Atonement; a narrative

The boy and his father walked happily together, hand in hand, the father gently guiding his son, pointing out all the fascinating items along their route. All the good things to see, to touch, to handle, to smell, to taste…

And one thing to be wary of.  For as they walked, they passed a deadly area of quicksand.

And from that direction, an unfamiliar & distorted whisper intruded on their tranquil conversation. Powerful, it stirred in the boy a rebellious yearning.  Snatching his hand away from the loving grip of his father, and in knowing defiance of his warning, the boy launched himself onto the dangerously appealing surface.

And immediately sank up to his waist. 

Unable to free himself, and now beyond the reach of his father, the boy slowly looked around, seeking something, anything, to provide some comfort in place of his father’s reassuring but absent grasp.  Or at least some distraction.

And he began to notice various items close by; close enough for him to reach.  They seemed alluring; somewhat familiar, even fascinating.  Different shapes & textures and colours.  So he grabbed one.  Strangely, as he took it in his hands, the colour gradually changed to a dull grey, the shape became indistinct, and the texture took on a sticky quality, attaching itself to the boy such that whatever he did, he couldn’t remove it.  And he became aware of its surprising weight, though at first it was barely noticeable.

He reached out for other colourful and interesting items around him.  And each time he held one, it gradually began to lose its attractiveness, and always the items clung to him, and he couldn’t shake them loose.  And now he felt the weight building with each thing that he grasped.  And it slowly dawned on him that, under the growing weight of the rapidly accumulating detritus, he was sinking deeper into the quicksand.  But he had to grasp at something, for what else was there?

And now the weight was becoming stifling, constricting him, and under the heavy load he was sinking in the quicksand, down and down, deeper & deeper.  He struggled, but his mouth began to clog with the deadly sand, and his senses seemed dulled and passive.  Then he glimpsed his father, the father he had deserted, gazing lovingly at him from the pathway.  Out of reach.  Helpless, almost hopeless, yet stubborn and almost afraid to speak, the boy could just barely mouth the word ‘Help’, before his head was pulled down beneath the surface by the weight of everything clinging to him.

Blackness began to close in.

Suddenly what seemed like earthquake shook the quicksand.  The enveloping silt shifted and the boy was hurled back to the surface, into the light.  Looking around, he saw he was not alone.  Another figure was close, waist deep in the quicksand.  And as the boy watched, all the clinging weight of the things he had so eagerly (and so fatally) seized, shifted off from him, and – as if drawn by some immense magnetic force – greedily raced to attach themselves to the other figure.  That figure did not struggle.  In fact, he seemed to open his arms to receive the deadly mass, to embrace it, drawing onto himself every lethal thing.  And not merely from the boy.  Now, from all around, debris rushed onto the other figure; truly the weight of the world seemed hungry to cling to him.  Or perhaps he to it.  And he began to sink under the impossible burden.  The boy caught a faint echo of the earlier, perverted whisper; a snarling and heartless laugh. Glancing around, the boy looked back toward the path, looking for his father, but he was not there.  The quicksand sucked the figure down and down, deeper and deeper, loaded with every weight that had – just moments before – clung to the boy.  And for a final brief instant he looked into the drowning figure’s eyes.

And in those eyes he suddenly recognised…his father.  And then those eyes, so full of longing love, were lost beneath the devouring quicksand.

There was a pregnant silence.

Loaded down with the lethal, clinging mass, the overburdened figure sank far below the surface.  Yet as he was devoured by the quicksand, it seemed like the deadly quicksand itself imploded, and was consumed along with him.  Or by him.  And then, to his surprise, the boy discovered he was no longer trapped.  His feet rested on solid ground, and he found himself back on the familiar path.

Looking back, the ground that had been deadly quicksand was convulsed, and the boy heard again the unfamiliar and distorted voice, but this time no longer a whisper, nor a laugh.  It was an anguished and hateful scream, devoid of its previous power, and knowing it.

And then with a thrill that ignited his whole being, the boy felt a gentle hand on his shoulder, and heard again the father’s familiar voice.

International Church

We believe that we are called to be church here in Yeovil, as well as working in partnership with the wider church to see transformation in the town, region, nation and world. It’s a daunting and exciting challenge that God presents us with. It is a beautiful and difficult kingdom He invites us to participate in.

