Prophetic church A UK JESUS PEOPLE MAGAZINE from the Multiply Network and Jesus Fellowship/modern JESUS army (mJa)
THE PROPHETIC WORD Prophetic Church... Suffering Church
CHANGED LIFE - Mark
3-4 8 9 10-11 12-13 14-16 17-18 22-23 24 27 28 30-31
Church Alive Life on the Inside Blue Ribbon Day Spiritual Search - Audrey TALKING TO: Matthew Guest Spiritual Search - Roger & Penny Jesus Centres Multiply Apostolic Men - Matthew National Events/Jesus People Shop Electronic Postbag Radical Bites
Rant & Rave
WORD UP The Youth of today
The Jesus FellOwshiP ChurCh, which is also known as the Jesus Army and includes the New Creation Christian Community, upholds the historic Christian faith, being reformed, evangelical and charismatic. it practises believer’s baptism and the New Testament reality of Christ’s Church; believing in Almighty God: Father, son and holy spirit; in the full divinity, atoning death and bodily resurrection of the lord Jesus Christ; in the Bible as God’s word, fully inspired by the holy spirit. This Church desires to witness to the lordship of Jesus Christ over and in his Church; and, by holy character, righteous society and evangelical testimony to declare that Jesus Christ, son of God, the only saviour, is the way, the truth and the life, and through him alone can we find and enter the kingdom of God. This church proclaims free grace, justification by faith in Christ and the sealing and sanctifying baptism in the holy spirit. © 2007 Jesus Fellowship Church, Nether heyford, Northampton NN7 3lB, uK. editor James stacey. reproduction in any form requires written permission. The Jesus Fellowship does not necessarily agree with all the views expressed in articles and interviews printed in this magazine. Photographs in this magazine are copyright Jesus Fellowship Church unless otherwise noted. The Jesus Fellowship is part of Multiply Christian Network. Both the Jesus Fellowship and Multiply Christian Network are members of the evangelical Alliance uK.
Jesus Life One/2007 Page 2
Comments from Noel Stanton and members of the Apostolic Team, Jesus Fellowship UK/mJa
A LA LIIVV EE
h c r u h c A Prophetic Church
THE COVER picture comes from a recent “Men Alive for God” day. It shows a young man “stage diving”. Young men were invited to dive from the stage into the arms of other men to show their willingness to be a new generation rising to the challenge of doing and daring for Jesus. Being a prophetic church means being an action-church influencing and evangelising society. Leadership brings a prophetic, directive word which motivates members to do things – faith things, risk things, God things. Moving under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Using the spiritual gifts. Making friends with new people, praying with them. They lay hands on the sick. They give deliverance ministry. They bring people to saving faith in Jesus.
...and a charismatic church but more importantly in vision and faith. The Spirit was blazing in us, producing passion for the church and a desire to bring people to Jesus. We were determined to see the New Testament church come alive in the UK at any cost. In the mid-1970s we heard the call to become a community church, sharing “all things in common” like the first Christians and many others through the centuries. New Creation Christian Community came into being. It was, and still is, the heart of our church. The Holy Spirit then led us to expand around the UK.
We have never lost the charismatic nature of the church: the baptism of fire is central for us. Eventually we also became Jesus Army, called to fight for and reach the poor with the gospel. In recent years we have begun opening Jesus Centres in some of the cities and towns of the UK. These Centres are all firmly rooted in the charismata of the Spirit. We have also founded the Multiply Network for the UK and other nations. I have just returned from the 2006 Charismata Conference (founded by Michael Harper in
those heady early years of the charismatic movement). This network of charismatic leaders has seen many changes over the years and its chairman, our friend John Noble, posed the question as to whether it has fulfilled its purpose. Can it pass to a new generation of leaders and be more alive with charismatic wisdom and zeal, or should it close down? I am sure it will continue. For Jesus Fellowship Church such a question will never be asked and we were glad to receive a prophecy at the Charismata Continued overleaf
UNASHAMEDLY SO! We are not overthrowing our recent history, whatever others may do. This church was gradually dying until the Holy Spirit came upon us in those exciting years of 1969 and the early 1970s when hundreds of people were baptised with the Holy Spirit among us. We became charismatic, re-named as Jesus Fellowship Church because the Holy Spirit had brought to us such dynamic, brotherly fellowship. We were a stream of the amazing, charismatic river of those years. We grew quickly – in numbers, www.jesus.org.uk
A prophetic church must have prophet-leaders. They are vital for the building of the church, the foundation on which the church is built (Eph. 2:20). Such leaders bring the word which shapes the church and actively lead in keeping the church buzzing with anointing and in making, baptising and training disciples as Jesus instructed (Matt. 28:18-20). Just look at our cover picture again. See the delight on the young man’s face, his willingness to accept the challenge. See how he acts with faith and courage. It’s a little drama, a sign to the church. It says, “Don’t just talk, let’s have action.” We are a prophetic church. We take the supernatural to the people. Prophetic, power evangelism through a prophetic, caring and daring church!
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s s Steve Calam
Blue Ribbon Year
Continued from over
Conference about our future, urging us to continue to be pioneers. This was followed by prayer with our Apostolic Team leaders present. While Holy Spirit renewal is regularly required, we still have the same fire as in the early years and new generations of leaders are active among us. Our past, present and future is charismatic. We are, praise God, a charismatic church.
WE’RE seeing 2007 as a Blue Ribbon Year! Blue for us, as in the mJa flag, is the colour of the Holy Spirit. We have been using blue to motivate interest in New Creation Christian Community. We want people to listen to the Holy Spirit as He encourages greater commitment, with a call to a common purse community lifestyle. We’ve recently published a new book, “One Heart and Soul”, which focuses on community. At August 2006 Winning Weekend we
wore blue ribbons and this was repeated at the Jesus Fellowship Praise-Day in November. This will continue and we expect the year 2007 to be a blue ribbon year of community growth and deepening. On the way are blue NCCC wristbands. Many people are showing a renewed interest in the shared lifestyle which stands as a strong antidote to a society that is increasingly fragmented, lonely and isolated. The call to Christian community is growing and we’re expecting many not just to wear the blue ribbon, but also to take the plunge and jump into this radical way of living and sharing!
Celibacy: a deliberate costly offering
MARY then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12:3) Mary did not carelessly grab a bottle of cheap scent and anoint Jesus as an afterthought. This was a deliberate and “costly” offering. In the same way, celibates have made a deliberate and costly choice to “make them-
selves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake” (Matthew 19:12). Celibates have renounced security in this world: they live for the world to come. Their offspring are eternal. This is offensive to the natural-minded, those set on this world’s ways. Judas was offended at Mary’s ‘wasteful’ devotion. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” (verses 4-5). In
fact, his offence covered his own selfishness. He said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it (verse 6). He was on the road to betraying Jesus – but it began with a protest against costly devotion to Jesus. The fragrance of celibate sacrifice will “fill the whole house”. Every part of our church life – community, cell groups, congregations – all must be filled with the pungent fragrance of celibate devotion.
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“A prophetic church will always be a suffering church, a sacrificial church.” So writes Jesus Fellowship apostolic leader, Mick Haines.
