Monday, 6 February 2012

Just cross the room and say 'hello'...

A few of us went out last week for Chaplaincy, with the intent to gather promises from the bible which might give hope to those who are anxious at this time for our ongoing project which Glyn wrote about, below. We began to become aware that God might want to speak to us about fear, and sat in Marks and Spencer's cafe to listen to Him talk to us and to others. I watched Glyn naturally get into conversation with a woman at the table next to us and we were able to pray God's blessing over her and share with her a 'word of knowledge'... something God shows you that you couldn't know normally, in order to show people that He is real and loves them and wants to speak.

Meanwhile, a man at a table near us caught my attention. God does this sometimes - it's His way of compelling me to approach people when you get a glimpse of how raging and wide and generous His love is for them. I believe everyone has been made in His image and He simply longs to know His children, whether they accept Him or not. Sometimes people say to me that they think it's brave that I might cross a room in order to say hello to a stranger. Indeed, that was this man's opinion. But the way I see it is... the worse they can do is tell me to go away (in one form or another!). The alternative is even more awful... that I might have ignored the call to connect God with one of His precious kids. After all, the reason both Glyn and I are who we are today in faith is that someone came and did the same thing for each one of us.

So..... I approached this man because God had 'told' me that he had recently been bereaved and was lonely.   I didn't hear an audible voice, but just a 'sense' of knowing this fact as a reality, and I have learnt to trust these 'senses'. This man had been bereaved and hearing his story was incredible. Instead of being bitter and fearful about the future without his wife and best friend, he had spent time dealing with these feelings and was beginning to get involved in an active social life and felt positive that the rest of his retired life was in front of him. We chatted for some time and he asked me all about God and how He speaks to me. He concluded that I was very brave for approaching a stranger and that he had seen something of the goodness of God that day. I was way more touched and blessed than he was. What a privilege to hear the story of a fellow passenger in life, and to share such a precious moment and to have a conversation with someone who had more reason than me to fear death, but was utterly fearless and living a full life. Those amazing exchanges that God sets up totally outweigh the slight cringe- and risk-factor. So, if He prompts, go ahead, just cross the room, and say 'hello'.

New Living Translation 
"But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?"

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Weighed down by worry - Lest We Forget

At the moment, we are looking to do a piece of art through our interactions with people on the chaplaincy. We are aware that as christians we bring our anxieties to God in prayer and the bible says many wondeful things about how God can remove them and also meet us in them. This is good news for people who are weighed down by worry and we want to share this good news.

So, we are collecting the feaers and worries of people we meet in Chester and making plaques with them. We will attach the plaques onto a memorial as a reminder that god can remove them and they can become a memory. The memorial is a celebration of what God can do - a few examples.

'Take heart, I have I vercome the world' (John)
'Cast your anxieties in me' (Peter)

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Time to think

After an exciting pilot year (check out the posts) we are taking time to think and pray about the direction of the Chester City Chaplaincy. We are considering stepping up our outreach and starting some drop-in prayer but to dio this we will need to secure funding so keep us in your prayers as we think and pray.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Answers to prayer...

Just a mini-update one some answers to prayer we've been hearing this last week. It's so encouraging, as some of these were prayers we said with people months ago and hadn't heard from since and had no way of knowing for sure whether what we'd prayed about had happened.

A few weeks ago, we bumped into someone who works in the local haidressers salon on the way out the the office for Chaplaincy who we asked if we could keep anything in our prayers for them. He spoke about his best mate's little girl who was seriously ill with menangitis. We assured him of our prayers and walked a little further to the town hall where there were protests that morning for the NUS and petitions the same morning as the teachers strike. We held our own little protest and sat down there and then and prayed for several things, including this little girl. In sitting down we were making a declaration that we would not stand for this illness taking over her body. I had a text a few nights about from the hairdresser to say that the little girl was 'so much better' now.

We also bumped into a lady who we'd prayed for months ago. She's been without a permanent home for many months and in between staying on peoples floors. She was very angry with the system and felt that it was unfair that men seemed to have priority in being housed over women. We prayed with her that God would release a house for her, and found out that later on that afternoon, she went to the housing office and was given a house on the spot! She's really happy and told us that she knew that it was because God heard our prayers.

Another lady we met about a year ago was in a dire situation and had left her husband and children because of the abuse she was suffering; she was without a home and was very low. We have been praying with her and kept in touch. Although it's sad that her marriage has broken down, she is now safe and has fallen in love with a local man who is looking after her wonderfully and is marrying her next year. Amazingly, despite how circumstances appeared at one stage, she now has custody of her children with her, and her life is completely turned around.

Thank you God x

Life's not a lottery...

Chaplaincy - Thursday 7th July 2011

We wanted to give people words of hope and life in a context where hope and purpose often comes from counterfeit sources other than God (visiting mediums, reading horoscopes, touching wood, a big night out, over-working etc)....

We bought some rice-paper 'lottery tickets' from Mr Simms sweet shop and spent time waiting on God with bibles. On each bit of paper, we wrote a word of life, a promise or a scripture, as prompted.

We wrapped them up in the fake lottery tickets and took them into town with us placed in a few baskets, so people could take them 'at random'.

We went into several places, offering these words, all anchored in truth. It was astounding how relevant each one was for each person who took one - I am still hearing now, stories of how God spoke to people that morning.

