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!

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!

 

IMG_20151101_111805366

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!

IMG_20151022_213612646
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! 

IMG_20151022_213710185

 

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

 

IMG_20151022_213549551

 

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

 

 

Sewing at the Centre

Dress a girl around the world!

Sewing at the Centre

Sewing at the Centre

Thought you might like to see some of the dresses we’ve been making at the Friday night creative evening. They are for a group called Dress a Girl Around the World who provide simple patterns and get the dresses to the girls who need them most.

We’ve been using old clothing, random fabric and even pillowcases can be converted! If you want to know when the next creative evening at the Centre is (usually once a month) you can find us here.

Visiting Calais- the search for a home.

october 15 020It’s not something I often do, stand in front of 200 people, talk and then be surrounded by my church family as they pray for me. But a friend and I had had an inspiration which seemed to catch hold of something in others and they  wanted to support us.

Our inspiration? To go to the refugee camp in Calais and get to know some of the refugees there. We just got so sick and tired of a government and nation who were reluctant to welcome those in need that we had to DO something. (Thankfully the mood in the nation has since changed). Jesus gave dignity and affirmation to those who society most rejected and that’s what we wanted to do.

One of the main things that struck us in our time there wasn’t the awful sanitation or cramped and basic living conditions, but the friendliness of everyone there. We were welcomed into homes (wooden framed room with a mattress and chair), fed precious (but lovely!) Eritrean food and generally welcomed with a generosity of heart that puts most of us to shame! And as we worshiped with a group of Eritrean women we could have been in heaven.

The thing it has taught me most, seeing their hunger for family and home, is to value the family in Jesus that I so easily undervalue. What I was surrounded with on that Sunday morning before I went, the spirit connection, the care from people from all walks of life, that is something that so many are searching for and that I am so blessed to have found. I really haven’t got God all worked out and being a Christian can drive me to distraction at times, but  I’ve been reminded that despite all that, God creates a depth of connection between us that can’t be found anywhere else, a true home.

London Here We Come!

londonday1

Once a year our local church here in Coventry join up with the rest of the Jesus Fellowship congregations from across the UK to march through central London. It’s a day that we look forward to, over 1000 people taking to the streets, singing dancing and having a party in Trafalgar Square, not something you do everyday! This year we’re expecting even more folks than before and the weather forecast looks good.

One of the challenges for the church today is to break down the walls that we can hide behind. It’s easy for us to get together on Sundays or for our midweek church events and hope that people turn up. But that’s not what its about. Jesus tells us to go into the world and make disciples.

There were times of persecution when the early christians in the bible met in secret, behind closed doors. They were scared they’d be found by the authorities but even then there were men and women ready to tell the world about the saving power of Jesus.

We live in a society that allows us to speak out about what we believe and more than that, to celebrate in public the mind blowing fact that we can have a relationship with God. We’re demonstrators of the Kingdom to a world crying out for something solid to hold on to.

So come and join in. If you cant make it this Saturday, there’s plenty of other opportunities to get involved. Be part of something amazing! Join the revolution!