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.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

"all the lonely people, where do they all belong...?"

On Thursday (17th Feb), since it had been Valentine's day just a few days ago, we decided to head down to Eastgate Street near the clock and do the 'free hugs' outreach. How often might it be since someone had been shown unconditional love, or the warmth of human contact in the midst of busy lives which can often be lacking in genuine connection....? It's a simple project and has been done by Glyn, Chris and others many times before; a great way-in which often goes straight to the central theme of the good news..... generous love, freely given.

Even though the streets are laced with roadworks at the moment, charity guys and buskers, this didn't seem to deter people from approaching strangers with brown Chaplaincy hoodies for a hug, and to ask why we were doing this. Even for those who were too busy to approach us, it raised a smile and thoughtful looks. One lady even said 'that's made my day!', as she was on her way to a difficult meeting concerning the custody of her child, and the hug and prayer seemed to give her courage.

We had the priviledge of chatting with a woman who works in a local shop who was trying, unsuccessfully to keep her brimming emotions down, as she asked for prayer for her parents. A heavily pregnant woman, although not a Christian, was keen to receive prayer for the safe and rather impending delivery of her little girl. We listened to 'M', a very bored older gentleman who was very lonely and probably had dementia... Jess listening to him seemed to give him honour and make him feel like a person who was 'seen' and 'heard', maybe for the first time in a long while. 'C' broke down in tears as we offered him prayer for his depression and a word of hope from scripture. 'K' was glad to receive a hug and prayer for her grandson who is having to be home-schooled following bullying and removal from mainstream education.

My most challenging chat was with a couple of lads who were well up for the free hug, and a chat about why we were doing this today. When I explained that we are Christians, he responded 'I think I'm a Christian!' and then he and his mate had a bit of a chat about it. He said he believes in God, but when I asked if he knows Jesus, he said 'no!'. I wonder how many people assume they're Christians, without knowing the most important person: Christ. After all, as I've heard it said - if you don't know Christ, what good can 'Ian' do you?! He went off with something important to think about.

So did I.

As I was challenged later on, what do we do for those who 'get it?' Are we then brokering for them an opportunity to respond to this God who they have just encountered?


Monday, 14 February 2011

words, words, words!, today was mainly an admin day - taking time to remember those we had met and whose lives we had shared, albeit briefly! although reviewing policies and risk assessments aren't super exciting, they are necessary to protect ourselves and those who we meet...

...whilst we were in the cafe, one of the team had a prophetic word for a lady sitting at a table opposite us. sharing this 'word' with her opened up conversation. as i shared about my background, she too spoke about her childhood which was lacking in demonstration of love and affection, and we spoke with her for some time about how powerful it is to know that you are loved, especially by God... we were at the til paying for cuppas, i suddenly got a shooting pain down my arm. it wasn't my own pain, but i felt that God was saying that someone else in the shop was suffering with a pain in their arm and that He wanted to heal them.... I turned to the lady behind me in the queue and asked if she had any pain in her arm. she suffers almost consistently with shooting pains in her arms and in other joints in her body. when I told her that God had told me this and could we pray, she reacted in an unexpected way.... sadly, she didn't accept prayer. she couldn't accept that she might be free of pain and felt that this illness was something she was stuck with. as we headed back to the office, we prayed for her nevertheless .... it was very hard, but sometimes you have to walk away and leave someone with illness, emotional baggage etc. being free and healed is a choice, i guess....

p.s. a few weeks ago, an employee of a city centre shop had asked us to pray for a young colleague who had discovered a lump and feared that it was cancerous. jess and i went back into the shop today to find out how things were - the young lady had been to the doctors and was relieved to discover it was only a cyst which is being removed in the next few weeks. phew!


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Free Lounge

Last week we took a sofa down to the library and set it up opposite a bench as a free lounge with a coffee table in the middle, inviting people just to come and sit down and chat and pray.
We prayed for and with a lot of people. Prayed for one guy not to be tempted by drugs, leading to him deleting his dealer's number from his phone. We prayed against addiction and depression and he felt some real peace after that. Prayed for a uni student with tissue damage on her right knee. Also for a tense shoulder which was preventing the guy from turning his head, and afterwards he could turn it :-)
From the various conversations we got the distinct impression that people do believe in God, but they don't wanna belong. Eg: "I'm not religious, I believe in...". It's like people want to belong to the church but they're afraid of a commitment to religion, of being brainwashed.
A good day all round and we chatted about doing it again...

