Children, Families and Schools work…

Jane ButcherMessy Church/Children and Family Ministry – these continue to keep us busy in a positive way! Messy Church continues to grow worldwide. I have recently taken a role on the national Church of England board for children, youth and families.

Please pray for Bishop Paul Butler of Durham and the group as it seeks to support and develop these vital areas of ministry.

Barnabas In Schools – our new theme in our range of resources has a focus on Christianity around the world. This supports the new framework for church schools and is proving popular.  Please pray that schools will gain an insight into the richness of the Christian faith worldwide.

Other popular themes are those focussing on WW1 & the concept of peace and faith in conflict and those focussing on values such as responsibility, respect, forgiveness and friendship. All connect closely with current national and world issues.

As always prayers for safety as the team travel particularly in the darker, colder days are much appreciated.

 

‘We keep praising God…’

We keep praising God for the opportunity to serve in Lebanon and be part of Living Stones. Your prayers and support are so much appreciated!

During this past summer RCB had two church conferences that gathered most of its congregation for three days of fellowship, worship, learning and fun together. More than 30 people got baptized, most of whom are not from a Christian background.  It was a real celebration of God’s work in and through us!

A team of seven people from RCB went to Syria and gave a two day training for over 250 youth Assyrian Orthodox University students. It was transformational for many and we made many good connections.

In mid-September we had a one-day youth gathering for University students in Lebanon and 500 adults attended.

RCB under the leadership of Pastor Hikmat is preparing for a conference in Beirut which will take place in October for 50 pastors, all from Syria. The purpose of the conference is to cast a vision for Syria and the future. There will also be time for fellowship and spiritual renewal.

RCB is in the process of transforming its roof top into an attractive youth recreational place.

The need for educational development in Lebanon is increasing. RCB opened a new LSP (Learning Support Project) to be able to serve a larger group of unprivileged children in our community. The school runs from 8am – 2pm, five days a week.

Mission trip to India

For two and half weeks seven-eight of us travelled around North-East India preaching, praying for people and imparting a touch from Jesus to people’s lives. We visited seven areas where we were hosting conferences and meetings, were able to join in with the local Indian worship and meal times as well as seeing the Holy Spirit move mightily. Trevor, Sharon and Drew brought wonderful, life changing teaching to the people we met about things such as living supernaturally, accessing heavenly places and receiving an impartation. In some places Sharon and Katherine would play and sing whilst people were being ministered to. In many churches hundreds of people literally fell down like dominoes, one after the other in fast succession under the power of God. It was incredible!

On the way there on the plane and at the airport my ring and brooch broke as the superglue came unstuck. I felt God say, for the people we would encounter, that what has been stuck will become unstuck. Whilst there I was privileged to pray for many people that we met. In Gangtok, surrounded by 100’s of people lying on the floor, I prayed for a few people who were standing! They reported they had been healed of leg pain, chest pain, pain down one side of their body and in their arm and after someone thrust a phone into my hand asking me to pray for their friend over the phone, sinus problems were healed! Several people gave their life to Jesus and a couple were delivered from a demon, one during the lunch break! At a different church in Gangtok I prayed for two people for their chest & head, and knees & hip. They both said that they were healed! I also prayed for a little boy who would not eat accompanied by a desperate Father. Having previously seen breakthrough when praying for this with someone else I am believing for a breakthrough for him.

In a small place in the hills again 100’s fell like dominoes and people reported feeling better after I prayed for their heart & fear and memory & vision.

In Kalimpong and Darjeeling hundreds of people received an impartation from God and were touched by the Holy Spirit, often falling over, crying and laughing. We gave prophetic words to many, which seemed to really touch them.

In one small church high up in the hillside near Darjeeling my friend shared a word about them having swords in their hand. It just so happened that this day I was wearing my prophetic warrior sword necklace and just before, during the worship, God had said to me “put your hands out”. My eyes were closed and I saw in my hands a gold sword. I saw dragons and snakes all over the region and as I whirled the sword around they were chopped into tiny pieces and I felt the spiritual atmosphere was cleared. I only realised this was significant enough to share this with the church after my friend had shared her word. Afterwards the pastor’s wife approached me with tears in her eyes and said that there was a Buddhist monastery on one side of them that worshipped dragons and a temple on the other side that worshipped snakes and this had really helped her! Wow, I had no idea! God really was doing something powerful. During the afternoon meeting a couple of people gave their life to Jesus, two girls were healed as Trevor spoke and about 10 people spoke in tongues for the first time. Afterwards we were praying and prophesying over people and I gave a word to this pastor’s wife, which to me did not seem very significant. She started crying and later said that I had answered something she had been talking to God about and that she had been so blessed. She had actually served me lunch two years previously and so it was great to be able to be a blessing in return.

