Tuesday, 28 February 2017

God's Healing Power

On Sunday evening I had a great conversation with one of our young ladies at our 6pm meeting, so I asked her to write it down:

"For about 10 years, suffered with low mood, developing into depression and anxiety, always in and out of counselling and different therapies. I battled with self harm and suicidal thoughts for what felt like forever, and if I'm being honest, that really made me struggle in my walk with God. I was put on increasing amounts of medication as I became increasingly dependent on them - I was on the highest dose of anti-depressants that they could offer.

In the autumn of 2015, I experienced a horrible trauma, and was put under emergency care, my medication increased even further, and was having visits from nurses every other day, to try and combat the voices in my head that were very real to me. I had PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and I didn't ever see myself getting better.

One night in November 2016, I was having a flashback when I called on one of my closest friends, and spilt my whole story to them. They prayed for me continuously throughout the night, even once I'd finally fallen asleep, pleading God for peace, and praying for healing once and for all. I prayed that week with the same person and others, until one morning I woke up totally different - I didn't take my tablets that morning, and haven't since - I don't need them, and I feel happier in myself than I ever did before, medication or otherwise.

I praise God that I'm here, and I'm alive, because without him, I dread to think what would have become of me."

Praise God!!!

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Cakes at Reading Girls School

Not every one will know this, but every half term Judy, Bea and Alan go into Reading Girls School with cakes baked by our army of outstanding RFC bakers!!!

Bea was in on Wednesday and one teacher said to her that the cakes bring them together and makes them socialise.

Another teacher who regularly works in school on a Sunday, asked where we had been this last Sunday.  Bea told her about the Mad Stad One Church event and she said that she likes it that we are there when she comes to work!

It's so good that we get to express our love for the staff at the school in this way and to see that it is making a small impact.  Building unity and bringing comfort is part of what it is to be ambassadors of Christ.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Stories from the Mad Stad

We had a great time at our One Church celebration on Sunday.  It was brilliant to start with good news stories of answers to prayer and what God is doing in our lives.

Ethan told of how they have been learning about religions at school and he took in his bible.  His teacher read from the bible at the end of the day and he was able to have a couple of conversations with children in his class about how they could be Christians!

Mick told of how he posted a card of encouragement through the neighbours door; Saffy told us of how she had desired the gift of tongues, asked for it at a youth weekend away and ended up speaking in a language that she hadn't learnt!!!

These were just some of the stories that were told publicly on the morning.

As I left on Sunday morning, the security guy was genuinely delighted to see how people had all left smiling and joyful on the morning.  It turns out that someone else had had a great conversation with him earlier and he had shown a great interest.

God is on the move amongst us, let's be alert to what he is doing and let's encourage each other by taking every opportunity to share the good news stories, whether that be answers to prayer, opportunities to pray for others or being able to do good works to help someone out that brings light into someones life.  

Monday, 26 September 2016

Two Sunday's, Two decisions for Jesus

Two Sunday's ago I heard the great news that a guy who has been coming along to RFC with one of our regulars, has made a commitment to Jesus.  He has also on the Alpha course on a Tuesday night via Facetime as he lives in East London!!!!  

Then this Sunday one of our students brought along a girl from his course.  She had been to CU and had been chatting to Christians on campus for a while.  At the end of the meeting she went for prayer with the prayer team and then committed her life to Jesus then and there.  She too will be coming along on Alpha this week.

Let's pray that these stories will be multiplied many times as we continue to share our faith wherever we may find ourselves as ambassadors of Christ!!!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Referendum Cafe

Fraser and Cheriel from our evening congregation came up with a brilliant idea.  Cheriel tells us all about it:

"About a month ago my husband and I ran a free pop-up cafe in the centre of Reading to give people a public forum in which to discuss the result of the EU referendum. It was the weekend after the referendum result, and we had planned it for a week and put it on. We had been surprised and taken aback by the Brexit vote, and were concerned by a few things in the immediate aftermath:
1. Many Remain voters were angry and upset, and some voices from the Leave side were protesting that they felt maligned and misrepresented in the media 2. Everyone seemed to be talking about the referendum with their family and friends, but there didn't seem to be any spaces for constructive public discussion (and Facebook tends not to be the most constructive of spaces) 3. Despite the almost 50/50 split of the vote, the vast majority of our friends and family seemed to have voted the same way as us.
Put together, this seemed to suggest that the split of the vote was not only driven by individual opinion, but also by a vast difference in perception, both of what would be best for the nation and the voters on the other side, and by social (and quite possibly economic) differences.

