kerith community church magazine issue 15
DECISIVE = INCISIVE
All of us are faced with huge numbers of decisions every day. Some of those decisions, such as what to have for breakfast or which socks to put on in the morning, don’t make too much difference (at least hopefully not!). Others such as which job to take, who we have as friends, or where we should live, can change the whole direction of our lives.
SIMON BENHAM SENIOR PASTOR
In this magazine you’ll read about people making all sorts of different choices. Some of the choices are the kind we all face in every day life. Others are much more radical decisions to step away from what is comfortable and into something entirely new. Some of the decisions have worked out well, some badly and with some, the jury is still out!
KERITH COMMUNITY CHURCH
A common theme amongst all the articles is examining what difference faith in Jesus makes to people’s decisionmaking. Does faith really have any part to play in how we live our everyday lives, or should we just rely on our own instincts and the advice of friends and family? I really hope you enjoy getting a window into these different people’s lives.
MAKING THE LINK Chief Editor Suzanne Whitton Copy Editor Suzanne Whitton Consulting Editors Simon Benham Beccy Oliver John Mitchell Penny Lander Jacqui Webber-Gant Debs Field Magazine Coordinator Kara Challis Editorial Contribution Suzanne Whitton Penny Lander Simon Benham Derek Jones Nikki Salt Rebecca Moreland David Williams Jacqui Webber-Gant Matt Cooper Richard Cooper Val Cottee Art Director Mike Charlton Head of Photography John Mitchell Photographic Contribution John Mitchell Jack Todd Stephanie Cronin Stuart Bailey Creighton O’Brien MediaNerd Becky Nallon Catriona Mitchell Proof Checking Clive Challis Glynis Challis Diane Bryan
Hello and welcome to our LinK (Life in Kerith) magazine.
WELCOME TOTHTHE 15 EDITION OF LINK.
Decisions Decisions Decisions
Bolivia - Return Ticket
You Asked For It
Wherever He Leads Me
Lights Camera Action
The Day the Todds Met God
CAP in Hand
Singing from the Same Song Sheet 26 Adopt Adapt Adept
Let Us Play
A REAL Journey
A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY
The Alpha Course
Introduction to the Christian faith
Emotional Healthy Spirituality
Building great relationships
Discover your strengths, passions and spiritual gifting
The Parenting Course
The Marriage Course
Peach & Coconut Course
Freedom in Christ
Practical skills to help with parenting
Kerith Academy INvest
Year training in theology and practical service
Coping with the death of a loved one
Evening theology study course
Early Intervention Partnering with a national charity to support struggling primary aged children
Fostering & Adoption
Konnections Support groups for children with disabilities and their families
Free To Be
Unique Women’s Ministry
Bubbles under 2s
Women’s annual Kerith event
Women’s writing group
Women’s day retreat
Friday afternoon club for 5-11’s
Friday night youth event
Networking within local secondary schools
Life Unleashed Sunday youth meetings Yrs 7-9
Joint youth ministries event
Monthly Prayer Meetings 24/7 Prayer Room
Band of Brothers
Men’s breakfast events
Helping establish first Lithuanian Willow Creek Leadership Summit
accessible church for adults with a learning disability
Mpower Men’s Ministry
Partnering with national charities working in prisons and supporting ex- offenders
Creative Arts / Production
Midday bible study group
Women’s book club
BRACKNELL Social Justice
Kerith Community Church
Women’s evening events
Feeding local people in crisis in partnership with a national charity
Sunday Guest Services
Bracknell Area Foodbank
Advice and support through national charity CAP to those who are looking to get back into employment
Set up/Set Down
Children & Families
CAP Release Group
Freedom from life controlling habits and dependencies
Free debt advice through a national charity
CAP Job Club
Midweek small groups
Group for the deaf and hard of hearing
Midweek group for the retired
Support and advice to help break the cycle of poverty in the local community
Parent and toddler group
Life skills & academy courses
CAP Debt Advice
Social Justice Outreach
Wild at Heart
Men’s small groups
Adult worship bands
Sound, lighting, projection & recording
Youth worship band
Editorial Team Comms
Social Media and Press
Events and Sundays Copywriting
Developing leaders and supporting youth events in churches
Sunday meetings and productions
Supporting leaders in two churches
Photography Media Team
Website, graphics, Photography set design and illustrative and literature media
Video editing and animated production
Music Production Creative hub for music
Supporting leaders in two churches
Serenje Support for the community of Serenje in Zambia on the impact of HIV/AIDS
Supporting leaders in two churches
DECISIONS DECISIONS DECISIONS BY SIMON BENHAM
I wonder what is the biggest decision you’ve ever faced in your life? Perhaps it was choosing between two different job opportunities, buying a house or deciding to start or end a relationship? Possibly it was choosing where to live, or whether to carry on in education or get a job?
