The ‘Burning Bush’ publication started out in 1970 as a very simple 4 page – A4 sized folded publication. It was very basic in its design and structure. My wife typed up my articles (after a grammatical examination!) and I then cut up the typed article and stuck it on a template and it was then copied from that and a few hundred copies printed off by the late Pastor Brian Green in London. It was not distributed on a regular basis at the first but issued only when there was a matter to be addressed. But very soon, for the sake of cost, it was changed to an A4 sized sheet folded in half to make a 4-page A5 publication and copied by ourselves. That was issued somewhat irregularly until 1988, when the IRA bombed the ‘Poppy-day’ remembrance service in Enniskillen on 8th November, murdering 11 people and injuring many dozens, very seriously, in a ‘no warning’ bombing. The bomb was placed in a Roman Catholic property adjacent to the war memorial where the service had traditionally taken place.
Details of that horrific crime were given in the publication I produced at that time, “The Remembrance Day Massacre in Enniskillen” and of which some 50,000 were distributed world-wide. From that time, ‘The Burning Bush’ became a standardised ‘tabloid-sized’ publication, issued on a monthly basis until its final edition in early 2007 when the newspaper edition ceased and it became only an Internet publication.
The articles in my printed edition were first mounted on a website provided for me by Mr Steven Lee, the founder of ‘SermonAudio’ from about 1998 until I moved to my own present website, set up by my son, Rev Andy Foster, minister of Penticton Free Presbyterian Church in Canada.
The reason I parted company with ‘SermonAudio’ may be seen in the following articles. “My sermon on Dr Beeke’s errors removed from SermonAudio” and “Why I have closed my account with SermonAudio”.
I was saddened that I had to leave SermonAudio for Mr Lee had been very kind to me, placing some of my sermons amongst the first that were mounted on his pioneering website. However, by God’s grace I have ever been ready to take whatever measures necessary, irrespective of the consequences, to preach and publish what Paul the apostle called, “all the counsel of God”. I must confess, that became increasing costly in terms of personal relationships amongst some of my ministerial brethren.
I was brought up, in my first months as a Christian, under the bold preaching of Dr Ian Paisley in 1964, when he from his pulpit in the old church on the lower Ravenhill Road, Belfast, stoutly denounced the apostasy and defended his action most boldly and unequivocally, when challenged, from the Word of God. I still recall the impression made upon me by a message he preached one Lord’s Day evening in the summer of 1964. It was upon the words of Paul in Acts 20.
“And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God,” verses 20-24.
The atmosphere of that meeting and the impact of what was said, have lived with me ever since. For that reason I felt that I could not be curtailed in my denunciations of sin and compromise and must sadly part company with ‘SermonAudio’.
The number of visitors to our ‘Burning Bush’ website since 1998, when it first was mounted on the Internet, presently stands at some 1,06,780, even as I write this letter. That is, of course, a very small number compared to the many faithful gospel sites on the Internet which have a much greater outreach. But I count it a blessing from the Lord that a witness established in weakness and maintained by a mere handful of people, in what might be considered the ‘backwoods’ of County Tyrone in north western Northern Ireland, has reached to the far corners of the earth with the truth of God! I rejoice in each and every visitor. For a preacher who has ministered to no great crowds, it is wonderful to be able to witness to over one million visitors to our website over the last twenty five years.
The visitors to our website come from all over the world, from lands where I will never visit and even if I could, I would find it difficult to preach the Word of God, given the opposition to God and His Truth within the regime governing those lands.
I have often wondered about the individuals whose hearts were moved to visit the site, whose eyes read over the articles mounted and who may have listened to my ‘Ulster’ brogue with a degree of puzzlement! The information available to me of the visitors coming to the ‘Burning Bush’ website is limited to when they visit, what they look at on our website, how long they stay and the country where they live. I don’t know their exact location though I believe that I could seek out, with some decree of exactness, the general area within the country from which they are computing, but that is all.
As I say, I have often looked at the statistics available to me and wondered about the person or persons behind the visits. Is it a man or is it a woman? Is it a young person? Were they Christians looking for information on the issues I deal with in my articles? Were they those anxious to obtain some knowledge of the message of the Bible? Did they copy the article or the sermon recording they downloaded and share it among friends? Were their neighbours gathered in by those who visited our website and downloaded items from it and were they shared with those neighbours? Have any been brought savingly to faith in Christ and converted by what they read or heard on our website?
Of course, I don’t know the answers to these questions. BUT I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW! I am sure that is understandable.
I have of course received many emails from readers of the ‘Burning Bush’ since it was first commenced some 53 years ago, 99.9% of which have been a blessing to read. A few have been angered by what they have read in our publication or on our website. While it has not brought me joy to read the often times angry epistles for invariably they were tainted with falsehoods and vitriol, though I always recall a statement from that great Ulster evangelist, W P Nicholson, who in his own distinctive style, used to respond to those who complained about his blunt style of preaching, by saying: ‘When you throw a stone amongst a pack of dogs, the one which squeals is the one you have hit!’
I have hit a few readers, who I believe needed to be ‘hit’, since 1970!
Now as I have said, I would like to know something more about those who visit our site. That is why I am writing and publishing this letter as my 80th birthday is but weeks away. If any feel that they could let me know at least something of any help or benefit of blessing they have received from the articles or recordings on the website and if they share copies of the articles or audio sermons amongst their friends and acquaintances, it would be a great joy for me to hear from them.
I prayerfully leave the matter with our visitors with, of course, a solemn assurance that all information I receive will be treated in the strictest confidence and I will not respond to any such contacts except with a brief word of thanks, except where I am asked to correspond further.
Your servant in the glorious gospel of Christ,
11th September, 2023