Friday, 16 September 2016

Discovery takes Soul Survivor 2016




This summer, 18 discovery members and leaders bundled into several jam-packed cars and headed down to the Royal Bath and West Showground for Soul Survivor B. 

Upon arrival, the pouring rain and apparent lack of allocated spot for us to pitch our tents were quickly dealt with by means of some expert village-host-haggling skills and prayer for the weather to improve. By late afternoon our little area was all set up and the sun stayed with us for the rest of the week! 

We had so much fun during the trip and had many laughs about: the girls (and guys!) gushing over Andy Croft, one of the speakers, and Sam Bailey, one of the worship leaders. Not forgetting the standout comedy moments which included a pair of disappearing shoes, singing happy birthday at the top of our voices in competition with the camp next door (only to discover that they actually did have a birthday every single day!), exceptional bedtime stories every night, the renaming of Mark as ‘Pudding’, and the Noah’s Ark themed dress-up on the final night. And we could not have survived without our giant marshmallow, freddo and chocolate spread sandwiches late at night, our trusty ‘Hello Kitty’ umbrella to help others find our group in the Big Top, and our daily fills of ‘Good thing, God thing’ at mealtimes.

Most importantly, though, our week at SS was an incredible time to reconnect with God through 5 days of worship, ministry and teaching. Many of us attended a wide range of seminars during the day, including Prayer Ministry, Leadership, and even one called ‘Straight out of Compton’! We made sure that we arrived extra early to the morning and evening sessions in order to get the best spot because we loved worshipping together in the Big Top (sometimes for over 2 hours!) and being able to pray with and for each other. 

Although there were over 8,000 people around us, it was an amazingly intimate experience, and we came away from the week with a deep and fulfilling sense of love for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We experienced incredible outpourings of the Spirit and answered prayers, as well as all really being able to grapple with difficult stuff, and seeking and receiving healing. We all came away from the week with a refreshed sense of faith, and were all itching to return to Farnborough in search of opportunities for ‘name-dropping Jesus’. 
Despite a distinct lack of showers, overall it was a week full of fun, fellowship and faith. We can’t wait return back next year!

Emelia Stinton

Friday, 19 August 2016

Flame International (Development) mission to Congo


The aims of the trip in June were:
  • To envision Désiré Mukanirwa, our point of contact in Congo, with a visit to a children’s centre for AIDS orphans and vulnerable children in Uganda (the Stephen Jota Children’s Centre (SJCC) in Kampala) and Stephen’s new secondary school and farm in Sozo, 70km north of Kampala
  • To review progress of the two main Flame International (Development) projects in Keshero and Kalehe in Congo (Project ‘Hope’ and Project ‘Stand Up Women!’)
  • To buy food grinding machines for the children in Project ‘Hope’
  • To deliver funds towards the various projects
I took my brother Jonathan, who co-founded the SJCC in 2000 with Stephen Jota, a Ugandan pastor. Jonathan’s fluency in French, together with years of experience in the teaching profession, was invaluable. 

The visit to SJCC was truly inspiring for all, particularly for Désiré. The buildings were all of high quality. The visit to Sozo included fish ponds as well as a 100-acre farm with pigs, ducks, maize and coffee. We also saw the secondary school under construction. Our hope and prayer is that one day the project in Congo will have something similar to support the needs of the women and children there. We are excited at the possibilities of an emerging partnership between SJCC and Désiré’s projects. 

Jonathan spent time with all the children in Keshero and joined me in two sessions with the teachers. He spoke about the hope and future for the children, encouraging them to call out their dreams, pointing out that some children were in even more dire straits than them, without any educational opportunities. 

Unfortunately we were not able to see the grinding machines in operation but witnessed the finishing touches being applied to the manufacturing of the machines in Goma. 

The Bishop of Bukavu, and his wife Mme Nyota, demonstrated warm hospitality to a Flame mission once again. Another visit to a Mothers’ Union project (one of many run by the Bishop’s wife) with food for rape victims and the children served in my mind to strengthen a possible partnership with this significant organisation. 

The visit to Bukavu was also significant in terms of a meeting with the Bishop’s son, Philippe, who is a qualified doctor now specialising in psychiatry. He shared his detailed vision (including architect’s drawings) for a much needed psychiatric centre for Bukavu which he would like to see built to cope with the many cases of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) resulting from years of war and the pandemic of rape. The vision will we hope be part of the healing process for Congo.

Observing the micro finance process in operation in Kalehe was hugely encouraging. The women’s welcome was overwhelming.

In contrast, our impressions of the school at Keshero were initially negative. The teachers had not been paid since February and they were obviously downbeat and hungry.  We spent some time speaking/teaching/encouraging/praying with them. Delivery of three laptops given by St Peter’s members helped a lot. Things improved further the next day with the resolution of the pay problem and the provision of emergency food. 

We stressed the principle of spiritual ‘seeds’ being planted, and of the importance of understanding the role that both teachers and children had in their country. We left feeling reassured that the future of the school was hopeful but needed significant support and sustained infrastructural development (in particular for buildings, security, access, child sponsorship and teachers’ salaries).

The mission rounded off the development pilot in a wonderful way. The chances to pray for/encourage/minister to both teachers and children in the school were taken and well received. We were able to unravel serious confusion over teachers’ salaries. We have injected funds into much-needed items as well as the microfinance initiative for the agricultural project.

Thank you for your support for this the last Flame International (Development) mission; the trustees have decided to discontinue this initiative. My aim is to explore ways and means of continuing to support these projects. A big 'thank you' to the Mission Committee for their support and also to all who gave money and laptops. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.

Mark Leakey, Chairman, Flame International

August message from David



Dear Friends

As I write, there is a buzz of activity as folk prepare for Holiday and Home and the Holiday Club  -  both great opportunities to put our faith into action. I’m reminded that behind every activity there needs to be a lot of planning and a lot of prayer. This coming term, much of our work on the Vision falls into this planning and praying category, so can I ask you to redouble your prayer effort?

Taking the gospel purposefully to Farnborough
I hope you are still praying for the 5 neighbours/friends. Maybe you had opportunity to invite them to a Queen’s 90th celebration, or one of our Summer activities. As you continue to pray, ask yourself:

  • How can I serve them, showing God’s love in practical ways?
  • How can I get to know them better?
  • Could I invite one or all of them to a church event or service?

Elizabeth Rowlandson will be planning to start a ‘Messy Church’ activity early in 2017, as well as a third weekday Toddler Group. These are great opportunities to reach beyond our immediate fellowship with the Gospel.

Deepening in faith and worship together
With the emphasis on ‘Together’, it’s not too late in the Summer to invite fellow members of the church to a BBQ or picnic and get to know each other better. The 9.30am congregation are heading off to King George V Park after church on 11 Sept for just this purpose - and to show our fellowship to other people visiting the park. 

If you aren’t yet in a Home Group, can I encourage you to contact Matthew and get linked into the Autumn programme. Pray that each one of us will have a deeper desire to meet regularly for worship.

Empowering a younger generation to live for Christ
I’ve been thrilled to see our young people playing more part in leading our worship at 5.30pm, and as ever I will rejoice as I see the youngsters leading at Holiday Club. Katie will be freshening up the 9.30am groups in the Autumn, and Chloe is still in the early days of establishing her leadership of the youth. Pray for Chloe & Katie as they lead. 

In summary: Keep praying!  It’s not too early to put our next prayer week in your diary: 2-4 December.  Look out for more details nearer the time.

David

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ.  Colossians 4:2-3