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Sierra Leone Mission Trip

Sierra Leone visit update from Bethany Green.

Esther and I couldn’t stop grinning at each other with excitement. It was the first time my 15year old daughter had been on a plane and the view out the window was mesmerising. The English Channel, France and Spain, and then the desert and highlands of North Africa. We couldn’t quite believe that the year of planning, saving up and prayer was over and we were actually going to be in Sierra Leone.

Janet O’Shea was our team leader, having been out to Sierra Leone five times already and we were so thrilled to have her guidance. Although we had met her at the Connexions Conference and salvaging sleeping bags at Reading Festival, we didn’t know each other well. However, the three of us quickly became good friends and worked very well together.

We arrived late on the Tuesday evening and after the car breaking down, finally reached Bethesda Orphanage. The welcome from the children was as warm as the weather, and we were shown to the lovely guest rooms, with a flushing toilet.
The programme Magnus handed us for our stay was impressive and exhausting. We had expected the containers to be at Bethesda and that we would be involved in the distribution of aid. But since they were under restrictions in the docks, we spent the first three days visiting 18 schools and/or churches. This was a completely new experience for Esther and I and we had no idea what to expect. But with Janet’s expertise and Magnus’ wonderful care, we swiftly got into a rhythm.

The Head Teacher, Pastor and children would greet us with songs and speeches. Then Janet would present greetings from the SLM. I would share a brief word from scripture, followed by Esther and I showing the children how to do a “loud” Amen (you wind your arm like a crank on the “Aaaaa” part and then shoot your arm in the air with a yell on “men!” Needs to be witnessed!), and then I would pray a blessing. A Bible quiz would follow where the children won prizes and we would finish by presenting the Head Teacher with a box of books and a football for the school.

For Esther and I, it was our first experience of such extreme poverty. The mud brick houses and non-existent roads, water drawn from a well or pump, the ‘hole’ toilets, are memories that will never leave us. But neither will the wonderful people we met. And what a privilege that was! Aminata, Sallay and the children of Bethesda are wonderful and looked after us so well. Each evening we joined them for their devotions and saw their deep and loving relationship with the Lord. Ambrose, the pastor of  Fabaina Church, newly built with a roof but no windows or doors, excitedly told us of his plans to reach out to neighbouring villages. Samuel took us on a medicine walk through the bush and then treated us to fresh coconuts in his home.

On the Saturday we joined the children to their annual trip to the beach. 34 of us fit into that 15 seater minibus! The Sunday was a special day. We crossed the river on the ferry to visit the Anne Pink School and church. Anne is a member of Rosedale and we gifted Pastor Michael with a photo of our church. Magnus then took us to his church in Mabang for the morning service, where he asked me to preach for the first Sunday of Advent. I’m pretty sure I was the most blessed that morning! Of course, it came as a terrible shock when we heard just two weeks later that the ferry had sunk. 

Several people lost their lives, including two children from Mabang school and church and a friend of Bethesda. Our hearts and prayers went out to Magnus and the families.

Since the containers never arrived, our plan to distribute the aid never materialised. This was hugely disappointing, especially for Janet who had worked the whole year on the project. But as we prayed and talked, we felt that perhaps this was according to God’s plan. Had we gone with all the gifts, it would have re-enforced the view that we are rich white people with largess. Instead we listened, talked, observed school lessons, prayed and did what we could to hear and understand the need. We also had the opportunity to provide funds for several very sick people to receive medical care, including a young boy who had broken his arm in two places a few weeks before.

We were deeply touched by the commitment and hard work of all the teachers and pastors and congregations that we met. In situations that are so difficult and deprived, many give sacrificially of themselves for the benefit of others. And that is especially true of Magnus. A man of God, Magnus’ heart, vision, abilities and integrity humbled and inspired us. He is a rare man and we would commend him to all the Connexions Churches as an example of a Holy Spirit filled servant of Christ.

Esther and I returned from the trip a new understanding of the challenges and blessings of life and ministry in Sierra Leone. We are so grateful to the Lord for the opportunity and are praying about how and when He might lead us back there. If you ever have the opportunity to visit, we would encourage you to go. You will never be the same again.

Janet O'Shea, Bethany and Esther Green from Rosedale Community Church in Cheshunt visited Sierra Leone for 13 days in November and December 2018, staying at the Bethesda Orphanage and visiting a number of churches and schools in the local area.

