Nigel Ring on October 15th, 2014

Multiple congregations
The 1980s were years of steady growth of Clarendon Church. In 1984 we ran out of space and multiplied onto two congregations; a further three were added two years later. But we then realised that we had effectively created five churches. This ran counter to a prophetic word we had received in the early days that we would be like a substantial tree whose branches would reach over Brighton and Hove, a tree that would have visibility across the town. And so we started to meet again as one congregation in the local cinema complex with its six halls, allowing us to carry on the children’s ministry in parallel with the main meetings.

New building
Clarendon Centre - May 1991
There was an urgent need for us to have our own larger building. As a step of faith (and to save money hiring the cinema!) we returned to the Clarendon Villas building and had multiplied meetings on a Sunday to accommodate the 8-900 people who attended. In 1991 we found our present building, built originally as a warehouse for storing precious metals. It was very substantial and could have a third story added. This would provide the space we needed. After being turned down for outline planning permission followed by much prayer we were granted full permission on appeal. The amazing story behind this turnaround is too long to recount here but it gave us the confidence that God was with us!

Prayer
Prayer has always been an important part of church life. No one who was in church in the early days could forget the memorable church prayer meetings on a Saturday morning where it was standing room only! Often God would speak through prophecy in ways that shaped us as a people and give us direction once the elders had carefully weighed it in the context of further prayer. In those days every day of the week the elders would be in prayer together in some context.

In February 1992 we took possession of what came to be known as the Clarendon Centre and started to renovate it. Major work was required. Phase 1 sought to give us sufficient space to meet on a temporary basis and by May 1993 we were able to use it. It became fully utilised in 1994 when the widespread outpouring of the Holy Spirit, sometimes called the Toronto blessing, caused us to hold frequent meetings during the weekdays as well as at weekends. Meanwhile the top floor was built on the previous roof and, when we opened it in April 1996, we were able to seat nearly 1000 people.

C Centre from brochure 08DSC_0868

 

Newfrontiers
What was happening to Terry’s team ministry during this time? Originally called Coastlands from the prophecy in Isaiah ‘the coastlands wait expectantly for your instruction’, referring to the ends of the earth, the name was changed to New Frontiers since people misinterpreted ‘coastlands’ by assuming it referred to the south coast of UK, where Brighton and Hove are located. Our vision was large not localised!

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 06.38.23When the team first met in September 1980 (L to R: David Holden, Richard Haydon Knowell, Henry Tyler, Ray Lowe, Alan Vincent, Terry Virgo and myself) the members had contact with about twenty UK churches and one in Bombay, India. Gradually, through invitations and the profile gained though the Downs Bible Week these numbers grew and new nations began to be reached. But we believed in the autonomy of the local church and the plurality of elders so we were not seeking to build an organisation. Nevertheless, God’s favour was with us and growth was steady; some Churches were being planted and others sought adoption.

Next time we will look at what contributed to that growth.

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I believe that full time ministry is more a function of practicalities than a calling. It is not a status or promotion, but a necessity when it is not possible to carry out what God has called us to without devoting more time than is possible while pursuing a secular job. Twice God had spoken to me about being in ‘full time ministry’; once when I was 9 years old and again in 1974 while leading a research team in a paediatric hospital. I mentioned this to Terry in 1978 in a crowded context. He did not respond so I assumed that he had not heard and I did not repeat myself. However, I was later to discover that it had registered, as we shall see!

Photo of Plumpton Race Course Downs Bible weekDowns Bible Week 
In 1979 God led us to launch the Downs Bible Week. Bible Weeks are peculiarly British events where thousands of Christians spend a week camping in some location and being built up in their faith through times of worship, teaching and fellowship. In that first year we gathered 2900, a large number at that time. By the time God told us to close it in 1988, when he told us to ‘take the Downs to the nation’, resulting in a tour of 16 cities with a conference entitled Enjoying God’s Grace (the EGG tour!), the Downs Bible Week had grown to 8500 across two weeks.

At the second ‘Downs’ the main speaker, Bryn Jones, a pioneer to whom we owe so much, exhorted Terry to consider starting a team ministry, an apostolic team (‘apostle’ was a whispered word in those days!), to share the growing demands upon him and to complement his gifting. Through the summer Terry prayed, a hallmark of his life.