One of the aspects of this kingdom is to develop partnerships across the world to support, learn, encourage and join in, so we can work out the kingdom together. In 2008 we had something of a blank sheet of paper.  Many of our international links had come to a natural conclusion, and there was an opportunity to explore, try, connect, visit, dream and pray.  We decided to have a wide range of trips and opportunities to all sorts of places and links around the world.  The idea was that we would connect, visit and listen to see what God was already involved in, and then join in if it felt right.

As a consequence of that time, we have strong partnerships in France, Spain, India, Brazil, Romania, Kenya, and more through the links with Hope for Kids.

This is an exciting place to be, but it can be difficult to keep up with all the links and partnerships.  So this video is an attempt to explain how two of those links, with Brazil and France, are connected.  It has been a clear theme for us that somehow God has called us to connect and partner with Brazil, in order to do something together in France.  As we continue with the journey, some of the how and why begins to come into focus.  We enjoy amazing connections in France now, with great friendships in Brazil. And somehow God continues to draw the triangle of Brazil, France and YCC together.

So enjoy the video and if you want to be involved through prayer, giving, or joining in on a trip, then we would love to hear from you.

A new season

30201
I love and thrive off of change, always thinking of new ideas, new projects, new inventions and schemes – this can make me tiring to be around at times but love to explore new things and be creative. September in particular is a time when I explore change, I have a new create team starting and I start dreaming what we can do with the new year.
One of my biggest challenges this year is that we have the smallest team we have ever had meaning we won’t necessarily be able to achieve the same things we have done in the past. This is a really healthy place to be however because I am asking the question of ‘just because we have always done something, is it still right to keep doing it?’.
I wonder if that’s the same for you, you may live your year from September – July, January – December or any other combination but as Adam and Malcolm have been sharing over the last few Sundays at YCC maybe it’s time to look at our lives and ask the question, just because I’ve always thought like this, done that etc. Is that still right?
Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1-8‬ ‭in the Message translation says:
“There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth: A right time for birth and another for death, A right time to plant and another to reap, A right time to kill and another to heal, A right time to destroy and another to construct, A right time to cry and another to laugh, A right time to lament and another to cheer, A right time to make love and another to abstain, A right time to embrace and another to part, A right time to search and another to count your losses, A right time to hold on and another to let go, A right time to rip out and another to mend, A right time to shut up and another to speak up, A right time to love and another to hate, A right time to wage war and another to make peace.”
 
Seasons change, callings evolve and there’s a time for different things. My daily challenge is to come before God and to be available and up for whatever it is he has for me today, whether that’s healing, challenge, change or the same – his kingdom come, his will be done.
In this new season that’s my desire. With create we are streamlining what we are doing, dreaming what opportunities we can create for young people to encounter God in new ways and looking at him for whatever he has for us today.
I wonder if we ask what has God got for you today what might happen?

Thankfulness

In our busy lives it is very easy to become focused on the problems immediately in front of us. To process and evaluate our experiences from a negative place, ‘This thing is great but…’ or ‘this would be much better if…’ We become complacent in acknowledging the things in our lives that are beautiful and blessed. We build habits of noticing flaws first, of judging others and dismissing the good things in our lives as random one off occurrences.

There came a point for me when I decided I didn’t want to think like this anymore. I had noticed patterns in my thoughts that were making God less. I would ask God “why me? Why is everything so hard for me?” I focused on the difficulties in front of me and let a lot of the blessings that God was giving me pass me by. Actually, I let a lot of what God was saying to me pass me by. God was shouting at me “I’m here! I am with you!” and I was so caught up in solving my own problems that I forgot to stop, listen, and take note. And so I began to think about how I could make God more, more present, more glorified, and give him all the credit. So I made a commitment to writing something that I was thankful for every day, whether it was that the sun was shining or that I had spent quality time with those close to me. It took a while to get into the rhythm, as it does any time you are building a habit, but I began to notice changes in my attitude. I started looking out for the things that I would write down that evening as I was walking my day to day life. Instead of writing one or two lines I was writing more like a paragraph, listing the things that I was thankful for that day and explaining how they made me feel. They became less like hasty notes and more like heartfelt prayers, expressing truly deep gratefulness for the people in my life, the conversations I had had, and the things I had experienced.