In 2007 I had to make one of the biggest decisions of my life - whether to take over leading Kerith Community Church from Ben Davies who had been leading the church for 43 years. If I said ‘yes’ it would mean stepping away from a well paid, relatively secure job designing computer chips (which I loved) and stepping into the uncertainty of something I’d never done before. There was no guarantee of success - in fact I knew that many people who had followed on from someone who had previously done a job for a long time, often failed. Look at David Moyes following Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United! I remember pondering that decision, after being offered the opportunity by the Elders of the church. I so wished that a voice would come down from heaven telling me what to do, or that I’d find a Bible verse that would give me some clear instructions. Or better still, that an angel would turn up with a celestial announcement! In reality, none of those things happened - there was no huge word from God, or from anyone else for that matter. But as I reflect back on that time, there were three things that helped me to make my decision. I call them The Big Picture, The Next Step and The Amazing Peace.
THE BIG PICTURE Although I loved doing electronics (and still do, in the consultancy role I’ve continued with) I knew that God had spoken to me earlier in my life, about one day being involved in leading a church. I had no idea where that would be or how it might work out, I knew that was His plan for my life, somewhere along the line. I wonder what dreams and visions God has sown into your life? Perhaps a vision to start a business, to help a particular group of people, to be creative in some unique way? If you have that vision then don’t let go of it but feed it, explore it and talk to God about it.
THE NEXT STEP I knew that saying ‘yes’ to leading the church was going to take me a step closer to The Big Picture that I felt God had given me. A few years earlier, the company I worked for had offered me an amazing opportunity to move to California. It would have meant a great lifestyle and lots of fun, but I knew it was a step which would have taken me away from the dream God had given me (although our children still haven’t quite forgiven me for saying ‘no’ to that one!). As you face decisions, think about saying ‘yes’ to the ones which move you towards the God given vision you have for your life.
THE AMAZING PEACE Finally, as I thought about making the decision to say ‘yes’ to leading the church, I felt a remarkable sense of peace. The Bible says: Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15 NIV) Any time we don’t feel peace, I think we need to hold off making a decision, however logical or obvious the choice we’re about to make might seem. Looking back, did I make the right decision? I’m not sure that’s even a helpful question to ask. Of course I love my job, but many times in life I don’t think there are right or wrong choices (except those where we’d be going against what the Bible teaches). Instead there are a few choices which will take us in different directions, any of which God is ready to bless. However, I do believe that as we consider The Big Picture, The Next Step and The Amazing Peace, we’ll be able to best align our lives with the will of God.
After five years of running Yeldall Manor (a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre where Kerith has strong connections) and playing a significant part at Kerith Community Church, Andy and Mickey have made the huge decision to return to Bolivia, this time with four school-age children and a whole new mission. In fact by the time this goes to press, they will have started their new life in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
Before leaving, I had the privilege of catching up with Andy and Mickey to find out why, after five years of being back in the UK, they feel that now is the right time to return to Bolivia? “When we left Bolivia back in 2009” shares Andy “we had already explored the possibility of setting up a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Santa Cruz. At the time, we just didn’t feel like it was something we should press-ahead with”. A timely conversation with the then Director at Yeldall, opened up an opportunity in the UK and it just felt right.”
“When Andy first talked about the possibility of God calling us back to Bolivia, my immediate thought was ‘Nooo, I’m happy here, the children are happy, we’re settled in our church. I don’t want to go!’ but of course the seed had been sown and I couldn’t let it go. I had to explore it and seek God for myself.” The couple spent the next year wrestling with the idea. Andy had only just been commissioned at Yeldall and the timing just felt wrong. “When making a decision, I always feel it’s about following a gut instinct, whilst looking for God to confirm whether that instinct is His voice or not. In this case we were almost looking for God to un-firm it!” says Andy.
