Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Well we are halfway through the week & already conversations are starting along the lines of 'how do we build on all this?' First visit today was to the team at Birtley who are having a great time just engaging with the general community who come onto the premises for coffee mornings, craft groups and drop in lunch. I was particularly impressed that the church have said that this week everything is free...they want the community to receive their hospitality as a gift. This is a photo of Gwenda who's done an amazing job as a local organiser (HUGE thanks go to all the local organisers). As you can see from their notice board the publicity was good fact as a Birtley resident myself, I received an invitation through the door to call in for some of their events. Well done Birtley.

Then Rob Wylie & I visited Alnwick. They have a prayer table in the market place & have been inviting people to go into the church to engage with a beautifully thought out labyrinth. They'd found the street work really hard on Monday & almost felt like giving in. But they sent out lots of requests for prayer & since then have been engaging with lots & lots of people. Their despondency has turned to huge excitement & amazement at all that God is doing. Look at these 4 youngsters writing prayer requests underneath the cool is that?

      As well as 'Prayer on The Streets' the team in Bede have been out every afternoon doing community clean ups & gardening with some lads from Wrekenton Boys Brigade joining in the fun. We then had a whistle stop visit to Hettons Holiday at Home....I was a little disappointed to have arrived too late to experience their nail bar. Tomorrow they have a trip out then Songs of Praise.

 In the evening we went to Cullercoats Methodist Church to share in a community meal. The team had done a great job inviting people.
The two women I sat with had both come along simply because they received an invitation through the door. We had a wonderful meal with lots of laughs as we embarked on a quiz. This is team leader Andrew eating his 3rd helping! No one seemed in a hurry to go home. It was lovely to see the community police call in to see what was happening....and then stay for dinner (they were rubbish at the quiz though).  So, another inspiring day. For those of you who pray, ask God to give us all energy to keep going for the next 3 days.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

This week continues to excite people as we hear of folk stepping out in faith & serving God in new ways. This morning Rob Wylie & I visited North Shields to spend some time with the team. We presented some training on the theme of 'Journeying In Faith'. I just love it when groups of people are enthusiastic about learning. It was good also to hear their stories and then to pray together for all the people we encounter. After a yummy lunch, we headed off to St.Andrews Southwick in Sunderland to visit the team. They were still on a high after the morning's Kids Club. They'd had a great morning & more kids had turned up than they expected. We stayed for a while & joined the team as they went on a prayer walk around the surrounding estate.

Then I went down to Hetton in East Durham. As I walked through the door I was greeted by lots of smiling faces. They'd had a wonderful time working with older people in their Holiday At Home event. They'd started the day with seated aerobics...this really has to be seen! If you're a member of the Newcastle District Methodist facebook group go & have a look at the video clip - I promise you it will make you laugh. They'd had such a good time that the feeling of general goodwill & joy was very much evident. 

I'm so thankful for the many people who are praying for TOGETHER - please continue to do so. All the teams are writing down their prayer requests and these are being sent to prayer partners & to the other teams. It's so important to keep our focus on God. I'm delighted with all that the teams are doing, my prayer for them this evening is that their energy levels will stay high!

God bless you.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Ruth & Beth in the prayer room

Team leader Dave offering prayer
 on the streets of Gateshead

Monday....and it seems we all hit the ground running. My first visit of the day (alongside Rob) was to the team serving in the Bede circuit - they have a very full program. I met with them this morning to do some training & preparation before they went out on prayer walks. A group of us then went down to Gateshead centre to offer prayers on the street. It was a bit blowy so people didn't seem to want to stand and chat much, but we still had some interesting conversations and requests for prayer. A messy church craft stand was set up outside the supermarket for children to engage with. Others from the team went to do some gardening on one of the estates...several of lads from the Boys Brigade turned up to help.
Messy Church @ Tesco

Then off to Allen Memorial in Wallsend. Ken and the team had provided a kids club, and whilst that was happening there was a showing of the film The Nativity and several parents stayed to watch that and have a chat. They've recently launched messy church and it's already attracting new families.
The football cage 

   Our evening visits consisted of 2 youth events. First at Wrekenton where there was a great turnout of young people who joined in with the football cage, large screen games/dancing, hot chocolate bar, quizzes, prayer room etc. Then off to Delves Lane to visit their youth event. They were delighted that a good number of young people had turned up who are not already involved in the Church.

