Small World

small world

small world

It’s September and we’re starting a new term of ESOL classes at the Jesus Centre here in Coventry. Students are coming in to register and I’m greeted by a wide-smiling African face and a greeting in broken English: “Do you remember me? I met you in Calais.” Well, the memory doesn’t always serve me well. I saw many such friendly African faces when I visited Calais earlier this year but, no worries, I’m delighted to see him and he’s now a regular in the class.

Meanwhile, one Sunday afternoon earlier this month, one of our Iranian guys asked me to pray for a rather distressed young refugee in Greece. After a brief conversation followed by a prayer over Skype, I said to her, “If you ever manage to get to England, come to Coventry Jesus Centre. You are most welcome!” I couldn’t believe it when, the very next week, she walked in the door at the beginning or our Sunday service. She, too, was smiling all over and, with no words but a look of glee, pointed to a small cross around her neck.

I’ve turned 61 this week but I can’t help thinking the adventure of walking with Jesus is getting more exciting. I mean, whoever will walk through these doors and into our lives next?

Hunger for God’s Word is Growing!

bibleappxPeople are hungry for the word of God! A new wind is blowing – a new eagerness to voyage through the pages of the Bible on a path of discovery.

Recently I went to RAW (Real and Wild), our annual youth event, and led a discussion group on ‘Digging Deep’ – why and how to read the Bible.

After the group, my friend Sam (18) told me he has started co-leading a Bible study in Northampton. Around twenty young Christians from different churches meet in the upstairs of a pub every week to read and study the Bible together. Here in Coventry, we had record numbers at our international Bible study this week – around 20 from Holland, Brazil, Germany, Pakistan and Iran. There are a few grey heads like me but, for the most part, these are young people.

A really good Bible study for me is similar to sharing a good meal. Let’s all dive in folks and share the event together. A communal meal!

People are hungry for the word of God and if hungry, God promises to fill. I shared at RAW that the Bible is never a means in itself – it is a means to knowing God, becoming acquainted with Him and learning what He loves – so we can love it too. What we put into it, we get out of it. Hey, let’s pray this wind continues; let’s set sail. If this happens, we’ll begin really going somewhere in our church and discover again what God wants for us.

The great danger for Bible study is we think we know; we think we know and the voyage of discovery ends. We are still in dock! Let’s start with the premise we do know something but really very little. Let’s look at familiar passages from the Bible with fresh eyes. Maybe we have misunderstood; maybe there is so much more for us to see there. As the psalmist says, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” Psalm 119: 18

Catch the Fire! On a Damp Evening!

Catch the Fire is a year old. We all celebrated with a bonfire and ice-cream (never mind that it what raining, cold and some of us were also sitting under umbrellas). Despite the wet, we managed to set and keep the fire alight and yes, it raged!

 
Catch the Fire is a group where we ‘grow’ in Jesus together – read the Bible, pray and talk about what is going on in our lives. It is especially for refugees and asylum seekers and we run it every Wednesday evening in Foleshill, Coventry. Why ‘Catch the Fire?’ Well, we know that when people become real Christians, they are not merely changing religion. They are coming alive, ‘catching alight’ with the life of the Holy Spirit and starting a new life, one that is running in quite a different direction from the old.

 
Maybe that wet anniversary was prophetic. Fires have to be kindled, encouraged and they start off as a tiny spark. Newspapers are very good for fanning the flame and quite a lot of enthusiastic fanning went on that damp evening! – Especially our young guys! There is much to put ‘the fire’ out (drizzle!) and we must foster, encourage it.

 
So, Catch the Fire is all about igniting, fostering, fanning, encouraging, persevering, so that the life of the Holy Spirit can increase in us all.  Usually around 20 people attend and those wanting to be baptised do a 12 week Catch the Fire Course first, on topics such as: what sin is, the cost of being a disciple, understanding why Jesus had to die and why we need to be baptised.

 
Last weekend two of our Catch the Fire young guys were baptised in our makeshift baptistery at our local Edgwick Park (water at the courtesy of Coventry Fire Brigade as there is no running water in the park). The fire is lit! Now we must encourage, foster, fan and feed the fire with fresh fuel! As the old Salvation Army hymn starts:

 
Wanted, hearts baptised with fire!

Calais to Coventry

After going to the Calais regugee camp several times in the last year I wanted to get involved in a more sustainable way. So I’ve been helping out at some of the ESOL classes at the Jesus Centre. I’ve enjoyed it but I’ve recently become a lot more aware of how important they really are.

When I was at the Calais camp I met many people who were desperate to start a new life in a safe country. One of the guys I met there recently contacted me to let me know he had made it to England! I remembered that he had a brother living in Coventry so when he arrived here we all met up. It was wonderful to see him safe and he was so happy. In his halting, pigeon English he tried to explain to me how the scarring up his side had been caused. Some of the ruling ethnic group dragged him along behind a car. He wasn’t one of them. That was his crime. He new he couldn’t stay and so, after a dangerous and uncertain journey, he has finaly made it to the safe and new life he has longed for.

But with such a limited amount of English how will he create that new life? When you know someone who is desperate to work and can’t due to the language barrier you suddenly see how vital our free ESOL classes are. Not only are they a way to meet others but they provide the all important skills of communication to help the dream of a safe and new life become a reality. I’m so glad I can do my small little bit to help it along.

(If you are interested in supporting these classes as a volunteer please contact  Coventry Jesus Centre 02476 550033 or http://jesuscentre.org.uk/get-involved-coventry-jesus-centre)

Reflections on Foleshill Jesus Festival

Edgwick Park, Coventry MarqueeFoleshill Jesus Festival is over now. The marquee is being taken down and no doubt tomorrow there will be a big brown patch in the grass on the park where it has stood for the last week.

