I’m quite confident that the saying “April showers bring May flowers” originated in England! While each passing day does seem to bring another breathtaking layer of color and beauty to the blossoming gardens and countryside, it also brings more rain! Not that I am complaining, of course. We are getting used that as just another part of life here in Cornwall. With rain coats, hats, and wellington boots, we are properly prepared, rain or… rain. 🙂
I say it every time, but only because it’s true… time is simply flying! It might seem strange, but my primary gauge on the passing of time is trash day… oh, make that “rubbish” day. We put it out on Wednesday nights, and each time it comes around, I’m taken by surprise. How can it be time to put out the rubbish again? Didn’t we just do this? Has it really been a full week??
The apparent time warp seems to come from being fully engrossed in a vast array of day-to-day responsibilities here at Souls Harbour Church, serving with our time and talents to support the ministry of Pastor David Flanders and reach out to the community here in Camelford and the surrounding towns and villages. We’ve had some really exciting things going on and new ministry opportunities keep coming. Here are a few updates…
GIRLS RETREAT - Last Autumn, the Lord inspired me with the idea for a special retreat weekend for the teen girls of our church and community. The emphasis would be on stripping away all of the worldly filters that affect how they see themselves, replacing them with new filters that show how God sees them… as the AMAZING, unique, intentionally designed creation that each girl is. After months of planning and preparation, the “I AM AMAZING” teen girls retreat took place the last weekend of March and was simply incredible. We had an intimate group of 7 girls and 3 adult leaders. We spent a full weekend in a giant farmhouse near the sea. In addition to staying up late, overloading on sugar, exploring the grounds and nearby town, crafting, playing ultimate hide & seek, and lots and lots of giggling, we spent some quality time in worship, in the Word and with each other. I truly believe that God used this weekend to build into the spiritual foundation of these girls hearts in ways that will shape their outlooks on life, God, themselves and others for years to come. And in the process, we had a blast! We hope to do another one later this year; perhaps in the Autumn. Of course, the boys don’t want to be left out, so Trevor and Pastor David are working toward a “guys weekend” in the months to come… something very manly, of course. 😉
(Above: These teen girls now know and believe that they are AMAZING!)
KIDS CLUB / YOUTH CAFE - We’ve seen dramatic increases in attendance numbers in both the weekly Kid’s Club and Youth Cafe. I‘m privileged to serve as part of the kids club team each week, while Trevor takes a lead post downstairs, running and supervising the games and events in the cafe on Friday nights.
Xbi Kid’s Club has been bringing in anywhere from 20 to 25 kids ages 5 to 11 each and every week over the last school half-term (late Feb to end of March). We’ve just started our new 7 week session “The Champion” using the Olympics as a theme to teach the children about training to be a champion for God! Even through Brooklyn is not quite 4, she gets to be a part of Kids Club and, firsthand, I see the impact it is having on her. She sings the praise song they are learning throughout the week; she remembers and applies the lessons that she learns through the puppet shows and illustrated stories; and the Word of God is being built into the foundation of her heart through the weekly memory verse. So, if that is happening with our almost 4 year old, think of all the other children and how they are being affected. They are a little bit older and many of them come from non-Christian families and homes. What an outreach! Please pray over the priceless seeds of God’s truth that are being planted in the hearts of these children, that families will be transformed and brought to God through the simple faith of a child.
(Above: Xbi Kids Club - The Champion. This week’s lesson was about Nutrition, both physical and spiritual)
A recent survey out to the teens led to some simple yet impressive improvements that have more teens coming into the cafe each week. With so many new ones coming in, we are actively working to change up the program a bit and more purposefully plant the Gospel within the lineup each week, through video, testimony or other ways. Presently, we have a once a month(ish) special event called Rock Central, where a night of theme-based games and activities is followed by the presentation of the Gospel (usually through a testimony/personal story) and an opportunity to respond. However, not all of the teens come on those nights, and they must all be reached. So many of those coming in are from families that have never been to church and don’t even really have any understanding at all of what church is, much less the idea of a Saviour, needing Him, and having a personal relationship with Him. So, with a sense of urgency, we feel strongly that we must up the level of exposure each and every week. The methods will vary and we’ll keep it in line with the “outreach” nature of the cafe… a place were any teen from the community can feel comfortable coming to hang out, without fear of judgement or exclusion. But without compromise, the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be made known. It is why we do what we do in any ministry within the church or on our own.
(Above: Trev and I dressed up as Pirates for one of the cafe’s recent ROCK CENTRAL events)
Beyond that, God is opening more and more doors for us to build strong connections with other ministries and we are amazed as we watch Him stitch together a masterful plan that could only be by His design. It’s been really cool actually. When we started this journey over a year ago, God gave us 3 primary goals: 1) SERVE the ministry of Pastor David Flanders and Souls Harbour Church, 2) EVANGELIZE Cornwall, England and all of the United Kingdom, and 3) TEACH God’s people to usher in the presence of God through worship. As we’ve settled in, we have put the most emphasis on Goal #1, since that was the original order from God and we’ve then simply watched as he has opened up a path for both #2 and #3 as a natural outflow of our emphasis on #1. Connections through Pastor David have led to many opportunities for Trevor to preach at other churches and for us to lead worship and minister through music to churches and the community. In each case, we are finding that God has set up divine appointments for us both in ministering to others and in connecting with others in a way that will lead to further ministry. Praise the Lord!