One man who had already given up alcohol and smoking and had just been one week clear of his addiction to pot/ hash chose the verse about temptation and God enabling you to bear it.

'Know God know peace... no God no peace' was chosen by a woman who is on the verge of making a Christian commitment. She was really freaked out that God might want to speak to her that she was convinced we had put her lottery ticket to the top of the pile! 'You put that there so I'd chose it!' she said. I explained how we'd asked God to speak to people and she had chosen the one He wanted to speak to her through, and she was amazed. She's not yet made a commitment to God, but is already telling her work colleagues about him!

'I have come that they might have life and have it to the full' was picked by a man who was just being prayed for. He was just confessing stuff he had been involved in and getting free! This Sunday for the first time, he is going to go to church!

One man picked up a word about the Father's love. Unbeknown to us, he was already a Christian, but it was just the message he needed to hear.

One lady commented 'that has really given me food for thought!'

A couple were chatting and the lady took a word... when she opened it she looked surprised and exclaimed 'we were just talking about exactly that!' God had just confirmed to her something she was puzzling over.

We were drawn to a man who was sitting with his head in his hands and looked in rather a miserable state. When we approached him to see if we could help, it was clear he was either quite drunk and probably struggling with his mental health. He didn't speak English. It was really upsetting, but all we could do was pray peace for him. We saw him half an hour later with the word of life we had given him in his pocket, and pray that although he can't read and understand it, that his personal promise of hope would nevertheless work its way powerfully in his life.

We of little faith were amazed, as the people who chose the words were, at the relevance and accuracy of them! It was sad that a few people refused to accept a free word of encouragement, one man saying 'I'm beyond hope'. One woman was quite proud, and although a Christian, was very reluctant to take part. But those who were hungry did receive their spiritual food. I would definitely do this was a good way to gently introduce the prophetic into an outreach.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Well, well, well!

A spiritual well is a place where the Kingdom of God has come on earth - an example in the bible is Bethel in Gen 12:8, Gen 28:12. Often the well cannot be accessed because it is full of rubble (sin) so we need to re-dig the well (Gen 26:18-22).

Having rather unintentionally opened up a well through worship and prayer and seeking God in our workplace, the notion of wells has taken our attention, and God has been giving us permission to re-dig other wells. D has experienced a place where God showed him he could create a well, and there is now a flow of creativity there.... J has experienced a thirst and openness to spiritual conversations in the corner of a pub on the rows in Chester.... and last week God told me we could re-dig a large well in one of the City Centre churches today.

We began by praying for clean hands and pure hearts and spent time in confession. When we arrived at the church, we welcomed the Spirit of God there and spent time asking Him about the 'rubble' and obstructions. He showed us several things which we prayed about and the atmosphere seemed to lighten, faces began to break out in smiles and there was an increase in angelic activity (apparently - thanks, D!).

We headed from there to a pub in the centre, and very quickly got into a conversation with some people in the pub. This is the sort of pub by day whose regulars (mostly men, 40+) can detect a newcomer at 20 paces; as you enter it's like tumbleweed, and you feel as though your every move is being scrutinised; if you sit in someone else's seat, it's bad! We could feel the mockery and hardness towards us in such an environment. Once people had got over the novelty of having non-regulars who were Christians (fair game), there was lots of testing banter, mocking questions about faith (E.g. if the 10 commandments tell you not to bow down to graven images, why do many Christian churches use crucifixes and images as centre pieces) and even hushed confessions (one lady who reflected how sad it was that her life had come to drinking from 11am-3pm every day in the pub).

There were a few gems amidst the harshness of the landscape - J had previously had an amazing conversation with a woman there several months ago who 'co-incidentally' turned up again today as we were there , and we had discussions with her about her wanting to have something or someone when things turn bad. Normally, perhaps, people don't consider this and go on with their lives, but it seems increasingly that when bereavement or tragedy come their way, they have no methods with which to cope. When I asked her what she did when times got tough, she began to cry and told us of the anniversary of a friend's death coming up and gestured to her pint, her drink being her temporary saviour. We invited her to Night Church and promised we would pray for her.

On our way out, we bumped into a charity 'Shelter' worker, who told us he was searching for someone to help him. He was trying to be 'good' but failing. We explained about inviting God into your life and His holy spirit brings about goodness, told him about Jesus and he went away thinking about it.

So a random 3 hours spent in prayer, declaring the Kingdom of God, encountering hardness and mockery, then two wonderful conversations with people whose hearts were wide open.... as a colleague said to me later, sounds like the sort of morning Jesus might have had.

[Anina Thomas]

Sunday, 20 February 2011

p.s...... once dead, now alive!

We had been praying for 'R', a friend of 'Z' who works in one of the shops in the Forum shopping centre. She was distressed and although she's not a Christian yet, she asked us to pray for him, as he was in a coma.

[She is the young woman who had been communicating with her dead grandad and knew things which were going to happen before they did. I had prayed (unbeknown to her) that she would stop hearing from her grandad or those spirits but would begin to hear the voice of God, which is exactly what began to happen straight away!]

Anyway, as we were praying for R as a team, we asked that he would come round in God's timing, but that he would encounter God strongly whilst unconscious and he would wake up completely transformed. Death to life. Spiritual eyes open.

We had a text from Z a few days ago to say that R had begun to move his fingers and that it seemed as though he is going to be okay. We continue to trust in God's timing and in His ways, and that through this, it will bring both R and Z into fullness of relationship with God.