Wednesday, 25 May 2016

A God encounter causes pain to leave!

Here's a story from one of our great students, Charis:

A few days ago, God challenged me in how I don’t need to ‘feel’ full of faith for God to move through me powerfully. Both humbling and exciting!

I was walking back from one of the Church’s mid week meetings, and two people stopped me and asked for money just outside the hospital. I didn't have any spare change, but one was in a wheelchair so I asked if I could pray for him. The lady with him got really excited, and said that she's a Christian, and that God totally changed her life after struggling with alcoholism. So I knelt down and ask him where the most pain is, as he suffered from wounds after serving in the army and now lives with a lot of pain. So I asked him if I could lay my hand on the area of pain, his shin, and told him that God could heal him. After a brief prayer, he looks surprised and said, "I just felt warmth all down my leg….. Can you pray for my other one?"

When I say I had no faith, literally the whole time I felt nothing, no excited feeling, no 'surge of power' or anything! 

So I prayed for the other leg, and then he said he felt shooting warmth all through his leg this time. I asked him to stand up and walk around to see if anything had happened, and HE HAD NO PAIN! He didn't even want to try walking at first, but he got up and hobbled around, slowly, then more confidently. The woman with him said she hadn't seen him walk like that in a long time! She then told me that she went to RFC once and a woman prayed for her leg, and skin that was all black on her thigh got healed! After talking with them for a while about the goodness of God,  they say have a nice night and walk away.

I was so stunned that something had happened, I forgot to tell them more about Jesus, so 30 seconds later I felt like a bit of an idiot! But I thought it was incredible that God can use my lack of faith to reveal the reality and mystery of a present God, and that the lady with him actually knows the Lord so can tell him more and (hopefully) take him to Church! I have faith that God is gonna work in this guy's life!

It’s such an adventure to live to live in step with the Spirit of God! He loves it when His kids ask for the big things!

Amazing stuff! It's always good to take the opportunities that are presented to us.  You never know what God will do!

Monday, 23 May 2016

Many links over many years!

Here's a story from Sarah Rooke from our 9am congregation, I found it so encouraging when thinking about persevering in prayer and in love for friends who don't yet know Jesus.

"Although we were different as teenagers my friend Sarah and I were good friends all through secondary school.She knew I was a Christian and we would have the odd chat about this.During our late teens she and I talked on a more deeper level often coming back to my faith and how this played out in my life.She agreed to come on a Christianity Explored course with me and was struck by the love and welcome there, she often asked questions and kept coming. There was no conclusion for her following this and soon after she moved to Southampton.
We continued to be close friends, especially seeing each other more at times like when she had her first baby. Through various life events we would often quickly get to a deep and meaningful conversation especially  during the tough times.I remember clearly she said she couldn't have any faith or believe there was a God at one point and I felt so sad about this but prayed for her eyes to be opened spiritually.

Now in our early thirties we remain close and conversations have been around prayer this past year. We prayed for her to have a healthy pregnancy and baby,we prayed for a difficult housing situation and both of these prayers were answered in an amazing way -that she could see too! At my baby's thanksgiving a few weeks ago Sarah prayed something for her daughter and was very excited the next day that her prayer had been answered!Praise God! She has since started to go to the church on the estate she lives on and her children had been involved in youth activities there for a while. She went to a guest service about healing and her and her partner prayed with someone from the church after,they've been reading booklets on prayer they've been given and are booked to start Christianity Explored next week! We speak on the phone most days and it's so exciting to see God working so powerfully and how God can choose to use us or choose to speak directly with people without needing us- a real reminder that there's often many links over many years." 

It's good to share stories to encourage one another and it means we too can pray for Sarah's friend Sarah!

Monday, 9 May 2016

Being a good neighbour

This term I am running a group called Being Ambassadors as part of our life group system. It's basically an opportunity to share stories and be encouraged.  As part of that the guys involved have agreed to share their stories on the blog as well.  So here's the first from Glodine:

Something I am learning about being an ambassador for Christ is that I no longer have to put pressure on myself to see conversion or an immediate change in someone's life. With time I have come to appreciate that coming to faith is a journey and it is God's responsibility to get my friends saved, my role is to walk the Christian faith in a way that showcases who Jesus is through love, patience and grace. Earlier this week my neighbours gifted me with lovely flowers and a card that read 'Thank you for bearing with our renovations so gracefully!' This made me smile, encouraged me to keep loving people the way Jesus loves me. I am incredibly grateful for the wonderful people in my life.

Katie also sent this through to our what's app group:

Buzzing today after being at my cousins baptism in Birmingham, she bought loads of her non-Christian friends and people gave their lives to Jesus!  So exciting to see God moving everywhere we go.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Restarting with Purpose

For 15 years now, evangelism has been going on around RFC.  By evangelism, I don't mean programmes or Alpha courses, I mean real people connecting with other real people.  Over the years we have been going we have seen 104 people make a response to the gospel.

