‘Pray for open hearts…’

Heidi HelbOur goal is to reach out to those around us, in our neighbourhood and communities, the message of Jesus, through our words and lives. My community is Alperton in north west London, with a population of 14,000, with 47% Hindus and 12% Muslim.

One of the ways to reach out to our community is through English classes in our church, which we started in May. At first we had seven ladies registered for the Beginners and Basic class, but the week before half term, we had 19 students on our list. We are very thankful for these students, who come faithfully every Tuesdays and Thursdays for two hours to learn English.

Most of these ladies are Hindus, so pray for open hearts to the gospel. They’re also vegetarians, so we have to make sure we have snacks without eggs during tea break. We have childcare during our classes and it’s sometimes challenging to teach amidst the noise of the children playing nearby, but the mothers like it when they can see their children.

Please pray for Linda, who teaches the Basic class and myself, as I teach the Beginners, for wisdom in teaching our classes, not to go too fast or too slow, but just right for our students.

Pray for the next step for these classes, that we’ll be able to find another volunteer teacher, for the next level, so our students can continue on to Intermediate.

Pray for more opportunities to get to know my neighbours. I’ve got to know some, but pray for more open doors.

‘Excited to have joined a new course…’

Hi. I’m Anna and I am a medical student at the University of Birmingham just about to start 4th year after a year intercalating in Public Health. I’ve been at St John’s since starting university and am involved in the worship band and leading a youth cell group.

Since I was very young, God has laid overseas mission work on my heart. I am excited to have joined a new course run by CMF (Christian Medical Fellowship) called International Track which is an 18 month part-time programme for medical students and newly qualified doctors and nurses who want to explore medical mission further. The course consists of five day sessions at the CMF office with missionary speakers, two days at the CMF Developing Health Course and a weekend at All Nations Christian College. In August 2018 we have the opportunity to attend one of two mission trips to either Uganda or India. We are also assigned a mentor who will meet with us throughout the course to think through and pray into where God might be leading us. I attended the first day on 20th May and I felt so welcomed. I’m really excited to journey on the rest of the course!

Please pray that God would use this opportunity to speak to me about where he might be leading me on mission in the future, for a supportive fellowship to be built with the other participants, for the relationship with my mentor and for God’s plans and purposes to be brought to fruition.

A logistical challenge!

Jo JowettThe pre-Easter event season was successfully completed. It was a logistical challenge with three events running simultaneously in three different parts of the country. Hundreds of people engaged with SERVICEstation and some who had been helped in previous years came back to tell us about how God had been at work in their lives and moved them into a new ministry.

GOfest has been a strong feature of the last few months. I’ve invested considerable time and energy into making this happen, alongside an excellent team from our key partner mission agencies. The event at Moorlands College happened on Saturday 13th May and it went extremely well with the venue pretty much filled. Our strategy with GOfest is not just to run an event but to use this as a basis for ongoing relationships with local churches to work with them in the realm of world mission. We had over 30 church leaders from across three different church networks gather together in January to talk about connecting with GOfest. We held another follow-up event on 9 June. Pray that meaningful relationships and positive engagement will follow. We will now also start to plan the next GOfest event which will be at All Nations Christian College on 12 May next year.

Planning for the summer events is already under way. Pray that we can recruit the required team members for each event.

We’ve been busy with City Pastors recently having just completed training with a new batch of recruits. Mark and I are also working with Gas St. Church over the next couple of months. One of the 10-week ‘Gas St. Groups’ will focus on City Pastors, so we’ll be delivering our training for that group in a different format and hope that those who attend will join our team at the end of the programme.

Prayers are appreciated for my mum who is awaiting major back surgery. She has already had her pre-op assessment but there’s still no sign of a surgery date yet. She is in constant pain, despite ongoing pain management.

Bringing life changing medical care…

Earlier this month I joined the voluntary Christian organisation ‘Mercy Ships’ where I will be living and working on the worlds largest charitable floating hospital. This ship brings free life-changing medical care to some of the world’s poorest people and is almost entirely staffed by volunteers. My role on board the ship will be ‘Kindergarten Teacher’ within the Mercy Ships Academy. The Academy serves approximately 50-60 children of the Africa Mercy crew. Having a school on board the ship means that families are able to serve within the hospital (and elsewhere on the ship) on a longer-term basis.

On 10th June, I travelled to the International Operations Center (IOC) in Lindale, Texas to begin the Mercy Ships ‘On Boarding’ program, a month long training program to prepare new crew and staff for their time of service with Mercy Ships. On 18th July, the On Boarding class will then fly together from Texas to join the ship in the Canary Islands where it is in dry dock for maintenance. The ship will depart the Canary Islands during the next week to set sail for my first African port – Cameroon. The school year will begin during this voyage!

Prayer Points:

  • Thanks for the smooth transition process so far in moving out of my home and putting things into storage.
  • That the journey from Texas to the ship, would run smoothly and all baggage would arrive with me.
  • That I would quickly settle into my new job role and home and have a sense of God’s peace and presence around me.

‘a hugely exciting time…’

Beth WhitehouseThe last few months have been a hugely exciting time for Youth for Christ as we have engaged and implemented our #Pray365 Year of Prayer.

This has meant our YFC Centres and Projects throughout the country have committed to praying for around 168 hours for young people. With over 67 Centres committing, it means as a family, we are covering every hour of 2017 in prayer!

The way in which they are doing this hugely varies from prayer walks throughout the City of Bath to weekly McDonald’s prayer breakfasts in Norfolk!  The purpose of this is of course not about legalism but is about discipline, commitment and intention. God calls us to practise and live out 2 Chronicles 7:14.

For National staff in Halesowen, not only do we now stop and intercede at 11am each day but we also hold prayer days every 8 weeks, nights and weeks of non-stop intercession and every National member of staff supports one of our 74 YFC Centres in prayer through ‘adopt a Centre’.

We also felt challenged that within our own prayer lives outside of ministry, we too are deepening our relationship with Jesus.  Ministry does not take the place of the intimacy in
listening and resting with our creator. We know that prayer itself is not the thing! But prayer is simply a vehicle to relationship with Jesus. It is simply the way in which God graciously allows for us to connect with him, to know Jesus better and to grow in relationship with our Father.

If you are interested in attending the National YFC Prayer Day on the 14th June, where we will have Pete Grieg speaking into the YFC movement, tickets are free but limited so please email beth.whitehouse@yfc.co.uk

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.