At the end of August he wrote to six of us inviting us to work with him in this proposed team ministry. In my case he reminded me of the sense of calling I had told him about a few years earlier (so he had heard!) and asked if I would be his administrator. I can only assume that he was happy with the way I helped run the Downs! ‘I don’t know what an administrator does’, he said, ‘but I know I need one’. ‘Well, I don’t know either’, was my response, ‘but “yes”’. And so, in July 1981 I left my research post and, in November, my family and I moved to Hove to be near him. We joined the church Terry had helped Henry Tyler and David Fellingham to plant in 1978 as the Brighton and Hove Christian Fellowship which, by then, had been renamed.

Clarendon Villas (2)) Clarendon Church
The BHCF moved into a building in Clarendon Villas, Hove, in 1979 where about 20 people had been meeting as Clarendon Church. The building had been founded as a ‘mission to the poor of Hove’ in 1883 and had a substantial building in which 1000 people regularly met for prayer and Bible study. What a heritage we have! This continued until the mid-1930s, when the founder died. The children’s Sunday School outing numbered 1200! But sadly, by 1979 those heady days had long since passed.

Clarendon Villas (4)Numbers grew steadily and by the time Janita and I joined in November 1981 there were 200 members. After sitting in elders’ meetings to serve Terry for several months I was invited to become an elder, a role I fulfilled for nearly twenty five years. (I was also chair of trustees for over thirty years). That eldership body was a wonderful team to be part of with great friendships and a lack of competitiveness, every person contributing to discussion out of their particular gifting. By the time I resigned (I was away overseas too much to be effective as an elder) that team had contributed over 150 years of eldership to the church!!

Next time I will reflect on the early growth.

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33 years ago I and my family moved to Hove and joined Clarendon Church, now Church of Christ the King. Now the time has come to move on and embrace fresh adventures and opportunities. The trigger has been the need for us to ‘down size’ our home (our children are now all adult and living independently) and God has led us to live near one of our daughters with her family in Bath and join the young Newfrontiers church in that city.

Times of change give opportunity for reflection and to thank God for all that he has allowed us to be involved in over the last 3 decades. Since my mind is increasingly focused on packing cases I thought I would share some of these reflections with you; I will post them in parts over the next few weeks!

It was in 1965 that Janita and I were ‘born again’ through the loving support of my sister. Married in 1967 we started a small Bible Study group in our village with another newly married couple, Phil and Agnes Ball. They suggested inviting a friend of theirs to speak on the first occasion and so it was that in 1968 we first met Terry Virgo. Terry and Wendy had recently been married having met at the London Bible College and moved to lead an independent church in Seaford, on the south coast of England.

A year or so later we first became aware of the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit; Janita was baptised in the Spirit shortly afterwards and I followed a couple of years later.

In 1973 we wanted to know more about healing; it seemed to be in the Bible but not in our experience. Once again we turned to Terry who graciously returned to our home and, after teaching, prayed for people; they were healed! That was the trigger that led to Terry coming regularly to our home with others from Seaford to help move us forward in our walk with God. This was a direct outworking of a prophecy he had recently received through Alex Buchanan that he would be used to help build up other churches outside the boundaries of Seaford.

For a couple of years we travelled to Terry’s church on a Sunday (about 20 miles from our home) but then we felt God say that we were to plant a church – a radical thought at that stage, especially for one who had grown up in the Church of England! And so Terry planted a church in the nearest main town, Haywards Heath, in August 1977.

Next time I will tell you how I entered full-time ministry

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Nigel Ring on September 24th, 2014

I am sure the situation in Iraq is concerning us all and we feel ‘What can I do?’ Here is an opportunity to read a personal story. It was sent to me recently by a friend from those on the ground and will tell you one way in which you can help. The help is not a Newfrontiers initiative as such, but all donations are channelled through Newfrontiers churches. I am sure there are some who would like to contribute to bringing relief to some of those whom we read about daily.

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Walls of Nineveh
Photo Credit: james_gordon_losangeles via Compfight cc

Grace says: A few days ago I had the honor of interviewing a Christian couple from Iraq currently living as refugees.