“MICK Haines is dead.” I wrote these words in the back of my Bible many years ago when the Jesus Fellowship was first being formed. There was a call to surrender to Jesus fully. It was a call to “take up our cross” and live wholly for Jesus. I’ve never been the same
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PROPHETIC CHURCH... s s
Continued from overleaf
since that moment. It was a consecration in the manner that Jesus Himself spoke of: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains alone, but if it dies it produces much fruit” (John 12:24). Death to self has led me into fruitfulness for Jesus. Any truly prophetic church, called by God, will tread this way of the Cross. A prophetic church will always be a suffering church, a sacrificial church – and because of this, a fruitful church. Of course, it is not as simple as “die today, be blessed and fruitful tomorrow”. Often “taking up our cross” involves an ongoing embracing of suffering for Jesus’ sake, trusting that such suffering carries enriching power to shape us, deepening our fellowship with Him. I had to endure scathing criticism from close family members who were highly critical of my commitment to the Jesus Fellowship. Then there was the article opposing the church (complete with my picture) which appeared in a local newspaper just after I’d started a new teaching job. The head teacher told all the other teachers not to talk to me. One parent wrote to the mayor, who ordered an investigation into my teaching to ensure that the children weren’t getting “damaged”. The school would have loved to get rid of me, though I’d been well on the way to a deputy headship before joining the church. Jesus Life One/2007 Page
I had to die to ambitions and endure the scorn. I thought, “I’m going to take up the cross and keep going”. (Three years later, when I’d been offered a job elsewhere, key educational people in the area said to the school, “We can’t lose Michael Haines; you must keep him – give him whatever he wants!” It was a vindication – a resurrection experience.) Opposition was painful, but not as painful as betrayal. During the same time of persecution as the opposing newspaper article, three elders left the church I was leading in Birmingham. I wept and wept over them – but came out the other side enriched and shaped by God. Then there are the sufferings that just don’t seem to make any sense at all. In 2001, I felt the Lord telling me to give up my job and go and live in Manchester for a few months with the church there. I intended to take a brother called Adrian with me. It was my last day at the school I worked in. At twenty to nine, I had a phone call. It was Barney, my fellow-leader. “I’ve got some sad news for you – Adrian’s died”. He had had a severe asthma attack. It was a complete shock and I wept (again) – right there on the playground. But I had to carry on, learning the determination to press on through. In the Cross, even seemingly futile griefs and set-backs can be transformed into something positive. Carrying the cross has nothing to do with being a misery guts! Living crucified means that Jesus and others
are first, my heart is receiving grace and I’m thankful. The opposite is living for self, revolving around “my” problems, wallowing in self-pity – and truly being a misery guts! Certainly, my experiences of suffering have made me more compassionate and understanding, more able to empathise with people. Just this morning, I had a call from a leader in the church – a leading couple in his region have said they’re moving out of community, they may be leaving the church. He knows I understand. I’ve been there. So I’m able to encourage him to stand firm. As the Jesus Army, crosses feature prominently in our image. In our badges, on our jackets and vehicles, round our necks – crosses (florescent ones at that!). This is excellent, but it must point to a reality in our lives. It is no use wearing a cross, but
Jesus Fellowship is called to pioneer – in Christian community, in sacrifice, in enduring opposition. Bold, courageous, out front – like the early church. www.jesus.org.uk
refusing to live crucified. If our church is to be what she is called to be, then she must be a prophetic church which means being “crucified to the world” (Galatians 6:14), seeing the cross practically between us and our relationships with everything and everybody: my family, my work, my colleagues – and the brethren. Despite our cross-centred image, there are areas in which we are inclined to avoid sacrificial living. Take seeking “sympathy” when we’re going though hard times – this seems innocent, but can be a cover-up for self-pity. Too much “sympathy” has taken people off the cross and away from the place that God put them, in which they would have been fruitful if they’d held on and pressed though. There’s a lack of accountability. Do we really confess our sins to one another or hide behind vagueness? There are complaints: rather than finding more of God in our difficulties with that brother or sister, we moan about them. There are limits on our sacrifice (refusing to stay up late for a meeting, not
wanting to drive people home...) Do we choose every opportunity we can to lay down our lives? Yet if we are to be God’s prophetic church, prepared “for such a time as this” we must be made of sterner stuff. The tide is turning in the UK and it is turning away from Christianity. Secularism fights with Islam for supremacy. There will be difficult times to come for Christians. Prophetic churches will need to set a clear standard for others to rally to. Jesus Fellowship is called to pioneer – in Christian community, in sacrifice, in enduring opposition. Bold, courageous, out front – like the early church. My passion is that we shine brightly in the UK, a beacon of light. As our sacrificial heart is strengthened, JL we will shine brighter and brighter. Jesus Life One/2007 Page 7
i n s i d estory e r a : s h t u o y l a i c o S Anti ? r e * w s n a e h t s O B S A
riss, r, Joe Mor e d a le m a te the Open Doors eets and in tr s e th n o t– ry. asked abou e inside sto th t e g to – prisons
“TEEN THUGS. A man was robbed as he walked in Blackthorn Road, Northampton, at about 7pm. He was approached by three boys aged 15 -17, pushed against the wall and threatened. The man handed over his wallet and the boys ran off.”(Northampton Chronicle & Echo, 2006.) Sound familiar? We decided to get the word on the street. First we met Mikey, 15, from Blackthorn. He said, “There’s nothing to do, it’s so boring round here. I’d like to start boxing lessons but there’s nowhere that does it. I’m meant to go to school but I don’t; I get money off my mum and buy a quarter of dope and burn it with my mates.” “I’ve been in prison twice and I’ll definitely go again,” said Josh, 17, of Standens Barn. “There’s no football pitch here so we do other stuff like causing a bit of trouble. Old people What happens to youngsters think we are going to take their who get in trouble? money but I wouldn’t do that; • Police reprimand 29% people just have their opinions • Final Warning 15% about me.” • Community sentence 17% A couple in their fifties said: • Referral order 13% “The parents either don’t know • Fine 7% what their kids are up to or else • Compensation order 7% they don’t care. A lot of them • Conditional discharge 4% are trouble makers themselves! • Custody 3% You have to prove to these kids • Others 4% that they can’t get away with it.” By June 2006 there were Is that the answer then? around 3,250 young offenders Toughen up? in prison (Home Office statistics) “ASBOs are just one tool which the police have,” commented Andrew Dickson, a * Anti Social Behaviour Orders
“I’ve been in prison twice and I’ll definitely go again”
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Likely lads: Kyle and Marcus
retired Police Chief Inspector. “They have a place but are not appropriate for every case. Persistent offenders need to be followed through by the judicial system.” But Nick, 21, from Briar Hill said, “It’s pointless giving them ASBOs ‘cos no one sticks to them anyway. What the Government should do is give them something to do instead of nickin’ them – like say a local motorbike track they could use.” We asked some prisoners what they thought. Keiron, 21, who is in HMP Barlinnie, Glasgow, said: “When I was 15, me and my mate had been drinking and getting high, we got into a scrap with some local lads and it kicked off big time. I used to buzz on that sort of thing. I was shown round a prison once as a young teenager, I thought it was a laugh but now I’m facing a big prison sentence I wish I had the chance to tell young people about the reality of it.” Stevie, 34, who is in HMP Edinburgh commented, “I believe that kids want to be part of a group, to be accepted, loved and wanted. It’s sad that the Government doesn’t get more personally involved in the local community. The young people on our estates don’t need ASBOs
to change their behaviour, they need involving in something healthy like outward bound trips.” So: lovable rogues or public menace? And how should the church see them? Stevo Scott, a Jesus Army member, living on the Briar Hill estate, Northampton, put it like this: “Jesus compels us, by His word and example, to reach those pushed to the edges of society. We have a particular passion to take back lost young men for Jesus Christ and His ‘new society’. Here, they will gain a new identity and discover who they are – and why they are. “Young men belonging to subcultures – ‘chavs’, ‘yobs’, ‘ASBOs’ – are often those who have known rejection throughout school life and all kinds of difficulties in their families. The challenge to the church today, is to father this fatherless generation of young men. We must love, forgive, trust JL and affirm them.”
Open Doors is a group of ex prisoners who have got together to support those both inside and released from prison. They operate from the Northampton Jesus Centre.
Blue Jesus Fellowship has been issuing a call to belong to New Creation Christian Community over recent months. The Sheffield Praise Day at the end of last year was a “blue ribbon day”: a rallying cry, a call to take up the challenge to radical shared living. Mary Davis reports.
THE MJA COLOURS The modern Jesus army flag has many colours, each of which has a symbolic meaning. RED The blood of Jesus which makes us clean GOLD Jesus as the King of the kingdom BLUE The Holy Spirit from heaven WHITE Purity and justice GREEN The battle against evil
Blue ribbon day
SHOOTING up the M1, excitement builds as we see other Jesus Army buses and cars heading north. We’re on this journey together: one goal, one aim, one vision. “I can hear the sound of a rising generation, not afraid of love or dreaming of the future.” The words from the song ring through my mind as we enter the hall. There’s a sense of excitement. Something big is gonna happen today! People bustle, talk and share laughs – and then we begin. There is very much a call to Christian Community among us and it’s a call that is ringing out today. The message is coming to us through song, through video, through prophetic talk and demonstration: “We are apart from this world’s way, living an alternative lifestyle, stepping out for the cause of Christ, shin-
...Blue... for the Holy Spirit who makes us live “on earth as it is in heaven”
ing bright in a world of darkness, living out love in a world full of hate. “What are we willing to do? How far are we willing to go for this cause? We are one body, one church, one people from many nations – choosing God’s way together.” We lift our hearts in worship to God and the Spirit moves upon us, brooding above us, preparing our hearts for the task in hand. Soon it’s time for tea, time to rest... for some maybe – the youth of the church go marching off into the darkness of Sheffield to demonstrate for Jesus. Out of the wind and rain, here comes a tribe, shining bright! We dance and sing through the streets, unaware of the cold rain. We are the rebellion! Jesus is the great rebel: He stood against this world’s selfishness, went against society’s expectations. He did the unthinkable so that we could be free: free from hate, free from unforgiveness, free from lies, free from death. Dancing along, we pray for strangers, showing people the love of Jesus, shining true hope among the false light of the
Xmas advertising. We return to the hall, still full of the Spirit’s life. At one point in the evening, a blue ribbon – blue for the Holy Spirit who makes us live “on earth as it is in heaven” – is threaded round the whole hall. The invitation is out: all who want to take hold of the challenge of Christian Community are to grasp the ribbon. To grasp the call. We “make a joyful noise unto the Lord”, praising Him with all we have to praise, loving Him with all we have to love. When the evening comes to a close, hot tired faces start disappearing off into the night once again. It’s time to go and carry on the cause in our everyday lives, with the strength of God behind us and the power of the JL cross above us. For more information about New Creation Christian Community visit www. newcreation.org.uk
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White water ride Audrey Mukela’s eventful journey has taken her from a teenage baptism in the waters of the Zambezi – via an African war and a spiritual search in the capital of the UK – to a colourful church and deep covenant relationships.
