Posts tagged ‘Missions’

December 20, 2013

Second Service!

501px-Berchem,_Nicolaes_Pietersz__-_Paul_and_Barnabas_at_Lystra_-_1650“God sends to gather and he gathers to send.” Gerard Kelly

This month Northern Lights Church held its second “monthly service” in the lead up to our launch on February 16 next year.  It was a great time with lots of new people.  We get people to fill in a “welcome card” to give us there details, and on it we ask for people’s first impressions of the church.  The word that appears most often in that section is the word “friendly”.  I am so pleased about that – because we are building a community of people who love God and share in life with each other.  Our name comes from our location in the north of England, but also from 1 John 1:7 which says, “But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other.”  If we are sharing in life with each other then we will create a friendly atmosphere.  It won’t have to be forced or demanded, it will just naturally flow.  That’s already starting to happen, and it is fantastic to see and feel.

What God is doing at our church is gathering a congregation together.  We will reach out to our community and share the love of God with them.  God will call people to himself and build the church.  This is happening because God has sent Catherine and I out from Australia to do the work that he has called us to.

This is God’s pattern.  He sends to gather and he gathers to send.  I like the verse in Ecclesiastes where Solomon says there is a time for everything, for gathering and scattering.  In the early church they gathered in Jerusalem.  Then they were sent out because of persecution.  They gathered in Antioch and built a great church.  Then they sent Paul and Barnabas out on a missions trip as the Holy Spirit directed.  The process goes on and on throughout church history – God gathers to send and then sends to gather.

God has given me a picture of this church as being like a bowl tipped slightly on its side.  A tap is feeding a stream of water into the bowl.  The bowl is overflowing and a stream of water is spilling over the side and leaving the bowl.  That’s how I want the church to be – a bowl with a stream flowing in and a stream flowing out.  The stream flowing in represents new people who are finding faith in Jesus.  The stream flowing out represents people who we are able to send out to spread the word further and start new works, new churches, and do great things for God wherever they go.

My focus is not on the size of the bowl, it is on the size of the streams.  May God give us a continual stream of people finding out about Jesus for the first time.  And may he give us the grace to train and develop them as disciples so that they can accomplish great things when they are sent out, as the Holy Spirit leads.

If you want to pray for the work that God is doing here in Halifax then pray that people would hear and respond to Jesus, and commit their lives to him.  And then pray that God would help us train the leaders that we need to send out to further his kingdom.  Because that’s really all that we are trying to do.  I expect that it will take us the rest of our lives to do it!  What a wonderful calling – I am loving it.

John

P.S. The picture is Paul and Barnabas preaching on their travels in Lystra (Nicolae Berchem, 1650)

November 8, 2012

Madness in Mexico

Sometime in the early nineties I went on a short-term missions trip to Mexico. Our team of youth and workers stayed on a base in Tecate and each day we drove about 40 minutes to get to the slums of El Florido where we built houses and did outreach with the children.

We raised money for the building materials while still in Vancouver and we had driven convoy style in two mini buses following the I5 highway through California. We stayed overnight in a church  in LA and arrived in Mexico the following day. We stayed at a beautiful and rustic place called the Rancho La Paloma (The Ranch) which provided hospitality and acted as a base for the ministry.  The best feature was the pool which was just filled with water while we were there.

The ministry into the El Florido slums was nothing short of life changing but the most amazing experience for me came at the Ranch on a day off from visiting the slums. On this particular day we had taken the youth to the markets in Rosarita. Despite repeated warnings not to buy fireworks which were sold in excess several youth bought some and snuck them back to the Ranch.  Later that afternoon during a rest period they lit them down near the boys dormitory. The conditions were ripe for a bushfire. Everything was dry and it was hot and windy – the place was a tinderbox. I was one of the first leaders to notice the fire that had started as a result of a spark that came from the fireworks. It was spreading quickly. We got a bucket brigade going down the hill from the main hall as there were no hoses. Just when I thought it was under control the fire jumped from the top of one tree over the road to another tree on the other side of the road. A dry grass field opened up on the other side of the road an accelerant for any fire. I honestly thought we are going to burn down Mexico. I was the only Aussie on the trip and knew full well the destructive and relentless nature of bushfires.