As the news fills up with opinions and the most gory report gets the headlines, there’s something powerful in sitting and listening to one couple’s tale. I have tried to simply let them speak and share their story with you, making only minor edits for clarity. May you be blessed and challenged by what you read.

Please be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the post for a way you can be practically involved.

Grace: Thank you, Bashar and Sosy, for sharing your story. Could you introduce yourselves first, say where you are from, and tell us a bit about yourselves?

Sosy: My name is Sosy. I come from Iraq with an Armenian background. My family is actually from Nineveh – from Mosul. I grew up in a Christian family, and we used to go to the Orthodox church. It was something normal for us.

Then after the war in 2003 someone from a Muslim background invited me to the [Protestant] church. We went to the church and I accepted Jesus then. Someone prayed with me and when he was praying he said “Thank you Lord because you lift her like wings of eagles.” And I started to remember every step that God was with us. Even maybe I was far from him before, but He was in every step with us and He was waiting. So after that I started to serve in the church, and actually I became very busy! [Laughing]

Then Bashar and I got married in 2009 in Baghdad. Bashar was working in very difficult places, in Christian organizations, helping people and going to many dangerous places. Sometimes he would tell me “Maybe I will go and never come back.” So I said, “Ok, I’m coming with you. What should I do alone?”

Then we decided to leave Iraq. So he sent me to Jordan to be with my parents, who are now in America. I stayed there 2 months then we came to Turkey together. Now we are waiting in Turkey for the UN to process our application. We have been here 3 years now. After this we will hopefully be accepted to go to another country, like America or Australia.

Grace: So Bashar, did you grow up in a Christian background family as well?

Bashar: My family was Anglican – from a Protestant church. My father and my grandfather also.

But I didn’t believe like my family. I was a fighter on the street. I did anything for money. My family isn’t poor, they didn’t need the money, but I liked the street from the beginning. I feel I have power in this situation. After that I had many jobs, but everything went in one night – I don’t know how. I didn’t know anything about God, but I asked how this could happen? Who is God?

There was a pastor who didn’t know me, but he had a dream about me, and he came to me, like Paul. He came and said to me “God sent me for you. I’ve had a dream about you from 2 years. You do something in the street… God gave you something, and He wants you.” I said to myself, who is this crazy guy? What does he want with me?

Grace: How did the pastor know how to find you?

Bashar: My uncle is working with him as a deacon in Iraq. He’s my example, and I love him. The pastor asked him and the family, and they said “If you talk with anyone, it will be good. But this one [Bashar points to himself], this one will not change. It’s impossible for him.

The pastor started to come talk with me, inviting me. He wanted to talk with me after a service one time, but I really wanted to go smoke. He said “Have you accepted Jesus? Come pray with me” like this. So I was like “Yeah, I accept Jesus, yeah, yeah, ok, I want to go smoke!” What does this guy want?

But after one month I saw that some people cheated him in the church. I tried to help him and he saw my heart. He asked me to go to a conference in the North of Iraq and I saw the Kurdish there, and they are believing! How can this be? They are Muslims! I don’t know about this way – this is not Christianity. Because our family, the Arab people, they grow up with a Muslim background. And they believe that if you are born to a Muslim family, you will be Muslim. If you are born to a Christian family you are a Christian. We are raised this way. But this is wrong thinking.

I saw these people praying and getting ready to share the gospel. And I thought, ok, I can give out books too [Bibles], I can be a hero! But the man said, “Come, I’ll tell you why we pray. Listen. A man killed the brother of this man. And now he will go to him, give him Bible, and tell him Jesus loves you.

What?! If someone killed my brother I will kill him. What is this thinking? Are you crazy? And these are Muslims, and they are acting like this. And I am a “Christian” by my background!

I went back to Baghdad and said ‘yes’, I must be a hero like this. If I want to be a hero I must follow Jesus.
And at that time my life changed. I would go anywhere and give Bibles. They throw it at me. They would do many things to me, and I accept it.

For example I heard about someone who could not walk now because of me. It was my job before. I was a fighter. And this really hurt me. I went to them and said “Remember me? I hurt you, I’m sorry.” He spoke badly with me. I said, “I love you, because my life is changed. Sorry what I did to you, please accept my apology.” He didn’t accept it.

