare Balding for the Radio 2 Good Morning Sunday
show, resulting in one of his songs being played just before Ed Sheeran. Now his story, his compositions and his congregation will be before a nationwide audience on Sunday.
‘I still have a calling to proclaim Christ and spread the gospel,' Andrew said. 'Through all this God has given me a platform to speak about Christ.
‘I can hardly believe that a section of the True Identity
video (above) will end up being shown on BBC 1.
‘Life is just a bit crazy!’
The Songs of Praise filming almost didn’t happen. On the day Andrew woke up with temperature hitting 40 degrees. Just hours before filming he was due to begin he was covered in cold flannels and making prayer requests on Facebook. Gradually he became well enough to participate.
He was interviewed in his home at length, before his family was filmed as though it was already Christmas. The cameras then moved to the church for service. Many of the congregation had rallied at short notice to pack the building, which also included visitors interested in appearing in the programme. Carols and the poem were filmed, before Andrew, not wanting to miss an opportunity, preached a gospel message.
‘120 people turned up, at three days’ notice,’ Andrew said. ‘When they finished filming the band just carried on worshipping.
‘It was fantastic, incredible.’
Songs of Praise was broadcast on 10 December on BBC1 at 3pm. Catch up on iPlayer
‘An ideal Christmas giveaway’
Andrew’s Advent poem has now been printed on bookmarks. He is encouraging churches to both read it aloud during a service, and order copies to giveaway.
‘In the past we have struggled to know what to giveaway during a Christmas service,’ Andrew says. ‘This is ideal – it’s small and light, but carries a gospel message that can be used throughout the Advent period.
‘If people think it’s good enough, please considering ordering.’
There are two Advent bookmarks - both feature the same poem, but have different messages on the back, tailored either towards visitors or those who are already Christians.
If you want Andrew to send you the bookmarks, contact him with your address and requested quantity at email@example.com.
Andrew will then post the bookmarks alongside an invoice (he is suggesting a donation of 30p per bookmark.) All profits will support young people in the South West in mission ventures.
Andrew has also written a New Year poem, a poem full of faith for 2018. The same "reading aloud" arrangement and price for these bookmarks applies. This is also on a bookmark and can be requested from firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information visit: www.risinghope.co.uk