21 Years And Growing
Around the time of our 21st year we began actively praying again to increase our staff. Jackie Griffiths has been a tireless supporter of the shop since its inception and is one of our busiest book agents (Jackie's husband Brian was one of Jan's lecturers at Brunel) and we really felt that we should approach Jackie to come and work part-time in the shop. At the time Jackie had a very busy role working in a school but we knew that God was showing that she should be in the shop and God answered our prayers. Jackie's role was to visit schools in the area to show them the good Christian books that are available and to help them find material for assemblies and the curriculum. This role was partly funded by gifts to the trust. Jackie is also an untiring book agent and rarely travels without a bookstall in the boot of her car.
Speaking of the trust, as well as helping with the school’s work, the trust also helps us to subsidise the cost of study books for local ministers and Bible college students. Its final role is to ensure that there is a Christian literature ministry in the shop and surplus funds have often been the difference between making a loss and breaking even.
In the last few years Geoff has become involved in the wider national Christian book scene becoming a committee member of the Christian Booksellers group of the Booksellers Association and serving as its chairman for 2 years. He has also been involved in other groups within the book trade including the Indepth group, which consisted of likeminded shops who worked together to promote books. It was as a result of the BA role that our shop received a very special invitation to attend Buckingham Palace for an evening reception for representatives of the whole book industry.
With just 6 people representing the Christian side of the trade it was a great privilege for Jayne and myself to attend this back in March. (The invitation said ‘someone from senior management and someone from the shop floor’!) The evening was truly amazing and we found to our surprise that we were able to have a personal conversation with the Queen and say something about the shop. It was a very special evening in many ways, for which we will always be grateful, but it reminded us of the ultimate reception that we have been invited to where we shall at last come face to face with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
As we enter our 31st year in Windsor Street (when this article was written) it would be good to bring the story up to date. Marilyn and Richard have now moved to Bracknell and have two boys Vincent and Francis. Although they are no longer partners in the shop they retain a strong interest in the work and are often helping in different ways to promote us. Olive Hardy has retired and moved to Shropshire and is now helping out in the local Christian bookshop. Geoff and Jayne work full time in the shop (Jayne has now been with us for over 20 years) while Jan works partly in the shop and partly using her creative talents as an artist painting watercolours and miniatures as well as picture framing and a whole lot more. Jackie has recently left the shop and is managing a Church charity shop in Richings Park, Iver. We are also helped by a number of volunteer staff that freely give their services and time to help us during the week. Down the years we have been richly blessed by a number of helpers too numerous to mention by name but some of whom appear in our photo album of the shop. Many of our former Saturday staff are now married and call in from time to time
The success of the shop is down to you as customers supporting us regularly with your visits to the shop as well as spreading the word to others. Thank you for your support over the past years. We pray that we may be able to serve you even better than we have done in the past as we all seek to bring glory to God through the ministry of Maranatha. When the chimney was rebuilt we were able to inscribe these words on the very top in the wet cement: 'To the Glory of God’
Please pray with us that we may be able to go on serving the Lord in this place until “MARANATHA" come quickly Lord.
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever" Isaiah Ch 40 v 8
BRINGING THE STORY UP TO DATE
In the summer of 2011 we were invited by the London School of Theology in Northwood to come and take over the running of their bookshop in the College. (Geoff did a theology degree there back in 1984/6) The bookshop is now run by Maranatha and Jan is the full time manager. This has been an exciting development for the shop and has brought us into contact with a whole new group of customers. It has also meant that we have needed to rapidly adapt our skills to this new environment and to ensure that both shops are run efficiently. Whilst retaining the depth of theology that the former shop stocked we have also broadened the range of books, Bibles, cards and gifts and increased the stock levels so that it is also helpful to the general public. In particular we have a very large range of second hand theology books that are very popular with the students.
And so after 38 years we have grown to two shops. Please pray with us that these would continue to be places where people can be inspired in their walk with God and find the resources to help them.
One day soon I will have some time to update the story. After 39 years and 2 months Maranatha closed its doors on August 22nd 2015. However, Jan and Geoff will still be running the LST Bookshop in Northwood.