(Above: Trev preaching at Old Pound Church earlier this month).
L.E.D - We have a growing friendship and ministry relationship with a very special couple, Chris and Nikki Uglow. They are about our age, and just like us, are living completely by faith in full-time ministry. If you’ve read our prior blogs, you might remember the “school outreach” we were a part of just after we arrived last summer. Under the cover of Oriel Ministries, Chris and Nikki lead the band L.E.D, which stands for Let Everyone Decide. They are a rap/hip-hop band that goes into the schools throughout Cornwall and Devon. Typically, they spend a week in a school teaching workshops on dance, music, and moral/ethical responsibility. Then, they have a huge concert in the school hall on the Friday night, where the Gospel message is given (to the extent allowed by the school) and information packets are provided to all students who respond or who just want to know more. They partner with a local church in each area, involving them with the event, so that the kids who respond or who want to “investigate” God further have a church to connect into for support and discipleship. Through our relationship with Chris and Nikki, who have made Souls Harbour their home church, we are being invited along to be a part of some awesome evangelistic outreach events (more on this in the next paragraph). We are also helping each other’s ministries out in some fun ways. Trev has been helping them with some graphic design work and we will both provide a little musical & vocal support for them here and there while they are on the hunt for additional band members. Meanwhile, Chris is joining up with us on drums when his schedule allows, both for Sunday worship and as we go out more and more leading worship for special services and events. And, besides all of that, it’s just been a wonderful blessing to get to know them and have them as friends!
(Above: L.E.D in action at Creation Fest 2011. Nikki & Chris at the front from the left)
MOVEMENT ROADSHOW - The ministry that heads up a huge, free outreach-based Christian festival each August called Creation Fest, also does a series of “roadshows” throughout the spring and summer to boldly share the Gospel in the heart of the surrounding communities and invite people to the annual festival. We were both honoured and blessed to be a part of one of these roadshows last weekend in the nearby town of Launceston. L.E.D and Cyba Drummer were also in the lineup. The town square was full of people most of the day. It was freezing cold and the wind was relentless, but it was dry, which was a definite miracle! The roadshow crew set up a professional portable skate park (in association with The Unit Skatepark) and had free skate all day and a competition mid-way through. There is a huge skate culture here, so it’s a fantastic draw for the younger crowd from grade school up through university age. There was face painting and a few other things for the younger kids that drew families to hang around for awhile after their stops in the nearby shops. Meanwhile, as everyone was enjoying all of this, they were also hearing a simple and direct message of salvation through Jesus Christ from each speaker, musician and band that stood on the stage. We shared real life stories, with the real life answer made crystal clear. The culture here is completely beyond sorting out the truth from lies without direction. If we don’t make clear the truth, there is no hope. People watched; they listened. All around the square, people were in the shops and the flats. Some stopped to watch and listen for a while as they passed by. Others just kept walking, but they still heard. We had volunteers and people associated with the various ministry teams all throughout the square, at the ready to speak with people, to explain one-on-one the hope that is available through Jesus Christ. It was SO good. Over the course of the day, Trevor and I played 3 sets of original music (both worship and “story” songs that Trev has written) with sharing throughout, then we closed out the event that evening with a few well-known worship songs. It was such a blessing to be a part of this outreach and we hope to be more involved as God opens the doors! On a side note, Brooklyn was out there with us all day long. She was fantastic. It was a long, cold day; hard for a 3 year old who wasn’t able to roam freely. However, it’s important to us that we minister as a family as much as possible… that she grows up understanding why God has brought us here and that she is as much a part of it as we are.
(Above: Brooklyn hanging out while Trev prepares for our ministry set at the Movement Roadshow this last weekend.)
WORSHIP EP PROJECT - As our network of ministry contacts expands, God has opened an amazing door for us to record a 5-song worship album. All will be original songs that God has given Trevor. Some we sing in church here and others we do at outreach events (like mentioned above). We will share more about how this project is progressing as the time draws nearer, but we appreciate your prayers as we move forward. This project will require a financial investment on our part, but the value will far, far outweigh the cost… which is so amazing that we know only God could have arranged this for us. The professional contacts we have made have caught a glimpse of the vision we have for ministry through worship and teaching about worship, and they want to sow into that vision. We will be heading to Chichester, England in mid-June to spend a week and half in a professional studio, working with world-class engineers, producers and musicians (who have worked regularly with worship leaders like Matt Redman and Tim Hughes, the band Delirious, and many more) to create this special ministry tool. Having this CD will do at least 3 things: 1) provide something we can give to pastors and ministry leaders as we promote the School of Worship and ministry training seminars, 2) provide something people can take away with them, so that the ministry continues even when an event is over, and 3) provide a small additional stream of income back into the UKFJ ministry. With the lower cost of producing it, we’ll be able to sell it for a lower price but still recoup our costs and further fund the ministry. Needless to say, we are very excited and are praying that God’s anointing will be present and evident in all of this from start to finish.
