UKFJ Update – February 2013
Hello, dear friends and family! We hope this update finds you well, greatly blessed and off to a solid start in this new year. We have had lots of exciting ministry things happening and an update is long overdue, so I’ll skip the chit-chat for now and get right to the nitty-gritty! :0)
Sometimes we tend to think that it’s only through “BIG” things that God can really move. Sometimes we see our part in His plan as small-ish and therefore assume the potential for impact is limited. However, over the 1.5 years that we’ve been in the UK, we are finding just the opposite to be true. So for this update, we’d like to highlight how a few ‘small’ things are making a ‘big’ difference.
Otterham School - Just a few miles down the road from Camelford, there is a tiny village called Otterham. A lady in our church is on the board of governors for the school. Many of the families in Otterham are farmers and the children attend the small primary school there before coming to Camelford for secondary school. As part of the current national curriculum in England, there is an RE (religious education) class. In this class, students learn about Christianity and the Christian tradition of this country, in addition to learning all about many other religions and world views. The RE teacher heard about us when Pastor David visited the school last year. She then went to the Souls Harbour website, which led her to ours, and she was completely intrigued by the claim that God "told us" to move to England and that we actually did it! She was so intrigued that she asked us to come do a presentation for one of the RE Classes in school to tell our story (this class is learning about Christianity at the moment; the other class is focused on Islam this term). So we put together a kid-friendly, story-style presentation, took the guitar and went for it. We have never done something like this for a group of young children, but it was fantastic! We focused on the "miracles" - the things that happened that we couldn't have made happen on our own - and why we believe that it was God moving on our behalf and influencing our lives. We taught them our song "la la la," then we gave away several CD's to those who could answer questions about our presentation at the end. The feedback has been tremendous! In fact, someone stopped at Pastor David's the other day and said that his son won a CD and - within a few days - knew every single word of every single song. As we thought about that, we realized that this family - who otherwise aren't involved in church and, to our knowledge, any sort of faith - have songs of worship to the living God resounding in their home over and over and over! WOW!! Other parents came into the school to ask about who we were as their kids told them all about it. We have heard from a friend who works there that they are likely to ask us back to do it for the entire school!! In fact, today we sent a stack of CD’s at a deeply discounted cost for all the children who’ve been begging their teacher to contact us so that they could buy one! Who would have ever thought?!
Souls Harbour’s Website - One of Trevor’s major projects in our fist year here was to completely redesign and rebuild the Souls Harbour website. Pastor David has such a deep passion for getting good, solid, Biblical teaching out across the world. One of his dreams was to do so by putting free video, audio and print resources online. Now that the tool for doing so is available, the results are nothing short of astounding! In fact, statistics that register online show that people in over 200 countries have viewed the site and Pastor David’s teaching is being watched regularly by people in such diverse places as Taiwan and Chile! Praise the Lord!! Additionally, it was a great honour that www.SoulsHarbour.com was recognised by The Christian New Media Awards as one of the TOP FIVE church websites in the UK (smaller churches category) for 2012. Well done, Trevor!
A Divine Appointment - When Pastor David is away, he has one of the elders or other trusted colleagues preach. Several times a year, Trevor is honored with this opportunity, most recently a few weeks ago. As Trevor prepared, he just couldn’t shake the feeling that God was giving him a word that was exceptionally specific to a few people. He didn’t know who they were, but knew that God wanted to say something very specific to them. His powerful message about ‘overcoming’ was relevant to all, of course. But after the service he discovered just how true that feeling beforehand had been. There was a young man who approached him afterward in tears saying how he wasn’t a Christian but life had been so hard lately that, without really knowing why, he found himself walking into Souls Harbour that morning. He said that God really touched him and that he knew that the message was specifically for him.
