Developing a culture of prayer

Beth shares her thoughts on her new role…

Beth Whitehouse

Beth Whitehouse

I took up my post as National Prayer Coordinator for Youth for Christ in April 2016. This is a brand new role based at the National Office in Halesowen.

‘To develop a culture of Prayer’ is one of five new key strategic areas brought in by our new National Director, Neil O’Boyle. Neil and his family have spent 17 years working with YFC all over the world so bring much insight and vision to British Youth for Christ.

We have 72 Youth Centres throughout the UK, around 400 paid staff and approximately 10,000 volunteers. The centres do a phenomenal job working in schools, prisons, tough communities and churches all over the UK and their primary aim is to tell young people about Jesus!

There are around 50 of us in the national team and we resource, support and work with centres to input into their work.

My role as Prayer Coordinator is to look at how we can grow and deepen our prayer lives, knowing that prayer ultimately is relationship with Jesus. We are first connected to Jesus ourselves (John 15:5) – this always has to be our starting place.

The day to day work of deepening a prayer culture starts with us – National regional centres role modelling what a total reliance upon Jesus looks like through His word and through prayer.

This January we begin #Pray365 – a whole year of prayer – where we, as the British YFC family, commit to interceding before God for young people in this nation each day, and growing in the discipline of prayer and fasting.

It brings collaborative focus and unity of mind as we make an intentional choice to ‘Seek God’ with all we are and have, nothing held back, everything surrendered. As YFC, we are intentionally going on a journey to grow a culture of prayer and to deepen our relationship with Jesus!

In the Bible, God says ‘If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.’ 2 Chronicles 7:14.

The context here is that the Israelites had forgotten their covenant before God and left behind their part in His story, resting in His faithful protection. It’s a reminder that today, in a country so filled with possibilities and access to knowledge in the ‘google era’, it is easy to forget God’s faithfulness and favour.

As a movement we long to see and experience God move by His spirit and ‘heal our land’. A land filled with 13 million young people (under 18 yrs – 2011 census). Pursuit of the presence of Christ through the word and in prayer is vital.

Exciting times ahead!

Mark and Ruth Cuthbert

Ruth and Mark Cuthbert

Thank you so much for your ongoing support that makes what we do possible. 30th September brings me to a time of reflection as it marks two years working with Betel, and Mark has been with Betel for 11.5 years.

We’ve been married two years and are expecting our first baby on 9th October- so exciting times ahead! Please pray for us in this time of change.

The last few months have seen times of great joy and celebration, particularly as four of the men chose to be baptised as a public declaration of their faith in Jesus, and other men have left Betel restored. What a celebration when we think of the darkness and despair each came from. Praise the Lord!

Coupled with the joy have been times of frustration and sadness. We’ve had a number of men choose to leave us in a bad way, and we’ve also received tragic news of previous residents’ deaths due to overdoses.

It really puts into perspective the devastation that can come from giving the devil a foothold, and how important it is to share Jesus’ hope and healing power. Please pray that those men currently with us would know Jesus’ love and hope, and would want to change and stick at the programme rather than run when times get difficult.

Pray also for the house leaders and leadership team as we deal with difficult situations daily; that we’d show Jesus’ love and patience.

Your prayers would be much appreciated…

Patty McCulloch

Patty McCulloch

Please pray for newly arrived internationals to find their way to the social events like the Harborne International Café, and the Globe Café in Selly Oak. Pray that some will be interested to join the Bible Study groups set up for enquirers.

The two CAMEO groups at St John’s and in Selly Oak, plus Jill Edgington’s Friday Bible Study groups provide opportunities for the wives of international students to meet others, enjoy social activities and look at the Bible together. A good mix of Nationalities is always helpful at these activities.

Pray for a training event for volunteers on 15th October which will look at how to make the most of our conversations.

The Centre Leader position for Friends International Birmingham has been re-advertised. Pray for the right person to be appointed and hopefully in place by January 2017 to allow for some overlap with me as I prepare to retire at the end of March.

Meanwhile, in my role as Head of Learning & Development, I continue to focus on plans for the FI January Conference which will be attended by approximately 150 staff, affiliates and interns, with the theme of ‘The power of God in the unseen world’, an important area for all of us in ministry.

‘A new season of ministry’

L-R Daniella, Hikmat, Krista, Betine and Marcus Kashouh

L-R Daniella, Hikmat, Krista, Betine and Marcus Kashouh

One of our focuses in ministry in Lebanon is helping underprivileged families. Every family  has a unique story but they all have something in common- all these families have gone through pain, lost their loved ones and have left their homes behind, family and culture. Many have used their savings to travel to Lebanon.

Pray for these families who face humiliation and stress every day as they struggle to survive.

