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.