 

The Voice - Spring Edition

The spring edition features news of the containers arriving in Sierra Leone, an update from our outgoing President, Dave Sweetman, plus information about the 2019 Connexion Conference, which takes place from 15th to 17th April.

The ‘Focus On’ series continues, with news of Makomba in Sierra Leone.

We welcome your prayers for our fellowships across the UK and Sierra Leone.

 Please click on the link below to read the full edition of The Voice.

 The Voice – Spring edition

Gifts and Supplies for Sierra Leone

Last year, the Lord enabled two 20 foot containers to be bought, filled, shipped and delivered to our partners in Sierra Leone. The goods will be distributed to those who need them and the containers used at the Bethesda orphanage.

The containers

The purpose of purchasing and sending two containers is so that once emptied, the containers themselves can be transformed into living accommodation, or workshops or a kitchen - however our partners see fit to use them. We are seeking to extend the capacity of the Bethesda orphanage so that it can serve more people.

Delayed delivery

The containers actually arrived in Sierra Leone on the 7th November, but due to a recently installed new government it took two and a half months to get the relevant clearances to enable them to be delivered. The Lord has been very gracious in that we have not had to pay any delay costs for the time the containers were at the port. All our delivery partners worked tirelessly to get them through.

The goods

The containers carried a variety of goods including over 300 shoe bags filled with stationary, clothing, and personal hygiene items for distribution to children. There were also sleeping bags, sleeping mats, tents, clothes & water carriers. Sierra Leone is the one of the poorest countries in the world and so these goods will be much appreciated.

Schools

Many of the boxes in the containers were filled with school uniforms. A local shop in Truro (Trevails) has donated about £40k worth of new uniforms and sports kits, much of which was included in this shipment. The Sierra Leone Mission supports 23 schools and so this donation was very gratefully received.

Books

We were asked to ship out boxes of books to equip Pastors in their work. The Sierra Leone Mission supports 21 churches and the training of the Pastors, and so the sending of books was a very worthwhile compliment to the work, which we were grateful to be a part of.

Visit to Sierra Leone

Janet made her annual trip to Sierra Leone in November/December last year, with the goal of strengthening our partnership and to support our brothers and sisters there. This year she was joined by Bethany and Esther Green from Rosedale Church in Cheshunt.

The Hope

Our hope is that the goods with be of practical use to some of the poorest people in the world and be a demonstration of the love of Jesus for them. We also hope that these goods will equip teachers, pastors and the orphanage that we work with.

Plans for 2019

The SLM committee and ourselves in West Cornwall are currently thinking and praying about what to put our energy into this year. There are numerous important needs and we need wisdom from the Lord to decide. As we look back we are very grateful to the Lord for his miraculous provision and for the privilege of working with our brothers and sisters in West Africa.

With love,  Zion Community Church, St Ives

Louise's Journey of Faith

Louise is a member of The Countess Free Church in Ely, led by Minister, Karl Relton.

She was born in Thatcham, Berkshire in 1974 and her earliest faith-related memories are of Sunday school – sitting in a freezing room on tiny wooden chairs and doing lots of colouring.

Louise kept going to church when her family stopped, and as a teenager she helped to lead the Sunday school. By then, she knew that she wanted to be a teacher and it was working with the children that drew her to church. Although she didn’t have any kind of relationship with God at that stage, Louise now recognises that God used the children to plant her first seeds of faith. She says: “Looking back, I internalised all the stories and the important things from the bible, because I was teaching it to these small children”.

When Louise moved to Cambridge for University, she stopped going to church, but God kept bringing people into her life that would lead her closer to Him. She started rowing and in her fourth year she was put in a boat with six other Christians, who invited her to an invitation service. Louise says: “I felt so welcomed and that particular service felt like it was exactly for me”.

Louise then went travelling around Australia and America for four months and saw God in the beauty of everything she experienced. On returning home, she gave her life to God during an Alpha course and her faith had a domino effect on those around her – she encouraged the girls that she lived with to go to church and they eventually became Christians too.

Louise reflected on how her journey to faith has gone full-circle. “A lot of how I came to faith was learning through the children. Now, as a teacher, I just hope that I can bring a little bit of God’s love to the children and show them what it means to have Him in your life.”

Hailsham Care and Community

Hailsham Gospel Mission, East Sussex, are making plans to hold monthly services in 2019 for the residents at Marshview Care Home, in addition to the services they already provide for Hailsham House Nursing Home.