AS AUDREY burst up from the fast-flowing, white waters of the Zambezi River, those watching her baptism sang with her, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back!” Audrey Mukela was born in Woking in Surrey, the fifth and youngest child of her parents. Her father worked as an educational representative for the Zambian Embassy and her mother as an accountant for Zambian Airways. The family returned to Lusaka in Zambia when Audrey was a year old and where her father continued working for the Zambian government. The Mukelas were very comfortably off, receiving enough income to employ several servants, including a driver, gardener, nanny and cook. It was a lively household, full of fun and laughter, and included an entourage of animals kept outside in the yard, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, goats and rabbits. Always a tomboy, Audrey spent her spare time playing football and climbing trees with her boy cousins. When Audrey was twelve her parents sent her to a boarding school at Seshke, several hundred miles to the south west of Lusaka, on the boarder of Namibia and Zambia. Evenings at school could be dull and on one occasion in her second year she was pleased to be invited to a special meeting being held
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Sisterhood: Audrey and her friends in London
by the Scripture Union in the school. The person leading the meeting spoke of the need for all present to receive, “a white garment for when the Lord comes.” Audrey was struck with the message and thought to herself, “I’ll not be ready when the Lord comes.” At the closing invitation at the end of the meeting she prayed, asking Jesus to forgive her and give her a new life. She said, “I knew I was coming out of the wilderness. It was as if the light had been switched off and then switched on. I came out of darkness into the light and I knew my sins were forgiven. I could see!” Audrey was very enthusiastic about her new-found faith. One of the older teenage Christian girls at the school took her under her wing, teaching her what it really means to be a follower of Jesus. When she was 13, Audrey was baptised in the Zambezi. Audrey’s faith was soon to be tested. One hot summer’s afternoon, not long after her baptism, the school bell rang unexpectedly. The children gathered together briefly only to be told that Zambia and neighbouring Namibia had opened hostilities with one another and Namibia was planning an immediate bombing of Seshke. The students were told they had to leave the area immediately. Audrey related what happened in the next few hours: “Women were running in a panic with babies and saucepans strapped to their backs. Namibian planes were flying low over our heads. ‘Where can I run?’ I thought. I ran back to my dormitory and sat on the floor next to the wall, thinking, ‘I might as well die here. I can’t run away from death. If God wants me to die, then that is what will happen. If I have to die, I’ll go to heaven.’ I didn’t panic. “After a few hours the noise from planes flying overhead ceased and I said a few prayers. I then went to the house of some www.jesus.org.uk
“You MUST leave. They are going to bomb us.” Christians I knew nearby. The woman there had a child and was expecting another. We were about to go to bed when there was a knock on the door and we were told urgently, ‘You MUST leave. They are going to bomb us.’ As we left the house soldiers with guns were lined along the streets in the village. We began walking away from the danger area near the Zambezi River and I prayed ‘God, You’ve got to protect us!’” Audrey and the family she had escaped with later returned to Seshke unharmed and school life for Audrey and her friends resumed slowly. However, it was an experience and a lesson in trusting God that Audrey would never forget. When Audrey left school, she was asking God, ‘what shall I do with my life?’ “My Mum worked for Zambian Airways and we could get cheap tickets. I decided to go to London. I came over in 1988 and I stayed with a cousin,” she related. Audrey struggled to find a church she felt at home in and desperately searched the Yellow Pages for one. Some she found locked up; others she visited or stayed with for a time but felt disappointed because they did not use spiritual gifts; others showed little warmth in welcoming her. It
was when she was on the way to visit yet another Christian organisation that she noticed the colourful Jesus Army doubledecker parked outside Covent Garden. Inquisitively, she went on board, found out they were doing some evangelism in the area and began asking lots of questions. “This is not too bad!” Audrey remembers thinking. “Then the sister I was talking to offered to pray for me. I cried and cried and cried. Someone understood my search. I’d felt starved spiritually and she knew what I was talking about!” Audrey was invited back to Battlecentre, a Jesus Fellowship house in London, and soon found her spiritual home as she began worshipping there and building close relationships. ‘This is my church,’ she thought and became a covenant member. Speaking of this covenant commitment, Audrey said, “It took me quite a long time to make covenant; it was a serious commitment. You can’t go back on it.” Audrey found that the relationships she was experiencing were deeper than she had ever known. Her experience had been that, in Zambian culture, certain sensitive or tough subjects were taboo to talk about even with family members and many issues had been hidden and buried in her heart, unknown to any and unresolved. She found that, in these newly-found covenant relationships, burdens were shared and she was discovering what Paul the apostle meant when he wrote, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). “Covenant has kept me; I thank God for it,” Audrey says with tears in her eyes. “There are times I have struggled. People will fail us and we will hurt people. Yet covenant relationships are real and it’s beautiful; covenant relationships keep me going.” JL Jesus Life One/2007 Page 11
TALKING TO: Matthew Guest
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at Caring Hands two days a week when we have GPs coming in. Do you manage to get some of these people through Caring Hands into the church? Yes, most definitely. Our aim is to get people saved. Some make it all the way through and go on to be disciples like the young man who is out mowing the lawn today. A lot of our helpers are guys who were once the other side of the counter. Others come along and they make commitments but we sometimes struggle to hold them and our big problem there really is we are in the middle of a very deprived area with lots of prostitution and drug abuse.
Matthew Guest is the senior pastor of Kings Church, Medway. This is the second part of an interview in which he talks to Huw Lewis, an Apostolic Leader in the Jesus Fellowship. IN PART 1, Matthew talked about his journey from a childhood on the social services “at risk” register to being senior pastor of a thriving church. Here he talks about various aspects of Kings Church’s ongoing mission, including “Caring Hands”, a day centre for the disadvantaged, “Little Eagles” nursery, “Kings Kitchen” café, and other initiatives.
Read part 1 of this interview online at www. jesus.org.uk/ja/mag_ talkingto_guest.shtml
HUW: Where did the finance come from to buy the building for ‘Caring Hands’ and the people to staff it? MATTHEW: We took a mortgage out on the building after buying it at an auction for £240,000. Local churches and Christians supported the project – at one of our Bible weeks we received a love offering which helped to pay a substantial amount off. We spent in the region of £60,000 refurbishing the building, and then opened it to the public. Now we give out around 200 meals a day and provide showers and clothing. We also offer internet access, guidance on housing, money management and legal advice. It’s just grown! One of the big areas that these guys lack is doctors and medical provision because they’re living on the street. So we submitted plans to the Primary Health Care Trust with local Christian doctors, and we got the go ahead and approval to open a medical centre
Where do you see it going from here? It would be great to have a community farm that would be run by Christians who are specifically called to work with those with addictions. I spent some time in South Africa, helping on a rehab farm for seven weeks with Mara and the children and this was very, very beneficial to us. I was working with drug addicts and alcoholics. Mara was working with pregnant women who were HIV positive, because she’s a trained midwife. It was a steep learning curve, because of the crime, the guns, the suffering. In the next 18 months here we want to develop the medical side and build up a healthy living programme for these guys. As Caring Hands is growing and expanding, we’re looking at the back part of the land to develop for training purposes, so that we can equip the unemployed or homeless lads that come to us and give them a skill for continuing in life. We’re just having discussions with ‘CRASH’ about developing the back of the land and if we use it for training purposes they will partner with us. Can you explain what ‘CRASH’ is and how that will work? Well “CRASH” is the humanitarwww.jesus.org.uk
ian charity arm of the building trade. B&Q, Barratt Homes, Wimpy – they all support projects for the homeless and supply the building material. Half of the materials for the medical centre came through the building trade. Would you be able to supply people doing the training from within the church or would you have outside people doing that? We would hope to do both. We have “3R” downstairs which is our computer recycling project. We set it up basically at the beginning of the year. We found a technical guy to help - he was coming round to us but was unemployed. He wasn’t a Christian but agreed. After he’d been with us four months he gave his life to the Lord, which was wonderful. We take young men, women from different training programmes and we teach them how to strip computers, how to rebuild them and how to put in software. But it’s an outreach ministry in more ways than one because it exists to support Caring Hands and we’ve seen people give their lives to the Lord. We also have King’s Kitchen – a drop in café - open to the public two days a week where people can come in. We offer a free counselling service and are just about to start a parenting course for families in the local community. What do you see as your main ministry? What’s your real passion? Winning souls. Evangelism is a serious part of my character. I’ll do anything if it will get people saved. Not long after I’d become a Christian I had a dream or vision of two gates: one was narrow, the other broad. The narrow gate had a radiating light coming out, hitting peoples’ faces and out of the multitudes there was a very small, single file, queuing up to go in this gate. Multitudes were gowww.jesus.org.uk
ing into the other gate which was covered with smoke, and they just disappeared. I found myself in the single file queue. And as I looked across, I didn’t know who they were, but I just sensed that I knew people who were walking into the broad gate. I had the harrowing feeling of why hadn’t I said something to them?
