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.”

‘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