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.

‘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.

‘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

‘Urban ministry is complex and never without setbacks and encouragements.’

Spring and summer is always welcome here in the northwest USA. Like Britain, we have dark, wet, and cold winters. April saw our annual fundraiser raise a good portion of what is needed to help our partners create options for the poor and needy.

As well as liaising with and meeting new partners (churches and organisations), I organise the compassionate product initiatives with our partners. For example, the next project is school backpacks in August. The partners who are under resourced themselves help pack and then take the backpacks to their contacts in the community who need them.

Urban ministry is complex and never without setbacks and encouragements. This summer, between 24th June and 4th August, about 20 students from all parts of the country are plunging into urban ministry and living in central Seattle. We have a wonderful collaboration with UGM (Union Gospel Mission) as we train and guide these young people for six weeks. Please pray for us.

This summer will see my first return to the UK in three years! I’ll be in the Birmingham area in September. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you.

Latest news from Restore

Jeremy Thompson

Jeremy Thompson

At Restore, we are delighted that we have expanded our staff team, we have recently employed a Befriending Men’s Worker Andy Ferrari from Christ Church, Summerfield. Please pray for the Restore team as we welcome a new colleague and adjust to new ways of working. Jeremy will be involved in the induction and training process and then will be focused on restarting Restore’s ‘Equipping Refugees for Work’ project.

Finding employment is one of the hurdles refugees face when seeking to integrate into our community and so we are really keen to offer them support in that process. Our group social activities offer vital interaction, recreation and new experiences. These included a recent family trip to Beaudesert Park in Cannock with coracles, climbing and pedal go-karts and a men’s activity entitled ‘Learning English through singing’ with Birmingham Opera Company. Please pray for us as we prepare family day trips in the school summer holidays, that these would enable families to relax and enjoy new experiences and places together.

And finally, starting in June, we are holding our next training course for new volunteers. Please pray that new volunteers would be inspired and equipped to offer welcome and support to people who have fled persecution and are seeking safety in our community.

‘Teslam’ May they flourish, May God keep them safe.

During recent weeks in the Middle East bombs have been falling like rain. One drop of this deadly rain and everything melts away. The lives of your loved ones, your children, your home, your belongings. All you’re left with is your breath and the ability to think that you survived one more day, praying and hoping that somehow, someone, somewhere will provide some rice and lentils for you to live another day.

The struggle for shelter, clothes, food and medicine is harsher than ever. The few community centres are like a little oasis of hope.  In one such centre GAiN is doing what they can to support 5,000 people, month by month.

‘Teslam’, ‘Teslam’, ‘Teslam’; one little girl kept saying after receiving food and clothes for herself, her mother and brother. She lost her home, two siblings and her father in the recent bombing. ‘Teslam,’ may they flourish, is what Syrians in Damascus use to say thank you and to show gratitude to people who donated the ‘bags of blessings’ as they call them in this Christian centre.

Please pray God’s protection over the people caught in the middle of this latest escalation and that the Christian community would continue to be a beacon of hope.

Winter clothes, blankets, medical equipment, women’s care packs, children’s school supplies, toys and money were sent to Iraq and Lesbos. Please continue to pray as a new collection appeal is launched.

Recently we have sent two teams to Lesbos to help with newly arrived refugees from Syria and many more places. Pray for the thousands of refugees on this Greek island. We are constantly recruiting for teams and individuals to help in Greece.

Please pray for my UK visa. I have an appointment on the 10th of May and would really like to get it the same day. I am planning to spend one month in the refugee camp in Lesbos as soon as I get this.

I am very thankful and grateful for your friendship, support, prayers, love, and especially for my health, which I am struggling with at the moment. Pray that my immune system gets stronger.