ANDY AND MICKEY PARTINGTON FIRST VISITED KERITH COMMUNITY CHURCH BACK IN 2009, ALONG WITH THEIR FOUR YOUNG CHILDREN. THEY HAD RECENTLY RETURNED TO THE UK, HAVING SPENT THE PREVIOUS THREE AND A HALF YEARS WORKING IN BOLIVIA, SOUTH AMERICA, WHERE ANDY WAS PASTORING TRINITY INTERNATIONAL CHURCH IN SANTA CRUZ.
Words: Suzanne Whitton Picture: MediaNerd
Spending five years back ‘at home’ surrounded by family and friends has clearly been wonderful for all of them but Bolivia has never been far from their minds…. “Two years after I took on the role of Director at Yeldall (a place that Andy is oozing with passion for) a colleague asked me if we would ever return to Bolivia. The question hung in the air and I knew from that moment, that our connection with this country had not ended.” I turn to Mickey, who describes herself as “doing the same job where ever she is -looking after the children” which is no mean feat when there are four of them! I ask Mickey how she feels about leaving the comfort of her home, the security of her friends and family, to take their four growing children to a country they don’t remember, one which is not without its challenges…
But despite their reticence, they just couldn’t let go of the idea. They talk animatedly of many timely nudges from God, things that could be put down to coincidences but neither Andy or Mickey, could ignore them. Someone sharing a word from God one Sunday morning in church about God reigniting dreams; key moments reading the Bible; a prophetic word being spoken over Andy at a meeting, by someone who didn’t know him at all; and a timely question being posed to him by a key leader at Kerith during the Global Leadership Summit.
Val Cottee has been a much-loved part of Kerith Community Church for just over 40 years. When she first came, Val would describe herself as being in a ‘spiritual wilderness’– not sure who or where she was in God. Thankfully, once she got stuck in at Kerith, God put her back on track. Val is a prolific writer, having recently published three books in quick succession. We asked her to help us tackle this question:
It wasn’t until a whole 12 months later, that Mickey had a revelation of her own….
It wasn’t until a whole 12 months later, that Mickey had a revelation of her own. “After my regular prayer time with a friend one morning, I felt God speak to me very clearly. In fact I was washing up at the time! I realised that I was being held back by fear - of the future, for my children, of the unknown - and that as Christians, fear should never be the basis for any decision-making. Fear does not come from God.” Andy and Mickey have a vision for Bolivia, a broken country whose biggest money-maker is drugs. They want to offer Bolivian people a chance to be set free from addictions and to find a new freedom in Jesus Christ.
HOW DO YOU KNOW
WHEN IT’S GOD SPEAKING?
has led them down this path, serve as a reminder of why they are doing this. “When we first felt God was leading us back to Bolivia, we were unsure but decided to begin writing everything down”. I think that this book is going to be treasured by all of them for years to come, a reminder as to why and how they reached a mutual decision with God at the helm.
BY VAL COTTEE
Having spent the last five years gaining the knowledge required to pioneer and run a drug rehabilitation centre, Andy feels he is now ready to take the vision that God gave him all those years ago, and see it realised in Bolivia….
They don’t just intend to set up one rehabilitation centre in Santa Cruz but the vision is to see small centres appearing across the whole country, a kind of franchise. Mickey describes this adventure as being a privilege – ‘we pray and sing all the time about being part of God’s plan, about doing what He wants us to do - what an opportunity!’ So why the name Novõ? Well that was another one of Mickey’s inspired moments – Novõ quite literally means ‘I redeem’ or ‘I make new’. What a wonderful vision for this exciting new venture. As Andy takes a well-thumbed notebook off the shelf, I realise just how much soul-searching has gone into this decision. Pages and pages of anecdotes, short but significant stories of how God
How can we help? If you would like to pray for this family, there are 3 key points for prayer: • Additional finances. • Education for the children (Daniel, Phoebe, Jemima and JJ) and settling in well. • Good health for all of them.
