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Writing here as one of the adult helpers at the recent holiday club, I am looking back to see what has left the strongest impressions on me - so many memories to choose from! Definitely one of the highlights is seeing so many people, of so many ages, all having fun together.
Whether listening to Sir Random Finds and Bare Feet, or making crafts, or playing games, or joining in team activities, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves together. It’s one of the reasons I keep coming back to volunteer at holiday club year after year. It’s just plain good clean fun.
Of course, it helps a lot that the fun is focused around helping us all know Jesus better and finding our place 'on his team.' The Bible stories and follow-up with the Huskies (leaders) reminded us this year that we can never be too bad or make too many mistakes to have our sins forgiven by Jesus, and that we are never too young (or old!) to have a relationship with Jesus and make a difference in the world. What great news for all of us!
Visually, the week was stunning: from the milk bottle igloo and snowy sofa in the main room to the polar science station upstairs (complete with forest, satellite dish and real computers!), a lot of effort went into turning the church into an exciting base for exploration. On a smaller scale, but with no less effort, the craft team helped the children produce, among many other things, edible snowmen, picture frames, and ice cream cones (not edible this time!)
The drama team took everyone on an expedition to the polar regions with Fay Mears, Helen 'Helter' Skelter, 'Great' Scott, Prince Larry, and Professor Yvonne Von Evian, learning along the way the same lessons of 'never too many mistakes,' 'never too bad,' and 'never too young.'
A great sigh of relief was heard when all survived.
Music was great as usual, lively songs accompanied by livelier actions. A few of us older folks might regret just how lively! But the children’s participation was brilliant to watch.
We often wonder if the invitation extended to families to come back on the Sunday will be accepted. This year the church was so full we had to add chairs in the concourse. That must be a sign of a successful holiday club!
Our Sunday morning service on 28th January was such a wonderful time of worship and teaching and made really special by the baptism of three of our congregation – Jordan, David and Laila. The atmosphere was one of excitement and expectation as soon as I arrived at church and it was wonderful to get together with the pastors, those getting baptised and other members of the church to pray beforehand for the service, for those being baptised and their families and that all those attending the service would feel a real sense of God’s presence.
The teaching from Neil was on Devoted to Worship and how we should value God in our hearts, in our daily lives and in our praise, above all else. I was once again reminded of the need to ensure that it is God who reigns and is king in my life and not me and that he alone is worthy of our worship. The worship during the service, which is usually good, just seemed to be even more special this morning.
And that was also because of the wonderful testimonies of those who were baptised; each very different, very special and very moving in their own way. Jordan shared how he had at times struggled with his faith but that at various points God had spoken to him though events and scripture, including the reminder that ‘while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8) and ‘what good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?’ (Mark 8:36). David shared how the Bible didn’t make sense to him until after his major accident last year when he broke both legs at work. He came to church at the prompting of his sister and found that he started to understand God’s word but he then lost his job and had a breakdown. He turned to prayer and read the Bible and over time he got better and got a new job; he now recognises that while the obstacles in life are still there, God helps us see them and overcome them.
Laila’s story was pretty remarkable too. God had called her as a young woman and she was rescued from the bondage of sin, guilt and fear of the future. But then she spent almost 40 years in what felt like the wilderness but God remained with her and she sought out LCBC only a few weeks ago to find a warm welcome, a home with her brothers and sisters in Christ. She spoke movingly about how much God meant to her and that her baptism represented the death of her old self and a rising to new life in Christ.
The children crowded round to see the baptisms and after each we all sang a verse from In Christ alone which was simply wonderful, and finished the service by singing How great is our God. It was a very special time for all. Praise God for his saving grace and his boundless love.
Hello! My name is Izzy Howard, and I am a ministry trainee working part time at LCBC. I am 18 and currently on a GAP year before I go off to Oxford Brookes University to study Early Childhood Studies in September. As we start the New Year, I have been thinking over the blessings of 2017. I did well in my A-level results allowing me to go to University, passed my driving test and spent the first two months of my GAP year in Swaziland. Swaziland is a small country situated to the east of South Africa.
I went with my friend from school, Olivia, and we joined a two week Mission Impact trip to kick off the two months. I thoroughly enjoyed this time spent as a group, and there are too many highlights for me to number!
I particularly enjoyed going to a traditional cultural village and watching the dancing and singing. After a heartfelt goodbye to the team, Olivia and I made our home in Bulembu. Bulembu was an old mining town bought with the vision of restoring a town, transforming a nation. It is home to over 300 orphans, and is thriving with businesses such as a honey factory, water bottling plant and bakery. We worked in the Preschool (much to our delight, they are adorable) for the time we spent there.
Amongst other random trips, we visited an ‘In Community, By Community’ project called Noah’s Ark Academy. This is a small orphanage that cares for girls, but also has a vision for feeding any children who need it. The work done there is remarkably touching and Olivia and I agreed it was the most peaceful and beautiful place we visited. I particularly enjoyed building friendships with the people there. It is incredible how we can be so far away from home, yet feel like part of the family. As Christians we are brothers and sisters in Christ, and the connection we have with them felt like family.
