SERVICEstation, GOfest & more…

Planning is well under-way for the Easter event season. The teams for SERVICEstation (the advice area we provide for large events) are in place, and as part of our preparation, production of the next edition of iServe is in process.

This is very detailed work, so pray for me and my team as we put this resource together and that God will use it to point many to service opportunities.

The search for a new Executive Director for Global Connections is ongoing. Sadly, the person appointed in April last year stood down from the post just before Christmas. Team morale is good but we really need a new boss!

Please pray for those involved in the recruitment process – that they will have clear guidance and godly wisdom regarding this critical appointment of a leader for what is now a large network.

The next GOfest event will be at All Nations Christian College on 12th May 2018 and planning is progressing well. I chair the GOfest partnership. This will be a great day for all the family, celebrating what God is doing worldwide and exploring how we can be involved in His mission locally and globally.

Pray for good relationships to be built with local churches and the ongoing development of the programme.

We are currently planning for the next training cohort for City Pastors with a new promo video available to help our recruitment. We are also very grateful to receive the ‘Pride in Work’ award at the WOWs (Wonders of Westside) awards last month. Once again, we’re so thankful for the regard in which the project is held and don’t take this privilege for granted. You can watch our three minute video here:

Pray for more applications to come in – we need at least 15 to boost our numbers.

Messy Communion…

Jane ButcherChildren and Family Ministry. This area continues to grow along with the area of intergenerational ministry. We have valued leading the Family Ministry course at Cliff College and also the Bristol Baptist College training day, both supporting ministers and those working directly in this field in a variety of settings across the UK. We are currently in ‘conference season’ leading workshops across the UK.

Messy Church continues to grow both in terms of the number taking place across the world and in the development of materials. Recently the Church of England Liturgical Committee approved the liturgy for ‘Messy Communion’ offering the guidelines and outlines for sharing the Eucharist in Anglican Messy Churches.

Barnabas in Schools. This year has been a busier one so far. Our new theme exploring ‘Respect, Resilience and Responsibility’ supported by Bible stories is popular for primary schools as Values education is a focus area for church schools. Looking ahead to next year we will be developing a package exploring how the Christian faith is lived out in various countries across the world. Both of these themes support the recent developments within the national teaching of RE.

In addition to the creative days with pupils, we also lead training (Inset). This is valuable for all but particularly for those who don’t have any formal RE training or experience.

As always, we value prayers for God’s guiding throughout our work and for safety as the team travel around the UK and overseas.

Visit www.barnabasinschools.org.uk, www.barnabasinchurches.org.uk and www.faithinhomes.org.uk for news and information about BRF’s work.

‘Thank you St John’s…’

Thank you St John’s for your continued partnership and prayers for us as we serve with Betel. December was a very busy time for us here at Betel Manchester as we covered 60 Christmas carolling events over the 24 days leading up to Christmas, with a team of approximately 23 men. We were so encouraged by people’s kindness and generosity.

Mark and I are in a time of transition as we will be moving back to Betel Birmingham, with a desire to see what God wants us to be involved in. We will have been in Manchester for three years and we sense it is now time to move on. I feel somewhat daunted at the prospect of yet another house move, but we know God is in control. We have found a house and plan to move by 16th February. Please pray for these logistics and that God would prepare us, and Harvey, for the changes ahead and the new partnerships we will be working within.

The Manchester centre will be undergoing lots of changes in the coming months with a few other long term leaders moving to different pastures. Please pray for Anthony and Angela as they lead the team; pray for strength, wisdom and provision of much needed help. Praise God that the centre continues to grow in numbers, and pray for Godly leaders to rise up who have a heart to see the men change.

‘We’re about seeing young people’s lives changed by Jesus.’

I have recently taken on a new role as YFC Director of Missions, whilst still retaining my role as Prayer Co-ordinator.

YFC’s message and mission is simple – we’re about seeing young people’s lives changed by Jesus. Overseeing the hugely gifted missions teams gives me the opportunity to look at ‘how’ we do this effectively to maximise our reach and help young people reach their friends. I am also involved in exploring Gen Z research to establish where these young people are at, and therefore what missional tool we take to them as we share Jesus with them.

Currently within YFC, we have six areas of mission:
Marginalised and Inclusion – where we continue to maintain a strong presence within the youth justice system through chaplaincy, education and resettlement, and more recently within preventative and resettlement contexts in schools and community.