Just a couple of weeks ago a 14 year old girl from a European country walked into the church and said to me, “I’m 14 and I was raped two months ago by my cousin...” There’s a lot of work to be done! Just a couple of weeks ago a 14 year old girl from a European country walked into the church and said to me, “I’m fourteen and I was raped two months ago by my cousin, and I’ve never told anyone, and I need to confess it, because I’m dirty. I can’t tell my family, it would bring shame on them if they knew that I was raped”. We helped her and she found out she wasn’t pregnant. But I found it heart breaking - the pain that she’s going through and the way she’d been abused. That’s the society in which we live. I’m thankful that we worship the Jesus who can bring healing, sanctification, restoration to that young girl’s life. They’re the sort of things that we face. The church is about those on the outside, not just those on the inside. So many “Christian”
programmes are forever about equipping church leaders and equipping our congregations and all our folk are saying, “Let’s go to the next conference”. Jesus says, “Pick up your cross, follow me, I’ll show you what to do – it’s out there”. Are there any other areas of ministry you want to mention as a church? Little Eagles Nursery is a full time day care nursery for pre-school children. It’s providing a service for this community which makes the locals come to the church. Little Eagles’ purpose is to get people saved, and to put the love of Jesus in these young children. Some Muslims send their children to our nursery because they want their children to grow up with Christian principles in their life. It’s another form of outreach. We’ve seen Little Eagles grow, and we’ve now got eight members of staff. We put on different events throughout the year. Can you tell me a bit about the community side of Caring Hands. How’s that developing? Obviously much of our flavour was gained from our time with you guys - in evangelism, in outreach, in meeting the need of the poor, and also in community life. Relationships grew and people wanted to stay in our three bedroom rented house for weekends. Then several people asked if they could move in. We changed rooms around so we could fit them in. These people weren’t in need, off the streets – they had their own accommodation and jobs. We just loved each other and we just loved being together. When we saw what God was doing, we said, ‘Lord we need bigger premises’. We moved across the road together and Kings Christian Community just grew from there. This was Acts 2:42 in action – people who wanted to share all they had in common and live their lives for one another. We
lived communally for five years, but being above Caring Hands and opposite to the church was a bit much and we moved out of the community this year. How did you get involved with Multiply and what is your vision for the Network? Before I was a leader here, Kings Church had been part of the Multiply Network. I was asked to be our Multiply representative. I felt that I knew the heart of what Multiply was about. I’d already got a lot of good existing relationships in Multiply and it was just working on them. Have you found any difficulties in working with local authorities and agencies? It was very difficult in the early days because of the view that, “You’re unqualified, we’re professionals, we know what we’re doing – you’re do-gooders.” In recent years, we’ve seen a wonderful turn around. Take the NHS, for example. They wanted to start an outreach project to the prostitutes and said, “We need your credibility; can we have copies of your Caring Hands logo to put on our paperwork?” It’s wonderful because the world is coming to the church, saying basically, “We need Jesus.” The town centre manager, in one interview said, “Every town centre needs a Caring Hands and needs a church like Kings, because they’re making a difference.” I’ve been sent up by the police to help persuade people against jumping off the building just opposite us here. Have you got a final word for the Jesus Fellowship? Wake up you sluggards! What a huge giant in the land! I just think the potential is still untapped. The heart that you have is phenomenal. The lifestyle that you live is incredibly challenging. But I still think your greater days are yet to come. JL Jesus Life One/2007 Page 13
“Live Last year, Aidan Ashby, 16, made the decision to be baptised and to move in at River Farm House, a Jesus Fellowship community house down the road from where he grew up. He tells Jesus Life why.
No regrets Rodger and Penny Ashby
“We’re still here!” says Rodger Ashby, thirty years on from pioneering the New Creation Christian Community.
ONE MORNING in 1972, Rodger Ashby decided to wear his “Jesus Lives” teeshirt for college. It was to change the whole course of his life. Strangest of all, 18-yearold Rodger wasn’t altogether sure what he believed about Jesus. “I was a very idealistic, introverted and insular young man,” explains Rodger. “As a young child I’d always wanted to work everything out and, of course, I thought my dad knew everything. So I asked him what the meaning of life was.” Rodger was shocked when his father replied that he didn’t really know. From that moment on, Rodger felt he had to try and find out – “because if there was a meaning then it would be folly not to live according to that.”
Jesus Life One/2007 Page 14
“Eventually I took up humanism which in effect makes a religion of atheism. I sought to convert my Christian and Muslim friends.” Yet as time went on Rodger seemed to be becoming more introverted and troubled. This led him to reconsider things (“surely truth should bring inner freedom”) and so began a long journey towards belief in God. “Gradually I came to see that for there to be any real meaning in life, there would have to be a purposeful creator. I also realised that mankind did not seem to be living in accord with such a purpose and would need God to intervene to be able to have a relationship with Him/Her/It.” Rodger began to find faith in Jesus as the bridge between God and Man.
“I painted ‘Jesus Lives’ on a T-shirt and wore it the next day to college. A young woman asked me if I was a Christian. ‘Sometimes,’ I replied and found myself invited to a small Baptist chapel in the middle of the Northamptonshire countryside.” “Don’t worry if you hear people making funny noises,” she told him. “It’s called speaking in tongues - it’s all there in the Bible!” “What I saw,” explains Rodger, “was more than just a bunch of people who believed in God. I saw a people who had
the adventure” “Live the adventure” “I’d been going round to River for a couple of years. It has a great bunch of lads with the same heart as each other and I longed to live the adventure with them. I wanted to be round there all the time, and would stay most weekends and during the holidays. “It was a bit of a pull away from my parents when I moved, but both they and I knew it was the best thing for me and I was going on to something worthwhile. “Seeing other people baptised and mov-
ing in all around me has been inspiring; it’s always well worth working through any difficulties we have with each other to make things work, seeing people eventually stick fast with us and move in. “We often stay up late because we can’t help having late night deep brotherhood. “My hopes for the future lie firmly with the people I’m with; building in others and seeing the community grow. There’s really no where else I’d rather be.”
s Clockwise from top right: Aidan has a vision for community;
Aidan and some brothers from River Farm House; Simeon, Andy and Aidan are all smiles; Aidan’s hopes for the future “lie firmly with people”.
a real sense of God leading them. I knew this was where God wanted me to be. They were seeking to live out what they read in the New Testament.” When the church decided to follow God into all-things-incommon community, Rodger caught the vision and moved in. In 1976, a big group from the church went on a “retreat” to Ashburnham in East Sussex to seek God for the way ahead. Enter Penny, who was working at Ashburnham as a volunteer. She takes up the story:
“...he remembers meeting me, over a huge pile of washing up”
“I came from a Quaker family. When I met the Jesus Fellowship at Ashburnham, I felt I’d found what I had been looking for – although I had not been particularly aware that I’d been looking! I felt as if I’d been wandering in a cold forest for years and had come upon this blazing fire which drew me. I could feel myself defrosting. “I was within six months of the end of my Psychiatric Nursing course and had lots of plans – they went straight out of the window! Straight after I finished the course, I moved into the community. Continued overleaf Jesus Life One/2007 Page 15
No regret s s
Continued from overleaf
“I don’t remember meeting Rodger at Ashburnham (though he remembers meeting me there, over a huge pile of washing up). We didn’t start going out with each other until 1985, but by then we had both lived in community since 1976. “Until that point I hadn’t been ready to face marriage. I had realised that I didn’t have the skills to build a healthy relationship. Nine years in community straightened me out emotionally and taught me to be more open and express myself better.” Three years after Rodger and Penny were married, their son Aidan was born. Both Penny and Rodger agree that bringing up their son in community has been a good incentive to working church relationships through. “You can’t have the luxury of moaning and whingeing about living together and then expect your child to grow up loving community!” says Rodger. “It was a very special day for us when Aidan chose community in his own right this summer, a few months before his seventeenth birthday.” Rodger and Penny have weathered many storms: relationship difficulties, misunderstanding, illness, even persecution. Thirty years on they are proud to have helped build something so secure and solid. “Everyone hits the wall at some time or other,” concludes Rodger. “But it’s what you do when that happens that matters. There are three things I have always held onto: ‘Honour God and He will honour you’; that ‘all things work together for good for those who love God’; and that if we ‘seek first the kingdom of God’, all the things we need will be ‘added’. “Looking back, there are things we might have done differently – but neither of us has any regrets.” JL
Jesus Life One/2007 Page 16
Family night out: on the evening of 3 December 2006, Pam Selmes was baptised as a member of Jesus Fellowship, with her own daughter, Penny, and grandson, Aidan, holding her either side while her son-in-law, Rodger, conducted the baptism.
Jesus Centres: where every person is valued
WHAT ARE JESUS CENTRES?
Jesus Life takes a look at where things have got to in this exciting vision for centres that express Jesus’ presence in UK towns and cities.
Places where the love of Jesus is expressed daily in worship, care and friendship for every type of person.
WHAT DO THEY OFFER?
All sorts, including showers, friendship, a listening ear, IT classes and food. They also act as a ‘gateway’ to other services and agencies.
WHO RUNS THEM?
The Jesus Army Charitable Trust (JACT). Staff and volunteers come from Jesus Fellowship Church.
WHERE ARE THEY?
Coventry, Northampton and, from mid 2007, central London. Eventually Jesus Centres will be found in other places around the UK.
HOW CAN I HELP?
We always need money, old clothes, food and lots more! Check out the website for details.
Coventr y: The first major Jesus Centre Opened in 2002 Around 60 active volunteers and 12 staff (mainly part time) Some 2006 stats from the Bridge Drop-In: 15,000 visits, 7,600 breakfasts, 3,000 lots of clothing/shoes given away, 2,500 phone calls for visitors, 500 laundry loads, 500 collected mail using the Jesus Centre address, 200 blankets given away... STOP PRESS NEWS: Coventry Jesus Centre’s Bond Scheme – a system whereby the Jesus Centre helps homeless people into housing by guaranteeing bonds for them – was recently shortlisted for a national award. The Bond Scheme made the top five from over 500 nominations for the national “Faithworks” award.