Other activities currently running at Hailsham Gospel include a Coffee Morning on the first Saturday of each month to encourage the community to get together for hot drinks, some cake and a chat, and ‘Time Together’ which provides a monthly opportunity for fun and fellowship on Monday afternoon.

Ups and Downs at St Ives

May we wish you all a very Happy New Year, and may the Lord be with you as you venture into another year. We thought you might appreciate an update from December, so please find our latest news below.

Super Saturday

On Saturday 1st December a team of us made the most of our town centre location to give away about 400 Christmas booklets and invitations to our Christmas services. Plus, about 200 hot chocolates were also given away. It was a delight to have a team of young people helping us and to be supported by friends from Truro Evangelical Church and Scorrier Christian Fellowship. The response to the give-aways was almost entirely positive, and it was a joy to be serving the Lord together.

St Martins Care Home

On Monday 17th December we led a Carol service in a local care home with a mixture of carols, readings and nativity scenes acted out by the young people. We were warmly received by the staff and residents and had some good conversations with people afterwards. This is the third time we have been into St. Martins this year and give thanks to God for the opening. There are also Christians in the home who are grateful to be reminded of the gospel.

Carols and Christingle

On Sunday 23rd December we held our annual Carols & Christingle service, which in previous years has been very well attended. Thankfully this year we did have a number of visitors, both Christian and non-Christian, but sadly not as many as we had hoped for given the amount of effort we put in. We will shortly be reviewing our Christmas outreach to help in the planning for next Christmas.

Sadness at St Ives

Christmas was also a sad time in St Ives since a 14-year-old local boy who used to come to our Tuesday Club took his own life. We had the opportunity of supporting the family, and also taking the funeral and cremation. It was a privilege to be able to point people to Jesus at Christmastime as someone who entered our dark world, was acquainted with grief, and who came to bring us hope.

Furthermore, the church is facing various challenges with people getting older, people getting sick, some people leaving, and so we are keenly aware of our dependence on the Lord and praying that his strength would be displayed in our weakness.

Getting fit in 2019

As we begin a New Year we are going through a 4-week mini-series, as follows:

  • How to read the Bible, which is like eating
  • How to pray, which is like breathing
  • How to serve, which is like exercising
  • How to give, which is like investing

The goal is to help us get up-and-running as we seek to follow Jesus in 2019.

We hope to see you if you are visiting this year, and in the meantime we would appreciate you prayers.

With our love

Tim and the members of Zion

Thank God for sending help

Message from Zion Free Church, St Ives

Dear Friends,
 For the last few years we have been praying Matthew 9:37-38:

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 
Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, 
to send out workers into his harvest field.”

And one of the ways in which the Lord has answered our prayers is by sending us Tinoda Mlalazi.

Tino was one of our neighbours from St. Albans, and was part of a youth group which we used to lead. She is currently on a gap year between school and university and decided to come and spend 3 months serving the Lord with us.

To give you an idea of how she has been involved, let me give you a snapshot:

Anchored - helping lead our 10-15s youth group on a Sunday evening, leading Bible studies and befriending the young people

Monday Group - helping Janet with these older teens, including hosting the group whilst Janet was in Sierra Leone

Tuesday Club - leading Bible studies, prayer times and games

Bookshop - serving all day on Mondays and on Saturdays

Sunday school - leading the children and young people during the services

Meeting up - visiting and getting know some older ladies from the church

From our perspective it has been great to have a younger person to be an example to our young people - someone who has survived school as a Christian, someone who thinks about wise interaction with social media, someone who can give #5 lessons for surviving teenage years as a Christian.

Tino also benefitted greatly from the regional Peninsula Gospel Partnership conference which was focussed on tools for getting the most out of God’s word and teaching it to others.

Sadly, Tino has to head back to St. Albans next week. But we are hugely thankful to the Lord for sending her, and indeed to her parents and Ridgeway Church for raising such a godly young woman.
 

On a personal note, it has been a huge encouragement to see how much Tino has grown in the short time she has been here. It has been wonderful to see her grow in teaching the young people, in living on her own for the first time, in getting to know a host of new people, and most of all getting stuck into serve in the everyday life of a local church.

We’re very thankful to the generosity of people who made her time here possible, and indeed to a local couple who reconfigured their living arrangements to accommodate her.

