Recently I had the pleasure of being invited to join a Forum led by Mike Betts which gathered church leaders involved in UK, the European continent, Mexico and Kenya. In each session news was shared from particular locations and my notes hint at some of the interesting, diverse and challenging situations in which people in Newfrontiers churches find themselves. Here are some extracts from my jottings:
Bruce and Denise went to Mexico soon after the beginning of the new millennium. Initially they went to work with the street children in Guadalajara through the Oasis en-Gadi ministry. After 4 years contacting boys on the streets they began church planting in a poor area where the main source of income was brick making. Generally there was very bad health due to smoke from kilns and extreme poverty. Now there is the added problem of a large company moving in to make bricks, putting the small brick-makers out of business with the resulting loss of family income. (I plan to post a video interview with Bruce and Denise over the next few weeks)
David and his family have laboured faithfully for 9 years and seen some small growth. Now, following the visit of a large YWAM team, they have been able to run an Alpha course for 70 people on Sunday mornings. Another Alpha of 1-200 is about to start!
UK – Chafford Hundred (near Lakeside)
Dave has received great favour with local schools. He has also been given the youth club, attended by 120 of 160 from one year group. Schools have even provided a room for prayer! They approached the authorities to help in the playground where there were many instances of bullying. They now have a fulltime presence in the playground and bullying and petty crime have totally ceased!
Netherlands – Kroningen
This church of 350 has 25 language groups including many Indonesians; at Christmas 150 Indonesians attended! There are also Deaf groups. They are Church planting and hosting Alpha groups in homes.
There are only 80 Christians in one city of 350k across two churches: one Newfrontiers and another legalistic baptist. Culturally, it is very difficult raising leaders due to communism; people were not taught to be decision-makers. There is the added challenge of a ‘shame’ culture where people say what they think you want to hear, not necessarily the truth.
Vlada tries to win people by saturating them with love and grace. They are planting into another city, also of 350 thousand, with an ex-drug addict as leader, and yet a further one of 50-60 thousand. Vlada also has a heart for Macedonia.
This is just a taster – there were also reports of encouraging developments in UK, China, Kenya and Stockholm (Sweden). I was very stimulated to meet these pioneering people. May Newfrontiers continue to be a family of pioneers as we press forward into a new season!