I seem to have left a piece of my heart in Swaziland, so no doubt I will go back at some point!
For the rest of my GAP year I am working with the church and also have a part time job to earn some money to put towards university. I look forward to what God has in store for me, and continue to put my trust in him with everything I do. I hope 2018 is filled with as much laughter as 2017, and some of the joy of Swaziland will stay with me for the foreseeable future.
May God bless you and keep you
The feeling of panic in the hall was tangible – as Paul, our guest artist and workshop leader told us calmly and cheerfully that we would have 3 hours to create whatever we liked from the pile of objects we had brought in from home and the huge table of sticks, paper, glue, chickenwire et al in the centre of the room...then we would have the opportunity to present our work to the rest of the group at the end...
Paul Hobbs specialises in abstract, symbolic and conceptual art and is based in Gloucester. Between exhibitions he runs workshops in art galleries, schools, colleges, churches, cathedrals and art groups.
Paul started our workshop with a slide show of some of his artwork, showing us how he interprets themes as diverse as famine, the refugee situation, homelessness, fatherhood, the Beatitudes, the Trinity, and faith, hope & love, using layers of materials, objects and acrylic paint to produce visual stories with multiple meanings.
We were free to ask questions, and Paul did well to keep his train of thought as he was thoroughly quizzed! It was fascinating to hear and see how Paul’s faith is reflected in his work and how art can be used to challenge people of all faiths and beliefs, or none, about our attitude to the world we live in.
When asked how he got inspiration Paul did say that once he did just pray for an idea – which took 8 years to come to fruition! Glad to say that in the 3 hours we had (including time for a lovely meal together) everyone had managed to produce something, and it was really encouraging and quite moving to see how all the group had responded to Paul’s challenge!
Take a look at Paul’s website to see more of his work.
Over 60 women of all ages (some very sporty, some not!) met for a breakfast in September to hear Debbie Flood’s story. Debbie is a Great Britain double silver Olympic medallist in the Quadruple Sculls and 3 times gold medal winner in the Women’s Quad in the World Rowing Championships. We were very pleased to see Debbie and to be allowed to handle some of her medals and 2012 Olympic torch!
From her teenage years Debbie was determined to take part in top level competition, and was scouted as a possible national rower when in the gym. Debbie talked of how making a personal ‘life plan’ is a natural part of how we as humans make our way through life, be it in our choice of friends, career, development of skills etc – but that God works through those plans to show that he is our Creator God who holds us in his hands and will lovingly guide us in those pathways if we put our trust in him. Debbie’s favourite verse is ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, but in all ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths’. Proverbs 3:5-6.
In the world of top level sport the drive to succeed is paramount, and failure in not achieving the very best can be a devastating blow that can leave the competitor feeling worthless. But Debbie found that her faith meant she placed her identity in Christ rather than in her abilities meaning it was easier to deal with the highs and lows that are an inevitable part of every athlete’s career. She wanted to do her very best as an athlete, not for herself but to glorify God in the use of her God-given talents.
'I really, really enjoyed the weekend away. I have been on a fair few Church Weekends in the past and this was the best. A fantastic balance of inspired and practical teaching, good fun, fellowship, and enough down time but no time to be bored!! Lots of good, homespun, entertainment and it suited all ages.'
From the time we arrived at the Pioneer Centre at Cleobury Mortimer on Friday 28th April until we left on the following Monday, our biennial Church Weekend Away was filled with opportunities for a wide range of activities and events. Close to 100 of us gathered for some concentrated time together of teaching, praise and worship, games, crafts, competitions, a family quiz, sports and even the latest edition of Crendon's Got Talent on Saturday night.
'It's a great centre, the food was good and plentiful, the rooms were clean and comfortable, the length of stay just right and the programme too.'
Our visiting speaker, Alex Harris, gave us several sessions of valuable teaching, and the discussion and feedback sessions were also really helpful.
'Alex really made the weekend.'
'Superb teaching, really inspirational and challenging. Also very down to earth and practical.'
Sprinkled throughout the weekend were:
Crystal Maze team games
a great country walk
a photo treasure hunt (don't ask!!)
sport for all ages
Saturday night's superb talent show
lots of opportunities for refreshment (of all types) and fellowship
'There was something for everyone and the chance to relax and chat to people that I had perhaps only seen in the distance!'
In addition there were some great worship times with a host of our talented musicians
'The praise and worship session was great and the whole weekend felt Holy Spirit-inspired with an energy in our prayers and praise.'
'We enjoyed the freedom of the worship and music - lovely set of musicians and nice to be spontaneous.'
With dedicated leaders for the children and young people their times together included learning and fun; it was a great opportunity for all ages to have a wonderful weekend.
