Building bridges and relationships for mission

Darren Richards Youth for Christ are committed to reaching every young person for Christ. Over half of the UK’s ethnic minority population is under the age of 30.  In fact, one in four children in the UK (under 10) are from an ethnic minority community. As Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Darren is looking to diversify Youth for Christ’s national team, to better reflect and represent Britain’s young people, and to build bridges and relationships for mission.

St John’s Living Stones recently sponsored a significant event that Darren organised in
Birmingham called ‘Cohesion Network’.  This ‘TED talk’ style event brought together over 60 Christian leaders and youth workers from 30 organisations and denominations – representing a range of ethnic backgrounds – to share ideas, pray and dream together around reaching and discipling young people.

Darren opened the night with some remarks about the diverse birth of the Church (Acts 2:5-11). The evening also launched a new region-wide network to help connect youth workers who might not otherwise do ministry together. At a time when minorities are suffering from increased xenophobia and hostility, there’s never been a more
important moment to be working together.

Darren feels called to help provide fathers for the fatherless and also to release Christians of all ethnicities to use their gifts in the pursuit of God’s purposes. Alongside this event, he has been writing for the Christian magazine ‘Youth and Children’s Work’, commissioning new training videos, visiting Christian organisations that help marginalised youth, and creating new strategic plans for YFC.

To watch the Cohesion video visit either:
https://youtu.be/QbNxhe1hkxE  or https://www.facebook.com/BritishYFC/videos/10155034980242156

 

‘An amazing spread of food…’

Jeremy Thompson

Jeremy writes:

“The world is not just on our doorstep in this multicultural city, it’s been in our church building!  Restore is extremely grateful for the Christmas Party for adults and the Family Party in February half-term, both hosted here at St John’s.  Thank you to all those who volunteered at those events and to everyone who baked cakes or made puddings. On both occasions there was an amazing spread of food.  At the February party guests included refugee families from Syria, Iran, Sudan and Ethiopia. There were three families there who have been reunited in the past few months and it was great to see them enjoying themselves after all the upheavals they have experienced. The welcome, hospitality and entertainment they receive is hugely appreciated and it is wonderful to partner with St John’s in this way.  Please give thanks for these opportunities.

“Restore is going through a period of change and review.  For the past 12 months, due to one-off funding, we’ve had two additional part-time befriending workers which has helped us to support more refugees and make more befriending matches than ever before. (88 new befriending matches and our previous highest annual total was 55.) That funding has come to an end, so we now need to look at what is a reasonable workload for a smaller staff team the rest of this year.  Please pray for Restore staff and the Restore Management Committee as they consider the way forward.”

 

 

Bringing about social transformation

Hikmat and Krista write:
Based on documented evidence, we see the great value of investing in early childhood education as a way of bringing about social transformation within our local community, and have embraced the following children’s programmes:

Regular Sunday school classes that serve all the kids attending church, including the Iraqi, Syrian, Lebanese and expat children. The classes are in Arabic, English and sometimes in Kurdish. Some of our  church leaders are learning Kurdish in order to communicate with the children and their parents.

Mothers’ and toddler group ‘Mainly Music’ takes place twice a month. The purpose is to invite mothers from the community and their toddlers to attend an interactive music session. It’s a safe and friendly environment where mums find many friends and our church leaders build good relationships.

The Learning Support Project (LSP) which provides educational, emotional and spiritual help for underprivileged children. Students, mainly Syrian and Iraqi, have joined the programme. The classes now take place twice a day (morning and afternoon programme). This change has doubled the number of students. We have seen a dramatic change after several months into teaching: the children are open to share their daily experiences, they smile and play more, and they trust each other and their teachers.

The Philemon Project provides the best Christian-led, pro-social early childhood development (ECD) for at-risk poor Lebanese, Syrian refugee, and migrant children. We focus on children ages one to four years old. Additionally, we work with parents in our adult mentoring programme. Mentoring the parents helps them develop the skills they will need to create lasting, healthy, and productive relationships with their children.

Give thanks to God for the support that St John’s is providing for us and for the Church (RCB). We are so grateful for this partnership.

Continue to pray for our various ministries including infant, toddlers, kids and teens ministries. Pray for more workers in the field.

Pray for our weekly live broadcasting on Sat7 and other social media channels. Many people are watching our services (see www.sat7uk.org).

“We’ve had quite a year…”

Duncan Moore

Duncan Moore

Duncan writes:
We’ve had quite a year in Student Life with over 70 attending many of our meetings in the first term. Our weekly discussion evening’s topics have included self-esteem, freedom, travel, procrastination and death. From these discussions people have been involved with various other small groups and Bible Studies. One of our student friends organised a day conference on stepping into mission where we are, which over 40 people attended, including some of our Christian students.

I am greatly encouraged that a considerable majority of students involved with Student Life are not Christians, but are very happy to engage in deep discussion about life and God. I have a number of guys, a few Christians and plenty of people who aren’t, who I meet with regularly. I am also mentoring some of the other Student Life staff.

This May I will take a three month sabbatical (this is my 21st year on Agape staff). After this in the autumn I will leave Agape to continue working for a local church in Gateshead and also hopefully to become the Baptist chaplain to Northumbria University. Thank you again for your giving and praying that make all this possible.