Stance – our dance team, and Sense – our worship team, tour schools and churches sharing through school curriculum, assemblies and CUs. Where many school doors are shut for evangelistic organisations, we are finding God is opening previously shut doors and giving incredible favour to share and build relationship with staff and young people.

The Cube – is our brand new touring team that addresses apologetics-led questions through a multi-sensory and interactive-media experience. This team is based primarily within school contexts and brings the bible to life through immersive technology, surround sound, interactive activities and challenging the barriers to faith that many young people face today.

Prayer – We have just completed #Pray365 – an entire year of prayer, with 68 of our centres committing to covering every hour of 2017 in prayer in a whole variety of ways, setting the expectation of a strong and dependent culture of prayer for our staff and volunteers.

The Year Out – YFC continue to run a very successful year out for 17-25 year olds offering eight different streams to meet the diverse needs of young people throughout the country. The young people are discipled throughout the year, receiving excellent training from expert teachers in their respected areas, including unpacking of Gen Z research, Open Doors, Romance Academy, Mercy Ministries and much more.

We do mission not in isolation but in partnership with the local church, and we are really excited and expectant to see how God moves as we seek to join with Him in reaching young people with His good news throughout 2018!

‘On board the Africa Mercy’

It really is hard to believe that I have been on board the Africa Mercy (AFM) for six months now! Sailing through the Atlantic Ocean (from Gran Canaria to Cameroon) was an incredible experience. The Mercy Ships Academy school year began on the third day of the sail so it was a busy time but there was also lots of opportunity to rest and spend time with the Lord – I formed a habit of hanging my hammock up on one of the decks and staring out at the endless ocean before me. Occasionally the captain would give an announcement throughout the ship to let the crew know that we had dolphin or whale visitors – my solitude was quickly gone as people rushed onto the decks but it was definitely worth it!

Once we docked in the port town of Douala, the ship became a flurry of busyness as the crew set about preparing to transform the ship back into a fully-functioning floating hospital. Within only a few weeks, the hospital was open to its first Cameroonian patients (who had been screened in advance by the Mercy Ships Advance Team alongside their Cameroonian medical counterparts).

I have to admit that no amount of video footage could have prepared me for the reality of coming face to face with these patients. It is an incredibly humbling experience to live out life on a day to day basis alongside people who have such extreme physical challenges, especially seeing the level of poverty within which these challenges are faced. Despite this though, they show such a determination and resilience – by the time they arrive at the dock to first embark on the ship, they have already endured so much.

It is within this context that I can say with sincerity how thankful I am for your continued prayers and support as my home church.

Relay Worker with UCCF

I am a graduate from the University of Birmingham and have been attending St John’s throughout my degree. This year I am working as a Relay Worker with UCCF (Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship), supporting the Christian Union at UoB! My role involves coming alongside the CU, helping them plan evangelistic events, lead Bible studies, give seminars, and generally help the students make Jesus known on campus! I also have a study programme of core theology and apologetics, and am being given lots of training from people older and wiser than me.

I am passionate about giving people the opportunity to hear the gospel and I believe, due to the student culture and lifestyle, that the university years are some of the best to do this. This time of discovery and independence brings an openness to the gospel as well as time to invest in exploring Christianity. I love working with the CU but could do so little without God, so I would love your prayers for me and for the CU movement in Birmingham, that God would use us to make his name known and draw people into his Kingdom.

Specifically, please pray for:

The weekly “Explore Groups” which bring together Christian and non-Christian freshers to think about Christianity and read the Bible together.

The fortnightly “Big Questions” events which include free pizza and a short evangelistic talk.

My routine and work-life balance to settle, so that I would be fully effective in my ministry.

What a rollercoaster it’s been!

What a rollercoaster it’s been, these past 5 weeks. I left Youth for Christ after 14 years’ service in September and I’m now working for MERCY SHIPS UK! At YFC I was privileged to have had a host of roles, beginning as an apprentice fundraiser, moving on to overseeing young offender prison ministry and courses for At Risk Youth, and finally working with an ethnically diverse network of churches across the country, to foster unity and reach more young people for Christ.

These last few weeks have been exhilarating and non-stop! Spring Harvest chose Mercy Ships to be their charity of the year, and so I’ve spent much of my time on the road travelling around England, Wales, and Scotland, with the Spring Harvest Local Tour. I was honoured to speak to church leaders in each town, telling them about the incredible work of Mercy Ships, which follows Jesus’ example to bring hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor. Mercy Ships allows 450 volunteers to crew the world’s largest floating hospital (a big blue and white ship!) to offer free surgery to the poorest Africans; 50% of the roles are ‘non-medical’. 2/3rd of the planet have no access to safe and affordable surgery when they need it, meaning 17 million people die needlessly every year. Mercy Ships is changing lives through surgery.