Catch up on all of the latest Novõ news on their blog and find out more about supporting Novõ financially at www.partingtonblog.com
Words: Suzanne Whitton Picture: MediaNerd
“When you look back on how God works, it really is quite remarkable. You never see the bigger picture initially but have to keep trusting God as you go. We now realise that God’s timing as ever, was perfect. Running Yeldall has given me the experience I need and now it’s time to take that on somewhere else.”
Deciding to accept Jesus into my life was the best decision I ever made, only to realise that He had already chosen me even when I was far away from Him. When my life was going nowhere, He had a plan for me. With hindsight, I believe that God brought me to Bracknell almost forty-four years ago, for it seemed as if He opened the right doors for me to walk through. Since that time I have been part of this church and have been involved in many different ministries and seen numerous changes. It has been quite a journey! In His word, God says: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32: 8. God speaks to us in many different ways. One of those ways is through reading the bible. Psalm 119 v 105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” and verse 133 goes on to say: “Direct my footsteps according to your word.” Anything that is in conflict with what the Bible says is not of God. God brought me a new challenge on New Year’s Day 2014. We were inspired to pray and to set new goals for the year ahead. I wondered what was left for me to do at my age and in my circumstances. Someone unknown to me prayed and had a distinct impression that God wanted me to write! Writing books is something I had never even thought about,
yet the Holy Spirit had stirred something within me and excitement grew. As I began to write, I felt that God was with me. His words came rushing into my mind. Being led by the Holy Spirit is a sure way of knowing God’s will. God speaks when we pray and will often guide us through a strong desire or impression in our mind or sometimes through other Christians. More unusual ways of hearing His voice will come through a dream or vision and very occasionally through an audible voice. If the words are of God they may well be challenging but will also be strengthening, encouraging or comforting; we feel a sense of peace. This year, I felt that God would have me simplify my life and move house. I prayed about it and asked for His help. Selling my home and all that is involved has not been easy, either emotionally or practically, but God has been with me, giving me His peace in every decision I had to make. I’m constantly learning that when God calls me to do something He also gives me the ability to do it! God leads us through every phase of our lives; He is never finished with us. He will continue to speak, as we are ready to listen. He is a God of surprises and new things. He loves it when we step out in faith not knowing what the future may hold and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
AFTER SEVEN YEARS OF WORKING FOR OUTREACH FAMILY SUPPORT, JO DAWSON FELT AS THOUGH SHE NEEDED A FRESH CHALLENGE. WHEN THE OPPORTUNITY AROSE, TO HEAD UP KONNECTIONS (KERITH’S SERVICE THAT SUPPORTS CHILDREN WITH ADDITIONAL NEEDS AND THEIR FAMILIES), SHE KNEW THAT’S WHERE GOD WANTED HER. WE WERE KEEN TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT JO AND WHAT BROUGHT HER TO KERITH….
Nikki: Stelios is an interesting name. Is there a Greek connection by any chance? Jo: (laughing) How did you guess? I lived in Greece for 13 years with my husband and loved it. Stelios was born and a few years later we returned to England. Shortly after that, my husband went back to Greece and we amicably agreed to go our separate ways. But the Mediterranean way of life, the food and the socialising, is still in my blood. Stelios and I like to share a family meal with my sister Anna, niece Emma, and nephew Chris, every Friday.
Words: Nikki Salt Picture: John Mitchell
WHEREVER HE LEADS ME
Running late as usual I rushed over to the K2 building, bag and papers flying, to be greeted by a bright, wide smile. “Hi I’m Jo”. Immediately feeling at ease, I followed Jo Dawson, the new Head of Konnections, into the building.