My biggest learning curve…

Beth writes:
I have continued to work with Agape UK’s USA branch called Cru. I am working with Cru’s urban ministry called Cru Inner City Seattle. We are a resource and facilitator for local churches and organizations who minister to the needy and disenfranchised in their neighbourhoods. Projects have included helping our partners distribute school supply back packs, ‘Boxes of Love’ (Thanksgiving food boxes) and ‘Homeless Care Kits’.

My biggest learning curve has been learning about the racial and ethnic tensions in this country, their history and believing God is working through these partners to care for those with no options, justice and reconciliation.

An upcoming event (4th March) in which we are collaborating with a local youth work, local pastor’s association, the school superintendent, mayor’s office and the police, we will be addressing the racial and ethnic divides in our community and most importantly reconciliation.

The 15 months since I moved to the USA from London have been full of new, confusing, weird and lovely experiences. Reading up on big transitions before I left helped me at least to identify what I was going through. I’m not sure it made it any less difficult.

On the personal side, I am settling in well in the great northwest of the USA enjoying the sea, mountains and being closer to parts of my family.

They flew to Nepal in February…

Pedro and Jeni have recently returned from France where they worked for a week in the Grandesynthe refugee camp in Dunkirk. Whilst there they were helping with food preparation, organising various donations, helping with some English lessons and talking about Jesus with both refugees and other volunteers.

They flew to Nepal on the 7th February where they will spend the next two months in a small town outside Kathmandu working in an orphanage, and finding their feet with the culture and the language. After that they will move on to Pokhara where they will work with a YWAM base that specialises in families and youth work. Their responsibilities will involve assisting in after school programs, youth and church camps, as well as training conferences for churches.

2017 is a special year…

Steve & Helen Pollard

2017 is a special year as it is 10 years since James and Liz (Grier), and Steve and Helen started on the journey to Unlimited. This year also sees the Bishop‘s review of Unlimited as one of his Mission Orders.

“When you read this we will have just had our weekend away on Dartmoor, in one of which rivers four people were baptised last October. We now have about 40 meeting regularly on a Sunday and
Tuesday; run a successful mentoring program in a local school; and have varied avenues of outreach.”

Please pray:

For the Bishop’s review;

For James on sabbatical May-Aug and the Leadership Team & Youth Worker
running Unlimited during that time;

For discipleship of the young Christians;

For outreach, especially a Friday night drop-in asked for by local authorities to provide a place for youth hanging around the city centre; and

For our 10 year party on the 17th March and  AGM on the 2nd May.

‘Bespoke’ continues to thrive, particularly in helping marriages and church leaders over this last season. Please pray for wisdom in balancing the demands of two busy ministries and family. Also for the successful completion of Helen and Steve’s books and wisdom about how to publish them.

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW

Photo of Alison

Alison writes:
This is a time of old routines and new beginnings at CMM, causes for both praise and prayer.

The Old: the musical, Barnabas, telling the story of Barnabas and Saul in Cyprus was much performed in 2016 (including a very productive visit to Cyprus itself!). The New Year sees yet more concert productions, teaching weekends and opportunities to share the good news of Jesus, and like Barnabas himself, to encourage deeper faith and trust in the power and working of the Spirit. Praise the Lord for lives touched already, new commitments made, and pray for strength and real consciousness of God’s presence for all participating in future events.

The New: the last months have seen frantic effort to complete ‘Spirit Works’, ready for its publication and launch on Saturday 18th February at Holy Trinity, Lickey. This resource book from Roger Jones, Annie Routley and Helen Pollard is aimed at individuals, groups and congregations, to encourage knowledge of and openness to, yes, the Spirit’s works. Its predecessor, Worship Works, has already been widely used as the basis for teaching days, weekends etc.

Praise the Lord that the book was completed on time and pray for blessing as its resources are used. Also for Helen, looking forward to her baby’s birth, and the team adjusting to her absence.

On a personal note, praise the Lord for the encouragement of hearing how the words I have scribbled have been transformed by his power, and pray that I may know how I should go forward.”

Prayers appreciated for an Easter Outreach…

Chris and Lorraine have been with Operation Mobilisation (OM) for six and a half years. They returned in 2013 from working as missionaries in Kosovo, and joined the OM team based at the missions training centre in Halesowen in September 2013. Chris is the newly appointed short term missions co-ordinator. He plans, co-ordinates with churches and leads short term out reaches throughout the UK. Lorraine is the training centre hospitality/housekeeping manager.

Pray for Chris as he is preparing for an Easter outreach. Pray for strength and energy for both Chris and Lorraine in their different roles. Pray for the OM community based in Halesowen, for OM colleagues and current ELCO students (English Language Cultural Opportunities) who are living and studying at the base.

“A very busy term…”

Photo of Jill EdgingtonWe are coming towards the end of a very busy term during which we have been studying ‘Ephesians’ on Friday afternoons. Several new wives have come to join us, and gatherings always seem to be cheerful and all-inclusive! Mel and Gill continue to lead most of the studies.

Please pray for them in this leadership role. It is not always easy! ‘Wives’ seem to be encouraging and very open. Some have difficult problems that need careful, sympathetic listening and much prayer. Often heart-felt problems lie dormant until suddenly there is an opening up that can reveal so much heartache and need.

Please pray that we leaders have compassion and wisdom, as well as strength. Next term will begin on 6th January 2017. We are still deciding what we should study!

Pray that the strong sense of fellowship and friendship may continue to be the hallmark of this very lively group and may continue to draw others. We are so grateful for all the blessing that we see week by week. Please pray that this might continue.