Hello, November! Is that really you?! I should have guessed… the crisp chill in the air, the continuous parade of leaves dancing to the ground and the sudden arrival of all things Christmas in the shops. Yes, indeed! November is here! Which means it’s been nearly six months since we made the move from the bustling suburbs of North Houston to this quaint little town in the rural countryside of Cornwall.
Ironically, in just two weeks, we will be heading back to Texas for our first visit home. When we first bought our tickets to England, our visas had not yet been issued, so we purchased a return within 6 months to ensure we would not be in the country illegally. (You are allowed up to 6 months visit without a formal visa.) So, we are excited that we’ll get to spend the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays home with our family and friends. It will also give us the opportunity to provide in-person updates to our supporters. We’ll then return to England just after the New Year to continue our journey of faith and obedience on the mission field assigned to us by the Lord.
You know that feeling that you’ve just starting doing something but at the exact same time it feels like you’ve been doing it forever? That’s what it feels like for our family here in England. It seems only yesterday that we arrived here to start this new adventure in ministry and yet now it all feels so normal and natural that this could have always been our life. That’s part of what God does when you are walking in His will. He makes situations that would logically seem unnatural and (quite literally) foreign, seem instead to be safe and comfortable and just, well… “right.” And, when you are 5,000 miles away from all that you’ve ever known, waking up each day with that sense of absolute peace makes all the difference in the world.
These last few months have been a whirlwind of activity! And, since an update is well overdue, I will do my very best to provide a thorough, yet reasonably concise, recap.
September started with a visit from Jason & Meredith Hoover, some of our dearest friends from back home. We took a few days to join them in London as proper tourists, and then brought them back here to our little place in Camelford. They stayed with us in our tiny flat and got to enjoy authentic English life (and weather!) for a few days. And, in return, they cooked up some authentic Mexican food for us (Haaaaaaaaaa-lle-lujah!!!). Just two weeks later Pastor Dale Dailey, one of the pastors from The Crossing Church, our home church in Texas, stopped in for a few days to visit and minister. He and Pastor David Flanders go WAY back, and it was wonderful to spend time with them together.
After our return from our brief holiday in London, at Pastor David’s request, we began taking a more active leadership role in several areas of ministry. Here’s a quick update on several of the things that have been keeping us busy!
Worship – The launch of the UKFJ School of Worship (SOW) began this summer, with a 5-week session specifically designed for teens. It was a lot of work but yielded some great fruit. Aside from discovering some fantastic musical talent within the youth of this church, the cultivating of that talent has continued well beyond those 5 weeks. We are still providing musical coaching to several of the youth individually and as a part of the youth worship team. Beyond that, Pastor David asked us to step in to provide coaching and mentoring to the existing adult worship team. We are working closely with them in weekly rehearsals and in the services to cultivate a deeper culture of worship within the church, led first by a heart that understands true worship, then by talent that leads with both sincerity and excellence. We originally saw the SOW as a separate entity from most of our other activities for the church here; however, God showed us that this very much is a branch of the SOW. In the coming months, we are excited to migrate further into the background as the new teams and leaders grow in skill and confidence and slowly take the reins.
Youth – When we look back through our 13+ years together in ministry, the common denominator has always been “youth.” One way or another, whatever we are doing is typically tied to them in some way… for them, with them, etc. So of course, the same is true here! There are SO many young people in this area… many with no firsthand experience with church or Christianity. Several of our most active youth group members have only been saved a few months. God is doing exciting things in the young people of this country – truly a field ripe for harvest – and we are honoured to be a part of it! We help out with the Solid Rock Café on Friday nights and the youth meetings on Sunday nights. Additionally, we’ve helped launch Aerial – a new monthly youth service geared toward providing area teens (whether from this church, another church, or no church) a church service designed specifically for them. Many of the smaller churches in this rural area don’t have active youth groups or any sort of Sunday evening gathering, so this provides a way for those teens to meet and connect with other believers their own age. It’s also a service that’s relevant to their specific place in life and is something they can invite their unsaved friends to. November will only be the second meeting. We look forward to seeing the service continue to grow and flourish in the New Year.
