Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Waking up to a Mircale

OK, so if you follow anyone in the Jesus Army on Facebook or Twitter you would have probably heard already that a Miracle occurred during the night on Sunday.

A 19 year old lad part of a  Christian Community, the Jesus Fellowship, was recently was diagnosed Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy. This caused blindness in first the one eye but shortly followed by the second eye. So at 19 years old this lad is now practically blind in both eyes (He can only see blobs of colour, however any light was causing severe pain and migraines). He was told by medical experts this was a permanent with no known cure.

As a church we rallied together and prayed for Tom to be healed, although we didn't stop praying my faith in healing was starting to dimmer.

He was getting on with is life, he wasn't into sitting and doing nothing, Tom was inspired by a friend to go to the gym to keep fit and then made a choice to raise money for charity by completing a triathlon. That's right Tom has just been classified blind and was now  going to to swim 3.8km, cycle 40km and finishing by running 10km. 

So Monday morning I was late getting up again, and woken up with some one bouncing in to my room Tom can see!

"You what" was my response
My friend repeated "Tom can see, blind Tom isn't blind" 

Instantly bouncing out of bed, full of excitement. 

As I made the journey to farm where Tom lives, I was trying gather together what I was witnessing. I spoke to Tom the night before, he was most certainly blind, and now he ain't. WOW! 

The night before Tom recommitted his life back to Jesus and moved in forgiveness. And during the night God heals him. So man recommits is live to God, and God blesses him by healing him from blindness. 

The news spread fast around the church that Tom is healed. 

The best comment of the day was from a 8 year old boy when told Tom is healed and can now see was....

"I'm not surprised we've prayed loads haven't we"

That is childlike faith, simple knowing and trusting God will heal in his time.

Also worth a read, Nathan's Blog, Aidan's Blog, and  James's Blog



Thursday, 22 December 2011

The Modern Good Samaritian

Bernard Hare

 The Following is told by Bernard Hare a British writter.

The text is taken from a page on the BBC website

The police called at my student hovel early evening, but I didn't answer as I thought they'd come to evict me. I hadn't paid my rent in months.
But then I got to thinking: my mum hadn't been too good and what if it was something about her?
We had no phone in the hovel and mobiles hadn't been invented yet, so I had to nip down the phone box.
I rang home to Leeds to find my mother was in hospital and not expected to survive the night. "Get home, son," my dad said.
I got to the railway station to find I'd missed the last train. A train was going as far as Peterborough, but I would miss the connecting Leeds train by twenty minutes.
I bought a ticket home and got on anyway. I was a struggling student and didn't have the money for a taxi the whole way, but I had a screwdriver in my pocket and my bunch of skeleton keys.
I was so desperate to get home that I planned to nick a car in Peterborough, hitch hike, steal some money, something, anything. I just knew from my dad's tone of voice that my mother was going to die that night and I intended to get home if it killed me.
"Tickets, please," I heard, as I stared blankly out of the window at the passing darkness. I fumbled for my ticket and gave it to the guard when he approached. He stamped it, but then just stood there looking at me. I'd been crying, had red eyes and must have looked a fright.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Course I'm okay," I said. "Why wouldn't I be? And what's it got to do with you in any case?"
"You look awful," he said. "Is there anything I can do?"
"You could get lost and mind your own business," I said. "That'd be a big help." I wasn't in the mood for talking.
He was only a little bloke and he must have read the danger signals in my body language and tone of voice, but he sat down opposite me anyway and continued to engage me.
"If there's a problem, I'm here to help. That's what I'm paid for."
I was a big bloke in my prime, so I thought for a second about physically sending him on his way, but somehow it didn't seem appropriate. He wasn't really doing much wrong. I was going through all the stages of grief at once: denial, anger, guilt, withdrawal, everything but acceptance. I was a bubbling cauldron of emotion and he had placed himself in my line of fire.
The only other thing I could think of to get rid of him was to tell him my story.
"Look, my mum's in hospital, dying, she won't survive the night, I'm going to miss the connection to Leeds at Peterborough, I'm not sure how I'm going to get home.
"It's tonight or never, I won't get another chance, I'm a bit upset, I don't really feel like talking, I'd be grateful if you'd leave me alone. Okay?"
"Okay," he said, finally getting up. "Sorry to hear that, son. I'll leave you alone then. Hope you make it home in time." Then he wandered off down the carriage back the way he came.
I continued to look out of the window at the dark. Ten minutes later, he was back at the side of my table. Oh no, I thought, here we go again. This time I really am going to rag him down the train.
He touched my arm. "Listen, when we get to Peterborough, shoot straight over to Platform One as quick as you like. The Leeds train'll be there."
I looked at him dumbfounded. It wasn't really registering. "Come again," I said, stupidly. "What do you mean? Is it late, or something?"
 "No, it isn't late," he said, defensively, as if he really cared whether trains were late or not. "No, I've just radioed Peterborough. They're going to hold the train up for you. As soon as you get on, it goes.
"Everyone will be complaining about how late it is, but let's not worry about that on this occasion. You'll get home and that's the main thing. Good luck and God bless."