I started to work for a church and an organisation to give out Bibles, to give food, to help people. From now on this is my work. And I have a team. God opened doors for me. I say, “The street is for me.” It’s what God gave me. And He used me in that. In 6 months we gave out about 3 million Bibles – children’s Bibles, stories for youth, for adults. God opened doors.

I met everyone on the street. I met Al Qaeda. I met the Shia. I met the Sunni. I met the Christians. All of them had problems with me, even the Christians. The Iraqi [Orthodox] church accept us and what we give, but they don’t accept us as church. Our [Protestant] church was about 1,500 families in Baghdad, right in the middle.

With time the people I met on the street got to know me and they hurt me too much. I can’t stay now I have a family, but my heart is in Iraq. I wish some day I will go back to serve the people there, and I feel God will open a door for me.

Grace: How has this experience of leaving Iraq changed you? What has God been teaching you?

Sosy: In Turkey God changed me in a different way. Like taking responsibility, being with people all the time, getting more busy. Our prayer to God is not to let us get in a position where we forget Him – where we are too busy in His service.

I feel in these 2 years that God has changed me more than ever before. We’ve been here 3 years, but these past 2 years were different for us as a family. We were very hurt by the church before we left, and we have found healing here. Now I know why God wants us here. God has healed our wounds. Also our little boy was born here, and he is such a big blessing for us.

The biggest thing for us is that we are learning to live by faith. Sometimes we don’t know what we will do for food and for money. And then my mom will call and say she sent us some money. We are learning to live by faith.

And there are needy people all around us. People who have nothing. It’s so hard to know how to help. What can we do? They want things from the church and we try to help. We might say, ok, the church can give you 50%, and you pray. They also have to learn to live by faith.

Bashar: We have been very blessed here. We have furniture, we have received gifts from some people. We serve with the church here giving out food packages to refugee families – Christian and Muslim. I have many friends among the Muslims. They say, “We see the light of Muhammad on you.” Sometimes when they leave the country [cleared through UN asylum program] they call me and ask if I can come take everything in their home and give it to other needy people. They say “People helped us, and now we can help someone else.”

Grace: How can believers pray for Iraq?

Bashar: If we want to pray, pray for stopping the bloodshed. Because all of the ground isn’t water any more, it’s blood, the blood of the people. And most of them are believers.

In one area, like Baghdad, when Saddam Hussain was going there were 11 churches open. And Mosul also. We have many churches that met in homes but were also open. But they are going now and they don’t know what they will do. And they [Islamic State] have started now with Baghdad.

If the salt and the light goes out of Iraq it will be dark. And Jesus said we are the salt. We are the light. It will be darkness for them. And there will be only more bloodshed. There are people who can’t help themselves. They don’t have money to leave. They will stay and die. Pray for our nation. Pray that there will be light in Iraq.

We don’t have life in Iraq. It’s not our country anymore. We want this country, but the county doesn’t want us. Yes, there are people from outside, but it’s more from Iraqis that don’t want us. Some people in the government say “No, we like Christians. We want you to stay.” We like you too, but we don’t want to die.

Grace: How can we pray for your family?

Bashar: I learned that they [Islamic State in Baghdad] want to take my older brother to kill him. Now he is staying in the home and never going out. My mother is with them, my brother and his wife and their two daughters. But I hope they will come soon, hopefully in 1 or 2 weeks. There is a problem with passports, so please pray that they can come soon with no complications.

Sosy: Also, please pray for my mother. She lives in America now and we cannot see her. [Sosy’s passport ran out in 2012 and she will not be able to get a new one until she gets travel papers from the UN to their new assigned home country. Their young son also has no passport.] Of course with the situation in Iraq this is a little thing. But it is a big thing for my mother. She really misses us, and she wants to meet our son one day.

Grace: Bashar and Sosy, thank you both for sharing your story. We will certainly be in prayer for your families and for the Iraqi people – that the bloodshed would stop, and that Light would shine in your country.