Over the past several years the Learning Support Project at RCB has helped to close the   widening gap in the educational needs of Syrian, Lebanese and now Iraqi children.

When the LSP first began, only supplemental help was needed. As the war rages on and children remain displaced, the issue has become more than simply incorporating children into existing school structures.

Children have grown older without a formal education, and the odds of children successfully entering a school become almost nil. In the face of the crisis of leaving a generation of refugee children without an education, the LSP staff are teaching basic literacy and numeracy to an increasing number of students.

For three days a week this summer, the LSP will be adding three more classes to the existing five, in congruence with our abilities and the increasing need for education among displaced children. Our hope in giving children the gifts of literacy and numeracy go hand-in-hand with our desire to give children a ‘love of learning’, an invaluable trait for life.

RCB Aug 2016The upcoming theme, ‘All Around the World’, will pull on the myriad members of RCB who will share with the children about the places they come from, be it Latvia, Great Britain, or Brazil!

We look forward to the opportunities to teach children about understanding, respect and love for one another, no matter where we come from or what our customs might be.

We praise God for the faithfulness of the many who have allowed the LSP to function at such a high standard up to the present. Please continue to pray for the staff and students of the Learning Support Project as we enter into a new season of ministry among an eager and needful group of children.

Hikmat and Krista have sent the following prayer requests:

Give praise to God for St John’s support
Pray for the new emerging leaders who are serving amongst their own ethnic groups
Pray for RCB as it expands its mission in the Middle East and North Africa
Pray for health and strength for the Kashouh family

Hikmat and Krista are Pastors of Resurrection Church, Beirut, Lebanon


‘Musing about my vocation and future’

Duncan Moore

Duncan Moore

Last summer Student Life finished strongly. We doubled the number of student leaders and saw people getting involved and coming to faith. We’ll start next term in the strongest place I can remember.

We have an amazing opportunity to be involved as a society welcoming new students into their accommodation, serving refreshments and introducing Student Life. This gives us the potential to meet up to 3000 students right at the start of their time on campus. Thank you Lord.

Over the last few years since our son Aidan was born, I turned forty and then my dad  suddenly died, all in a very short space of time, and I’ve began musing about my vocation and future.

A number of things came together very suddenly and unexpectedly around Easter with the result that I have now become a part time minister of a church in Gateshead.

I will now be working 3 (ish) days a week with the church and 2 (ish) days with Student Life. There’s loads of potential for overlap, and doubtless a few challenges.

My priorities for Student Life will be helping Kimberley as she takes over sole leadership of the staff team, supporting Phil and training Robbie, the other men on the team, and         developing ministry with the male students. Very exciting.

Pray for effective prioritising and balancing my different responsibilities on campus and at church.

Thank you again for being in this with me.

Duncan Moore works with Student Life, Agape in Newcastle upon Tyne




‘Reaching young people from diverse backgrounds’

Darren Richards

Darren Richards

When I joined Youth for Christ I could never have imagined almost 13 years later I’d be stepping into my fifth role here.

I started as an Assistant Fundraiser in 2003 and later became the Fundraising Senior Manager.  In 2009, I switched to the Reflex team, supporting YFC’s work with young offenders in prison as Programmes Manager.

Then, in 2011, I began a six year stint overseeing this national prison ministry as Head of Reflex. Now, here I am, stepping into another new role, with a new set of challenges and hopes to boot!

In April this year I took up a newly created post that I helped to develop and shape: Head of Diversity and Inclusion.  My remit is to research and spearhead YFC’s strategy to work with churches and local YFC Ministries in order to reach young people from diverse and marginalised backgrounds.

I’ll also be forming a strategy for partnering with others to support those with physical or intellectual disabilities.

It’s been a whirlwind few months. Much of this time has been spent travelling around the country meeting YFC youth workers, church leaders and pioneers.

As the initial research phase draws to a close, I’m delighted to have helped a YFC partner with Sanctus in Stoke on Trent, an incredible ministry working with asylum seekers and refugees.  They would like us to help them set up a youth club for the most disaffected 11-18’s who are being drawn in by gangs.

I’m also in the process of organising a symposium event, to bring together diverse church communities, in order to pray together, share ideas and talk about cross-cultural youth mission.

I’m so grateful for your prayers and gifts as I get to grips with this new undertaking.  I am currently raising my whole salary cost (rather than just 50%), as well as all of the associated project spending, pioneering this new project and doing my best to make it sustainable. It’s a big undertaking and I’ll need your wisdom, support and encouragement.

Darren Richards is Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Youth for Christ


‘welcome – include – integrate’

Jeremy Thompson

Jeremy Thompson

The referendum debate and the rhetoric on immigration has raised concerns for refugees and asylum seekers.  On the day of the referendum result one asylum seeker voiced his fears:

“What happens to us now, do we just get flushed down the toilet?”