Then he was off down the train again. "Tickets, please. Any more tickets now?"
I suddenly realised what a top-class, fully-fledged doilem I was and chased him down the train. I wanted to give him all the money from my wallet, my driver's licence, my keys, but I knew he would be offended.
I caught him up and grabbed his arm. "Oh, er, I just wanted to…" I was suddenly speechless. "I, erm…"
  Bernard was desperate to see his mother, Joyce 
"It's okay," he said. "Not a problem." He had a warm smile on his face and true compassion in his eyes. He was a good man for its own sake and required nothing in return.
"I wish I had some way to thank you," I said. "I appreciate what you've done."
"Not a problem," he said again. "If you feel the need to thank me, the next time you see someone in trouble, you help them out. That will pay me back amply.
"Tell them to pay you back the same way and soon the world will be a better place."
I was at my mother's side when she died in the early hours of the morning. Even now, I can't think of her without remembering the Good Conductor on that late-night train to Peterborough and, to this day, I won't hear a bad word said about British Rail.
My meeting with the Good Conductor changed me from a selfish, potentially violent hedonist into a decent human being, but it took time.
"I've paid him back a thousand times since then," I tell the young people I work with, "and I'll keep on doing so till the day I die. You don't owe me nothing. Nothing at all."
"And if you think you do, I'd give you the same advice the Good Conductor gave me. Pass it down the line."

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

From Manor to council estate

Its over- my 3 month sentence at House of Miracles, a community house on a housing estate in Northampton's Eastern District.

I've managed to move house four times in a single year, I think that's good going in anyone's books! From River to Anthem,  from Anthem to House of Miracles, from House of Miracles back to Anthem and finally from Anthem to House of Miracles.

I moved from River Farm, a smaller community house, to Anthem after we outgrew River. We went from an eight bedroom house to a fifteen bedroom house on the edge of small village in Northamptonshire's countryside.

After a few months at Anthem I was asked to go and support a smaller house in Northampton, House of Miracles for a couple of weeks. In total I spent a month at HoM before returning to Anthem with the lads.

I felt I needed to pray about the possibilities of moving to HoM for good. I don't remember a time I've wrestled with God with the decisions He was making for me. I have to admit there was nothing in me that wanted to pack my bags and move from a large comfortable scene to a housing estate. I loved everything about Anthem. I lived with my closest friends and the same bunch of people I've lived with for the last four years and God was telling me to pack my bags and move to an estate where I bareley knew anyone.

I have made similar decisions in the past after hearing from God. Although this was the hardest decision I've had to make for a personal reason I've never felt a stronger calling from God. After speaking with other leaders in the church we decided it was a good idea to go for a further three month trial before making my final choice.

Living in Blackthorn is a completely different community lifestyle to what I'm used to, but I'm getting used to it and starting to enjoy living life with the "rude boys".

Well the 3 months is up and its time to make my final choice.

So the foreseeable future I will be living on the Blackthorn estate in Northampton... well until God asks me to move on. I'm hoping I've got a few years here first and I can't wait to build some of the local lads from the estate into the Church

Monday, 28 November 2011

What is Community?

One house on the Blackthorn Estate in Northampton was buzzing with the activity of more than 20 young people over the weekend. In the Jesus Fellowship we hosted a community weekend with the aim of having 1000 visitors staying in our community houses around the UK.
HoM (House of Miracles), one of the smaller houses in the Church, normally has 11 people staying. This weekend saw 24.

The weekend kicked off with a great meal cooked by Leyla, one of the domestic sisters living at HoM. With 24 gathered in the lounge and dinning room expectations of a great weekend were built.  The night's entertainment was when 15 lads marched through the estate to the local woods to play hide and seek (man-hunt). Did I mention that most of the lads where legally adults, and still playing hide and seek? After deciding it was in fact a little cold and dark we returned home for hot chocolate and cake.
Some would say Saturday morning was an epic fail! It was meant to be a work morning but after the fun and games of the night before most of us failed to climb out of bed before 11am. After some more fun and games nearly ended in someone getting a sore head, we headed of to Burton Dassett Country Park for a bite to eat and more fun and games. The (now proven to be) slightly immature lads proceeded to use one of the small valleys to play British bulldog. We certainly managed to attract some funny looks from the locals.

We then gathered back at HoM for a time of worship and exploring God in more depth. During this time some of the new lads responded to some of the words of knowledge brought by some of the permanent residents.

So what is Christian community all about, apart from allowing fully grown men to act like big kids? Here's a few quotes:

"Christian community is the closest expression to new testament Christianity around today." Neil, a Jesus Fellowship leader

"Christian community is living out the New Testament in the 21st Century" Nathan, living in Christian community

"Christian community is living and loving together in a Christian family" Michael, a Jesus Fellowship elder

"Being in a position to serve and love the local community as Jesus said" Richard King churchwithacamera

"Christian community is love with a mixture of food" Chris Gilbert, a fat Jesus Fellowship leader
"Loving Jesus Loving Each other" Richard King churchwithacamera

Well its been a while

Well its been a while.