Nikki: So what brought you and Stelios to Kerith? Jo: I’ve been a Christian pretty much all of my life, but as with most people, there have been times when I’ve felt more connected to God than others. We struggled to find a church where both Stelios and I felt settled, but four years ago, my friend introduced us to Kerith. I’ve now been on Alpha and the Freedom in Christ course, both of which have brought me closer in my relationship with Jesus. Nikki: You mentioned to me earlier that you were a foodie and, from what I can gather, a great cook! What else do you enjoy? Jo: As well as cooking and spending time with friends, I am an ardent reader. At the moment I am reading Nevertheless by
Once seated in her small office (shared with two others) Jo is everything I imagined and more: calm, intelligent, caring, kind, open and passionate. Passionate about Jesus, passionate about people, and passionate about life. There is a poster on her wall that states ‘Everyone is a Genius...’ “That’s my favourite quote!” she says. “Every person has a strength and a purpose.” That’s my sort of woman! Jo lives at home with her 14-year-old son, Stelios and Nandi, their unruly Chihuahua/ Jack Russell cross whose tiny form is compensated by a huge personality (as well as enormous ears!). Stelios is an avid Liverpool supporter and each year, takes his mum with a group of amazing friends, to the Liverpool pre-season friendly game to celebrate her birthday. I get the impression there is a lot of love in this family and all three of them make a happy team.
John Kirkby. I also love spending time with Stelios and have spent many Saturday mornings on the sports field, yelling words of support and encouragement. Nikki: Support and encouragement. I imagine you need to be rich in both of those characteristics in order to manage Konnections. But what ultimately made you decide to take on this role? Jo: I have always had a passion for people who are vulnerable. Supporting kids with disabilities and their families seemed like an answer to prayer. At the time I interviewed for two other jobs that I was completely qualified for but didn’t get. I was baffled initially, but now feel certain that God wants me here at Kerith, managing Konnections. Nikki: What was it about Konnections that made you say “Yes! This job is for me!” Jo: When I came to have a look at the set up here at K2 I was bowled over.. The beautifully set out rooms, the amazing sensory room enabling children to access stimuli that otherwise would be impossible for them. But most of all it was the sheer dedication and love of the staff. They are so inspiring. Many of them are in their late teens/early 20’s and they connect so tenderly with the children. It really moved me. I thought “I want to work in a place like this, so obviously touched by God”.
Nikki: So you are here! You started at the beginning of April and it’s early days. First thoughts? Jo: I am part of an amazing team. Catherine (Felgate) and Lydia (HarrisLane) are extremely supportive and they make working here an absolute pleasure. But there is a lot of work to do and I have so much to get up to speed with. Each day I am getting a little more confident and I am so excited about the future. I really do depend on God and He provides me with more than I can imagine. Nikki: What are your plans for the future of Konnections? Jo: My goal is to expand our respite service so we can accept more children. We are funded by Aiming High, a council initiative run by Bracknell Forest. Although funds are limited, we aim to provide the best respite service we can offer, one that gives the children a great experience where they feel happy, loved and accepted. Expansion will mean recruiting more amazing staff, so I shall be depending on God for the right people. Nikki: And you, where do you see yourself in the future in, say, 15 years’ time? Jo: (laughing) I have no idea! But God knows and I believe that whatever His plans are for me, that is where I want to be. I will go wherever He leads me.
Villu became interested in graphic design around the age of ten and, not long after that, began developing his skills with a camera through photography, then film. James meanwhile, grew up in a musical family, with both parents being music teachers. He studied Music Tech at university and did a post-grad specifically looking at sound design. He then went on to work as a runner in an audio post-production company in Soho. Jonathan, on the other hand, doesn’t come from a music or photography background but has always had a passion to see things done well and to be a pioneer - “I resonate when I listen to the Richard Bransons of this world, or people who set up charities or go out and do their own thing.” The three got to know each other around two and a half years ago, while working on the production of Kerith’s welcome and information films, otherwise known as Reveal. “Reveal was a great training ground for us. We were given so much permission to do what we wanted. Together we started to find a medium where we could all really engage.” James
Jonathan talks of Proverbs 16:9 holding true when he thinks of how God has guided them as they stepped into the unknown: ‘The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.’ “There’s a common heartfelt desire that we love working with media, and we love working with film. We love the tech side and we love delivering projects that help customers. I know God knows that about us and whilst we go about doing things the best that we can and because we’re passionate about it, it is God who establishes the steps.”Jonathan James remembers a moment during a film shoot where they put God at the very centre of what they were doing: “On the morning of the shoot, as we went out, we all gathered to pray. We were going out to do what would hopefully be a very good job, but we started by saying: ‘God, you got us here, we recognise that and we ask you to bless us going forward.’ For me that was hugely significant.”