Friends, if you are like me, you read the current news reports coming out of the Middle East and wonder what to do. With the escalation of violence over the past months, more and more refugees are making their way out of Iraq. Bashar talked about meeting a family from Mosul last week who had just arrived. They had only $400 to start a new life. Others have fled with nothing at all, not even clothes, and are living on the street. The UN process to get people asylum in other countries currently takes at least 2 years. Those who have come with nothing face seemingly insurmountable challenges

But in addition to prayer, here’s some action you can take right now to support refugees on the ground:

The church in Sosy and Bashar’s city has a food package program which currently serves about 150 families each month. Some families receive a food package once a month, while most receive every 2 weeks. The packages are distributed mostly to Iraqi and Iranian refugee families, both Christian and Muslim, with a team responsible for sorting and distribution. Several on the food team are Iraqi bodybuilders, and their muscles come in handy! For some families this help is what gets them through the month.

Would you consider donating to this food program?

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Each food package costs about 60 lira – that’s approximately £16.50 GBP, or $27.50 USD. Perhaps your family would like to give money to support a refugee family. Maybe your church would like to provide a one-time donation, or support a certain number of packages per month. This is a comparatively small program set up through the local church with very minimal administrative costs. It’s direct aid to people who need it.

If you would like to donate through the United Kingdom you can do so via a sister church in England. You are able to set up a standing order or donate via an online system by CLICKING HERE. Be sure to choose “Yalova Support” from the drop-down menu under online giving where it states ‘My donations are for:’.

If you would like to donate via the United States, a church has partnered to receive donations there also. CLICK HERE to give online (be sure to select the “Yalova Refugees” fund) or, if you’d like to send a check, CLICK HERE for the address and be sure to put “Yalova Refugees” in the check’s memo line.

“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality.” — 2 Corinthians 8:13-14

 

 

 

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Nigel Ring on July 16th, 2014

A new Index
For many years one basis on which poverty is assessed has been people living on less than $1.25 or $2 per day. But this is a very ‘blunt’ way of measuring poverty as the value of $2 varies from one economy to another and also finance is not the only measure of real poverty.

Recently I joined a live-stream seminar organised by the Overseas Development Institute in the UK which launched a new Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI). This does not replace the economic one with which we are familiar but complements it. To me this made a lot of sense since it is far more indicative of the life issues that really define poverty. It has been developed in the Oxford Department of International Development, part of Oxford University.

They use three Dimensions of Poverty – Health, Education and Living Standard. Each of these is subdivided into a total of ten Indicators:

Health –

      Nutrition,
      Child Mortality

Education –

      Years of Schooling
      School Attendance

Living Standard –

      Cooking Fuel
      Improved Sanitation
      Safe Drinking Water
      Electricity
      Flooring
      Assets

Each of these Indicators is weighted to produce the MPI.

Tracking progress in Poverty Reduction
Since this is a far more sensitive indicator of poverty it is easier to track those nations which are making progress in poverty reduction. Very full charts and diagrams were shared to show how some of the 34 nations so far monitored are improving in their poverty reduction, whether in quantity of people affected or levels of poverty. Within these 34 nations they studied 338 sub-national regions which encompassed 2.5 billion people, about one third of the world population.

Many data were presented using the same ten indicators such as Urban v Rural Poverty, Destitution v $1.25/day poverty.

Because this is a more sensitive indicator than the traditional one it allows programmes to be focussed more easily on poverty reduction eg by focussing on some aspect of health or education. It then provides the ability to monitor progress.

It is clearly impossible to present all aspects of this new MPI in a short blog posting. For those involved in poverty reduction at the extremes of poverty I strongly recommend a deeper exploration of this valuable tool through the above links. It is well worth watching the seminar through the ODI link above or through the Oxford Department of International Development  website, which allows you to select the particular speakers making presentations on video. The ODID website


also has a very wide range of data that is available to interrogate and download about nations of your choosing.

 

Footnote:
Because we are entering the summer holiday period in UK this will be my last posting until September.

 

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Nigel Ring on July 9th, 2014

screen-shot-2013-11-15-at-114430 screen-shot-2013-11-15-at-120629

 

Lost relations, lost homes, lost livelihoods
The typhoon which received wide publicity towards the end of 2013 caused devastation to many thousands of people as it swathed through the central part of the Philippines. Many lost loved ones, their homes and their livelihoods. Many in the family of Newfrontiers of churches around the world made generous contributions. Some sent donations direct to the Philippines others contributed to an appeal fund launched through this blog which raised over £33,000. Thank you!