Without thought for life or limb and being far more athletic than I am now, I jumped the two barbwire fences on either side of the road to get into the field where the fire was now burning rapidly. The owner of the field, a Mexican farmer, came hurtling down the hill in his old pick up truck with a hose on board. I stood with his little hose in hand just ahead of the fire which was now burning steadily across the field getting more and more out of control. As the fire raced closer I became surrounded by smoke. Not knowing anymore which direction the fire was I started to hose a circle of water around my body. I was very scared and I thought this is it. I thought I was going to die. My life seemed to pass before my eyes and my last thought went something like this…’If I die in this field it will wreck the lives of these youth forever.’ At that, I looked up to heaven and yelled ‘GOD, HELPPPPP MEEEE’ At that exact moment a sharp strong wind came from behind me and within a few minutes the fire was completely out. The sudden change of wind had turned the fire back on itself.  With no fuel there was no more fire. When the smoke cleared I could see a black ominous ring of burnt grass around me. I had been surrounded by the fire without knowing it.  To this day I believe that God did a Miracle in Mexico.

Shortly after the fire was out the Tecate Fire Brigade arrived – four men on the back of a pick up truck with some hoses. That’s Mexico for ya!!

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxo

April 11, 2012

Gypsies, trash and Miracles

       
                                               The Roma Flag
                                                     
                                                       The Roma Flag

When I hear the word ‘Gypsy’ vivid pictures of gaily coloured caravans, a woman shrouded in scarves fortune telling and children begging or committing petty theft spring to my mind. I have this antiquated picture of colourful and merry bands of entertainers and musicians rolling into some peaceful town. I’ve never met a Gypsy so my reality and perspective of what a gypsy is has been shaped primarily by the media, which probably means it’s distorted and exaggerated.

As a people group Gypsies refer to themselves collectively as Romany, Romanies, Romanis, Roma or Roms. The term ‘gypsy’ is considered derogatory by some members of the Roma community because of its negative and stereotypical associations but the wide use of it by the English speaking world has bought a reluctant acceptance and adoption of it by the Roma as well.

While they are known to be nomadic in nature historically Roma originate from India. Many of their cultural and social beliefs are strongly rooted in the Hindu Caste System. Roma place the utmost importance on family and often multiple generations live together. Fidelity within marriage and virginity in unmarried woman is essential. Couples marry very young often in their mid to late teens and divorce is rare. In February 2010 an observational documentary called My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding was broadcast in Britain. It was so popular it became a series. It follows the story of four gypsy brides as they prepare for their wedding day. The weddings are visual spectacles and the brides compete to have the most flamboyant of dresses. A show promotion reads ‘ancient tradition meets modern fashion as Gypsy teens embrace the sometimes garish extremes of the celebrity world.’

Why am I so interested in all things Gypsy? In 3 months time I will be travelling to Slovakia via the UK and Vienna. I will be joining a team which includes youth from Czech, members of a local Slovak church and Gypsy Christians. In cooperation with the local government we will be clearing an illegal dump and cleaning up other areas of the village. The project slogan is “I Love My City”. We believe that this initiative is an opportunity for the Roma, often seen as a curse in a community, to be seen as a blessing.

I love all things supernatural and throughout its history Roma people have had an intense relationship with the supernatural. While fortune telling is considered to be a source of livelihood, it’s not something that they practice amongst themselves. They do however strongly embrace a principle of healing (called advising). It incorporates many supernatural themes including omens, curses, charms, amulets, talismans, potions and healing rituals. Their belief is that they prevent misfortune or heal sickness. Roma women are the caretakers of all medical knowledge – traditional and scientific. A female healer who prescribes these cures or preventatives is called a drabarni or drabengi. Roma people are open to healing, miracles, prophecy and deliverance. It’s most likely to be a big part of this trip. All I can say is bring it!

I’m thrilled to be gaining access into this fascinating and mystical community even if  it’s for such a short time. I do think that someone needs to warn the people of Cachtice that I’m on the way. Tell them Catherine Warren, a ‘drabarni of Jesus’  is coming and she is about to love on them big time.

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxox

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