Dear Church Planters
You will enjoy this NEWS. It is so encouraging to see what God is doing.
Judy and I are in Australia – holidaying and enjoying time with family and friends. Be assured of our prayers, encouragement and support.
Kind Christian regards
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS – 3 Dec 03
In this NEWS –
# CHURCH PLANTING AT ITS BEST!
# GYM FELLOWSHIP – GOD AT WORK!
# THANKS GIVING IN NEW CHURCH PLANT IN CZECH REPUBLIC # COTTAGE BECK CAFE CHURCH BAPTISM!
# KOCEVJE CHURCH PLANT – CHANGING LIVES # CELEBRATING FRIENDSHIP # THE DAY FOR PRAYER & FASTING – WAS A TERRIBLE DAY …
# CHURCH PLANT IN PARIS – REACHING NEW PEOPLE # ‘SATELLITE’ CONCEPT WORKING WELL IN HELSINKI # WRITING OF THE DAY FOR PRAYER & FASTING …
CHURCH PLANTING AT ITS BEST!
There is something exciting happening in Steigen – a very rural community in northern Norway. For many years Gunhild and Jan Erik Hansen have had a vision of doing something for their community. Three years ago they started activities for the young people on their isolated farm. Local school buses helped deliver the children for the afternoon and evening activities. These activties attracted a lot of media attention and were greatly appreciated by children and parents. However, it was exhausting the Hansens.
Having heard in church planting training that ‘God’s money and helpers are in the community’ – the Hansens prayed and discussed the possibilities with their pastor Glenn Tore Storvollen. “They called a meeting in the community and asked for help,” says Atle Haugen – North Norway Conference president. “10 couples met. A few others called and said they wanted to come, but couldn’t. Although extremely nervous, Jan Erik asked them to participate and 10 parents have now joined in as helpers and are very eager to assist.” The numbers of kids involved has grown from 20 last year – to around 30 kids this year.
The influence of this project has continued to expand. When these kids from rural Steigen reach the age of High School, they have to go to Bodø, a larger city several hours away, and live in various rented accommodation. When one is 15-16 years old, that is a challenge. “These factors put together have resulted in a program and a strategy where the weekly activities and fellowship that is created in Steigen, is channelled over to the church in Bodø, where our members are opening their church to gather these teens for socials, activities and guidance,” writes Atle Haugen. “Already the kids from Steigen have been taken to go-kart racing – with food and socials in the church afterwards.”
The community is recognising the value of this work. The local Red Cross has offered funding support. Local schools and authorities have enquired about the possibility of support for kids with various problems.
The local state church pastor has asked for their support in teaching children in preparation for their confirmation – to teach about how to be Christian and why it is important.
Gunhild – who is handicapped from having had Polio in her youth – is also involved with women’s groups in the community together with Helga Myrland, another important church member in Steigen who is helping in this project. Gunhild, Jan Erik and Helga are now challenged with how to lead community parents and leaders in working with the kids!
GYM FELLOWSHIP – GOD AT WORK!
With new opportunities for fellowship and ministry opening almost daily, Laverne writes: “This morning I was praying to God so much for direction with this ministry, for where he is leading etc. I don’t know if this is an answer but this thing just grows by the months! I mean what is God up to? This one girl cannot do all this work, so he (God) must have some plan in mind that I haven’t yet seen).”
THANKS GIVING IN NEW CHURCH PLANT IN CZECH REPUBLIC
“We experienced God’s presence. We were celebrating an American Thanksgiving for the first time in our lives – in our ‘Apha’ Centre. It was great. We prayed and prepared everything – include pumpkin pie and turkey.
More than 100 people from our community came! Alfa was full! God is great!” report planters Olga & Martin Veselý.
COTTAGE BECK CAFE CHURCH BAPTISM!
Sue and Michael from Cottage Beck Cafe Church (Scunthorpe,
England) – whom many met at the Planters X-Change in Finland in August – were baptised last Sabbath. “God has come to mean so much to them. It was an experience we will never forget,” say church planters Isobel & Bryan Webster. “Thank you for your prayers, that have helped bring them safely
this far. Please continue to pray for them – they have tough challenges
ahead.” Sue’s children – Kyle 9 and Bryony 12 – were there to witness her baptism.
KOCEVJE CHURCH PLANT – CHANGING LIVES
Church planters in Kocevje, Slovenia are excitied that a local restaurant owner who has attended their evangelistic meetings – and who was heavily influenced by eastern philosophies and was considering divorcing his wife – has been changed by their small group meetings and patoral visits. “Now he is on the road to becoming a fully devoted diciple of Jesus Christ – and so is his wife,” they report.
“Things still moving on quietly. Had the wonderful privilege of celebrating Eid with a few of the women. Moving from house to house to house (eating 3 times in the space of 3 hours!). You gotta pray for my stomach, I tell you. … I realise just how much the friendship is appreciated (and its mutual).” – planter.
THE DAY FOR PRAYER & FASTING – WAS A TERRIBLE DAY …
“The weather was bad and I had personally sat for 3.5 hours in a traffic jam that afternoon. I guess when we came together – none of us were really ready to pray that evening,” writes ‘Korinta’ church planter Juris Rekis. “There were seven of us – most of our core group and some of the participants of the praise group. We just sat down and wondered who would start first. Satan surely had all his weapons at the foreheads of our spiritual unity. We started to pray. After some formal prayers I suddenly had an urge to pray. But this was one of the worse prayers I have prayed. I prayed about things we all needed to talk about – misunderstandings between each other, anger, our lack of belief.”
The group started to open up to God. “One after the other prayed about why God has called us and others in Europe to serve Him and bring His everlasting love to lost people. We prayed for the Holy Spirit to be upon each of us and change our lives. One thanked the Lord that He was with us – because for the first time this person felt that God was real and alive. It was unforgetable!”
As the prayers concluded, Aira quickly ran to the piano and started playing the song ‘Draw me close to you’. “One after the other we stood to our feet, held hands and praised our Creator like we had never done before,” says Juris. “We sang song after song – and the Holy Spirit freed us. It was a healing time. We needed that. Satan had been doing everything he could to stop us from praying and talking through the problems we were having. Thank you for all your prayers. And thank you to all church planters. We are praying for you everytime we meet.”
CHURCH PLANT IN PARIS – REACHING NEW PEOPLE
“We have much joy in doing what we do, and we know why we do it when every single Sabbath we meet people coming from outside to join for worship.” – Gabriel Monet.
‘SATELLITE’ CONCEPT WORKING WELL IN HELSINKI
Church planter Atte Helminen reports, “Our satellite-worship project is working well. We are about to have the next meeting (December
13) and have ‘Friendship around Christmas’ as the theme. The last meeting with Martin Vukmanic was a great success. Martin really took the audience well and there was an amazing atmosphere with an international flavour.
The hall was full, over 200 people. We ran out of seats – as more people came than expected.”
WRITING OF THE DAY FOR PRAYER & FASTING …
“I cannot tell you what a blessing I found (that) Friday,” writes Rosemary Lethbridge – church planter from Wales. “Like many others we had a heavy Sabbath ahead of us but taking quality time for prayer for each other by name brought a sense of closeness and God’s presence that sweetly reminded me of Finland. What an uplifting time. How about we regularly set aside time when we know that church planters are praying for each other?”