In the last two months a lot has happened. I've said goodbye to some close friends, I've made some new friends, changed jobs, moved house and climbed a mountain (well, nearly)!
You may recall a recent post "holiday on an estate", written when I went and stayed in a community house on one of the estates in Northampton. I spent a month on this estate getting to know the locals and the residents and then returned to my house in the country, Anthem. I felt a strong call to pack my bags and move to House of Miracles for good.

I'm now coming to the end of my three month trial, and I'd be the first to admit that it's not been the easiest 3 months; having to get up an extra hour earlier to get to work on time really hurts, and arriving home an hour later too! however, I've made some great new friends; Chris who is one of the other leaders in the house has been a real lifeline. Since he has five years of experience and is of a similar age he has been able to offer some strong advice and has been a good listening ear. I'm pretty sure that I'll be choosing to make the permanent move to House of Miracles.

After the recent Jesus Army Action campaign three lads (all brothers) have decided to move in to one of our community houses, New Creation Farm.

At our recent community weekend we went from 11 in community to 24, more news and photos coming up soon!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Jesus Army Action

We gathered a keen team of sixteen men and women ranging from 16 to 60 years old, packed our bags and began the 70 mile journey South to London. With accommodation from one of our community houses "Spreading Flame" we set off on the long journey at 40 mph.

 On Wednesday night we hit Leicester Square for a practice run and some fear breaking. We began by performing some skilful ballet and other such dancing techniques. Then we joined up and created a "human train" to Piccadilly Square. Slightly embarrassing but it did the job and broke the fears!

 Thursday we sent most of the morning stuck in traffic on the North Circular. We finally arrived in Tottenham with a brilliant parking spot outside some of the burnt out buildings from the riots. It was hard to believe we were standing in a place where only a few weeks ago it was like a scene from a war film. Within a few hours we began to make a scene. The smoothie maker made its way out and as soon as the schools and colleges finished smoothies began to flow. We took with us a few art boards covered with pictures and phrases showing things such as 'equality', 'peer pressure' and 'role models'. With these we invited people the write their thoughts on these subjects on the boards. Not only did this create a scene around us but really helped in opening conversation with some of the local kids.

After a few hours of smoothie making, spitting lyrics (rapping) with the lads and dodging the traffic warden we found a local park and cracked open the BBQ. We had a few hours of throwing a ball around and yamming (eating) some burgers until we called it a night, ready for the next morning.

 On Friday we hit the same street in Tottenham to continue where we left off. I found Tottenham to be a completely different vibe to what I expected. I was expecting some tensions and maybe a little bit of trouble considering the recent uproar on this very street only two weeks before. How wrong could I be? The locals were all polite and very welcoming. We began to build up a clearer picture of what Tottenham really is about! Asking around to find out what the local youth do in the evenings, it seems there isn't a lot for them to do. The word on the street is that since the Government starting making cuts the few youth clubs around started to close. This seems very dangerous to me- taking away the youth's entertainment. Don't get me wrong, I'm not justifying what happened in Tottenham, but I was beginning to ask if I blame them?

We wanted to make an impact on the streets and it was happening. We struck lucky when a local church, St Marks, in Tottenham offered as free use of one of there halls on the Saturday. We quickly had a load of flyers designed and printed by our graphics team and begain to invite everyone in Tottenham we could see. We stayed on the streets till 2am when we run out of flyers.

On Saturday morning we were back on the dreaded North Circular heading towards Tottenham for the third time in the week. With more flyers to hand we parked the bus in our favorite spot. We were very thankful for the support and patience of the local shops who allowed us to park where we did. The day started well with three lads (all brothers) stopping by, tempted with one of Miracle's (now famous) smoothies. New to Tottenham they were looking for something to do to keep themselves out of trouble. They found Nathan and the Jesus Army (better luck next time boys)! Throughout the day we invited more to the meeting and BBQ in the evening. At 5pm we once again lit the BBQ and waited for the masses to turn up. And they did! Within and hour we had giving away nearly fifty burgers and sausages. The meeting was great too! With at least 20 new friends, of which fifteen were from an unchurched family there was a sense that lives where changing. The three brothers were so touched by what we had as a church they decided to come back to Nether Heyford (nearly 100 miles away) to see what we are really about. And they loved it.

To be continued...

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Here we go.

Tomorrow a team of 16 people will travel to London in a tour coach, Mini bus and a campa-van to London. First stop London's West End. We will be seen serving the homeless tea and coffee and free food. The team will be using Wednesday night to break the ice and some of the fears that come with bring the gospel to a complete stranger.

With words of knowledges from our house groups, prayer covering from home and the God news of the gospel we're ready for what God want us to do!

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