'Most of all I loved the family atmosphere and appreciated the kindness and consideration shown to doddery me by everyone - including young children and teenagers. They are a credit to parents and youth workers!'
You missed it? What a shame....time to start planning to come to the next LCBC Weekend Away!
PS If you want to know what was going on in the photos - ask someone who was there......
Mark and Kathy Andrews have been members at LCBC since 1999. In April 2015, their youngest child, Josiah, died of cancer. At a Women's Breakfast on 1 April 2017, Kathy spoke movingly about prayer and faith in the context of their loss. ‘One of the reasons I wanted to speak in this context,’ she said ‘is that so often, when we talk about how God answers prayers, we only tell about the times when God answered in the way we wanted him to. It's really easy to say "God is good" when things are going our way, but some of God's answers are very hard to accept.’
As a church we at LCBC believe in adult baptism, when a person has had time to come to faith in Jesus. We see this as a symbolic act and an outward expression of this faith. Recently we were delighted to witness the baptism of a young man, Tom, who has reached that point in his life and wanted to tell us about his journey to belief. Before his baptism by full immersion he stood up and told us all about how he had come to this point. This is Tom's story.
As a child, having been raised in a Christian environment, I had grown up knowing the message of the Bible – something that, looking back, I am so grateful for, as it shaped my future and was ultimately the first stepping stone across the river to the faith I have in the living Jesus Christ today.
However, around about nine or ten my childhood began to change, for what at the time seemed for the worse as it made me question where God was in my suffering and in the suffering all around the world, but now, in retrospect, I am fully glad I went through this. At this age, I was depressed. The things I had once found joy in seemed joyless. I felt lifeless. And the hardest part was that I was so ashamed of how I felt, that I hid it from my friends, my parents, my family, and, although he knew nonetheless, God.
As I started secondary school, my depressed disposition continued, and the great beauty and the knowledge of the extravagant love of God faded away. Christianity for me just became something that happened on Sundays that, along with a smile and a laugh, I could hide my true feelings behind. Christianity happened on Sundays, but didn’t play a role in my everyday life. I still believed in God, but that belief was more of an idea than a reality.
After turning fourteen, I realized, with the upcoming of my GCSEs – my first, real qualifications and first real step into the adult world – that I had some big decisions to make, one of which concerned my faith. After years of feeling low and hopeless, my faith had gone nowhere. I was still living a lie; I was still in hiding. It occurred to me that this decision – the question of my faith – was ultimately and literally a life or death decision, and so shouldn’t be decided irrationally or by the flip of a coin. It was a decision I knew then all of us had to face, none of us could avoid, and all of us needed to ask. Then, one day, the complex entanglement of my emotions and feelings and thoughts all snapped. It had been a bad day, tiring, long, and accompanied by my usual true emotions. I was upset, and in pain, and I simply cried out to God. In that moment I came out of hiding; I realised I couldn’t hide from God. In that moment I finally came to understand that God had not forsaken me; I had forsaken him.
Over the next six or so months, my depressive feelings began to disappear. There was once again a persistent hope and happiness within me, as I delved into the question of my faith. I firstly decided to analyse the evidence for and against the existence of God. Growing up, it had become a fact in my mind that God existed, but as I learnt more scientific knowledge, I realized there could be alternative explanations. However, science also vitally encouraged me in the idea that God did exist, as I learnt more about the world in more precise detail, like cells and atoms and all these intricate systems that worked in perfect harmony. I began to feel it took more faith to believe it was all an accident caused by a big bang than it did to believe in a God.
From this then arose the question; Whose God? I had grown up believing in only one God – the Christian God – but for the sake of an unbiased conclusion, I decided to research, explore and familiarize myself with the different theistic religions. On considering the answers they provided to questions of life after death, of suffering, and of who God is, I decided none truly added up for me. While some had valid ideas, it became apparent to me that Christianity genuinely stood out. It was the only one about what God had done to save us, whereas all the others were about what we had to do to save us ourselves.
It then also occurred to me that while Christianity added up and was ideal, maybe its perfected and ideal storyline meant it was all simply fictional, and that a billion people had really all fallen for a myth, so I decided to check the reliability of Christianity itself. Books like, ‘The Case for Christ’, and holiday camps like ‘Sports Plus’, undeniably helped me to understand the reliability of Christianity on a level I had never done before.
In the end I came to a solid and confident decision. Considering the undeniable death of Jesus, and his resurrection, documents outside the Bible, and the witness accounts of his life, his miracles and his amazing teachings seen in the Gospels within the Bible, I decided that everything I had grown up believing was reality, and I re-discovered God’s love for me, shown by the ultimate sacrifice, his one and only son dying on a cross in agony, for us. For us all, we have to ask ourselves this question: ‘Why, 2000 years later, are we still talking about Jesus?’
And so by my fifteenth birthday, I was living in God’s strength, for God’s glory. I once used to look at this world and think, “Where is God?”, but now when I look at the same world, I think, “This world needs God.”
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