Ladies’ Evening - It was my great privilege to help organize and speak for a recent ladies event at Souls Harbour. Firstly, the theme was “chocolate”. Really, that was more-than-enough. But Joy (Pastor David’s wife) felt some words of encouragement for the ladies would be an added bonus. ;0)
Growing the Next Generation of Leaders - As Trevor has diligently worked with the worship teams over the last year, we’ve seen such amazing growth in skill and depth of understanding, especially in our young people. These teens are like a garden in springtime... just blooming and blossoming all over the place! It was with extreme excitement and confidence that Trevor recently handed over the reigns of the ‘youth team’ to a new leader, Kerri. When we first came to Souls Harbour, Kerri was just beginning to come out of her shell musically, playing guitar and singing around the cafe on Friday nights when everyone was hanging out. With Trevor’s guidance, she has further developed as a guitarist and soon picked up bass guitar as well. She has been taking singing lessons and is now even writing her own original worship songs, which is no surprise. She has grown so much spiritually this year, becoming a strong and bold witness for Jesus Christ.
Singing Lessons - I’m reaching the 1.5 year mark for teaching singing lessons to students here in Camelford. I typically have 10 students with a few waiting in the wings should any openings come available. Throughout a 12 week term (holidays excluded), I meet with them weekly for about 30 minutes each. We do vocal exercises and work on performance pieces as a tool for applying the principals they are learning. “How exactly is this a ministry tool?” you might wonder. Well, let me share!
- IT’S FREE! With the exception of a small, one-time £5 fee per student to help cover my out-of-pocket expenses (lesson materials and food for the showcase night and reception), there is no other cost. In a poor farming community such as this, there is little extra for lessons such as I provide, especially by a professional singer. When people from outside the church hear about this, they are completely blown away (in a good way!).
- IT’S EVANGELISTIC! My registration materials are clear: I’m a Christian. I teach from that perspective and each student is required to learn at least one performance song that is of a Christian theme/message. Yet, this has not deterred anyone from participating (even the unchurched and/or non-Christian students). If you think about it, these students - over 12+ weeks - are in their homes practicing regularly. They and their families are hearing songs of hope, faith and encouragement over and over and over! And anything you give that much attention to will sink in to some degree.
- IT’S FAR REACHING! Our last showcase event was in early December. Each student sang a solo (some two) and there was a choir song. We set up chairs in the church hall expecting mostly parents and siblings, so about 30 to 40 people. However, we well exceeded our planned capacity. There were at least 50 to 55 people in our primary seating area (we added as many chairs as would fit) plus another 10 to 15 in the overflow area! So, all of these people -- extended family, friends from school, parents’ friends and co-workers -- heard a clear message about faith in Jesus Christ and heard and saw it further supported through the talents of their own children. It was incredible! Afterward at the reception, we had families asking about the church and one gentlemen even offered a financial donation toward the event because he just couldn’t fathom that we’d do such wonderful things for free!
Graphic Design Lessons - Trevor’s teen graphic design lessons last fall had a similar impact, bringing teens into the church for special activities who would never have otherwise stepped foot in the door. Not only did they learn valuable vocational skills, but they got to meet and get to know many of Souls Harbour’s youth, who are fully in love with God and, honestly, just really good kids!
LED (Oriel Ministries) - We continue to be actively involved with this impactful ministry as our schedule permits. We recently ministered with L.E.D to about 130 teens in a nearby town called Holsworthy. During the event, 69 of those teens requested the free packets which contain materials and resources about God and becoming a Christian. We also joined them at the CRE (Christian Resources Exhibition) in Bristol, where some incredible contacts were made that are swiftly raising the profile of Oriel and leading to amazing new ministry opportunities. They are also expanding their ministry portfolio to include worship, which we will be taking the lead on.
Again, it's simply amazing how God uses small things (by our definition) to make a big difference. So, as you carry on with your day, doing the many ‘small’ things that God may be asking of you along the way, be encouraged and remember that you are making a difference of just the right size! We must not use physical standards to measure spiritual results. It simply doesn’t work that way. Rather, we must be faithful in the small things and leave it to God to do what He does best: saving souls and changing lives - be it thousands, just a few or even one at a time!
- Connie, Trevor & Brooklyn (UK for Jesus)
P.S. Thank you so very much to the many of you who gave so generously to our family and ministry over the Christmas season. Thank you so much as well to our faithful monthly supporters. Your generosity helped us to acquire some much needed basics for our home and is allowing us to stay in-the-black a bit longer, as overall monthly giving continues to be less than what is needed to cover our living expenses.
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