Northampton: The largest current Jesus Centre Began as a pilot scheme in 2001 Opened fully in 2004 Some 2006 stats from the “Step-Up” Drop-In: 3,500 free food giveaways, 2,000 needs met through services, 1,200 one-to-one listening sessions, 958 phone calls for visitors, 100 accommodation needs addressed, 500 visitors prayed with... STOP PRESS NEWS: “Fluid”, the Friday night event for clubbing youth, now includes “Late Night Church.” During 2006, several young men were baptized who were first met at “Fluid”.
London: Situated near Oxford Circus in central London The building, formally a convent, is now home to a Jesus Fellowship community family of about 24 people. The ground and lower floors are to accommodate the Jesus Centre Volunteer training is already underway buildSTOP PRESS NEWS: The build ers are in! Work has started to adapt the lower floors of the property to make the London Jesus Centre.
s Top left: Two visitors to the Bridge Drop-In Bottom left: Audience members at “Goldsmiths” a multi-media gospel event at Coventry Jesus Centre Centre: “The Jesus Centre where every person is valued” banner Right: Coventry Jesus Centre’s Bond Scheme was shortlisted for the national “Faithworks” award. Ann Hawker and John Campbell, representing the Jesus Centre, were presented with a certificate at the Houses of Parliament
Jesus Life One/2007 Page 17
Jesus JesusCentres Centres
E Living on the Edge. E dd g g e e
Piers Young describes some of the faith-challenges involved in running a Jesus Centre. It’s front line action at the Jesus Centre! How do we get an abusive man out of the Bridge drop-in? How can we be fair and decide if someone is guilty of using drugs in a toilet when evidence is inconclusive (and they deny it)? What do we do when someone says we’ve lost their designer clothes in the laundry? (It’s always designer.) In this case, we replace it with whatever we have in stock, no more. One guy was abusive about this but later apologised: he had found the item. We lost a member of staff at the start of 2006 and had to run the kitchen without them for six
months, often not knowing how we would cover it from day to day. Then Hazel moved to the area and applied, despite health problems. We gave her a three month trial and she flourished. We needed to expand our services, to take existing visitors further, and to reach new people. Several local agencies started sending workers to us, and they have fitted in well. Some are Christians; others have been happy to support our ethos. Our own people have started new services’ too, such as Stephanie’s “PC skills for the blind” course and Gill’s “English Conversation” class.
Money can be a nail-biter! Having had grants previously, we suddenly realised that our cash was running out. Someone in the council whom we had worked with pointed to a source of funding which proved fruitful; we got a good grant that will help a lot. We prayed of course. Members’ giving increased, and some substantial donations came in. We have learned to “hang on in there” and wait for God’s provision. He is faithful, and we’ve learned more about His ways. Thanks God! Piers Young is Manager of the Coventry Jesus Centre. JL
ple, people, people, people, people, peop Minh didn’t have any friends and didn’t believe in God when he came to the Jesus Centre. Since then he has made many relationships in the church and found Christian faith.
Jesus Life One/2007 Page 18
Qubert is an asylum seeker from Sri Lanka. The Refugee Centre rang us at the Jesus Centre because we help destitute asylum seekers. We gave him a place to stay at Promise community house and he’s done really well, found faith, been baptised and become a church member.
Lyndsey came from a background of getting into trouble and drinking. She found Jesus through coming to the church and became a volunteer in the Centre.
“Gent ” . n a m e l t n e g n i as drug Chaos, crime and ’s abuse on Carlisle rough estates. HMP Doncaster. HMP Lindholme. new Jesus Army and a tells life... Mark Gent Jesus Life editor, his stor y. James Stacey,
I WAS NINE. Someone had given me an ice lolly. My uncle said, ‘What’s that?’ and I said, ‘Well – it’s an ice lolly.’” Mark laughs, but the punchline that follows is not funny: “He started slapping me and beating me, right there on the street.” This was not an isolated incident in Mark’s troubled childhood in Carlisle. Dad in borstal and “no relationship” with mum, he lived with his grandad (till he died when Mark was four). He moved in with his dad and his new woman and their two kids – until they broke up, messily. It was hardly a good start in life, and that
DRUGS: SOME FACTS
ALCOHOL (“booze”) depressant / causes mild euphoria and loss of inhibition / long term use can cause damage to the brain, heart, stomach, liver and other organs
Jesus Life One/2007 Page 19
s s was just the beginning. Moving in with his aunt, Mark was regularly beaten by his uncle until, aged 12, he was fostered. “I ended up quite rebellious,” states Mark, matter-of-factly. “I started smoking ganja and getting into fights at school. “When I was about 14, my dad came back on the scene. He was kind to me, buying me stuff. I moved in with him.” Sadly it wasn’t to be “happy ever after”. Mark’s eyes cloud a little as he recalls, “My dad was a very heavy drinker. There were times when he got into such a state that I used to have to take him to the toilet and he’d fall over and... he wasn’t in a very good state to look after me. “One time I was left in the house for three days with no food, no electric. I was desperate. That’s when I got into inhaling lighter gas. My dad’s friend, Smiddy, who was a heroin addict himself, looked through the window one day and saw me tooting on this gas. He managed to get in and said, ‘Look, what are you doing?’ He brought me something to eat from his house. He was really battling with addiction himself.” Mark pauses. “About two weeks later his wife and daughter walked in and found him dead on the floor. His daughter was about three...” There’s tightness in Mark’s face; then he resumes, breezily: “I went back into care when I was 16. Foster home with a woman called Margery. When I moved in, there was a lad called Barry already living there.” He leans forward a little. “This is where it starts to get interesting.” I wouldn’t exactly have called his story so far dull. Shifting in my seat, I’m all ears. Mark presses on with tales of his misdeeds with Barry: Mark introduces cannabis to Barry. Barry introduces ecstasy to Mark. Drinking and fighting on “the Currock estate”. Injecting amphetamines to get high; necking Valium to come down. (“You could get Valium for 50 pence each on the estate”). Barry had “connections” with the drug
AMPHETAMINES (“speed”) stimulates the heartbeat, causing increased confidence and energy / causes insomnia and depression / heavy use can cause mental illness / high doses can be fatal Jesus Life One/2007 Page 20
He grabbed hold of me by the throat and pinned me against the wall. He pulled out a knife and put it against my neck. CANNABIS (marijuana, “ganja”, “dope” “weed”) mild sedative (“relaxing”) effect / impairs short-term memory / affects body coordination / causes confusion / saps energy
underworld of the Northwest and began storing drugs in the foster home. On one occasion, Mark found a thousand ecstasy tablets under Barry’s bed. “I put them down my top and went out – up to Currock.” Mark’s plan to sell the ecstasy ended in disaster. Ripped off by Harry, a dealer he thought he “could trust” Mark didn’t dare go back home ‘empty-handed’. However, after a week or so of sleeping on mates’ settees (“I weren’t very favoured by their mums”), he went back and told Barry what had happened. Minutes later, Mark, Barry and Barry’s mate (and heavy-duty drug pusher) Bradley were in a car heading over to Harry’s place – or so Mark thought. “On the way over there, they pulled into a house and Bradley said, ‘Right, we’re just gonna go in here; we’re gonna to make a spliff for the road’. I walked in: the door slammed behind me and there was a massive guy with a bald head. He grabbed hold of me by the throat and pinned me against the wall. He pulled out a knife and put it against my neck. I thought, ‘I’ve had it, this guy’s gonna kill me’. “He said, ‘Where are the drugs?’ and I tried telling him, through sobs. He kept pressing this knife closer to me. ‘Do you know I could put this knife right through your face?’ “I said, ‘Look, please don’t hurt me, I’m telling you the truth.’ He yelled, ‘Get out of my face’ and threw me against the door. “I ran all the way back to my foster home, went up into my room, closed the curtains and hid underneath the quilt and just – just wept, like. “It freaked me out and I thought, ‘I’ve just got to get out of Carlisle.” As it happened, Mark’s chance to leave Carlisle came unexpectedly. Arrested for assaulting his foster mum in a wrangle over her purse, he was sent to a bail hostel in Accrington. The good news was, he was out
COCAINE (“coke”) potent brain stimulant and one of the most addictive drugs / makes the heart beat irregularly / increases body temperature / large doses can be fatal www.jesus.org.uk
The continual cocktail of heroin, drink, methadone and Valium made him psychotic
of Carlisle. The bad news was that he started using heroin through mixing with addicts there. “My giro went on heroin. I was constantly using. I just couldn’t break away from my heroin addiction.” The continual cocktail of heroin, drink, methadone and Valium made Mark become, in his own words, “psychotic”. “One time, I was drinking with this bloke from the flat downstairs. He fell asleep. I got a knife out of the kitchen and went and started checking his pockets for money. He woke up, so I stabbed him. The knife that I used – thank God – was a bread knife and quite flexible. If it wasn’t actually for that, I’d have probably been in prison now for murder. “All of a sudden I just came to my senses. There was blood all over me. I panicked and thought ‘What have I done?’ So I went to the phone box round the corner and phoned up the ambulance and explained, ‘I’ve used a knife on my friend’. The ambulance phoned the police and they came round and arrested me. “I did 21 months in prison in HMP Doncaster and then HMP Lindholme in Yorkshire. Lindholme was a very raw jail. I once saw a guy get beaten up with a table leg and he was knocked unconscious. He was convulsing and he virtually died in prison.” Ten days after his release, Mark was arrested again for “kicking this guy’s door down”. He was easy enough for the police to pick up: under the influence of alcohol and diazepam
at the time, he fell asleep on the stairs. Mark grins. “Next to me the door was open with my footprints on it. So: back in prison for six months.” Released again, Mark drifted to Nottingham and then to Northampton where he lived on the streets. “One day, I saw a Jesus Army sticker on a house’s window. I thought ‘I’m going to go and knock on that door and try and get some sandwiches and a blanket, like.’ “I knocked on the door and Steve answered and said, ‘I think you’d better come in’. I went in and he said ‘Just stay. Stick around us, see what we’re about. Do you want something to eat? Do you want a bath?’”