We spent an afternoon at an orphanage that Trevor and Sharon set up in Siliguri and were able to play with the children, paint the girls’ nails and take them gifts. It was great to see them and spend a bit of time with them and the family there whilst fighting off the mosquitoes!

The morning that we flew to Calcutta I saw a pair of scissors cutting bondage over the area and breaking chains. I saw a layer of covering over the area being cut open. It was like a protective layer, such as a plastic covering when you buy something new or the skin that forms on milk. Underneath it had been forming, like being in a cocoon, but it was now ready to break out and blossom. It was timely being there as they were in the middle of their Durga Puja festival and every night the streets were full of noise and music until very late, lined with people visiting temporary temples to honour this Hindu god and taking money before transporting these statues into the river on our last night. It was sad to see and we could instead bring light and the few days we spent there were full of lively worship, dancing and singing. People gave their life to Jesus, were released into their gift of tongues and were all prayed for. One night many of them were just desperate for a hug and circled all around me waiting their turn. One older lady clung to me for about five minutes on one side whilst I carried on hugging people on my other side, just so in need of that physical touch. I could relate and so knew what she needed and was able to give that to her. I felt like I received hug therapy from them all too! The following night several hundreds were lined up for prayer. I went along the lines praying for each person until I lost my voice and started whispering! A couple of them fell onto me, so touched with the power of God and we prayed for one who was screaming loudly to be released from a demon. At the end I was surrounded by over 20-30 people grabbing at me from all angles to pray for them although I still could not speak! One lady who had been in pain kissed me whilst crying as she felt so much better after receiving prayer. Another lady was unable to see. I put my hands on her eyes and prayed. She started swaying under the power of God and I caught her as she fell to the floor. I had to turn to the remaining people still tugging at my arms but left believing she must have been healed as she was so touched by God.

It was such a privilege to be a part of bringing a touch of God into these people’s lives, whether that was in the message, giving them a prophetic word, seeing them healed, giving their life to Jesus, praying in tongues, receiving the Holy Spirit and being drunk, laughing or falling over, or simply just giving them a hug of love that they needed. Our trip may have been short but I have no doubt it would have been very significant for many of them. We travelled a lot and it was great for us to often see such beautiful surroundings and to have their wonderful curries two, sometimes three times per day!

Thank you to anyone who prayed for my requests! It definitely felt that we were well protected at all times, even when we had a puncture, I mostly slept OK, I did hear a lot from God and we had wonderful peaceful team relationships and laughed lots! I was reasonably ill but I was able to mostly ignore it and it did not get much worse until after I got home! Praise God!

‘God is really opening doors for us…’

We have now been living in Winson Green for two months. We moved to be part of an established community ministry which is based out of Newbigin House, at the heart of Winson Green. God is really opening doors for us and we are building a weekly schedule of community activities. One such activity that we are both involved in is an open house community meal on a Tuesday evening at Newbigin House, for any individual or family living in the area to have a hot meal free. This has been a wonderful opportunity to meet some of the locals and encourage them. We’ve had some people come with very complex needs as well as addiction issues.

Birthing from this, Chris will now be involved in a “Grow Group” aimed at the single men who have been coming regularly. This group will be a space for in depth conversation, mentoring and talking about life issues and faith.

Lorraine has been getting to know some of the families who have also been coming along to the meal. Some of the young mums have recently moved into the area, are in substandard accommodation, are possibly single parents, or have faced violence in the family. Some have no way of cooking or heating a meal up, and the community meals means that these families can have a few moments respite and enjoy fellowship and a hot meal.

Please pray for these Tuesday evenings. They are a life line for many members of the community!

‘a wonderful opportunity…’

Ministry Trainee, Christchurch. Durham.