Monday, 31 January 2011

Oh wow, God is amazing - part 2!

Here's a follow on story from Thursday's encounter with our two lads; Anton (James) and Mike, as blogged by Lucy Marskell (Year2) yesterday:

"So Jess S and I are studying at the office and we get Mike and Anton these
two guys buzzing at the door. ..... Mike was on a crutch which he wasn't last time I
saw him, he explained that he was drunk at the weekend and had fallen down the
stairs hitting a metal bar, hurting his foot especially his ankle in the
process. He gets rushed to Chester hospital instead of the Liverpool one.

He comes out of hospital with one crutch and his friend Anton is there. Anton is
the homeless guy who got healed of a blind eye on Thursday, both of them wanted
prayer and wanted us to take them to the Christian cafe called the Spirit shop
around the corner to get prayer.It was closed so we offered to pray for them on
this bench in Rufus Court. They were talking about how 'The Holy Spirit is
better than drugs' and that they were 'born agains'. Mike takes off his shoe n
sock and apologises for the smell, it's majorly swollen so we pray for it and
Mike starts shouting because some of the pain has gone away!

So we prayed for it some more and the pain gets less and less!! I asked Mike to stand up without the crutch and he's shouting asking 'IS THIS FOR REAL??' because he can walk better than before!We prayed for Anton too about other stuff and then Mike said he had to go because he needed to pee, there was still a teeny bit of pain left in his foot but that he really needed to go and pee!Make of this story what you will. I think it is legit.God rocks!"

Thursday, 27 January 2011

"Just saw a blind eye get healed. Jesus you are actually incredible!!"

This was Jess's facebook status sign in earlier today. She is a student on the City Centre Chaplaincy team and is in her first year at the Light Project. I asked her to blog for us what happened .....

Sooo... as part of the light project i get to go round town on a thursday morning doing something called 'city centre chaplaincy' which is basically like being a chaplain in a hospital but on the street, making myself avaliable for chats/prayer with the local businesses, shops and the general public. you get to meet all sorts of people and every thursday is different.
This morning we were walking through town when we stopped to chat with a homeless lad, one of whom Anina had met before and one of whom we hadn't. The one Anina had met with and prayed for two months previously had now been placed in a shelter, been offered some money and was getting back on his feet and totally knew it was from God. We then asked if there was anything else we could pray for (i.e. shelter/healing/finance) and his mate piped up that we could pray for his eye. Just at that moment Aliss walked past who works in a local christian cafe and she regularly prays for healing for people and they've seen so many miracles there. We stopped her as she was a friend of Anina's. The guy had an accident in a workshop when he was 12 so was partially sighted in his right eye and couldn't make out more than blurred to describe what his eye looked like - you could see the iris (coloured part) but not the pupil, it was covered by a kind of cloud shaped white scar.
Aliss covered his eye with her hand and prayed for his sight to be restored. After that we got him to cover his good eye and see what he could see and he could actually make out how many fingers were being held up whereas he couldnt before.
We then started chatting to them about the power of God, which they had been feeling strongly, and whilst we were chatting the scar was visibly moving away from his pupil and he could see more and more.

And then the best bit - we asked the guys if they'd like to know Jesus so we prayed for them and they became Christians :) absolutely amazing!!


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Part of the family - 20th January 2011

Did you know that this week was statistically the most depressing of the year?

Our simple idea this week was to buy flowers and take them to the person who we thought might need hope, life and encouragement from some other human beings. God confirmed this before we went out, giving one of our students a picture of a tree just as another was reading from Job about a tree which felt dead, but as it was given water, it came alive again.
We ended up buying a strange mix of flowers, 2 bottles of water, strawberries and a bag of pic'n'mix as giveways (don't ask!). The old addage 'don't accept sweets from a stranger' doesn't seem to apply to grown up kids, as everyone we approached was happy to take a sweet and have a chat. We chatted with a lady who was thrilled to still be alive one year after a major operation. We prayed blessing and spoke words of life over a new business and some very cheerful staff. We gave a bottle of water away to a man happy to be starting a new job the next day with a throat infection with the promise of prayer. Where were the sad, lonely and depressed?