ECSTASY (“E”) increases brain activity / causes a feeling of euphoria / affects body temperature / causes anxiety, panic and confusion / heavy use can cause brain damage, liver and kidney problems www.jesus.org.uk
HEROIN (“junk”, “smack”) highly addictive / depressant / creats a “high” / increasingly greater amounts are needed for a high / overdose can cause heart failure, coma or death
Mark had already encountered the Jesus Army, briefly, a few weeks earlier and had sensed that “These people have something that I need”. He decided to stay around. He recalls his first Jesus Army meeting. “I started joining in the songs, but I just started to well up inside. I felt really unclean and I burst out in tears. Steve prayed for me and I felt really filled with God’s love. It was life changing. I felt accepted and clean. “I found God over that weekend and found a love for the church, for my brothers and sisters.” Some time later, Mark was baptised – in a river in December (he must have been serious!) That was four years ago in 2003. Mark is now an up-and-coming leader, living in a Jesus Fellowship community house in Kettering. As he speaks of his love for Jesus and the church, it oozes from every pore. I look at him. His face falls most naturally into a grin. His blue eyes have a touch of the visionary about them. Using my imagination and calling to mind the story I’ve just heard, I can just about imagine his face differently: pinched, scared, hard, hunted. But that was the past. In Mark’s own words, “God has freed me. The life I’m living now is for God.” At the start of my talk with Mark, I’d asked him his full name and he replied, “Mark Gent – Gent as in gentleman”. And he is too: warm, open, peaceful, affable. Despite all the odds, Jesus has made him a gentle – and powerful – man of God. Some names have been changed. JL
VALIUM (diazepam) legal (prescribed) drug for anxiety disorders / heavy use can lead to addiction / withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, panic attacks, sweating, insomnia, headaches, nausea and muscle spasms Jesus Life One/2007 Page 21
WHAT IS MULTIPLY? Multiply Christian Network is a worldwide apostolic stream of churches, initiated by Jesus Fellowship Church. It is a member of the Evangelical Alliance UK. Multiply now has 18 UK groups and 105 worldwide.
WHO’S IT FOR?
Any fellowship, of any size, from any culture or race, as long as it is basically evangelical. The latest partner to join was Living Water Church, a Congolese French-speaking church based in Gloucester, UK.
WHAT DOES IT OFFER?
Relationships between leaders are central and are fostered through regular conferences, celebration gatherings and fellowship. Leadership and evangelism training plus a variety of resources, including free literature, are also available.
Contact Multiply Director Huw Lewis Tel: +44 1327 344533 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. uk or write to: Jesus Fellowship/ Multiply Central Offices, Nether Heyford, Northampton, UK NN7 3LB
From idol worshipper to Multiply apostolic man - Emma Merry talks to Matthew Oluwalesin from Nigeria
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MULTIPLY APOSTOLIC MEN NAME: Matthew Oluwalesin BORN: 1939, Osi-akiti, Nigeria STATUS: Married, with two sons and three daughters CHURCH: Glad Tidings Evangelical Church (GTEC) APOSTOLIC MAN FOR: Nigeria CONTACT: Tel: +234 080 231 60134/ +234 1-8126023 Email: email@example.com
HAT makes Multiply unique is friendship,” says Matthew Oluwalesin. “There is a binding love between us.” Sitting in one of the lounges at ‘Springfield’, one of the Jesus Fellowship’s houses in Leicester, we are a thousand miles away physically and culturally from Matthew’s home in Lagos, Nigeria, but we are one. “In the past many white
people would not even shake hands with a black man, not to talk of sitting down together, eating together, sharing together,” comments Matthew. “God has deposited something unique in Jesus Fellowship brethren – He has made them to love, to welcome and to pull down the wall of partition.” This wall can be built from both sides, and Matthew, as the leader of a growing African
church, originally had reservations about fellowshipping with an overseas church. Three events changed his mind. In 1990 while evangelising at Gowon Estate, in Lagos, he met a former Jesus Fellowship member. When this man saw that Matthew’s church, Glad Tidings Evangelical Church, was a brotherhood church, he said it resembled Jesus Fellowship and suggested Matthew make
Pan-African vision contact with them. Eight months later a visitor from another state told Matthew he saw him walking together with some white people – and it was good. Lastly, Matthew himself had a vision: “I was on a farm walking with white people. The farm yielded fruit. From there we went to a village that was full of darkness and immediately we entered in, a great light came. The people, who had been frustrated and saddened, started to rejoice and wanted to follow us.” These things convinced him and he wrote to England. Three Jesus Fellowship leaders visited Nigeria in May 1991. At the airport Matthew found reassurance: “As we were praying they were speaking in tongues – and I, too, speak in tongues. So in that Holy Spirit conviction that we were compatible, I said yes, I will maintain relationship with them.” This relationship has carried on for 15 years now, and Matthew rejoices over it: “Before I visited I wouldn’t have believed there was a church that can practise what the Fellowship is practising. The Lord has made me to learn tolerance, love, accommodation and giving from them.” Matthew’s own journey from idol worshipper to apostolic Christian leader began in a miraculous way in 1973. He was alone in his room when he heard a voice asking his name: “I answered ‘Matthew’. The voice asked again, ‘Why did I like to be a Matthew?’ ‘Because he was one of the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.’ (I was not born again but I loved His name!) The voice asked again, ‘Why did I choose to
be a Judas?’ I said I wouldn’t be a Judas because he was a rebellious man. “Right on my chair I repented of my sins and gave my life to Christ.” He didn’t realise it at the time, and he didn’t pray about it, but as he was saved, a hole in his foot was healed. “I’d gone to many diabolic places for healing but I was not healed,” he recalls. “This is one of the great things the Lord has done for me. And ever since I’ve been ministering healing to people.” A year later, asleep in his room, Matthew was filled with the Holy Spirit. The change was dramatic: ‘The understanding of the word of God was much more imperative in my life. And I was able to do many things, overcome many temptations and trials. “Many times people will say, ‘This thing is not wrong’ or ‘It doesn’t matter’, but I’ll say no, because the Holy Spirit will not allow me.” GTEC grew out of a house prayer group Matthew started in 1976. Today it has a full programme, including revivals, annual conventions and youth meetings, plus fellowships for men, women and the elderly. In a country where poverty is usual (GNI per capita US$560), the needy give to the needier. Every second Sunday, they collect food and money and give it to whoever is in need, inside or outside the church. Multiply Nigeria members meet every last Thursday of the month. “Sometimes we have a meal but most essentially we pray and share the word of God,” says Matthew. There are also yearly seminars and gatherings.
“Many times I have sleepless nights... The Lord has always given me a way out.” In 2004 Matthew “extended the hand of fellowship to Gabon, Togo, Benin and Ghana”. Yearly Multiply Conferences are held in Lagos, attended by Jesus Fellowship leaders from the UK. Matthew is planning a pan-African conference in Lagos this year. To whom much is given, much is expected, and Matthew takes his apostolic calling very seriously. “I see it as a great commitment to the Lord and to our fellow human being,” he says. “Many times I have sleepless nights thinking about how to go with this or that. The Lord has always given me a way out.” Matthew has encountered many problems as a leader but counts it all as part of his cross: “Right from my conversion, the Spirit has made me to under-
stand that I will carry the cross and be a servant of God. “Many times I have met with disappointments, even from Christian brothers and sisters, but because the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, I did not go back to the world or retaliate. Instead I love and pray for them. “I refuse to be discouraged. Before a person succeeds, he or she must meet with challenges. And it is challenges that make us strong when we overcome them.” “It entails sacrifice to carry on as an apostolic man because you have to deal with many issues. The more your vision is expanded, the more hard-working you become. You have to pray, read, teach – you have to do many things.” Matthew recognises the need of many pastors for fathers to encourage them. And this is what Multiply Nigeria seeks to bring to members, by preaching, encouraging, visiting, phone calls and, occasionally, financial help. For Matthew, it is God’s name that he wishes always to bring glory to: “We live by the grace of God. I pray that I will leave behind me a legacy that is worthy of emulation, that the name of the Lord will not be spoken against through me. “It is disastrous if after the leader dies, a church dies. That would mean the leader has wasted his energy. I’ve taken time to train people and I’m still training people.” The vision for Multiply West Africa continues to expand. More workers and more finance are needed. “We do solicit for prayers that vision will be fulfilled,” says Matthew, breaking out into a broad smile. I am left with an impression of a man who is measured, prayerful, deliberate, confident in Christ – and who carries a deep-seated cross-cenJL tred joy.