My new role is ‘Church Partnership Manager’, which involves overseeing those who support UK volunteers travelling to the ship, the ‘ Africa Mercy’, like Val Clarke currently! (another St Johns Living Stone). I also oversee a network of speakers who tell church and lifestyle groups (U3A, Probus, Rotary, Scouts etc.) about Mercy Ships. I’m also creating a new strategy for getting churches engaged with the work of the ship. I’d value your prayers! Thank you!

www.mercyships.org.uk

Times of encouragement

Thank you, all of you who’ve long prayed for Christian Music Ministries and for my changing involvement, writing lyrics and sometimes poetry for others to use.  It’s such an encouragement, particularly when I’m alone with a keyboard, looking for the right word.

Encouragement has been to the fore. Recently, as I read the day’s Bible in One Year (Leonard’s recommendation) a text came from Roger and team touring Scotland, using the Barnabas musical, plus times of teaching and prophetic ministry. They saw signs of the Lord working powerfully, and lives affected. Now a choir trainer at Lossiemouth had emailed them. She was hugely moved by the Spirit’s presence, imagining Jesus standing before her, singing his love over her.  She is avid to learn more and see God’s work in and through her.

Her encouragement encouraged them, as their text encouraged me. I looked at the passage before me, Isaiah 51:16. “I have put my words in your mouth.” I passed it on, but was sure it was a perfectly-timed encouragement to me.

With no more musicals planned, my role with CMM was, I thought, ending. Perhaps I should confine myself to a poem or two? A collection for 2018? Instead it seems there’s a fresh call for songs for ministry and healing. Tentative lyrics are beginning to email back and forth, seeds sprouting…

Praise the Lord for all the above and pray for discernment so the words and music of Jesus’ love will be sung over many lives.

Alison is Libretto writer for Roger Jones Musicals.

www.cmm.org.uk

 

‘a fabulous BBQ mission…’

Nick and Cristina write: “God has been so faithful over the last few months and we’ve seen a further outpouring of healings, salvations and transformation stories.  Both churches are growing in maturity, passion and love for the Lord and for one another, it’s beautiful to see.

“We had a fabulous BBQ mission over the summer with lots making a first time commitment to Jesus – the prayer now is for each one of these to fully grow as mature disciples and that the enemy would have no room to ‘snatch them away’.

“Do keep praying for us – this work is nothing without the hand of God moving! Thank you for all your prayers, love and support – we truly are grateful!  Much love to you all.”

 

‘An opportunity to engage with the homeless & marginalized…’

Chris writes: “As part of my role as Short-Term Mission Coordinator, I have just finished leading a pilot eight-day outreach called ‘Whatever you did….’ (Matt 26: 40). Based in Birmingham, it gives the participants an opportunity to engage with the homeless and marginalized. Though just a small group of two, I was able to take them on soup runs, visit a food bank, a night shelter and drug rehab centre amongst other things. The highlight was being part of a Sunday morning service, along with a Salvation Army band, in a local prison.  The band, I and the two participants got to visit a wing which has been cut off from the rest of the prison to give the prisoners a chance to get away from drugs. The music and conversations that followed meant so much to the prisoners.

“Some prisoners feel forgotten and alone, even in a place with many hundreds of others around them, often feeling they can’t practise their faith. The participants really felt they had been enriched and inspired from their outreach experience in Birmingham. I am now looking at repeating this Short-Term Mission in December for a new group of participants. I’m exploring chaplaincy opportunities as well.”

Lorraine writes: “As part of my role as Hospitality & Housekeeping Manager, I was kept very busy during the eight days Chris was leading the outreach. The participants were staying at the OM base in Halesowen. I like to make sure they feel welcomed, are looked after and that they had a good experience staying on the base. I’m excited to be starting back as a small group leader on a Tuesday morning, at ‘Mothers @ heart’, a local women’s group offering support and friendship. All these activities enable us to share life and faith with whoever we meet. The gospel is lifesaving and lifegiving which should be shared at any given opportunity.

“Please pray that we will have strength and energy to fulfil our roles; for the busy Autumn/Winter season with outreaches and guests at the base and that our planned extended holiday before the busy season starts will give us much needed rest and relaxation.”