Refugees continue to arrive in Birmingham mainly from Syria, Eritrea and Iran. In this uncertain environment we can be counter-cultural.

An example of this was the Methodist Church in Stratford-upon-Avon hosting a day trip for refugee families at the end of July which included a boat cruise, a trip to the Butterfly Farm and a buffet lunch.

At times we feel hard pressed but we are grateful to those who set up Restore in 1999 to respond to the Kosovan ‘crisis’. As a result we are now able to respond to the current refugee ‘crisis’, bearing in mind that a crisis is both a challenge and an opportunity.

The world is literally on our doorstep – it’s a great opportunity to serve and share the love of God in practical ways.  Our strapline at Restore is ‘welcome- include- integrate’. Refugees will only be welcomed and integrated if the host community takes the initiative.

Give thanks for our team of over 100 volunteer befrienders who offer compassionate, consistent one-to-one support to our refugee friends.  Please pray for our training courses in the autumn: that new volunteers join us for those sessions and are then inspired to get involved.

Please also pray for the financial resources to fund the increased demand for our services.

JeremyThompson is BefriendingCoordinator at Restore based in Birmingham.



‘Stories of lives definitely changed.’

Photo of Alison

Alison Fuggle

A big thank you to all who have enquired about BarnabasThe Musical; the accompanying novel The Encourager and the work of Christian Music Ministries using them both.  Feedback so far has been encouraging, with stories of lives definitely changed. Praise God!

This year, travelling teams including soloists and instrumentalists have led events using Barnabas in Barnt Green, Brixham, Ward End, Hemel Hempstead, Marston Green, Westward Ho! Barrow-in-Furness, Macclesfield, and Kidderminster.

There has been a Music Week at Grange-over-Sands, with three more in August and September at Lee Abbey, Willersley Castle and Sidmouth.

Other planned events include, among others, Haydock, Welshpool, Macclesfield, Beverley, Hull – and a small team travels to Cyprus, home of Barnabas himself.

As you can see, many exhausting miles, weekends and evenings have been given up to bring both music and encouragement to local communities.

In every case, the aim is not just a pleasant hour or two of music, but worship, fellowship and teaching, for both the local participants and those friends and relations who come to listen.

Barnabas is a terrific opportunity to teach about how the Holy Spirit works, to encourage those present, and to let him do the same in their lives, fellowships, communities.

Praise the Lord for what he has already done and all he intends to do, and for encouragement given and received.

Pray for openness to see where and how to invite the Spirit in – and for his continued  working in lives afterwards.

Pray for health and safety for all participating.

Alison Fuggle is a libretto writer for Roger Jones Musicals with Christian Music Ministries





‘We have just planted a new church!’

Hoult family 2016

Nick and Cristina Hoult with (L-R) Gabriela, Bonita, Natalia-Grace and Louis

We are in a tremendously exciting place at the moment as we have just planted a new church!!

Southgate Family Church now has two branches – one in Pool Farm (the original one), and the other  currently meeting in the chapel in our home, and building towards a launch into Hawkesley Primary School in September.

We are thrilled that a core team of 35 have come with us to plant the new church and we are already growing with new visitors.  Cristina and I remain Senior Pastors of both branches and our Leadership Team has been split between the two.

Both congregations are so very excited for the next stage of the mission here, and there is ‘no holding them back’!  We are so grateful to the Lord for placing us here, we love the work he has given us.

Would you pray for protection for our family as well as for the churches and would you also pray for our BBQ mission in June.

St Johns, we are so grateful for your love and support – thank you for all the years of prayer that you have given us!  Much love to you all.




‘Baby ministry on the Macedonian border’

Baby in refugee camp May 2016We thought you would be interested to read this letter from Rezi

“I pray all is well with you and you are enjoying the start of the summer.  Life has been very exciting for me, very busy and challenging at times but humbling as well.  My health has not been that good – just before Easter my eye pressure was really high and I had a scare of glaucoma.  Thank God everything is fine now.

“In April, two staff from Agapé UK and I had the opportunity to join with GAiN Holland to go to the refugee camp near the Macedonian border. The plan had been to go to Serbia but then the route of the refugees changed.  There were 18000 refugees in Idomeni camp, mainly children. The first 2 days were so heartbreaking, we had only 1000 packs of milk, bananas, apples and baby food but we could not distribute them at first, as people started fighting in order to get some. Seeing people queuing for a long time to get food and  to have  a shower with cold water, was heartbreaking.  Read more

“Please… Pray for my forthcoming journey to Iraq June 12-25, including my visa approval and safety.”

Rezi KardellemajUpdate from Rezi on 1st June: “I have a great news my visa for Iraq did come through :). Now I need prayers for the funds to go there.  I did all my vaccination yesterday and monitoring risk levels.”