Villu finds great comfort in Psalm 23 as it reminds him that God is with him every step of the way. Even leaving his home in Estonia, back in 2012, seemed to go against his original plans: “I applied to go to university in Estonia to study photography and media. Both schools said no to me; then a month later I heard about an opportunity to come to the UKwhich I accepted.” Villu We can be encouraged to take risks, but the honest fear of things going wrong, coupled with memories of past ventures that failed, can hold us back from taking the risks needed to achieve our dreams. The team at MediaNerd have learnt some valuable lessons when it comes to overcoming fears and making big decisions: “However daunting it is and even if it doesn’t feel like there’s going to be a big return for you - do it! You never know what it will lead to later on.” Jonathan MediaNerd is still developing as a company, but there is a feeling of excitement among the team for what the future holds: “There is the challenge of that unknown element - not really knowing what’s around the corner. But there is a common feeling that when we do things well, the positive feedback encourages us to do bigger and better things.” Jonathan
Words: Matt Cooper Picture: Stuart Bailey
Words: Suzanne Whitton
WHEN JONATHAN, VILLU AND JAMES DECIDED TO FORM THEIR OWN MEDIA PRODUCTION COMPANY (MEDIANERD) THEY KNEW IT WOULD MEAN NAVIGATING THE UNKNOWN AND TAKING RISKS.
LIGHTS CAMERA ACTION
This experience led them onto combining their skills and to begin producing short films, documentaries and corporate promos. MediaNerd is like many new ventures, in that starting something up from scratch brings its challenges. For Villu, it was working without a salary; for James and Jonathan, it was the pressure of balancing full-time jobs and marriages whilst getting the company going.
Words: Richard Cooper Pictures: Steph Cronin
The last few years have not been easy for Amanda and Andrew Todd and their son Jack. They have had to cope with a series of family tragedies including the deaths of Andrew’s sister and both his parents. On top of this, Amanda suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, a condition that affects around 100,000 people in the UK, causing symptoms which include severe fatigue and difficulty walking. Andrew and Amanda got to know Janine and Andy Jackson (long-time members of Kerith) because Jack was at school with their son, Sam. The Jacksons were going through equally difficult times with Janine twice being diagnosed with cancer and having her leg amputated as part of the treatment. Seeing how a Christian family dealt with these challenges led Andrew and Amanda to “try church”. It is a decision that has changed their lives.
THE DAY THE TODDS MET GOD www.kerith.co.uk
THE DAY THE TODDS MET GOD Amanda:
My mum used to take me and my sisters to church every Sunday. It was very formal and I stopped when I was old enough to have the choice; I didn’t feel comfortable with it. It wasn’t until we met Janine and Andy Jackson that I considered going again. Jack became friends with Sam Jackson at school. That’s how I got to know Janine. We talked about church and her answers were frank, but nice and friendly, and I wasn’t used to that. She never, ever pushed me. I started to go because I thought it was so lovely, the whole church. When Janine got poorly, I
saw everybody looking after her and her family and it was incredible. I was thinking ‘I want that. If anything bad happens to me, I want Andrew and the boys to have that friendliness and companionship and love.’ When I first found out I had MS, I thought ‘why me?’ but since I’ve got to know Jesus, I’ve realised that He’s made me strong enough to cope with it, that I can get on and do things. All the things that I learn just makes me realise that Jesus is here to help me. And when I think of what he’s done for Andrew and Jack, it makes me feel so loved.