MORE OUTREACH - Meanwhile, Souls Harbour’s agenda for the summer includes more outreach events than ever. Remember the sense of urgency I mentioned above? We feel that across the board and sense that the window of being free to share our faith publicly here may be beginning to close. There is no time to be wasted! This country, mostly religious only in tradition, must be reached! The present and younger generation here is largely unchurched with little to no interest in anything perceived as “religious”. So, we won’t bring them religion; we will bring them the truth and hope of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Something we are especially excited about is the American mission team we’ll be hosting the first week of July. Jen Juarez, daughter of Pastors Orlando & Kim Juarez and youth pastor of The Bridge Church in Bixby, Oklahoma is bringing their youth group here for their 2012 summer mission trip! Oh the plans we have!! It will be a fantastic week of service work and community outreach. I can’t share details just yet (as they haven’t seen the complete agenda), but the potential for impact is going to be incredible, and we are SO excited that they want to come and sow into what God is doing here! It will be life-changing for the community here and for the team. Stay tuned for more updates as July approaches!
SOULS HARBOUR - Even as so much ministry is taking us outside of these walls (which is the point, right?), we continue to serve diligently here, investing in the lives of our church family. In addition to the kid’s club and youth cafe activities I’ve already mentioned, Pastor David asks Trevor to take the podium every few months to preach to the congregation. We are continuing to lead the worship department, leading two of the four teams and playing support/mentoring roles with the other two leaders and their teams. We are especially grateful to The Crossing Church for providing a special financial gift to Souls Harbour to allow us to upgrade the musical equipment in the church! It’s getting great use already! THANK YOU!!! Trev spoke at the last men’s breakfast and I will be speaking at the upcoming ladies’ breakfast. Trevor and Pastor David have also dreamed up some new, creative activities for our Sunday night youth meetings (now called “Faith Factory”), including some fun mini-film production projects! We continue to play a lead role with the monthly youth service Aerial and are praying it will expand and grow, reaching more teens across the area.
(Above: Trevor working with the Youth Worship Team, the AERIAL BAND)
(Above: Trevor & Pastor David working on a film project with the youth at Faith Factory)
SMITH LIFE - On a personal note, we are continuing the search for a more permanent home to rent. We know that God will bring the right place at the right time for the right price. Meanwhile, we are so grateful for the flat and, on these crazy cold, windy and rainy days, I have to admit that living in the same building that I work in is VERY convenient… 🙂
Trevor has begun taking his driving lessons in prep for his driving test on May 23. The lessons are tedious and expensive, but very worth it. Trevor has always been an exceptionally skilled and safe driver, but things are just very different here. He studied diligently for his driving theory test (the written part of the test) and passed with flying colors. (YAY!) Now, it’s the practical test that looms before him. The “first time passing rate” is quite discouraging. It’s costly to take and there’s a five week waiting period to get scheduled in. So, as often as he can, Trev will be driving over to Launceston, where they’ll do the testing, to practice all of the teeny tiny things they’ll be watching for and to get accustomed to the roads and familiar with the area. He can only legally drive with his U.S. license for a year, so passing his test by June 8th is crucial. Your prayers for him and the tester who’ll be reviewing him are really, really, REALLY appreciated!
Our little, purple ’96 Ford Fiesta, which we affectionately call ‘Ms. Figgy,’ has sadly reached the end of her road. She was such a blessing to get us going when we first moved here, but the ongoing financial investment required to keep her going started to far outweigh her worth and potential. However, God provided us the opportunity, through a pastor friend who is also a mechanic at a garage, to buy a used 2003 Ford Focus 4 door hatchback for an amazing price (just under £2000). There are people here who don’t even need another car but said they would have bought it at that price just because it was too crazy-good a deal to pass up! She (yet unnamed), is in fantastic condition both structurally and mechanically, has only 60,000 miles on her, and drives like a dream. We are SO blessed and so grateful that God has, through you, provided the resources for us to be able to make this purchase with cash. THANK YOU, supporters, and THANK YOU, LORD!
Brooklyn is growing up WAY too fast. She is energetic, fun, spunky and oh-so-creative. She captures the heart of everyone she encounters. Her accent is still more Texan than Cornish, but every day we hear it changing! She will begin school next September and will be yet another bright light for Jesus Christ out in the community here.
(Above: Our fun, spunky, full-of-personality, “B”)
God is continuing to do amazing things every single day. We see His hand and His purpose in every part of every day… from the biggest things down to the very smallest. Your faithful support, through prayer and giving, is how He provides for us to be able to do all of this… thank you!!! We don’t know what the future holds and how the ministry will evolve in the days, months and years to come, but we are going to continue to be faithful where God has planted us and just “keep moving forward” as He lays out the path before us. Again, thank you for your faithful support. You are on the front lines with us and the impact is ETERNAL!
Blessings and more to come soon… very, very soon… 🙂
- Connie, Trevor & Brooklyn (UK for Jesus)