It made such a difference. I feel so much more connected to God because I’m taking the time to think about all the incredible things he has done for me, the beauty of creation, and the amazing people he has put in my life. It shifts my focus from the challenges I’m facing and stops them from consuming my thoughts all the time, allowing me to spend more time enjoying life. Some days I am thankful for the smallest things, but by making sure that I do it every day I go to bed with a more positive mind set, and recognise that there is so much in my life to be thankful for. My question of “why me?” becomes more focused around “what did I do to deserve these blessings?” By practicing being thankful every day for the past 8 months I have built a habit of searching for God in the everyday, and that has given space for God to speak into my life in a way that didn’t happen before.

Shopping Local by Hannah Morris

61894We live in a society where we go to the big supermarket chains where we can buy anything we fancy for a very reasonable price, but do we actually think about the people behind the product?

I have always felt it would be great to live as much as possible using only local or fairtrade products. Being a large family this has to be done on a budget.

Last week we decided to take the plunge after we being inspired by Joe’s talk about justice. It took a lot of planning, finding out where and when there are farmers markets, which farm shop sells what and what is actually available. Although I was really surprised how much is out there on our door step, it also meant I have had to change my way of planning breakfast, lunchboxes and dinner for 6 people.

Breakfast was the hardest for the kids. The only choices were muesli , porridge or homemade bread (made with locally sourced flour). No sugary cereals!!
The amount of fairtrade food in some supermarkets was fantastic: bananas, sugar, chocolate and lots of other things.

There were a few items which we couldn’t find like toilet paper and washing powder. But we then opted for environmentally friendly products.

61895Ham, pasta or chopped tomatoes were also either not available or far too expensive, but it was just a case of creating new ideas like home cooked chicken in sandwiches, homemade cheese straws and making our own pasta, which the kids loved doing.

I found so many delicious products during that week, all produced by people who want to make a living by selling something they are passionate about.

61896Everyone was so friendly and helpful and my best find was a local dairy farm selling super fresh milk, yum!

This week was an amazing experience and as a housewife I loved it even though it took a lot of time and effort. And the best bit is that we were able to do this on a budget. But it did mean not having things like biscuits, crisps or any other treats unless we made them ourselves. Therefore we had lots of fresh cake and we even made lollipops with berries we had picked and frozen last autumn.

I am now really looking forward to find more products and maybe even looking into clothes and other things we can change to make this world a better and fairer place to live for everyone.

– Hannah

Here I am Lord, Send Me

A Personal Testimony

“Here I am Lord, send me!”

Born in 1957 as the son of an RAF Corporal, in 1976 I joined the RAF to train as an electronic engineer, working on the Vulcan, Puma helicopter and finally working for my last 7 years in a MOD cell.

Having no church background, during my first year in the RAF I met a Christian girl.  With her I would attend Sunday evening gospel services with the aim of getting to know her friends and family.  After a while, one Sunday evening when listening to the speaker, he said, “Jesus Loves You.”  Bearing in mind my father had been married 3 times, I’d had several foster parents, lived in two Children’s Homes, and didn’t have a mother from age 11-18 years, I didn’t feel loved.  That night I remember going back to RAF Cosford (where I was doing my training) and whilst lying in bed, I asked God to make Himself known to me.  Since that prayer, not realizing it was a prayer, I felt my heart soften and started confessing to Him things I’d done wrong in my life (the bible calls it sin!).  Following this I began to know God’s forgiveness, and during my 3 years of technical training, I shared my faith at any opportunity and through God’s grace saw a dear friend also make a personal commitment to Jesus.

I had my ups and downs as a Christian in the RAF but began to realize I needed to nail my colours to the mast!  I remember being asked one day to share my testimony and because I didn’t feel very close to God, I said no!  The response from the speaker was, “Just as well Jesus didn’t say no!”  You can imagine how I felt!  Since then I’ve always made it known that I’m a Christian.

