Thursday, 24 March 2016

Thankfulness

As we have come to the end of the spring term we have stopped and praised God for all he has done.  We started the term with a smaller team and the challenge of how to manage the work with less people.  On paper it would appear to be a term that would be no more than one in which we held our ground at best.  As we look back there is so much to be thankful for as we have seen God do so much.  The term started with a number of words from God about stepping out and trusting him.  As we have done this we have seen God's faithfulness and are truly thankful.

Since the start of the year we have added a new local volunteer, Jenny, to the team who will be helping with assemblies which will be taking place each month in St. Mark's Junior.  In time this will be extending in to other schools. 

We have had many opportunities to share the Gospel with young people.  We finished the term with assemblies and groups talking about the meaning of Easter.  We have also had many conversations with young people as they question what they believe and are searching for meaning in life.

This term has also been a term where we are thankful for God's provision and the faithfulness of those people who support our work.  The start of the year is always a challenging time for us financially but this term we have seen a small but steady rise in income.  This has been boosted by two sponsored events.  Paul is riding across England in July and this week Debbie Mobley, who teaches at St. Mark's Junior School has decided to run the Manchester Marathon at three weeks notice in aid of our work.  As far as we know Debbie is the first person to run a marathon in aid of our work. This is also helping us increase our income as we build for the future.

We are always incredibly thankful for those who pray for us, volunteer and give to our work. All that we do is done as a team and that team includes all of our supporters.  Knowing we have people cheering us on as we deliver the face to face youth work makes an incredible difference.  Every cheque that comes in, regardless of size is an encouragement.  Each card or text we receive from people telling us we are being prayed for spurs us on.  Thank you for playing such a key role.

If you would like to support Debbie as she runs her marathon on 10th April or Paul as he rides his Coast to Coast in July you can sponsor them using the following links:

Debbie's Manchester Marathon

Paul's Coast to Coast

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Go, Go, Go

We have all sat at traffic lights waiting for them to go green.  As it does we get ready to pull away but a car ahead of us is not moving.  Either they are too busy sorting out their hair, lost in thought or they simply don't like the shade of green of the go light so they are not moving.  It is frustrating, you want to move forward but someone else refuses to.  If we are honest we have all been the driver holding up the traffic at some point.  Whilst we get frustrated about the person who is not moving forward I wonder if in our everyday lives we are often like the person stopped when they could be going.

The word go appears in scripture over 1300 times, stop only appears about 70 times.  We should be a "Go" people who are always looking to move forward and walk into the things God has placed before us.  When we are at traffic lights we don't sit and debate whether the colour is quite right or even if it is actually green.  We don't think that the green go light applies to someone else rather than us or even if we are getting it wrong and the light is actually red.  How often do we do the same with the Word of God?

The most obvious "Go" in scripture that most people will think about can be found in the Great Commission of Matthew 28: 16-19.  "Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

We always think about the second go but if they disciples hadn't obeyed the first go they wouldn't have heard the second.  Jesus had previously told them to "go" to the mountain.  Their obedience to this first go allowed them to be commissioned by Jesus to "go and make disciples of all nations".  I wonder what would have happened if the disciples had not gone when they were first commanded?

Throughout scripture God tells people to go, the response varies, Jonah goes in a completely opposite direction, Gideon insists on God giving him a sign first and when he gets that he asks for another sign just to make certain.  Jonathan on the other hand goes out of his way to hear a yes.  In 1 Samuel 14 Jonathan sneaks out of the Israelite camp with his armour bearer.  With one sword between them they head off to the Philistine outpost.  At the base of a cliff below the Philistine outpost Jonathan turns to his armour bearer and says "If they say "Come up to us," we will climb up, because that will be a sign that the Lord has given them into our hands."   I for one would not have volunteered to be Jonathan's armour bearer!  Everything was wrong with his plan but before the armour bearer had an opportunity to hand his notice in the Philistines called down the encouraging words "Come up to us and we'll teach you a lesson."  To Jonathan this is roughly translated as "Go" and he climbs up the cliff with his armour bearer convinced that God is one his side and has given him the ground to claim.  His actions lead to the Philistine army panicking and a victory for Saul's army.

Jonathan wasn't determined to hear a "no" but was looking for God to say "Go".  If we are honest we often are the other way round, we want "no" so we don't need to "go".  The excitement is in the "go" but we crave the security of the "no".  We need to become more like Jonathan, a people prepared to go, willing to step out despite the odds and willing to risk it all for God.  This may be in sharing our faith with a friend, taking an opportunity that is before us or doing something that needs to be done and we don't see anyone else stepping up to the plate.  For us it has been stepping out into Gloucestershire.  This passage has been one we have focused on as a team for a few months.  Each time it seems that the cliffs surrounding us are too big or that the challenge is impossible someone comes and shares a verse about not being discouraged and to keep going.