Fresh hope
In May Mike Irving made a visit to the affected area. Mike serves Peter Brooks in Australia as he brings oversight to the ministry in the Philippines. Here is his encouraging Report which was published on the Pacific Rim website. I hope you will be encouraged that your donations have been well spent!

Thank you for your support and for standing with our brothers and sisters. It is hoped that in due course a new church will be started out of this tragedy.

 


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Nigel Ring on June 28th, 2014

The Book
I have now shared with you the burden of my heart in helping people to find their place of service in the church. As I have already mentioned the material is embodied in the 100 page book Discover and Serve. This includes not only the teaching but all the materials you need to run a course in your church, including extensive Appendices which can be photocopied, and is available from me at £5.99 plus postage.

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The Course
The best way to run the course is over a 3-week period, probably in the evenings. There needs to be time for ‘homework’ between each session. On each occasion there is teaching about different aspects of serving and the unique characteristics and qualities a person has to offer, as we have discussed with the Serving Profile. At the end of the evening there should be personal prayer, typically in pairs of participants with another one or two people who join them for this purpose to help guide them and listen to the Holy Spirit. They then go away with assignments for the following week.

The course ends with a personal ‘interview’, for perhaps an hour, with one or two supportive people to help discern what opportunities there are for service. Often in these sessions other issues arise that may be helpful to follow through on a separate occasion.

I am highly motivated about this course! It would be a privilege to lead one in your church if you feel I can be of help. Please contact me on feeding5000isnopicnic@gmail.com if you would like to discuss this or order a book.

Conclusion
I hope this long series has been both informative and an encouragement. May God bless you as you implement the teaching and apply it either personally or in your church.

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Nigel Ring on May 27th, 2014

kenya-turkanaNot yet halfway through the drought…
A few weeks ago I publicised the drought that was being experienced in Turkana, North Kenya, together with the impact Edward Buria and the Newfrontiers churches were making to help in alleviating the situation. I have just received this update. The situation continues to be very serious. No rain is expected until October, at the earliest, so on-going help is needed for at least another 6 months.

The fund is still open. If you wish to make a donation contact  paul.wright@tkc.org.uk of the Kings Church, Mid-Sussex who is coordinating the appeal.

Edward’s Report
‘Drought of death in Turkana’ is the only way I can describe the on-going and prolonged drought in Turkana that set in a famine not witnessed in the last 70 years. Its sadly claimed dozens of lives, thousands of livestock and is making life in Turkana, West Pokot and parts of Samburu completely unbearable.

I have been leading a team from Meru that joined up our Turkana teams that are composed of our Pastors as we continue with the intervention programs that started at the beginning of this year and which will go on to sometime in November 2014.

We have been giving out relief supplies every other fortnight to around 500 – 600 families (representing close to 3000 souls altogether). We have been forced to include supply of powdered milk alongside unimix (all children) supplements as children are at very high risk of easily succumbing to the effects of famine and the extreme hot climate that at times goes beyond 43°c.

Relief supplies distribution in progress

Relief supplies distribution in progress

Our latest visit, badly affected me as I listened to very sad stories of the numbers of those who have already died due to the crisis, thousands of livestock have also been lost as well as the general life of these dear people has completely been made unbearable. The story is the same from one village to the next. In some places, things have been worsened by cattle rustling from neighbouring communities who also have not been spared by the effects of the drought/famine.

In one of our churches, hearing stories of the effects of the crisis

In one of our churches, hearing stories of the effects of the crisis

It is clear that we will have to continue the relief supplies intervention up to October/November when we hope at least rains (hopefully) will arrive. In the midst of all this, it is a great encouragement to see how the fish project continues to supplement our relief support as fish is supplied to the needy families especially near Lake Turkana. Talking with the pastors and leaders on how best we can continue with the relief / sustenance programmes, it becomes clear to me that investing more in the fish project is very feasible.