In 1988 I married Anne and we have 3 children (Robert, Hannah & Joshua), all of whom are living away from home with 2 in Milborne Port and 1 in Leeds respectively.  It was whilst Anne was pregnant with Joshua that I went to the first Gulf war (1990/91) and managed to get home just in time to see him born.  I was always keen to serve in the Church, which I know God knew, and after 22 years in the RAF, and whilst living in Yetminster and working at RNAS Yeovilton, I was obedient to God’s call on my life.  So on 1 January 2000 I started working full-time for Yeovil Community Church (YCC) as their Operations Manager.

This brings us up to date and after trying to sell our house for a few years, we moved into Yeovil on 4 June 2014, in a house only a 2 minute walk to work!  How amazing was that!  Little did I know that a few weeks later God would start to reveal to me that my time as the Operations Manager at YCC would soon come to an end.

I have always been interested in the Yeovil Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Centre and after receiving an update from the then Centre Manager Ian Croxford, was thrilled to hear that over 120 clients had been reached and 16 had become Christians!  All my Christian life when I’ve shared my faith, I’ve been very passionate and I believe there has been an evangelist lurking somewhere inside me, looking for opportunities to share the love of Jesus in a relevant way.  Working for Yeovil Community Church for nearly 15 years has given me the opportunity to get to know Christians in the Yeovil area, hopefully gain some respect and though I’ve been part of the Yeovil Community Church family for 20 years, I see myself as part of the Church family in Yeovil.

It was always a case of when I leave the role at YCC and not if, and it wasn’t a case of me looking for the opportunity.  It just happened!  Whilst working alongside the Operations Manager for Yeovil Christian Support Trust, who particularly managed the Lord’s Larder Food Bank from the GateWay, I often found myself having to deal with emergency situations when Matt was elsewhere; it’s a tough call to know what to do with a phone call from someone homeless on Christmas Eve and who has nowhere to go.  I had conversations with many in the GateWay who were waiting for their benefits to come through or just had a chaotic lifestyle that just wasn’t getting any better.  There just seemed to be no hope for these people and all this made me feel I wanted to help the poor and needy though felt helpless to do so; apart from giving out food parcels, I just ended up signposting people elsewhere.  How could I do more?

Having attended two CAP meetings arranged by David Upton regarding the Centre Manager’s post, at the end of the second meeting held on 14 July 14, I joined other Church leaders in prayer and found myself praying, “Here I am Lord, send me!”  Wow, where did those words come from?  I didn’t really understand who this was for, maybe a prophetic word or was this a personal cry?  Without going into further detail, I shared with my wife Anne that I thought God was loosening my roots at YCC and it was possible He wanted me to leave the job.

Confirmation from God came when an email was sent to me about the availability of the Street Pastors coordinator role, and I sat up inside thinking, “I could do both the Yeovil CAP Centre Manager and Street Pastor coordinator jobs.”  I applied for them both, believing sincerely that God wanted me to do them together and following several interviews, I was accepted for both roles.

Having been a Christian for 37 years, I’m still learning.  As a matter of integrity I’m a firm believer in trying to keep short accounts with others.  And as I grow in my faith, and therefore more aware of my failings, I see the need to be more dependent on the Lord.  I’m very excited about moving into my new roles and very mindful of my need to pray without ceasing and trust in God.  So one area of my life that will grow, I’m sure, is my prayer life!  I’ve never doubted my faith because I’ve often thought, “What would life be without Jesus?”  I can’t remember what it was like without Jesus over 37 years ago, suffice to say that knowing there is always hope, this will give me the determination to support others who feel helpless and who need to know the love of Christ in a relevant way.

Steve Hart

Centre Manager – Yeovil
Christians Against Poverty
07972 057373

capuk.org
facebook.com/capuk

62091

The Road to Nowhere – Chris Rose

The road to nowhere as I thought, but…..for my journey of recovery to a faith which explodes all over my body.

I’m now 49 years old and after losing my way for many, many years I ended up in hospital in 2010, broken, destroyed, soulless, basically a grey shell. Told if I carried on I would be dead within 20-28 days.  That is no exaggeration, I was that SICK!!  Mentally and physically destroyed.

From that unbelievable day when I left hospital I had no inclination of what was going to happen except I wanted to carry on drinking and honestly die!