Building on the work that Tino has started, we hope to appoint another longer-term trainee to start in September 2019.



Please join us in giving thanks to God for Tino.



Wishing you all a Christ-centered and joyful Christmas.





Tim Dennick & the members of Zion

The Voice - Winter Edition

The winter edition of The Voice celebrates the 10th Birthday of New Connexions Free Church in High Barns, Ely, and news from the Golf Day, Connexion Trustees and Broad Oak Chapel.

This edition's Bible Study is kindly provided by Keith Waters from New Connexions Free Chuch, and the 'Focus On' series features information about Jui in Sierra Leone.

Thanks to everybody for your prayers and fellowships across the UK and Sierra Leone.

Please click on the link below to read the full edition of The Voice

The Voice - Winter Edition

Rosedale trip to Sierra Leone

Janet O'Shea, Bethany and Esther Green from Rosedale Community Church in Cheshunt set off for Sierra Leone on Tuesday 27 November for a 13 day visit.

They will be staying at the Bethesda Orphanage and visiting a number of churches and schools in the local area.

Church members at Rosedale are supporting the mission with a daily prayer diary:

Monday 26 November

  • For last minute preparations and some. sleep.

Tuesday 27 November

  • For a safe flight to Freetown and a safe journey to Bethesda Orphanage
  • That Janet, Bethany and Esther will have opportunities to witness to individuals throughout the trip

Wednesday 28 November

  • For good relations, team spirit and unity
  • For a clearer understanding of the mission ahead
  • For stamina and coping with the 32C degrees heat

Thursday 29 November

  • For blessing upon Daniel, Magnus and the Sierra Leone team
  • That Janet, Bethany and Esther will be a blessing to everyone they meet

Friday 30 November

  • For travelling mercies as they visit. schools and churches
  • That Jesus, not man, will be glorified and worshipped

Saturday 1 December

  • For clear lines of communication and bridging the cultural gap
  • For the blessing of many as the contents of the containers are distributed

Sunday 2 December

  • For good sleep
  • For God's anointing on Janet and Bethany to speak with power and authority

Monday 3 December

  • For blessings on the ministry of Bethesda Orphanage
  • That Janet, Bethany and Esther would be worthy ambassadors of Christ

Tuesday 4 December

  • For the O'Shea and Green families back home
  • That Janet, Bethany and Esther would not miss anything that the Lord would have them say or do

Wednesday 5 December

  • For Janet, Bethany and Esther's health and safety
  • That lives will be transformed during any meeting

Thursday 6 December

  • For 'fruit' to be generated from the entire trip
  • That the Holy Spirit will have freedom to work in and through Janet. Bethany and Esther

Friday 7 December

  • That God will be pleased by all that the team have done
  • For a safe car trip back to Freetown
  • That God would speak clearly to Janet, Bethany and Esther about future commitments

Saturday 8 December

  • For a safe flight home
  • For easy adjustments returning to the families
  • Give thanks to God for all that He has done

Janet, Bethany and Esther will be grateful for all of your prayers during and following the trip.

God's hand on Ezra

At Zion Community Church, St Ives, we are focusing on the OT Books Ezra and Nehemiah, this autumn. Considering how God led the return of his people from exile back to Jerusalem, how he led the rebuilding of the temple, and how he led the renewal of his people in their worship according to his word. As we consider the word, we are praying for God to build us up as a church, and that we might be renewed ourselves.

Discerning the challenge As we look to the Lord for our town and country, we are seeking to better understand the task ahead of us, we are also looking at John Stevens' book, Knowing our Times, and considering what lessons we can glean from it. It is sobering to learn that “The best statistics would suggest that little more than 3% of the population as a whole are born-again believers who are meaningfully associated with a local church”. We do indeed have a missionary task ahead of us!

Seeking renewal Once we have thought through the task ahead of us, we will be devoting our mid-week Bible studies to applying the lessons from Ezra & Nehemiah to see what God's word has to teach us, in our situation, in our day. We also have a visit from a representative from Elam, to learn about God's work in the Iran region, along with support from friends preaching for us.

Open house It has come to our attention that there are quite a few lonely people in our community, so following 1 Peter: 4 we want to love, pray, offer hospitality, serve and speak to them. Once a month, as a community church, we will be hosting local non-Christians for dinner in a gesture of love and friendship and inviting them to join us at our Christmas outreach services.
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