I am working as a ministry trainee at Christchurch Durham, with my time split fairly evenly between administration and practical work, teaching others through talks and bible studies, and being taught myself through formal and informal sessions.

The first few weeks have included a holiday bible club, a conference seeking to better understand how to engage with the culture around us as Christians, lots of cleaning and tidying of the church buildings, as well as beginning to run children’s and youth groups, both midweek and on Sunday. Once the student term starts I will be given further areas of responsibility which I am really looking forward to. There has also been a lot of staff training and induction which has been a wonderful opportunity to understand the workings of a church better.

Give thanks for:

  • Many children hearing God’s word taught and engaging well
  • The team bonding together
  • Being challenged by the Christian Concern (CC) conference

Pray for:

  • The children and their parents to continue to seek to know God, especially for non- believing families
  • The Holy Spirit to convict us of what we learned at the CC conference, and illuminate God’s word to us as we seek to understand how to put things into practice
  • Learn well and grow in humbleness in these first few busy weeks

 

‘My job as a ministry trainee…’

Ministry Trainee, Christ Church. Kensington. London.

I was at St John’s from 1999 to 2018, and graduated from university this summer.

Christ Church has been around since 1851, and has always been very traditional, using the Book of Common Prayer and a fully-robed choir. After years of stagnation, a larger London Church (St. Helens) were encouraged to send a person to apply for the vicar vacancy in 2010. They were successful, and Mark O’Donoghue has been the incumbent since. The Church has preserved its use of the BCP and choir, while also starting a contemporary 6pm service aimed at workers and students from the Royal College of Music and Imperial College London.

My job as a ministry trainee is split into three areas. Church administration and practical setting up for events; training to teach the Bible through the Cornhill training course; and pastoral work in Church e.g. leading bible studies and giving talks.

Please pray:

  • That all the admin for moving in to my new house would be done in time
  • That I’d get to know as many people as possible this month, and especially that I would make -a special effort in remembering names
  • That I’d learn to admit my own weaknesses so I can rely on Gods strength more and more

 

‘It is an honour and a privilege…’

I’ve been serving voluntarily with Mercy Ships for 16 months now, and have had the privilege of working and living alongside people from many different countries. I am genuinely humbled when I consider that this ship is staffed by professionals who have chosen to leave their homes, countries, families, friends, possessions, jobs and salaries in order to do their everyday job out of love and empathy for the people of Western and Central Africa. I have been asked how my particular role on the ship is, in itself, a ministry.

There are times that, beyond the obvious differences of living on board a ship in West Africa, I have felt that the job I am doing day in and day out is very similar to the job that I did back home in the UK for nine years. I plan and teach lessons, mark and grade work, attend staff meetings and take part in professional development training sessions. However, this is really where the similarity abruptly stops. As I walk from my classroom door en-route to my cabin I will encounter patients on their way up to our open air deck (Deck 7). As I watch them pass by me on the stairs with their plaster casts, bandages, k-wires, catheters and crutches, I am reminded that this is a place where incredible victories are continuously being won within the hospital deck, but they are enabled by the actions of those on the remaining seven decks every single day!

I often think of 1 Corinthians 12 when I consider the various roles on this ship and the way in which they function together to allow the medical work of Mercy Ships to take place. We are many parts but we are one body working towards a common goal. It is an honour and a privilege to know that as I teach the Kindergarten children to read and write, their parents are able to serve in other roles. Seeing this body of believers working together, I am in no doubt that my role is a ministry in itself.

“Did I write that?”

“Did I write that?” I wondered as the choir sang.  “Wow! It’s better than I remembered. Unless they’ve added something …

July 14th, 2018 was a day to celebrate – doubly!

First: a concert production of Rock, a musical about Simon Peter, with the CMM choir at St John’s. “You could sense the Spirit’s power!” people told me, thus explaining that “added something”. It’s 10 years since Roger Jones and I wrote Rock but we’d hoped one day to have such an evening here, where you’ve so long supported me and Christian Music Ministries.

Second: the publication of ‘With all the Trimmings’, my new collection of poetry, exploring Christmas sacred and secular, serious or lighter.

We’re already using it, with an interview/testimony and poems recorded for broadcast in September on Heart and Soul on South Birmingham Radio (online 6-8pm Wednesdays, with catch-up podcasts).