We will continue to "go" because God's people should be a "go" people, not a "no" people.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Defined by....

Adam, Paul and Simon set off for Annecy in 2009
Wherever I go I seem to be faced with a recurring question.  It often feels that the question defines me, or at least in others eyes.  The question is “When are you going to do another cycle challenge?”  It stems back to 2009 when I cycled to Annecy with Adam Legge and Simon Padley to raise money for Cheltenham YFC.  After seven years it seems about time to have another challenge.  This years challenge is not as big but it will still be a challenge nevertheless.   In July I will be cycling from the West to East coast of Great Britain.  It is one of the iconic cycle challenges in the UK and covers a hilly 150 miles from Whitehaven to Tynemouth.  It is often tackled over three or more days but I will be doing it in two days. I am looking for a group of cycling companions to join me for this challenge to raise funds to develop our work in Gloucestershire.  Two days of pain and sore legs are a small sacrifice to ensure that the Gospel reaches more young people.  I will be  trying to raise over £5000 towards a new worker to develop work around the county and to set up a number of new projects.

If you would like to join me or know someone who might then please get in touch. If you have never cycled this sort of distance before we can ensure you have a gentle training programme available to make sure you can complete it.  If you join we can help you set up a Virgin Money Giving page to raise funds.

You may not want to join in the pain but please sponsor me to make it worthwhile.  £5000 is a big target but well worth it for the change it will bring in young peoples lives.  To sponsor me please visit my Sponsorship Page

Thank you.

Paul


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Prioritising prayer

We all know that prayer should be a priority, yet it is something that most of us struggle with.  Here at YFC, we are no different, so for that reason we are making a real effort to intertwine it in everything we do.


Each Thursday, we have a weekly prayer meeting that takes place in the office from 9-9.30am.  Anyone is welcome to attend our prayer meeting and it is always a great encouragement when others join us.  On rare occasions this meeting is postponed but we share those occasions on Twitter and Facebook.
As a team, we also pray at other points, as well as having a prayer board in the office which features everything about our work, our trustees, supporters and colleagues within the wider world of YFC whom we are praying for.
We don’t want to stop there and we are introducing two new initiatives.  The first is a Prayer and Pizza evening for young people aged 11-18 to gather and pray for their generation.  The first of these evenings will be on Thursday 10th March at the YFC Office from 6 -7pm.   Whilst not essential, it is useful to know beforehand if people are coming.  You can let us know by emailing us at office@yfcgloucesterhire.co.uk Young people will get the added bonus of claiming that eating Pizza is a spiritual discipline!
It would be unfair for the adults to miss out so on Monday 29th February from 7.30-9pm we are holding our first Coffee, Prayer and Presence evening.  This  evening will be a time to pray for the work of YFC Gloucestershire and listen to what God would say to the organisation.  At the next meeting we will focus on plans to expand our work in Gloucester and explore our vision.  The prayer will be accompanied by great tea and coffee.
We will look to run both prayer meetings once a term.


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Authentic

It has been a while since we have blogged, it was not our intention but as is the way with life things get busy and forgotten.  With a new year we decided we would turn over a new leaf and try to start posting more regularly again.  The New Year is always a strange time, I am a firm believer that you should never wait for a new year to make changes;  we should permanently be going through the process of change as we seek to become more Christ-like.  Despite all of this the New Year does seem like an opportunity where we can stop and think.

Our year starts at the annual YFC Conference, when we gather as a whole moment to stop, meet up, pray and seek God.  Being surrounded by a group of people seeking to make Jesus known to a new generation is always inspiring.  The passion and determination is always encouraging as is the willingness to stand alongside each other in both difficult and good times.  This year our conference was themed around holiness, a subject that is always challenging and inspiring but essential as we work with young people.  Our lives are the best image of Jesus some of them may ever see, that is a huge responsibility but a real key in our ministry.  We proclaim Jesus well before we open our mouths for it is our lifestyle that people see first.  Beyond our lifestyle people also see our motivation and our intentions.  Young people are particularly adept at picking up disparity between what is spoken and what is done, they are looking for authenticity.


If our lives are authentic people will have more chance of seeing the authentic Jesus that can change lives.  As we set out this year we hope that we will show Jesus to young people so they will recognise him as the life bringer and life changer who wants to know them.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

James' year

It is hard to believe that the academic year is nearly over.  I does not seem that long ago that Megan, James and Rukaya arrived at the start of their year out.  In the first of a series of video featuring the whole team James looks back on his year.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Stance at Pittville

video
Our week with Stance got off to a great start today at Pittville School.  The whole of year seven spent the day working with Stance looking at issues of character whilst also learning a flash mob dance.  The team also shared how their motivation for life and dance is their faith in Jesus.  The team also performed to the students including this dance that started the morning.