Christian Union – Like in America, public schools here have clubs of various kinds, including the Christian Union, headed up this year by two of the teen girls from Souls Harbour. The students meet once a week during lunch in a classroom, and we are on a rotation with several other church leaders to come in to speak to them. The really cool thing is that several of the newer Christians are inviting their unsaved friends along to the meetings… and they are coming! Meetings are having 15 to 20 people in attendance, up from only 5 or 6 last year! The seed of God’s Word and salvation is being so heavily planted in the young people here. We will just continue to be faithful planters and water-ers (is that a word?) and let God’s Holy Spirit take it from there!
Xbi Kids Club – You can probably tell by now that this church, led by Pastor David, has an incredible heart for children and youth. Xbi Kids Club meets on Friday nights and is an action-packed hour full of God-centered fun. Kids ages 5 to 11 play games, sing a praise song, learn a memory verse and hear a Bible story. The themes are creative and engaging and always done with excellence! This last term, I was involved and got to help out each week. Whether I was teaching the memory verse or telling the story or just watching from the back, it was such a joy to see these young kids soaking it all up. Some of them aren’t from Christian homes and each week they are being filled up to the brim with “light” that they are taking back with them and shining brightly into their homes. Praise the Lord!
Souls Harbour Website – Let’s call this the “October project”! After nearly a full month of burning the midnight oil, the new website went live last week! These days, one rarely visits a church (or any type of establishment, for that matter) without first looking at its website. Pastor David sees the web as endless potential for educating believers and unbelievers alike on the things of God. He is passionate about evangelism and wants to do it effectively from every angle, including the worldwide web. As such, Trevor took on the enormous project of completely redesigning the Souls Harbour website. It is first a tool for outreach and evangelism, second a source of information about Souls Harbour Church and third a repository of resource material for Christian growth and discipleship. This last section will continue to grow as we convert hundreds of hours of video and hundreds of pages of material into an online format. Wherever Pastor David preaches, souls are saved! Now, those new Christians will have ready access to Pastor David’s Faithlauncher course for new believers and many other helpful resources! You can check out the new site at www.soulsharbour.com!
Mentoring Relationships – We have been deeply privileged to make some special connections with some people here. Specifically some young people, and it is such a great blessing to be able to encourage them and speak into their lives. Sometimes I sit back and look at everything and think, “God, I think you may have sent me all this way, just for “her”… wow, You are beyond amazing!” He’s like that too. You see, I have this habit of thinking that everything that is happening in my life is actually about “me,” when in fact very little of it is. Here in this place of service and ministry, I see more and more how little it has to do with me… and that is both freeing and exciting!
A little bit of everything else – As we’ve said many times, our first orders from the Lord were to come here to serve Pastor David. So, as we are needed and able, we are here to further help in any way we can. From stacking chairs or taking out the rubbish to leading prayer meetings or leading worship… we are privileged to serve here and deeply thankful for your role in making that possible.
Upcoming Outreaches & Ministry Opportunities – The next year holds many exciting ministry opportunities. Of course, if I tell you all about them now, I won’t have anything to tell you about later! Sooooo… I’ll just have to leave you hanging on this one. But as a teaser, we expect to do more ministry-purposed traveling throughout the UK (and maybe beyond?) in the coming year! As well as see the School of Worship expand beyond Souls Harbour. Of course, I’m sure God has MANY other things up His sleeve for us that we have no idea about. But we wouldn’t want to miss out on it for anything! Bring it on, Lord! We are ready and willing!
Well, in true Connie fashion, this has turned out to be quite long and wordy, but at least you now know a little more about what’s been keeping us so busy these last two months! We are always glad to hear from you, so if you have any questions or want to know more about us or the ministry here, please respond to the blog or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blessings over you and yours as you serve faithfully where God has placed you. And, as always, thank you so very much to those who give so faithfully and so generously to help us be able to serve here full-time. It takes God-sized resources to see God-sized visions fulfilled… and thanks to you, that is happening here in this tiny town in Cornwall, England. Years of prayers are being answered. Not just because we’ve obeyed, but because you have as well. Thank you.
Blessings & more to come soon,
Connie, Trevor & Brooklyn
p.s. Can you find my “English” words and phrases? I threw in a few for fun (actually most managed to work themselves in on their own… and I’ve only been here 5 and a half months!)