Some of those have matured and are going on with God at RFC; others have gone on and are living out their Christian lives in other towns and countries of the world.  There are others still who we have lost contact with and don't know where they are.  But each of these responses shows us that God is still at work today.  Each one of those responses has a story behind it, and often a story that involves at least one person who is following Jesus.

As followers of Jesus we get the great opportunity to make real friends with real people and love them regardless of whether they follow Jesus or not.  In the midst of that friendship, our expectation should be that there will come an opportunity to share our faith with our friends or family.  We pray for the right opportunity and we take them when they come along.

That could be an act of kindness that goes above and beyond, it's an 'extra mile' type of act.  You didn't have to, but you did!  Now that is not unique to Christians, but maybe just finding the right words to say to display that you are doing it because of Jesus in your life, sets it apart.

Over the years people have loved their friends and their friends have noticed it which has given them the opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with them.

Evangelism is not about clinching the deal - only God can do that - rather it is about representing Jesus wherever we find ourselves - living as he lived, around the people that he would have spent time with, responding how he would have responded, asking questions as he did, and ultimately giving people the opportunity to meet him.

It's not something that we do, it's the very essence of who we are - ambassadors of Jesus.

As a church we want to celebrate the times that we have been ambassadors.  That's why I have reignited this blog.  It's mainly to record the ambassadorial stories of RFC - those ambassadorial moments when you have shared your story, prayed with someone, had a word of knowledge and shared it: whatever it may be and whether it was received well or not!  Let's get into the habit of sharing our stories in order to spur us and others on in our calling to represent Jesus.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Carol Singing Life Group!

One of our life groups, on the initiative of Geoff White, went out carol singing last night.  They visited many homes around West Village, the new development of flats and houses down near the Oxford Road Tesco's. An intrepid bunch went knocking on doors and singing. Left people surprised as instead of being asked for money, they were given chocolates by the carollers!  

It had such an impact that not only did the official West Village Face Book page thank the RFC carol singers but they have also advertised our carol concert on their page!  Quality!

Something to think about and store away for next year maybe!

Attitudes of a Leader @ RFC # 5

(Week five of this 5 week series taken from a talk given at the RFC Leadership Summit.)

5: Ready to learn
This is our 5th and final attitude.

As we look at leaders at RFC and actually across the board, we must be those who never got to a point when we think we have made it.  We will always be a faint reflection of the great leadership that Jesus brought to bear as he walked on the earth and we must recognise that and remember that we are a work in progress.  

his takes great humility. Being learners means we need to acknowledge we are not the finished article and that we are just on a journey of developing our gift the same as any one else.

We need to be those who are learning about ourselves constantly.  Now to deliver this with integrity, you need to know that I find self reflection very hard.  It’s not natural for me and so I have to work on it.  Sean is a trusted friend who is able to draw stuff out of me to help me to reflect and over time I have become better at this, but it isn't my default way of thinking. 

As leaders we are under the microscope and we make mistakes.  It’s not always easy to hear that especially when we feel we are giving our all. Over the years I have received criticism that has been really painful and at times have felt that it has been harsh, but at the very core of what has been said there has been something to learn from. If we shut out criticism and don’t sift it we will miss the learning point.  Even the harshest criticism will teach us something if we let it.  This therefore means we will be teachable, ready to receive criticism well and ready to learn from wherever the learning may come, even if it’s from the new person on the team!

Being ready to learn also means that we will take seriously our walk with Jesus. As his disciples we constantly need to be growing in our understanding and knowledge of our God, who sent his son to display these five attitudes and more.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Attitudes of a Leader # 4

(Week four of this 5 week series taken from a talk given at the RFC Leadership Summit.)

4: Eager to listen

As a guy with a reasonably strong leadership gift and the experience I have this is something that I am constantly working on.  

Have you found yourself in a position when you have been trying to speak about something but all you sense is that the person has heard your first statement and is just waiting to put forward their wisdom, their expert take, their opinion that of course is the considered best practice! 

Actually you just want help to process an issue or just want to be listened to. 

I know that I have been that person who hasn’t listened and I know  that that has not been constructive at all, but I want to be a leader that is eager to listen.  

To know when to speak and when to be silent.  

To feedback reflectively when someone is speaking to me.  

To take time to really hear what the person is concerned about or is proposing.

The truth is when someone feels listened to, you may not agree with the content and you may not come to an accord on it, but the person will feel valued.  They will feel their voice has been heard, that they haven’t wasted your time and it keeps the relational bridge open. This results in everyone being able to move forward together living with differing opinions.

Let's work our attitude of being eager to listen.