Thanks to everyone who made our recent visit home so special. It was so good to get to see so many of you and catch up with what God has been doing in Cardiff and around the UK as well as sharing what He has been doing here in Nairobi, Kenya too. The trip was a particularly special one for us as we were able to share our exciting news with you all, that we are expecting a baby at the end of February next year. God’s timing in all this has been, as ever, amazing, and far from complicating things at this end, it has confirmed to us that our main focus of outreaching to the local community of white settlers and expats, is totally in God’s plan.
So, what has been happening in the fortnight (has it only been that long??!) since we got back?
As many of you know, over the next year we are going to be mainly focussing on outreaching to the local community – something that God has really laid upon our hearts, and has confirmed over and over again in previous weeks/months.
Since getting back, we have been starting to put together teams for all the different areas that will be involved in the coming months, making plans for events, courses etc that will be running. The outreach will have 3 separate strands as such. The first strand will be the large community events that we, as a church, put on, e.g. the pub quizzes, salsa nights etc. These provide a place for people within the church to invite their non Christian friends. We always advertise ourselves as being from Karen Vineyard church, and do a mini plug for upcoming events, e.g. alpha course, but there is no ‘secret preach’ and it is just a way of serving the community, letting them know who and where we are. At the moment we are trying to get a good team around us to catch the vision, and run with this alongside us. Last year, due to unavoidable circumstances in many ways, our ‘team’ disintegrated often leaving just Mark and I running events, this is obviously not sustainable apart from not being good in any way. Please pray that we will find the right people to serve alongside us in this.
The second strand is centred around more relationship building with people on a smaller, more intimate level. I am hoping to start a parents and toddlers/babies group shortly, and we are also trying to ensure that we are getting alongside people within the community as we feel God is leading. It has been so exciting since coming back to see God really open the doors for opportunities in this way… On Tuesday morning of this week I had coffee with a lady that I have mentioned before, called Louise. She is very actively ‘searching’, the conversation easily came around to Christianity and we spent practically a full hour chatting things over. She also mentioned that she has never read the bible, so we will be ensuring that we get her a copy in the next week or so. She has also agreed to come along to the next alpha course being run. Please pray for her, and for wisdom for me as I continue to meet with her. The other day I was also invited along to a new or expecting mums group in the community (just meeting as a once off), and got to meet a few ladies from the community who are all very keen to develop friendships with others, one of whom is coming along to a baby sale with me on the weekend, her name is Suzanne. Many people we seem to be crossing paths with at the moment, seem very interested in why we are here and finding out more about church life and Christianity. A good friend of mine (who I met through a mutual friend), Hannah, is working at one of the local international schools, and she has shown a real interest too, as well as inviting us to some social events at the school where we have been able to get friendly with lots of the teaching staff. Mark is continuing to go out mountain biking with a local group too, and one of the girls that goes, called Osa, was asking lots of questions last week, and despite claiming to be an atheist, she has also said she’d be interested in coming along to an Alpha course. It was great to be able to organise a social event for all the bikers and partners last week, so we could both get to know them all a little better too. Hopefully this will continue. Please pray that these opportunities will continue to be thrown in our path, that we will not miss any, and that we will be given wisdom as how to know what to say and when to say it!
The third strand is running Alpha courses or the like. We are actually planning on firstly running a course called ‘The Reason for God’ written by Tim Keller, starting the week of 24th October. This course is actually to empower and hopefully really inspire people within the church on how to evangelise to others, and to equip them in answering those difficult questions, e.g. ‘How can you say there is only one way to God?, Why does God allow suffering? Why is the church responsible for so much injustice? How can a good God send good people to Hell? As Tim Keller puts it, the aim is ‘to become conversant with ways to sensitively, gently, humbly and respectfully talk about the objections – whether in the context of a friendship or a group setting’. There will then be a huge push within the church, and also at all the upcoming community events, over the next few months in preparation for an Alpha course to start in January. As you all know this will be running over the time that the baby is due, so we once again, are praying and looking for a strong team to support us in this.
Whilst we were home, in our last service at Cardiff Vineyard Church (our home church), I was reminded through both the worship and sermon, that GOD must remain our top priority – something we all KNOW. I am someone who enjoys, and even thrives from, being very busy, and I find that I often need to be reminded that it is God’s will, and spending time with Him and seeking his will, that is the most important thing, and not what ‘ministries’ (for the sake of finding a better word) that we are busy doing. Since coming back, I have already been reminded of this at several different times, including coming across the quote “The goal of the missionary (or any christian) is to do God’s will, not to be useful or to win the lost. A missionary (Christian) IS useful and he DOES win the lost, but that is not his goal. His goal is to do the will of his Lord.” Oswald Chambers. And then the verse that stuck out to me yesterday in my quiet time was ‘Look to the LORD and his strength. Seek his face ALWAYS.’ I Chron 16:11.
Please pray that for both of us, we won’t get lost in ‘doing the stuff’ that we are too busy to hear God’s guidance for exactly what his plan is, and then end up doing what we think is God’s will but trying to do it in our own strength.