2 youth clubs in 1 night was
 a bit much for Elaine & Rob
  They held a fairly traditional youth club night with table tennis, pool,  LOUD music, dancing & crafts. Great to see the team members interacting with the young people and building relationships.
Then home to countless messages from other teams  - one in particular brought a big smile to my face. Sue Carr on the North Shields & Whitley Bay team, is involved in the 'Pictures of Love' art, craft & prayer space in a shop in Whitley Bay. Sue writes, '55 people came through the doors in the two hours Pictures of Love was open today. One lady came in with her grandaughter of 11 who had some learning difficulties. They stayed for nearly the two hours. Gran sat in the quiet area and her grandaughter did 5 activities. Gran said she was amazed by her concentration and enjoyment. It was all worth it just to make that space for them today.'
So, another great day with lots to thank God for.

Heegon teaching us TOGETHER in Korean

DJ Sean led workshops at both venues

Sunday was a very moving day. I visited Alnwick in the morning. Before the service we prayed as a team and there was a genuine sense of anticipation. At the beginning of the service a steward got up to give the notices....then she very movingly shared with us how the church had been praying and how they were believing God was going to great things this week. It's not often church notices make people cry! The Methodist Minister there, Pauline, a wonderful woman, then told us that the church nearly closed a few years back but they decided to keep going. Since then the congregation has doubled and there's new life. The only thing that worried me was if anyone else turned up for the service as I think there was only one seat left in the room! The team did a marvelous job....but a highlight for me was listening to Linda (from Rowlands Gill) share her story. She was just so natural and her words made us all laugh and cry. Well done Linda! And what an encouragement to others to try something new. I was sad to leave Alnwick but very much looking forward to popping back later in the week.
In the afternoon it seemed there was a constant stream of messages, emails, texts, tweets & calls from
TOGETHER folk telling me how things were going so far.                                                         In the evening I visited Birtley. Again a really good service was delivered and the good folk at Birtley were warm, appreciative and seemed ready to be involved in the weeks activities. They are hosting a messy church, lots of coffee mornings, a community lunch, a Light party, and at nearby church Pelton they are setting up a Labyrinth and inviting the community to come & experience prayer. This picture is Mari, and as a member of the team she also tried something new. Well done Mari! The service was led by Carol who is in training as a Local Preacher. My goodness she preached well. She reminded us all that God has given us gifts and we should use them for His glory. It was hard to believe that she's a new preacher. She wasn't sure what to write 
so I encouraged her to say 'God is using me' as without doubt that is what happened last night. On a personal note, I couldn't help but reminisce about a Share Jesus mission team who visited Birtley in 1988. I was there and on the last night my dad came to faith and had his life transformed by God. It was that same night that the team leader (Paul Smith) encouraged me to go to Cliff life has changed since then.                    The last HIGHLIGHT of the day comes in the form of a message I received when I got home. A young woman had come along to one of the other host churches and told how she used to believe but had drifted from God. The team leader prayed with her and she's no longer drifting!!! Praise God. 

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Together. A week of focussed mission in the Newcastle District

Today was one of those days. By that I don't mean 'one of those days' where you collapse in a heap and wonder what it's all about! Rather, 'one of those days' when I'm so delighted, encouraged & filled with hope. Today was the training & commissioning service for all the volunteers who will be serving on mission teams this week in various churches around the Newcastle Upon Tyne Methodist District. It was fantastic to see folk gather in anticipation of all that's going to happen. People of all ages too! Two highlights;
First, in the morning each team leader stood up and briefly shared what their team would be doing. There were some incredibly creative ideas, and many of the events could be initiatives in themselves. We heard about youth nights, film nights, Holiday at Home, community meals, knitting & natter group, celebrations, training events, d-church, urban skills, football cages, children's holiday clubs, messy churches, Light Parties, labyrinths etc. etc. etc. Brilliant opportunities to invite people to. But what moved me most was the amount of activities taking place outside of the church buildings; community clean ups, lots prayer walking, prayer stand in Gateshead centre, prayer & discussion space in Alnwick fish market, a shop offering creative arts & prayer in Whitley Bay, community acts of service, home visits with offers of DIY help, a messy church table in Tesco Gateshead. I'm praying particularly for the folk who are getting outside that they will have lots of opportunities to demonstrate the love of God.
The second highlight for me was the Commissioning Service. To be honest I don't always 'feel' the presence of God...but I did today. 
So, if you're a praying kind of person, please pray for TOGETHER this week....I'll keep you updated as the week goes on.
(If you've just discovered this blog now, you'll find a blog for each of the days, recording the events of the Together mission when you click on the links on the right of this page).