Check out this powerful video of a creative way awareness was brought to thousands at a national sporting event in Atlanta, GA on the weekend of April 6th. Visit enditmovement.com for more details on how you can be in it to END IT.
I’m not really sure what the purpose of this post is…
…I guess it’s to ask you to pray for us!
I am writing this on Wednesday morning after an INSANE Tuesday that has left me both exhilarated and exhausted. I’ve written about it largely as a means of trying to process it and get my head around it myself. However, it might also help to give you an insight into the madness which is my life.
I was away in Sheffield this week from Tuesday to Thursday. My reason for visiting the Steel City was Ignition – an Acts 29 Europe conference that is more in-house than the annual Boot Camp. It’s always an encouragement to hook up with so many like-minded church-planters, and this year was no different. I was stoked to be joined this year by 2 guys from Hill City, Caleb and Simon, who are actively involved in planting with us at Hill City. More about their adventures in due course. Rest assured, I’ll be referring back to Ignition in several posts over the coming weeks as my church-planting button was very much pressed this week.
In the meantime check out this montage of the conference put together by the media guys at A29E.
Our final Red Sessions event of the year promises to be an absolute cracker!
On Friday 6th December we are set to enjoy and evening with Jade Holtham – an incredible young lady who works tirelessly rescuing women and children from sex slavery in the brothels of Cyprus. She will be sharing first hand extraordinary stories of heart-ache and hope, as well as letting us know how we can further pray for and support her. Music for the evening will be provided by SOW Acapella which will only make the session more special.
The venue for this session will be Rhiwbina Baptist Church and the doors will open at 7:30pm. The event is free, though an offering will be taken for Jade’s work in Cyprus.
Please spread the word and join us if you can.
So last night my dad sent me a link to this video – Kelly McGarry busting a backflip over a 72ft Canyon at the 2013 Red Bull Rampage. It’s absolute insanity! So I thought I’d put a bit of madness into your Monday and post footage of this craziness from 3 different perspectives: The helmet cam (the link my dad sent), the TV cam, and the footage captured by one of the spectators, presumably from a mobile phone (apologies about the expletive used towards the end of this one!)
Just got in from a really encouraging evening at Redemption Sessions.
Tonight we were showing The Pink Room – a powerful film by Agape International Missions that deals with the sickening subject of child sex slavery in Cambodia. It’s both heart-wrecking and heart-warming at the same time and just fills me with gratitude to God for the work of AIM, Don Brewster and IJM. What was especially encouraging tonight, however, was the huge crowd of students that turned up to watch the film and pray with us.
I’m just going to wear my heart on my sleeve for a moment – I’ve found running Redemption Sessions hard this year. Getting Christians to gather to pray is always tough, and living 20 miles away from where the prayer meeting happens doesn’t really help either! However, I started Red Sessions back in January because I believe that God told me to, and also because I am 110% convinced that prayer works! However, some months have been tougher than others. We had a good crowd at our first prayer night in January, yet numbers have been low pretty much ever since. I know it’s not just about numbers, but there is something encouraging about a crowd of Christians passionately crying out together in prayer. There have been a faithful core of us who have met every month and I’m so grateful for those guys, especially Geraint, Ruth and Jim Stewart. But when the pressures of leading a large family and a growing church has left me feeling utterly wiped out at the end of the week, I wish I could say that getting psyched up to travel to Cardiff for Red Sessions has always been easy.
But it hasn’t.
However, tonight I’ve been reminded of 4 things:
2. God has told me to be a voice for the voiceless. That means that I need to keep shouting out on behalf of the victims of human trafficking who RIGHT NOW are suffering in silence, even if it sometimes feels like no one’s listening!
3. There are still people that want to gather to pray – and that is ALWAYS worth it. Sometimes (like tonight) there’s a good crowd. Other times, just a handful. However, a handful of faith-filled believers is more than a handful for Satan and a small band of faithful intercessors can do great damage to the kingdom of darkness!
4. Quitting is not an option. I was reminded tonight of the story Jesus told about the persistent widow in Luke 18 who kept banging at the Judge’s door until she received justice. That’s how we need to be praying – pounding the gates of heaven until the exploited and enslaved receive justice!