We revisited an assistant manager who we've been connecting with over the past few months. She is coming closer to faith, and has been given prophetic and 'seeing' gifts, but is still relying on clairvoyance and spiritualist roots to bring her insight. Both she and I were astounded to discover that God had answered my private prayer 2 weeks earlier that God would silence the enemy and prevent her dead relative from speaking to her any more. She has found since then that she isn't connecting with the dead anymore and she has starting praying to God instead and that He brings her peace. Astounding! By now we'd given away all our 'gifts' except for the flowers, and I really hadn't seen anyone who looked sad enough to warrant them!

We then bumped into a chatty and bubbly lady who we know from the 'homeless drop-in' who hung around with us and came out for a cuppa. Extending hospitality to her wasn't my idea I must confess; but it was very powerful, as we shared life stories over steaming cuppas and a pile of buttered toast in the market; we captured the moment with photos and she was drawn into the middle of a loving family and for a little while belonged. We gave her the flowers and she was touched as she couldn't remember the last time someone bought her flowers and confessed that she had actually been feeling very low that day.

I re-learnt a few very valuable things today - don't judge a book by it's cover.... (smiles can cover sadness), the victory our God has over the powers of darkness .... and the simple powerful gift of inviting someone into 'family' to belong and know they are special and loved for a while.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Mother and daughter in Neros

As I asked God about going out for Chaplaincy this morning, in my imagination we were in his carpentry workshop and in the next season, He was going to give us the next lesson and share His secrets on how to catch fish.

Having spent some time praying and listening to God, we went out this morning and as we walked out onto the streets of Chester, the sun was shining. It felt to me as though there was much potential about this new day, and almost as though we were walking on fresh grass rather than paving slabs. We spent some time praying outside the Cathedral, in particular for their 'Business' department.

Nero's coffee shop has become a place where we recognise the presence of God, and we went in, got coffees and sat praying for people we saw; 3 young, casual business men sat opposite us chatting about their IT business, an older couple, the waitresses. We asked that God would show us who to talk to and if He wanted to share things with us that, on sharing them, might encourage the hearer that God is alive and interested in them. God began to reveal the destinies of those walking past us, and we focussed our attention on an older woman and a younger female companion. The young woman was wearing a red coat, and it occured to me that she had always been a source of strength to others, but that God was wanting to reach out to her and take from her some of those burdens. Jess sensed a very special and close relationship between them.

They were happy to have us join them at their table and we got a snapshot of the precious bond and history that they shared. Indeed, she was the stalwort of her family; she had lost her dad as a young teen, her brother had been born with severe disabilities and now she is caught between two generations; caring for both her teenage children and her mother; independent, heavily frustrated with arthritis and waiting her time to be up. She confirmed that what we had said was true. She didn't believe in God, but we felt sure, as they left, that she saw that God is real, speaks to his children, knows her situation, and that there are people who will keep that family in their prayers.


Monday, 10 January 2011

Beer and Carols, Monday 20th December 2010

Beer and Carols
On Thursday 16th december, a group were singing Carols and telling the Christmas story in Watergates Bar in Chester. Why did we do that? The good news of Christmas is normally contained in our churches, where we hope that we will attract people in to celebrate with us the festive season. However, there are already hoards of people who know how to celebrate out and about in the pubs and bars in the City during Advent. Why not go to them?
At 7pm, a motley crew from the Light Project, dressed in home-made nativity costumes, along with other local Christians, people drinking in Watergates and late night shoppers gathered together. People were encouraged to get a drink from the bar and given carol sheets and were invited to join in. Carols were interspersed with readings, telling the Christmas story in modern day language. It was great just to get together, but highlights of the evening included conversations with a group of Scouse lads on a works night out and having a group of Geography uni students come and sing "Away in a Manger" and "We wish you a merry Christmas". Thanks to all who were involved and to Neil and the bar staff at Watergates in Chester.