After being discharged on the Tuesday 14th March 2010 I ambled to the old Night Shelter to ask for a bed for that evening as I had literally walked away or run from my old life of disaster after disaster, personal tragedies and most of all myself!

I was spoken to by a person I’d never seen or met in my life before, I was asked whether I thought I had a problem with alcohol and drugs.  To this normally I would have said something totally inappropriate but, I just literally fell to my knees crying.  Just a heap, a scared, frightened human being.  With this I was taken in and spoken to about a chance of getting well, to which I thought was impossible and crazy,

After a while, I met a lady who became my Facilitator and the gentleman, they spoke to me of a chance of Recovery.  They offered, with help and guidance, that I could have a life, a bridge to ‘normal living’ and I remember through my tears and bandages I actually semi laughed with fright at this thought to which I entered treatment.

I was then basically cocooned in a Treatment Centre looking at myself and my mind and overall, to be honest with myself.  After a few silly moments I completed treatment.

It was suggested that I come to The Gateway, Yeovil Community Church, which I couldn’t properly enter for around 4-6 months due to the anxiety, paranoia around people as I was so embarrassed about myself.  Anyway, after a few talks and with 2 people who are massive in my life today, I entered by Volunteering with Matt Callaghan in the Lord’s Larder. I was still not 100%, far from it.  No drink or drugs though, just me, myself and my old crazy head.  I kept missing days, weeks, then before I knew it was a year of being a person of low self esteem.

In 2013 things were getting better, even though I lived in a horrible place, but hey it was “there for a reason” for which I’m certain in my mind.  I met a lady friend who became my partner.  At last all seemed amazing, honestly it was actually going well.  Then in April last year (2014) I was informed by a phone call one night that she’d taken her own life, this was it.

I remember pacing up and down my flat in disbelief.  It’s exactly 48 paces around the whole place, honestly ask Matt C.  (Matt Callaghan).  Joking apart, all I could think of was “that’s it, vodka, cocaine and get on a journey to be with her”.

Moving on a few hours after calling a few people close to me, I just sat looking into space and talking to her, asking “why?”  Then I remembered a promise I made around 7 months before, that whatever happened I would never go back to my old ways.  I cannot put this into words of sensible grammar, I loved her like nothing before.

What has happened since then has been something no-one could ever have predicted.  After attending Church every week and getting to do more readings and listen more I started to like life a bit more.  Thanks to Matt, all volunteers and Sean (in the Coffee Shop) and all in the Church I have got to know personally, to you all for I know that this has been integral.

Now after a few months I was praying more, getting more curious and reading and trying to follow the Bible as I was finding He (God) was at work within me.  This I didn’t know until I was invited to go to New Wine 2014.  Oh WOW what a lovely, crazy head rush I had and it’s never left me.  Getting to know people like I’d never got to know people before, as friends took me away you can’t believe but this amazing thing kept happening and I remember it as if it was yesterday.

Standing in Morning Worship amongst people who I hadn’t got to know as such, but they felt more like family to me.  Hard to describe but it’s true!  A feeling of beauty and acceptance of me as a person.

On Tuesday 4th of August ,”WOW” was the only way to describe what was going on around me, above me, inside me.  When asked about giving yourself to God by a giant of a man who to be honest the appearance of him alone blew me away, as soon as he took to the front of us all (around 8,000 people I think).  The whole talk was about just giving yourself over.  Well this whole place was in a place of silence, whispers, talking, woops and howls to the feeling that was there.  As if i remember rightly, he said to just feel the spirit, let it enter you and you will be able to carry on a life of honesty, truth but you must have the faith.

Well I hadn’t a clue what was happening as loads of people just starting walking forward and all I remember was saying to Chris, Matt etc “Let me out I’m going”!  Well this was the most amazing feeling, I can honestly tell you I’ve had.  As my body I actually thought it was shaking so much, inside I thought I would burst out.  After this mad, crazy experience I suddenly realised to myself and those I was with that I had met with the Holy Spirit and I let it enter me wholly, willingly and would do and be the best I can for all people including God, Jesus.  This was not a frilly thing, I felt really scared yet so excited!