On Friday night we enjoyed ‘Music Live’ – a mixture of Romanian, English and Indian music played by some of our young talented musicians! On Saturday morning some of us went and cleared the park – collecting several bags of rubbish – just a gesture, a way of showing, like Jesus, we want to love and serve.

Yesterday night was brilliant: many visitors from all over Foleshill visited the marquee. We listened to a testimony of what Jesus has done, heard a message about the life-changing power of the Cross of Jesus and listened to more Romanian music – and this time from Iran as well. One Indian visitor told us of how, sometime ago, God had healed her of a kidney problem; another Romanian lad spoke of how, as a baby, God had healed him of a heart condition. Someone was baptised – and what great rejoicing there was!

This morning we thanked God for His amazing goodness; a young man told us of a dream they had had last night – there was darkness and death everywhere but ahead of them was Jesus the Light of the World; in the dream he walked towards Him – the Light – and around Jesus everything was living! Someone else was baptised and again we gathered around to witness one of the most beautiful events anyone can experience in their life.

Someone we met came into the marquee and fetched a Bible we had ready for them. Another approached us to thank us for praying for healing for him. It had made a big difference he said, smiling.

Yes, there will be a big brown patch on the park for a few days where the marquee stood. Then it will fade. But, we believe, people’s lives have been deeply affected – not just for a few days but for life. Many have heard God’s Word and hopefully, seen His word, among us. For them, life will never be the same.

(Article by Julia Faire)

So This is Outreach? An Indoor Bonfire . . .

Warm Welcome

Dusk is settling, the crowds of children attending Sport in the Park have gone and the smell of the world’s cuisines fills the night time air in Foleshill. People are sitting chatting along the roadsides and at the edge of the park.

Inside the Golden Marquee a makeshift ‘bonfire’ is being made, a large pile of logs covered in twinkling lights, surrounded by old pallets to sit on. Baked potatoes are being handed around and yes … people are coming. All day we have been issuing invitations to this ‘Warm Welcome’ and now they come, people from many different nationalities:  Romanian, Italian, African, Indian, Afghan, Iranian and English too!

The Romanians love their music and someone is playing a guitar. Others are playing games. Marshmallows are being toasted on a tea light and passed around. Children are laughing; old men are chatting; women young and old are enjoying making friends.

Everyone is enjoying this ‘Warm Welcome around our makeshift ‘bonfire’.  This is church; this is outreach.

It’s getting dark now and it’s time to go home. What a great crowd! See you tomorrow everyone! Come and bring your friends –come and enjoy our Indian, Romanian and English music night at the marquee!

Why Has Nothing Been Done?

Edgwick Park, Coventry

Earlier this year there was a disturbing report in the Coventry Telegraph:  young people in Edgwick Park, Coventry, have been groomed by older men for sexual activity by means of drugs and alcohol. Two girls reported they had been raped in the area.

The headline asked ‘Why Has Nothing Been Done?’

In August churches in the Foleshill district are determining to make a difference and do something. We are running Foleshill Jesus Festival, a week of impacting the neighbourhood and individual lives by showing and telling many about Jesus.

The week will include lots of fun and friendship! Activities will be centred on a marquee in Edgwick Park and will include a children’s holiday club, sport in the park, evangelism, healing prayer as well as evening events in the marquee:  prayer, worship, music, drama and a gospel message.

Foleshill is a lively, multi-ethnic, multi-faith area; small shops line the busy main street and are open till late in the evening. During the days and long summer evenings, both streets and park are full of vibrant, bustling life.  Often incomers to Coventry arrive first in Foleshill and food stalls spread across the wide pavements, laden with exotic foods from all over the world.

We want to display the love of Jesus in Foleshill and tell many people about Him and what He has done for us. We’ve been praying at the site of where the marquee will stand and posting leaflets advertising the festival. Do come and join us! It’s going to be awesome. Something is being done!

At Least Once a Year

All you need is love

A wise member of our congregation once advised us that we should preach about 1 Corinthians 13 at least once a year. Yesterday was one of those ‘at least once’ occasions.

James reminded us that the Corinthian church was the original messy church! It consisted of disunity, immorality, drunkenness, pride, confusion about spiritual gifts and errors about the resurrection (which made me wonder why many churches, including us, say that their vision is to be like the New Testament church!).

At the heart of the letter, Paul reminds the Corinthians that the most important thing is love. And not the gushy “Love Actually” kind of Hollywood love or the shallow “I love pizza” kind either. But rather the agape love demonstrated by Jesus throughout his life and most clearly in his sacrificial death.

No matter how spiritual we are, how much Bible knowledge we have or how sacrificial our commitment, if we don’t have love, we’re nothing.

Muddy faces!

 

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We had a great kids ‘splot’ at church this week…The kids got to have their faces painted with mud. My boys dream come true!! After talking about what the mud did to them (dirty, rough, uncomfortable, disgusting) they were encouraged to think about what sin does to us on the inside and how it’s Jesus that can make us clean again. We can keep the mud on our faces if we really want to…but why stay dirty and uncomfortable when we can be clean? As usual, the message for the children hit home for us all.

Thank you!

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We’re off to the Calais refugee and migrant camp again and this time we’re taking food parcels – we’re travelling as I write! Thank you so much to those of you in the congregation who have contributed food items, empty bottles for cooking oil and prayers. There are 8 of us this time and we’re particularly looking forward to joining with some of our born again Eritrean friends. Watch this space for how it goes! 

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Filling up bottles with oil so each parcel has cooking oil.

 

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Bagging up the fresh veg and fresh fruit to go into the food parcel.