A similar format was well-received at a residential week in Derbyshire, and may be used elsewhere, including –

Friday November 23, 7.30pm
A pre-Christmas CMM evening at St John’s

Save the dated and invite your friends!

Please pray for:

  • The Spirit to continue what was started, with Rock and similar concerts
  • The new book to bless individuals, groups, services or concerts, beyond expectations.
  • For wisdom planning November 23rd and inviting friends and neighbours to meet Jesus this Christmas.

Thank you especially to those who came to Rock, asked for updates, or even bought copies of ‘With all the Trimmings’. Writing can be lonely, and your words are a great encouragement to trust God and expect his “added something”.

‘The blind were given sight, children could walk again and women regained their dignity…’

This month I will have been with Mercy Ships for one year – and it’s flown by. In that time I’ve learned so much and come to think of this as a dream job. In July, I actually set foot aboard the ship itself – the world’s largest floating charitable hospital – which was such a privilege. I met some of the crew and saw with my own eyes the narrow corridor that houses five operating theatres. Last year we performed over 2,700 surgeries – every one was offered free of charge, as we follow the model of Jesus to show love and share hope and healing with the poorest people on earth. The walls were full of smiling faces – patients whose lives have been utterly transformed; the blind who were given sight, children who could walk again and women who regained their dignity and were no longer outcasts.

At the moment I’m preparing for the Spring Harvest Local Church Tour, where I’ll be on stage talking about Mercy Ships. Please pray I do this well and God is with me.

Recently, I took on a number of additional responsibilities. I now manage a team made up of Christine, Gary, Mike, and Lisa, our amazing administrator.

Christine is the Community Fundraiser, she supports people who do sponsored challenges and fundraising events.

I also oversee our network of Volunteer Speakers, who tell churches and other community groups about our work. As part of this, I manage a great guy called Gary, he and I decide which Conferences Mercy Ships will exhibit at. I’m kept busy!

Mike is a volunteer who is helping to write the training for our first ever ‘Speakers Conference’ that we’re running on 3rd November (Manchester) and 17th November (London). Please pray for this, and for my whole team.

Please pray too for Val and the other volunteer crew on our ship. They’ve just arrived in Conakry, Guinea – which lost many medical professionals in the Ebola crisis a few years back. On the first day of ‘screening’ 6000 people queued up, each hoping to get the surgery they desperately need.

Thank you, your prayers and support make such a difference and mean the world to me.

‘And with tears in my eyes…’

“Also the tree of the field will yield its fruit and the earth will yield its increase, and they will be secure on their land. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bars of their yoke and have delivered them from the hand of those who enslave them.”

This verse from Ezekiel 34:27 was pretty much the first thing I read on return from my recent visit to Nepal. I recall looking up at a colleague, and with tears in my eyes, saying ‘I have seen this with my own eyes’.

One of INF’s newer work areas is in a district called Bajura. Bajura District is the poorest of Nepal’s 75 Districts, and one of the poorest places on the whole of the earth.

The headline statistics make grim reading:

Nearly half of children will die before their 5th birthday
Maternal mortality is 458 deaths per 100,000 (in the UK it’s 10 per 100,000).
Most families are only able to produce enough food for 3-6 months each year
To survive, menfolk migrate to India to do the most menial and dangerous of jobs
The practice of Chhaupadi – sending women to live in the cow shed during their menstrual cycle – is still widely practiced. Women also give birth in cow sheds, where they stay for 11 days if it’s a boy, and longer for a girl. Is it any wonder so many women and children die?

Then there is the caste system. A third of people are ‘Dalits’, the poorest of the poor, often referred to as ‘untouchables’. Dalits are not allowed to enter temples, touch food at common gatherings, or use public taps. They are often beaten by upper-caste people, and many live in modern forms of slavery and bonded labour. Few have land or farm animals, and are hardest hit by the shortage of food.

And Christians? When we started work five years ago there were just seven Christians in a District population of 135,000.

In Luke 4 Jesus says:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

I saw these words being fleshed out:

Women proudly told me that they no longer practiced Chhuapadi
The mortality rate for children and mothers has reduced by over 50%
300 families now have enough food for 12 months
A further 300 families have sufficient for more than 6 months