I went off on my own and thought about what had happened.  At this point I wasn’t sure what I’d done or felt, so I spoke to a few people and they told me what it was.

This whole experience at New Wine and being part of such a great bunch of people who I class as family, I never ever thought of before, yet this has been an inspiration to me and has been a lift in my life which is hard to take in sometimes; that I can be honest, truthful and grateful for all I have.

Today because for once in my life, I wake up in the morning and pray for others, not a prayer because I need something.  It’s a personal prayer for others and myself to be at peace.

For today due to you ALL at The Gateway, I know that because of your faith which has been passed on to me through God, is an enormous honour.  For the first time in my life I feel good, truthful and willing for anything that God throws at me and to help others till my end.  I know that sounds naff, but without your faith and love in me I know I wouldn’t be here.  Thank you all for giving me strength, faith, love in God.  I am still sober, clean.

Thanks to Matt and everybody I know who have been amazing to me and help me feel like a worthwhile person.

Chris Rose

60349

Journey – Joyce Passmore

Each and everyone of us are on a journey because life is a journey. The start of mine was frightening, lonely, painful and so black at times it felt that my life was just surviving as if I was underground in total darkness.

For 15 years I was a victim of medical neglect and misunderstanding of my condition, epilepsy.  What happened in those years can only be described as torture really.

Yet life is a journey and though that time existed it is only a part of it. It started to be bigger, lighter and more free. I did have many hurdles to get over. Then I found I had reached a dead end. The road I needed was out there. On the journey to finding it I was learning many things that enabled my journey to get easier.

I made a pile of mistakes as I tried to find myself on this journey. When medical neglect robbed me of 15 years of my life it also made the following years tough yet each mistake was a lesson learned so in essence it was getting better and better.

Finding Jesus was the start of positive changes. If I messed up, His love for me was not going to waver. Being loved was a big fear to me I had not known what love was, and it bothered me greatly. I had no reason to trust people and when love came towards me I wanted to run to a safe place and be alone. To me Gods love was certain, sure, unchangeable and his promises to me kept me going on my journey. I know that without Gods love for me I would not be alive. He has given me life and as the journey continues He is bringing so much blessing.

Sometimes an occasional hurdle pops up and needs to be climbed over. Yet it is just a hindrance and because of the lessons learned I am equipped to get over it and continue.

Jesus has been with me every step of the way. To speak to one person was a big challenge for me. With God beside me I am travelling all over the place and sharing my story in front of 100’s at a time. It is a ministry which God is blessing. Not the write off I was constantly being told I was in the early black part of the journey.

One important factor in my recovery was being able to forgive all those instrumental in me losing 15 years of my life. I wanted to do this as it was crowding my thinking and not giving any space for the healthier and happier things now in my life. I had a lot of de-cluttering to do. Many to forgive.

It took a while and eventually I was able to leave everything at the foot of the Cross and leave them there, which now gave me the opportunity to fill my life with the things God wanted me to have.

The journey of my life is now free and as it continues I feel excited. Being a Christian I am not exempt from what life holds. I know that with Jesus in the centre of my life I need not fear. He is my rock! He loves me unconditionally and knowing He never gives up on me helps me on the rest of my journey. People gave up on me but God never does and I rejoice knowing he is never going to leave me. He has changed my life totally.

Joyce Passmore

You can read more about Joyce’s Story, find Joyce’s Book ‘The Light in my Mind’ on Amazon or on sale in the Foyer at The Gateway in Yeovil.

joyce-is-an-author-and-public-speaker-59459

Prayer for Growth

Over the years we have been running prayer for growth we have seen God bring amazing healing, transformation and freedom to many people.

We have a team of approximately 20 men and women who work in pairs offering up to 6 one and a half hour sessions. We provide a private space for people to tell their stories and express where they want to see change. We listen and we pray.

As we go through life ‘stuff’ happens to us. We make choices and we are subjected to the choices of others and sometimes life is tough. But God doesn’t leave us there. His amazing transforming love can bring healing for past hurts. It can bring freedom into our thinking and release from the things that hold us back.

I love being part of this team and it is an awesome privilege to hear people’s stories and see god touch, bless and transform peoples lives.

Jan