One of the motorbikes we issued transporting fish to the needy families

One of the motorbikes we issued transporting fish to the needy families

As funds become available, we will:-

(1) Purchase 2 more motorboats (as they can launch into the deep parts of the lake where there is sufficient fish)

(2) Purchase 4 motorbikes (to help supply fish both to the needy families as well as taking the balance to Lodwar market for selling)

(3) Purchase 2 new sets of quality fishing nets to make the 5 boats free to go fishing at different times

(4) Since we noticed children have been badly affected, we are being forced to increase on children products i.e. powdered milk (we have not been supplying this in the past visits but has now become necessary), Unimix and in the more severe cases, supply immediate high energy biscuits for immediate supply of energy to the affected children

Edward issuing powdered milk & other relief supplies to children

Edward issuing powdered milk & other relief supplies to children

(5) The other relief supplies remain as follows:-

(i) Water
(ii) Sugar
(iii) Maize flour
(iv) Cooking fat
(v) Beans
(vi) Maize

(6) We have been able to identify OVCs (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) with the intention of sponsorship and mentorship. This is a great opportunity of breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and permanently changing the lives of these marginalised people. It is an objective that I am so passionate about.

We continue to thank all those who have partnered with us in the last 4 months because this partnership has enabled hundreds of families to remain alive and have hope rekindled. The remaining months of the year will be more difficult and challenging as we get into the dry season – This is when we ask for more prayers.

God bless you,

Your brother and friend,

Edward

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screen-shot-2013-06-25-at-1436435The final part of our Serving Profile considers Temperament and Spiritual Maturity.

Temperament
This has already been considered in Part 27. People are asked to indicate where they feel they come in considering the following statements by placing X in the box at the appropriate point along the 4-point scale.

1. I prefer working on a project/with people.
2. When carrying out a task I am a better sprinter (i.e. short term motivation)/long-distance runner.
3. When considering a situation I see the detail/broad concepts.
4. I am a better initiator/responder.
5. When carrying out a task I work better alone/in a team.
6. I prefer to act spontaneously/with pre-planning.

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The results of this help when considering what part they might play in a team as their particular temperament can complement other team members’ temperaments.

Spiritual Maturity
This too has been thoroughly dealt with as a concept. In practical terms, when looking for serving opportunities, it is important to consult with an individual’s pastoral oversight to ensure that any proposed role is suitable for that person at the particular stage of growth he or she may have reached. Serving can be a great vehicle for developing maturity but it can also crush some people. Wise oversight would be able to give some direction about this.

Conclusion
Two of the measures of any churches success are seen first in the leadership’s ability to develop and release their people into fruitful ministry and second in the serving attitude of the membership. We are a privileged people whom God has called to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. This begins in the Jerusalem of our locality, extends into the environs around that area and then may go to other nations.

I believe passionately that God has given to any local expression of his church all that that church needs to fulfil this commission. The primary vehicle he uses is the people. My prayer is that the series we have been sharing together will contribute to making your church fitter and more effective in fulfilling what God has called you to do.

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screen-shot-2013-06-25-at-1436431As we continue to develop the Serving Profile we shall now take three aspects that are closely related.

Calling, Heart’s Desire
There is often a strong link between Calling and Heart’s Desire. We have already seen how some people are passionate about a specific issue or have a strong sense of specific calling. Others may be more laid back and have seen their calling as more general if, indeed, they have defined it at all. To help people think this through there is another simple self-assessment form I use which gives people the opportunity to reflect prayerfully on any area that God might reveal to them. It also allows them to consider their strengths and weaknesses.

screen-shot-2014-04-16-at-1608362Self-assessment
As people meet with their facilitators this assessment form provides a very helpful basis for discussion and prayer. It helps people to focus on possibilities that represent their interests and, in prayer, to ask God for clarification and direction. Further, it gives an opportunity to discuss strengths and weaknesses. A neutral person can be particularly encouraging here by helping identify these with perceptive questioning. He may also be able to suggest ways of building on or correcting them, as appropriate.

Time
The final part of this form addresses the issue of Time. Once again, through discussion it is possible to assess realistically how much time a person has available to serve in the church while not neglecting other important areas of life. This could relate to a regular day (e.g. one Sunday in three), time given while at home (e.g. preparation for teaching children) or to helping with an event (e.g. a week during school holidays). There are many possibilities which can be considered in discussion.

It is important here to combine faith with pragmatics. Some either over-commit, and then find they either let others down by being unable to meet this commitment, or they aim too low, and never fully enjoy the privilege of serving in a sacrificial capacity.

Next time we shall look briefly at Temperament and Spiritual Maturity.

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