This has been said a great deal since, but the referendum highlighted some very profound divides in our country. We wanted to do something that would strengthen civil society in our local community and enable people to put a human face to the opinions and perceptions of the other side of the vote. The wisdom of the Bible tells us that 'a soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger' (Proverbs 15:1) and that we should 'put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace' (Ephesians 6:15). We wanted to bring something of peace and hope at a time when it would have been easy to respond in inflammatory ways.

We spent the week planning and praying for good weather, begged and borrowed tables and camping chairs from Reading Family Church and our friends, recruited other members of the church to help man the stall, and filled out the necessary paperwork from the council. On the Saturday, we set our gazebo, table and signs up on Broad Street in the morning and were immediately in business. Lots of people stopped because they were intrigued by the offer of free cake and homemade lemonade, and a good many stayed to chat. While rain did put a damper on things for a little while, we estimate that by the end of the day we had spoken to over 120 people and families.

We spoke to people on both sides of the vote, and tried to encourage conversation. Many Remain voters spoke about a sense of devastation and outrage, while Leave voters spoke about optimism and feeling unfairly judged. On both sides there was apprehension about political uncertainty ('The UK has no government'). We spoke to immigrants from Europe who felt disappointed, unwelcome and angry. Wherever possible, we tried to encourage the people we spoke with to consider what the vote said about society and local communities in the UK, and what we could most productively do as individuals and as a community moving forward. One of our friends, a Remain voter, had a long conversation with a couple who had voted Leave about the thought processes and motives that had led them to vote the way they did. They came away with the realisation that, though they had chosen opposite sides of the vote, they had very similar interests at heart.

While not all conversations resulted in that degree of convergence, we found ourselves challenged and humbled by differences of opinion in the people we met. The conversations we had helped us to consider more deeply the importance of speaking our perception of truth lovingly in public debate. We hope and believe (at least, from the feedback of others) that many people came away from the pop-up cafe feeling a little more encouraged, a little more understood, and a little more willing to seek a constructive, diverse conversation. We all find it hard to be truly neutral about issues that affect us deeply, but with a little loving work we could perhaps create a society where we can deal with difference in ways that strengthen our communities."

Reaching our town is not all about 'the church' centralising and doing outreach, it is about Christians who are the church taking the initiative and bringing the gospel through their own unique way.  The bible is clear, 'Blessed are the peacemakers' and that's what Fraser and Cheriel and friends were doing that day being peacemakers.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Reading Festival This Weekend

Well it's the August Bank Holiday which means this week some 80,000 extra people, from all over the UK, will start to descend on Reading for the annual music festival.  Aligned with the festival in Leeds, this is the biggest event that hits our town each year and is one fo the cornerstone events in the British music calendar.
For years now churches in Reading have played their part in the festival by helping festival goers who find themselves in problems, by feeding hungry revellers and of course, buy offering them the good news of Jesus.

This year sees followers of Jesus in Reading unite again to come alongside the 80,000 to help, encourage and share the gospel.

Here's a link to the website Jesusdiedfor.me, to tell you all about what is going on.

If you are here in Reading and are a Christian, please will you consider getting along to get involved.

If you are a festival goer and a Christian, please look out for these guys and encourage them as well as being a good witness yourself.

If you are not a Christian, then why not take the time to see what Christians really believe as you spend time in between the bands that you have come to Reading to enjoy. You may just find yourself surprised, that this is exactly the sort of festival where Jesus would have found himself as he walked on this earth.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Praying for a colleagues knee

Flo Keith sent me this yesterday, it's a brilliant read:

A couple of Mondays ago, I went to one of my colleagues in the English Department after a crazy day at work and we sat and had a chat. She mentioned that she was going to her dance class tonight which was why she was working late (she also teaches dance at school!) but her knee was really sore. As soon as she told me, I felt prompting me to pray for her "Do it, do it," and with everything in me scared to, I just blurted out "do you want me to pray for your knee?" To my surprise, she said yes, so I asked if I could lay hands on and then prayed for the pain to go and a general blessing.

Now, she wasn't healed, but what happened after was just as awesome! She sent me an email about 10 mins later titled "The power of prayer" and this was her response:

Thank you so much for your prayer today, I really appreciate it. God was clearly listening – the one lady who usually comes to Fitsteps on a Wednesday has just messaged me to say she can’t come tonight, meaning I can have an evening resting my knee

Have a lovely evening.


So God answers prayer in the most unexpected way, and when I asked her about her knee on Friday afternoon, she said that the pain had gone a while ago.

So it wasn't a moment of "Wow, immediate pain gone!" but in my opinion, still an amazing opportunity (plus now she's not in pain, and I have no idea where her walk with God is, but I think her email back and the language she's used is really encouraging!

Let's all be a little more like Flo and take the opportunities that come our way!