Jesus Life One/2007 Page 23
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Neil Jarrett is a Project Manager at Goodness Foods, one of the Jesus Fellowship’s community-owned businesses. He explains the vision and practice of “kingdom employment”.
SHAUN recognised the distinctive red cross in the prison visiting room. He was visiting a mate inside and hadn’t expected to see someone from the Jesus Army there. Arthur, from one of the Jesus Fellowship’s community houses, was also visiting a friend. Shaun had been homeless for some time, living on a hill in his home town of Baldock. The cycle of prison, heroin and homelessness had been impossible to break and Shaun was desperate to escape. As a result of that “chance” meeting, Shaun went to stay in Christian community and slowly found freedom from his addictions. However, he desperately needed to apply himself to something in the daytime to avoid the temptations drawing him back. TBS, the Jesus Fellowship’s builders merchant business, was able to provide an opportunity for Shaun to help as a driver’s mate. This led to Shaun working at Goodness Foods, another Jesus Fellowship “kingdom business” (so called because of the vision of “taking” money from the world and channelling it into the kingdom of God). “I was immediately hit by the sense of belonging and brotherhood within the businesses and soon found a strengthening of my desire to end the drugs. The love and acceptance has made me confident; I’ve now been able to become a responsible person within the church”. Shaun had found it impossible to break out of his cycle of homelessness before. “When you’re an addict you become stereotyped and no one wants to know. But now I feel that I’ve broken out and can help others in the same situation.” Shaun has found a “ministry” within the church businesses and regularly leads worship and prayer times. “I love the sense of equality – everyone here earns the same wage. I appreciate the freedom to talk to visiting drivers about God and I also value the way that I’m no longer wasting my energies, but giving to something worthwhile.” The Jesus Fellowship began kingdom businesses in
Jesus Life One/2007 Page 25
oodness hers at ‘G Young brot at lunchtime y enjoy a curr
Continued from over
the 1970s. Our vision was born out of a desire for close relational brotherhood. We felt that our working lives were wasted working for the “fat cats” of this world. We longed for a way of working together and for the profits to be channelled into something that contributed to changed lives. The first kingdom businesses began to serve the Christian community which had sprung up in Bugbrooke. A shop to sell the produce from the farms we had purchased. A garage to repair the cars. A construction company and builders merchant to repair the houses. The businesses were set up on the same principle as the community houses: “All the believers were together and had everything in common” (Acts 2:44). So there is an equality of wages – the cleaner earns the same as the Managing Director. What you earn is irrespective of the
All debts were cancelled and everyone started again on an equal footing skills and ability that you have. In the Old Testament, we find a “year of jubilee” (see Leviticus 25): every fifty years, all debts were cancelled and everyone started again on an equal footing. The principle of equality is also advocated in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 8:14). We follow this principle of equality throughout our businesses and community. This enables people to start again. For some the cycle of poverty, homelessness and unemployment has been impossible to break out of. The businesses and community have provided a way out of this cycle by providing employment for people regardless of the skills they have. “The devil makes work for idle hands”... So runs the old proverb – but it’s still true today. Addiction to alcohol or drugs is often found through boredom. Kingdom businesses have provided an excellent opportunity for those struggling with addictions to work in the day time. Even if they cannot cope with the pressure of a full time job, they
Jesus Life One/2007 Page 26
have benefited from an afternoon fruit-picking on the farm. Working with Christians offers many opportunities for ministry. All of our businesses have a weekly “brotherhood time” where teaching can be given and there is an opportunity to worship or receive prayer. Living and working in the community allows us to be “24-7 church”. Kingdom businesses are noticeably different to those in a secular environment. In the neighbouring car park, next to Goodness Foods, the Managing Directors arrive in BMWs with personalised number plates. Our Managing Director arrives in an old Volkswagen camper van. Most of our employees arrive for work in Jesus Army minibuses, a far cry from single driver rush hour traffic! Probably one of the funniest differences is the lack of graffiti within the toilets (with the exception of the few misguided “Praise the Lord”s!) Profits generated by kingdom businesses are not used to line the pockets of the wealthy, but to fund the church’s work for the gospel – such as Jesus Centres. In one year, our businesses were able to donate over £1million to the work of the church and the Jesus Centres, as well as employing over 200 people. Kingdom businesses release people for ministry. The businesses have committed themselves to seconding some employees to work at the Jesus Centres for half a day per week. Likewise, staff are released for many evangelistic campaigns throughout the year. There is another helpful spin-off that comes from having church businesses. In a national church, the businesses offer a central network for communicating faith, prayer needs and direction. The miracles that God does in one area of the country can quickly be communicated from one area to another (I call it “holy gossip”) via the businesses. This causes the church to be encouraged and faith rises. And of course, employees are able to form strong relationships across the church, which they can draw strength from in difficult times. With the national retirement age set to reach 70 in the future, the next generation of employees will work for over 110,000 hours in their lifetime. For many, work is just a necessity with little intrinsic enjoyment in it. Life is spent looking forwards to the weekend or planning summer holidays. However for those choosing to work in a kingdom business, their career can be much, much more fulfilling, more purposeful and more worthwhile. JL
If you’d like to send your prayer requests, or let us know what God has been doing in your life or you’d like to find out more about Him. email: email@example.com write: Jesus Fellowship, Nether Heyford, Northampton NN7 3LB
I was once a drug addict until I met Jesus. Now I find myself being a blessing for other drug addicts, leading them to Jesus! Michael Zohmingliana, INDIA
Hi there, I’m from Mexico (San Luis Potosi City) and I wonder if you can email me the lyrics and guitar chords for the song “I Fall on You” which I found on your website. It’s so beautiful. I hope you can help me so that I can play this beautiful song on my guitar. Meanwhile, I will keep an eye on your webpage. Thank you all and God bless you, Oscar Flores, MEXICO “I Fall on You” and other Jesus Fellowship songs can be found at www.jesus.org.uk/vault/ audio_mp3_index.shtml
We are a very small Christian ministry in the Solomon Islands, a country that has just risen out of the ashes of a civil war. The war brought the country to its worst economic situation in its history. We need encouragement and training and would love anyone who cares. May the Lord Jesus Christ love you all, always. Pastor John Michael, SOLOMON ISLANDS
SAY A PRAYER
I just wanted you to know I accepted Jesus today. I do not need any literature at this time. Please just say a prayer for me. Chakhriya Jitnoom, LONDON
My life’s goal has always been to live communal Christianity, just like in Acts 2. When I was 19 (back in 1975) I had a beautiful experience... Jesus came into my life for ever and since then (I’m 50 now) I’ve longed to live among brothers and sisters, to share that indescribable state of grace or happiness. It’s a pity that there are no organisations like yours in Latin America. I’m going through some very difficult times now and it would be impossible for me to visit you so far away. But it would be nice to maintain correspondence with you. From what I’ve read from your site, we agree that true Christians must live and build a complete new society based on the love of the Holy Spirit, where there should be no competition, but solidarity amongst the brethren: no exploitation of the other. Why are there so few Christians in the world living communal life, or living Christianity to this extent? I’m concerned about this – and about many other subjects I’d love to discuss with you. Best regards and God bless you all! Guillermo Montagne, BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
Hello, I was reading through your website and I was interested in how you express your love of Jesus through your good work. I am from quite a poor family and like how you spread God’s word irrespective of whether people are rich or poor. Chris Latimer, LIVERPOOL
Just wanted to say that I enjoyed looking at all the photos in the Firestarters photo albums taken of the street marches! Looked pretty radical! That was quite a march you had in the streets of London! I am sure those kids with red crosses painted across their faces got a lot of attention! Anyway, it looked a festive atmosphere. I am a Christian and attend a Calvary Chapel here in Aurora, Colorado. Have a great weekend and God bless ya all! Bill Wolverton, COLORADO, USA
Hello, my name is Graziano and I’m interested to make acquaintance with people who are practising the words of the Bible and who follow Jesus. Myself, I’m fed up that a lot of people around me are superficial and don’t look for the very important things in life. For me there are more things in life than “eating, drinking, sleeping and working”. I think life is more than satisfying these needs. I’m searching for lifeminded people. Best regards, Graziano Barbuto, GERMANY
Hello! My name is Sunil Isaac and I am a 25-year-old male Christian from Pakistan. I will be visiting London and I am interested to visit you and your fellowship if possible. I have the desire to fellowship with other cultures to understand and become sensitive to how other cultures are serving the Lord. I belong to an international church here in Islamabad where more than 90% of people are foreign and, in fact, my sister is a missionary serving the Lord in London. How exciting that God is bringing together people form all tribes and nations to serve Him. God bless you and hoping to hear form you, Regards, Sunil Isaac, ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN
Jesus Life One/2007 Page 27
DO YOU HAVE TO GROW A BEARD? DOES “BEING PROPHETIC” mean growing a beard (even if you’re a woman) and spouting King James phrases in a deep voice (“Thus saith the Lord of hosts, verily...”)? Is it the spiritual gift of pointing out people’s faults?
Do you have to be generally a bit, well, weird? Certainly, prophets in the Bible weren’t what you’d call conventional (unless you’d call smashing pottery in public places and going around naked for three years conventional). Ho sea symbolically married a prostitute. Jeremiah and John the Baptist didn’t marry at all. But we completely miss the point if we think that “being prophetic” equals “being ec-
What does it mean to be “ ”?
centric”. These men weren’t odd – they were consumed with passion. Passion that sometimes led them to do dramatic things in order to communicate God’s heart. That’s what really being prophetic is all about. Caring – really caring, from deep down, from your guts – about the things God cares about. About justice and truth. About His Son having a glorious church that’s worthy of Him.
