In “Seven Silver Rings”, 7 members of The Jesus Fellowship tell their stories of how God called them to be celibate for Him and how their commitment is being worked out in their lives and ministries. The title refers to the fact that many of them choose to wear a silver ring as a sign of their vow to God to serve Him with undivided and lifelong devotion. “They tell of God's call in their lives with passion, humour and an intense desire to communicate the 'buried treasure' of this precious gift”, writes Huw Lewis (who has pastoral care of celibates in the Fellowship) in his introduction. He continues, “Those in the Jesus Fellowship who respond to this costly gift find an increase of their ministry and discovery of their true calling by doing so.”
Let me share some quotes with you. “Celibacy is rooted in the heart to serve”, writes Jason. “I explain to the lads that I’m a modern day monk. The spread of the gift is not just talking about it but living it. Your life becomes attractive to others – it inspires them. Celibacy is attractive! People notice there is something different. There’s a purity; a wholeness there”. Kelly writes, “The grace I have found in celibacy has held me and strengthened me. I’ve often thought that this is the best God had for me.
I’m so glad I accepted it. Celibacy has pushed me out of my natural retiring nature... Now it feels natural to be a celibate, living single and free for God. It’s just like wearing something that fits.” “Being celibate,”
Steve explains, “means I'm available, twenty-four hours a day! Celibacy enables me to spend a lot of time with new and young brothers, to be a father to them.” Steve believes that in the future the gift of celibacy will emerge within many different denominations and church streams. “There is a need for more and more celibates who are able to give themselves sacrificially to the hurting and to love the many that are coming to us.”
The book concludes with an extract from John Wesley’s pamphlet: “Thoughts on the Single life”, published in 1734 before he got married. Wesley urges his readers to use all the helps at their disposal in living the life: including earnest prayer that “God would vouchsafe to preserve His own gift, and that you may not suffer any loss this day, either by the subtlety or power of devils or men, or the deceitfulness of your own heart.” He also advocates the frequent sharing of our weaknesses and temptations with those who are like-minded so that the devices of Satan are brought to nought. Above all, he exhorts us to “keep our hearts with all diligence: to wait upon the Lord without distraction, letting nothing move us from our centre: to see, love, follow Christ in every thought, word, and work.” I do commend this heart-warming book to you.
I have found it so encouraging to discover what the Holy Spirit is doing in other parts of the church.
I close with these words from Huw Lewis: “One hopes that, again, many will lay hold of the gift of celibacy and, in so doing, will be equipped in a special way to serve the needs of a rapidly changing and needy world and bring many into a transforming faith in Jesus Christ.”