Mentoring leaders 

It is great to be able to announce a new project that we are involved in, which will be launching later this year.

Through a partnership between the Bible Society in Australia, YFC International and ourselves, a new app is being launched this year, where young people can go to ask questions about faith and life.

There will be a variety of ways that this will work within the app, but what is exciting for us, is that young people can ask questions in a safe environment and young leaders will respond to those questions.

So what part are we playing?
To start with, there will be 24 young leaders under the age of 30 from across the world, responding to the questions sent in. Our role is to mentor them to ensure they have the space and time to grow as leaders, but also to explore any issues that may come up through this process.

As soon as this app is officially launched, we will send out information for young people to engage with it, but it is exciting to know that all the appropriate safe-guarding will be in place and there will be space available for young people to work things out, ask those questions and have help to process them. For us, it will be great to support young leaders, help them grow and enable them to work through their own questions, as they in turn support and enable others do the same.

So, we ask for your prayers for the following, please:
1: An increase of young leaders to support and answer questions that the young people send in.

2: That young people will engage with this and ask the questions.

3: That we will be able to raise up other mentors to support the young leaders.

4: That extra support, particularly in terms of finance, comes our way to enable us to take on this project and mentor these young leaders appropriately.

Life-changing memories

I’ve been involved in events that draw young people together to serve and bless local communities on a short term basis, for many years. I’ve done this both as a leader with young people and as a community worker in an area where teams have carried out this outreach, or mission, as it is usually known.

Over that time, I’ve had good opportunity to reflect on some of the pros and cons of these times. On one hand, there’s a danger that we teach young people that sharing faith and serving communities is not a simple and every day affair, that it’s something that requires special organisation and going to somewhere “other”.  There’s also a danger that local communities receive short term and fleeting input, often from people who have a very different life experience to those living there, and then are left to continue as before when the visitors are gone.

However, I believe that, done well, we can shape such times to be precious and valuable, where young people grow in confidence, develop their understanding of faith and their relationship to God and people, and bless local communities in the process.

This year in Meanwood, one of the areas where I work, a team of 8 young people who were taking part in a residential called Mission United, joined and enhanced the community work that is already going on there. For members of the local churches, they brought challenge and blessing –  young people from another place, standing alongside, being vulnerable in their own inexperience but passionate in their hope for change, full of energy and enthusiasm to serve. For local residents and agency workers, it was so important to see young people in a positive light, willing and able, working hard simply to be a blessing. Those “receivers” were also presented with a challenge – to be gracious with young people who weren’t always graceful in the ways they served and to be humble enough to receive. There was opportunity for growth everywhere and that opportunity was not lost on any of those involved. It was a really great experience.

The beautiful thing about special events is that they create space for us to raise up our eyes and take a look at things from a different perspective. Sure, life doesn’t continue each day as though we’re at an amazing gig, on a once-in a-lifetime holiday, on a spiritual retreat or, indeed, on a mission residential, but memories made at those times can be precious memories indeed, not just as recollections of the past but as things which shape the way we go forward. I know great memories were made when our Mission United team joined us this April, and I know that it made a positive difference to people’s lives. I’m very grateful to have been a part of that.

Whatever you ask lord! 

Recently I have read part of the encounter Mary had with the Angel, as she found out she was to become a mum.  A story and encounter a number of us have read any number of  but something new struck me on this occasion that I hadn’t been struck by before, and that was Mary’s complete obedience to God, and to what was about to happen. 
She would have been very aware of all the social struggles, the questions, the comments, and even the rejection that was about to come her way, but yet, she knew that she had heard from God, she knew that this was what the Lord wanted, and so she went along with it. 
How many of us would do the same, recognising hwo others would rein a situation or context, how many of us, would a pet and recognise what God was saying, and go with it, rather than trying own way out of the situation due to fear, worry, anxiety?
How many times do we put our own concerns, worries, thoughts on to a situation that God wants to maybe due to our attempts to control something things don’t happen in the way that God would want them to happen.
Mary, with little or no regard for herself, went with what God had for her, with what God want and didn’t au rather in the situation.  And things happened as God wanted them too.
Maybe we could learn a lot for learn not to put our own thoughts and controls in place, and maybe, we could all be more obedient to what God is calling for each of us. 
What is it that God is saying to you today through this?
Shadow you need to make to be more obedient?
What is there of yourself that  to remove, to allow more of God in?

Confident

There was prayer for healing at this morning’s prayer meeting. Later, as we looked at Psalm 27, the question was asked, what do you fear. My immediate thought was that I fear arriving at a place where I no longer having the faith to petition God at all.

Nobody panic! The bigger picture is, I believe, a positive one. Impressed by something I heard a while ago from Spacious Places, an addiction treatment centre in Leeds, I’ve been thinking more about the healthiness of living life on life’s terms. Resistance to what is, is a path to frustration, stress, false self, disconnection, poor health, addiction, anger, pain. Serenity, it seems to me, is an utterly beautiful state of being. It is also a state of being that I believe Jesus longed for so much for us, that he modelled it to the point of utter, humiliating surrender.

My thoughts do also come from a place of disappointment. Like you, time and time again I watch people around me and in the news, seemingly robbed of life in all its fullness because of physical and mental health problems and circumstances that were forced upon them. I do believe that healing can be far deeper, far more eternal and far less obvious than we might demand, but that doesn’t take away from the pain that is real to so many. And when those situations continue in the midst of faithful prayer, it’s right to seek to learn something from it. Years ago, I was with a group of Christians, praying for the sun to shine on our event – literally for the rain clouds to blow away. To this day, I don’t believe there was anything wrong with that prayer. But I’ve also never forgotten words shared later by someone who was with us, whose son died in the 2004 Tsunami and who found it difficult to join such prayers when God had not stopped the waters that day. She stood with us, though, and that says a lot.

Why do these thoughts unsettle me? Questioning is right, doubt is normal, and I’m not averse to any of that. Equally, I’ve learnt a lot and my relationship with God feels stronger and based on a greater degree of understanding (which is partly to accept that I do not understand at all!). I think I may be afraid that one day I will lose hope, despite feeling very far from that point right now. However, today I’m confident of this: Prayer changes me and it changes you. And if we’re changed, then we behave differently (better). That seems a pretty good start. I also feel confident that to yield is to overcome. Surrender is essential to the story moving forward, but forward it does go, as it did with the resurrection and the Christ. And I do still remain confident of hope, of His will done on Earth as it is in Heaven and, to end with the Psalm where we began: “I’m confident…that I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”