MODERNRMY JESUS AG YEAR TRAININ
AN ACTION YEAR DEVELOPING THE POTENTIAL OF A NEW GENERATION OF SHAPERS AND PIONEERS. THE FOCUS IS FORMING CHARACTER, RELEASING PEOPLE INTO BOLDNESS AND STRENGTH IN JESUS For more info: Tel: 0845 166 8175 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Jesus Fellowship/Multiply, Nether Heyford, Northampton NN7 3LB
Jesus Life One/2007 Four/2006 Page Page 28 28
Prophetic people will do the things that Jesus said and challenge others by how they live: sometimes they won’t even have to open their mouths. You’ll find them sharing everything with their brothers and sisters in community. You’ll find them laying down their lives (for real, not just talk) in lifelong pledges of loyalty. They’ll be alongside the poor, spending their lives. They’ll earn the right to challenge others to more commitment and reality, not by the amount of facial hair they have, but by authentic lives, filled with passion for the cause of Jesus. It’s scary being prophetic. But you don’t have to grow a beard. JL
HAVE YOUR SAY: email: email@example.com Read the ebook at http://www.jesus.org.uk/ja/ jgen_kingdommanifesto.pdf
GET EQUIPPED to advance in Holy Spirit movement in the UK today! GET INVOLVED in reaching the spiritually hungry people of our nation and build the living church of Jesus GO DEEPER in a community lifestyle of simplicity and sacrifice www.jesus.org.uk
word up “
“The youth of today...”
Simeon / 17 I’m fighting for a cause worth living for
They’re not all living for an iPod-, Xbox-, Wii-powered alternative (fake) reality. Some of them are filled with passion for the cause of Jesus. Here are just a few of them.
Sam / 18 I’m living for Jesus
Lizzi / 15 I’m living for Jesus and Christian Community
Danny / 18
I’m living to see Jesus glorified! Living to see His “city on a hill” built! Living to draw people into His kingdom!
Josh / 17
I’m living single-minded for God
Joe / 14 I’m living for Jesus
Sam / 15
Rob / 18
I’m living to serve God
Living for Skaino* and working hard
Joe / 20 Ruth / 17
I wanna live in Christian Community forever www.jesus.org.uk
Katherine / 19
I’m working out how to live for Jesus and build His church
* Skaino is a Jesus Fellowship Community Trust-owned business. For more on the vision of “kingdom businesses” see pages 25-26
I’m living for Christian Community and making it work
Mim / 17
I’m living for God’s will for me
Jesus Life One/2007 Page 29
laurence cooper mULTiPLy ChUrCheS and groUPS meeT aLL oVer The UK ring UP and Find oUT WhaT’S going on in yoUr area!
JeSUS FeLLoWShiP groUPS aLSo meeT regULarLy in: BeLFaST .........................................................................................0845 123 5552 BoUrnemoUTh ...........................................................................0845 123 5558 BriSToL .........................................................................................0845 123 5339 CheSTer/norTh WaLeS .......................................................... 0845 123 5561 haSTingS ...................................................................................... 0845 123 5551 neWCaSTLe-UPon-Tyne ........................................................... 0845 166 8187 PreSTon .......................................................................................0845 123 5554 SWanSea ......................................................................................0845 123 5556 WaLSaLL........................................................................................0845 123 5563 Jesus Life One/2007 Page 30 WoLVerhamPTon ......................................................................0845 123 5564
HOW WILL you be remembered? Sorry to ask a morbid sounding question, but...what would they write on your gravestone? Ever thought of it? What will they say of you when you’re gone? Were they to be inscribed with people’s lifetime achievements, the stones in our municipal graveyards might read: “He lived for Arsenal” or “She loved Coronation Street”. “He had several messy relationships that failed.” Depressing, isn’t it? Okay, so we can’t all aspire to Alexander-like greatness (he had conquered the world by the end of his 33-year old life), but what can we aspire to? And what is worth living for? “The mass of men”, said Thoreau, “lead lives of quiet desperation”. Is it possible to escape the seeming futility of our existence? An inscription I saw in a Leeds church remains with me. “He was a zealous promoter of vital Christianity.” “Vital.” Alive, kicking. Something passionate, breathless, necessary.
Two millennia after His coming, the penniless carpenter from Nazareth is still finding men and women who desire to live for eternity on earth. People who want to pour out their lives, not for work or family or entertainment, but for a greater cause – that of the risen Son of God. Will we rise to the challenge of being extraordinary for Christ? Where in our flaccid, selfsatisfied and risk-averse society are those who will truly travel the hard, the dangerous, the despised road of commitment to the highest Name? Those who, in the words of Spender’s poem: “... in their lives fought for life. Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre. Born of the sun, they travelled a short while towards the sun, And left the vivid air signed with their honour.” To bear the name of a follower of King Jesus Christ is the highest mark of lasting honour that anyone can wear. Dare you live for anything less?
AH FEEL BETTER?
Birmingham Jesus Fellowship Church..................................0845 166 8153 BLaCKBUrn hyndburn Christian Fellowship ........................(01254) 876980 BLaCKBUrn rishton Christian Fellowship ...........................(01254) 887790 Bridgend The Bridge Community Church............................(01656) 655635 BrighTon & hoVe Jesus Fellowship Church ........................0845 166 8151 ChaTham house of Prayer For all nations ...........................(01634) 669933 ChaTham King’s Church medway............................................ (01634) 847477 CoVenTry Jesus Fellowship Church........................................0845 166 8154 Croydon Jesus Fellowship Church.........................................0845 226 1972 deaL Christchurch.......................................................................(01304) 366512 high WyComBe Church of Shalom.........................................(01494) 449408 iPSWiCh Jesus Fellowship Church ...........................................0845 166 8156 KeTTering Jesus Fellowship Church.......................................0845 166 8157 LeedS Jesus Fellowship Church................................................0845 166 8167 LeiCeSTer Jesus Fellowship Church .......................................0845 644 9705 LiVerPooL Jesus Fellowship Church ......................................0845 166 8168 London n glad Tidings evangelical Church ........................(020) 8245 9002 London S Bible Life Family ministries..................................(020) 8689 2244 London Se Understanding ministries ...............................(020) 8855 3087 London Se ephratah int’l gospel Praise Centre................(020) 8469 0047 London Se Flaming evangelical ministries ........................(020) 8694 2083 London Se hope of glory int’l ministries ............................(020) 8694 6738 London Se mission Together for Christ ............................... (020) 7401 2687 London Jesus Fellowship Church ...........................................0845 166 8152 manCheSTer Jesus Fellowship Church .................................0845 166 8169 miLTon KeyneS Jesus Fellowship Church .............................0845 166 8159 norThamPTon Jesus Fellowship Church .............................0845 166 8161 norWiCh Jesus Fellowship Church .........................................0845 166 8162 noTTingham Jesus Fellowship Church...................................0845 166 8163 oxFord Jesus Fellowship Church............................................0845 166 8164 ramSey hoLLoW (Cambs) Christians United ......................(01487) 815528 SheFFieLd Jesus Fellowship Church .......................................0845 166 8183 SToKe-on-TrenT Jesus Fellowship Church ............................0845 123 5334
deborah stockley Jesus Life hears from mJa members about what makes them bubble with excitement... or boil with rage.
RAVE about Jesus? Where to begin?! Is it possible to fall in love with Jesus and His church, to throw all plans for comfortable security away for something eternal? Yes, it is! Living for something that will last forever? Yes, it is possible. I’m living for Jesus: my passion is what He is passionate about. This means what I’m living for won’t go down when Wall Street crashes, or rise and fall with the interest rates – what I’m living for is Jesus. Is it a risk? Of course it is! Was anything precious and lasting ever purchased without a cost? I don’t think so. I don’t want Jesus on the cheap. He’s worth everything. I’m investing in the future. I
want to walk on the path of sacrifice that countless people have before me. I’m following in their footsteps. It’s in my spiritual genes and I want to pass that on. It’s compulsive within - it has to happen. If I cannot obey the call of Jesus on my life, if I do not walk the road of devotion to Him, then how will the next generation know the way? Who will they have to follow? Do I want the next generation be a generation who totally obey the call of Jesus on their life? Like the woman in the Bible who poured out precious costly perfume on Jesus, the passion of love conquers fear, overcomes any boundaries, compels me to follow the One I love. I know for sure – He’s worth it. JL
Jesus Life One/2007 Page 31
OUT NOW! from Multiply Publications
In Covenant People, the idea of making a covenant – to God and to each other – is explored. In addition, six covenant members of the Jesus Fellowship tell their stories, sharing how such commitment is worked out “in pain and tears, joy and laughter and with many unforeseen trials”.
Covenant People Covenant People
A vision for Christian commitment today by Julia Faire
There is a battle to be fought and won, a lost generation to be won for Christ, a solid church to be built within a fragmented and unstable society. Jesus Life Three/2006 Page 32
Available from Jesus People Shop, Nether Heyford, Northampton NN7 3LB e: firstname.lastname@example.org www.jesuspeople.biz t: 0845 123 5550 f: 0845 166 8178