So that’s it really! Basically 5 hours ago I was wondering if these prayer meetings were worth persevering with. But God in His kindness has encouraged me to press on in prayer. Why? Because if we don’t cry out on behalf of the voiceless, who will? And if any of this resonates with you – why not come and join us on the frontline of faith sometime? We’d love to have you praying with us.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6 v 9)
There’s an old tale about two farmers whose crops were in desperate need of rain. They both cried out to God in prayer, asking Him to send the much-needed rain. But only one of them then went out into his fields to prepare them for the rain when it arrived. The question that this story presents is simply this – which of those farmers truly had faith?
That story came to mind as I was reading the first chapter of Acts last week. As a church planter and a bloke who just loves exciting stories I’ve read the Book of Acts A LOT of times. However, I’d never noticed this sweet little nugget in chapter 1…until now!
Chapter 1 begins with our Saviour promising His disciples that a special gift is on the way:
“Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (v4-5+8)
Jesus then steps onto His epic cloud elevator and ascends to heaven, leaving His disciples to wait for the ‘gift’.
Acts 2 then famously charts the spectacular arrival of that gift – the Holy Spirit – on the day of Pentecost and from that moment on it was game on! The church literally explodes and the world is never the same again.
But where’s this nugget I’m banging on about?
It’s found in the bit that happens between the promise of the Holy Spirit and the arrival of the Holy Spirit:
“Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile. When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying. Here are the names of those who were present: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the Zealot), and Judas (son of James). They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus. During this time, when about 120 believers were together in one place, Peter stood up and addressed them. “Brothers,” he said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David. Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.” (Judas had bought a field with the money he received for his treachery. Falling headfirst there, his body split open, spilling out all his intestines. The news of his death spread to all the people of Jerusalem, and they gave the place the Aramaic name Akeldama, which means “Field of Blood.”) Peter continued, “This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’ So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus—from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.” So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they all prayed, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven.” (v 12-26)
Let me summarise what’s going on here – Jesus had promised the much-needed Holy Spirit to come and empower the early believers for the task of turning the world upside down with the gospel. In other words, Jesus had promised them rain! The believers’ response was to faithfully prepare their fields.
This is what that looked like: “They all met together and were constantly united in prayer“ (v14)
It was out of this of togetherness and prayerful unity that Peter spoke to the disciples regarding leadership. He explained that Judas’ betrayal and grizzly demise had left their leadership structure weak and in need of strengthening. After a prayerful game of Rock, Paper, Scissors Matthias became Apostle number 12. With the leadership situation addressed, the field was now ready for the ensuing monsoon! By the end of the following chapter the church had grown by some 3000 people and the church was off to a flyer!
So what’s this nugget teaching us?
I guess it’s simply this – if we are seeking God to move in power, to save to the uttermost, and to unleash the Holy Spirit in our midst and in our generation – I guess we need to be doing more than simply talking and praying about it. We need to be preparing for it. Are we identifying, raising up and releasing leaders who will humbly serve, lovingly lead, faithfully disciple and courageously commission others? It’s a challenge for all church leaders, church planters and gospel ministers. But it’s a challenge that we must rise to in faith. (For your prayers, it’s something that we as elders are looking at with real purpose at Hill City right now!)
So let’s follow the example of the 2 farmers and the Acts 1 believers:
Pray for rain.
Prepare for rain.
Reap the harvest.
This Friday’s Redemption Sessions event will be slightly different to how we usually do things. This week we will be gathering to watch The Pink Room – a compelling film by Agape International Missions that explores the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children in Cambodia. The film is both gripping and grace-infusing and will, we trust, inspire faith and prayer. You can check out the trailer below.
We will be meeting at Belmont Baptist Church at 7:30pm.
Hope to see you there.
I’m still kind of blown away by how well the Courageous conference went! There was so much to be encouraged by throughout the day, not least the Bible teaching that was of the highest order. I was privileged to be the man to kick the teaching off. I’ve posted videos of all the sessions below. I hope that they’re a blessing to you:
Session 1: Courageous Faith – Dai Hankey
Session 2: Courageous Vision – Mez McConnell
Session 3: Courageous Mission – Gavin Peacock
Seminar 1: Courageous Family – Rob Parsons
Seminar 2: Courageous Lifestyle – James Richards