Reporting back…

Caroline Harvey, who grew up at St John’s and is currently back with us recently travelled to different parts of the world in Christian service. Here is what she reports from her trips.

Cambodia

I have never come across a country more in need of love and support than Cambodia, with the majority of the population extremely young and uneducated, because the older and more educated people were killed by Polpot’s regime. Many cannot read or write and feel their only choice is to turn to prostitution or sell their children into trafficking. XP Missions helps to prevent and rescue victims of trafficking and to care for people afterwards, providing opportunities for work.

I spent a month doing an internship with Patricia King’s team and ministry in America and then nearly a month with their mission’s team in Cambodia. Each day there in the capital, Phnom Penh, was completely different praying for people, telling them about Jesus and showing them God’s love. We visited many slums; washing people’s feet, taking children a hot lunch, teaching Bible study and English groups, leading people to Jesus and praying for healing. One lady, Im, received healing for backache and headache and then received Jesus. I was so amazed to see what some of the young children from one slum, who met each week for a type of Sunday school, were capable of. They were so young yet had visited 3rd heaven, spoke in tongues and clearly heard from God. The team had done an amazing job of discipling and teaching them. In the hospital we prayed for each patient and took them food parcels. Many reported feeling much better. One 80 year old lady had just received surgery. She felt so great after receiving prayer that she wanted to go home and never having heard of Jesus before, welcomed him into her heart.

One day we walked down a busy main street, stopping at businesses and offering to bless them. People were also healed and 2 young girls and a lady working in prostitution gave their lives to Jesus. Her name sounded like ‘Alone’. Such joy filled her eyes and I assured her she would never be alone. I did not want to leave her! One morning, we walked around the local area, handing out food to many girls working in prostitution who were still out and prayed for the people we met. One man had severe pain in his teeth, but after a couple of prayers said the pain had gone by 95%! One night we hired a karaoke booth, usually hired by men, for around an hour and a half, which came with 3 girls, none of whom wanted to be working there. We just loved them! We sang and danced with them, gave them gifts and told them through interpreters how much Jesus loved them. At the end the girl I was with would not let go of my hand and kept hugging me, kissing me and telling me she loved me. She was so touched by God’s love; we did not want to let each other go. Visiting a local silk farm, we prayed for a lady working there, over 80 years old, who relied heavily on her eyesight for work. Her eyes were healed and we could visibly see the difference. We also led a Bible study group for women who had left the sex trade and are now employed by the team over there. They have been taught to sew the most beautiful bags, which are for sale online. We all shared testimonies and it was great to meet them. XP Missions also set up a children’s home, where a few children who were severely abused and neglected are cared for 24 hours per day. It was a privilege to visit there and meet the children.

2 overnight bus rides gave us 1 day in Poipet, on the Thai border, where lots of trafficking occurs. We walked up and down the border praying, joined with local teenagers to feed some street children and prayed for a family with a very unwell baby in the slums. Just after praying at the border, in a casino bar, just before a Thai lady sang, the usual music was suddenly interrupted when ‘No Longer Slaves’, a Christian song, by Jonathan and Melissa Helser came through the speakers. We could not believe it!

Vietnam

We visited Vietnam for a few days, where you are not allowed to talk about God. We prayed over the waters in a boat and around a government building, saw the effects of the Vietnam War and Agent Orange at the museum and the actual Chu Chi tunnels, close to Ho Chi Minh City, which were all pretty shocking. People there are still affected by this today. In the red light district, we prayed walking up and down and had foot massages with some of the girls and guys working there in prostitution, with the premises doubling as a ‘massage parlour’. We smiled God’s love to them and prayed blessings over them. They seemed really touched and it was good to be a light in such a dark area.

America

Previously, I spent a month in Maricopa, Arizona doing an internship at Patricia King’s church, mostly a media church online, and organisation, XP Ministries, with 13 other interns and their lovely team. We were mostly at the church building 8am-4/5pm each day, joining with their staff for team prayer time, sometimes praying in tongues for the whole hour and then often in teaching for the day on topics such as extreme prophetic evangelism, accessing 3rd heaven, practicing different prophetic exercises on each other, etc. We each preached for a few minutes and we spent 3 days serving at their huge Women on the Frontlines conference in Phoenix with Patricia, James Goll, Gloria Copeland and many others speaking.

One afternoon we took to the streets of the local area in Maricopa. Our group felt led to speak to a group of teenagers. One of our team heard from God that many of them were being abused and prophesied over several of them. Being from England, I stood out and one guy said to me “I knew I was going to meet someone from across the world today”. I told him that God had sent me to him to tell him how much he was loved and how God wanted a relationship with him and what this could be like. He was completely fixated on every word. I asked him, “How does that sound?” He said, “It sounds like just what I wanted to hear!” We prayed for Jesus to come into his heart. It turned out he had just got out of prison for a very serious crime but looked so happy and full of joy next time one of our group members spotted him!

I found myself praying for people in a swimming pool and a supermarket. Most people were so eager to receive prayer for themselves or their friends if you stepped out and offered. Many testimonies were shared about the huge impact of just telling someone that God loves them. People working at a checkout burst into tears on hearing this. I learnt to hear more from God and have more of a constant communion with him. Each time I asked someone for advice the answer was often “Ask Holy Spirit”! So I had to learn to do that more!

Personally, I was met with such love by all of the team, in America and Cambodia, the people who welcomed me into their home and the other interns. People were telling me they loved me when they had only known me for a week or two and they genuinely meant it. Their aim as a ministry is to make love their highest aim and they definitely achieved that and touched my heart. How many people can we reach and touch with that as our aim?

Thank you to anyone who prayed for me. I had typhoid and worms but other than that all was fine!

www.xpministries.com

www.xpmissions.com

‘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.