Andrew: When Janine was first diagnosed with cancer, I was still a complete non-believer. I thought Janine’s cancer would kick her faith into touch. When she told me that it was her faith that got her through, I was astounded. I thought there must be more to this than meets the eye. I always thought of church as cold, damp and horrible. A place where I didn’t understand a word of what was being said and by the time I’d found the hymn in the book, it had finished. Kerith wasn’t like that. Everyone was warm, friendly and normal. Even when I was just popping in to pick up Amanda after football, I really felt welcome. When I stayed for the whole meeting however, it wasn’t quite so comfortable. I was always left wondering ‘why is it that whenever I come, the speaker is talking about me? He’s talking about my life all the time?’ We used to come home and carry on talking about what had been preached. Jack would fill in some of the details for us. Then one day during the sermon, the penny dropped and I realised that the Bible is talking about everyday life now as much as two thousand
years ago. That’s when I started coming all the time. One evening I called someone who’d really hurt me deeply in the past, to say I forgave them. I’d tried to do it before but it had just been words. This time there was this overwhelming sense of euphoria as I talked. I honestly knew I meant it. I knew then that God had completely changed my life and that I was truly a Christian. Kerith is like a magnet for me now. I’m involved with the CAP Money Course and the Prison Ministry and the Release Group. I’ve been a fireman for thirty years. It always gave me a real buzz. Then a couple of years ago it was as if the flame had been blown out and I lost the love of the job. But now God is saying to me that He’s got other things for me to channel my passion into.
A ten week course.
Jack: I learnt it all from Veggie Tales (a series of cartoons for younger children that dramatise Bible stories using vegetables as the main characters)! Dad was out coaching a football team, so mum used to bring me to Kerith Kids. It was great. I could hang out with my friends. As I got older, I did the usual teenage stuff. Parties and that, but I was always chasing after other people. The difference with my Church friends was that they were always including me, reaching out to me, texting and inviting me to stuff. They wanted to be with me. When my aunt died, and Grandma and Grandad, it was a really tough period for me. I was a long way from God. Looking back now, I realise that God was with me in many of those moments, giving me amazing memories, even though I was rejecting Him at the time. Around my eighteenth birthday, I finally made a commitment to Jesus. I’d come back to Kerith and made
a great new set of friends. I said to Jesus: “You’ve been there for me, so I’m going to commit to you.“ That’s when I started thinking about doing Kerith Academy - a one-year programme that combines serving in a ministry, with learning more about the Bible through classroom-based teaching. I’d never really considered it before. But suddenly I was thinking about it all the time, dreaming about it even. I really felt God saying, ‘This is where I want you’. Then I had this moment in the prayer room when I distinctly heard Him say: ‘Look what I’ve done with you in a month, what could I do in a year?’ I’m seeing great things happening through the small group I’m part of. I’ve seen Jesus do great things in mum and dad’s lives. So much is opening up for me and God is really starting to soak me in a vision for my life, doing great things with Him.
Who is Jesus? Why did Jesus die? Why and how do we pray? What about the church?
Autumn Course Wednesday 30th September 7.30pm Spring Course Wednesday 20th January 7.30pm Kerith Bracknell : Kerith Sandhurst For information go to www.kerith.co.uk/alpha www.kerith.co.uk
NO PROBLEMO! New businesses take time, patience, and perseverance to build to solid profitability. Supplementing your income while your business grows is a wise choice. I would also get curious if you are building the business to gain a ‘quick quid’ or if it’s something you are willing to invest yourself in for a longer term goal.
Well, it’s not quite that kind of time travel, but it’s the next best thing. We asked some younger people if there were any questions they’d like to ask someone older (and, maybe?) wiser. And we asked some people with, let’s say, a little more life experience, to try and answer them. Here’s the result (and why not think how you might have answered?)
Should I stay in this country or go home?
Church is a part of my family for me and everyone seems to be searching the right diet, lifestyle etc, but all we want is balance, which is hard to find. We are to love our neighbour as ourselves and that looks different for everyone.
I’ve had wonderful opportunities to move from one country to another, often fulfilling a long-standing desire. God is a generous Father so don’t be surprised when He gives you exactly what you want! As long as your decision isn’t clearly against His direction, God loves us to have a rich set of choices in life. As He said “You can eat from any tree in the garden, except from the Tree-ofKnowledge-of-Good-and-Evil”. What a menu!
How do I decide which path to follow in life?
What subject/s should I study?
How should I divide my time between my church and my family?
OR DO YOU WISH YOU COULD GO BACK AND HELP YOUR YOUNGER SELF LEARN SOME IMPORTANT THINGS SOONER THAN YOU DID?
of Him in some way. If you believe that the stage takes away a sense of worship and makes it a distraction, that it is your decision. In the Old Testament they had worship teams to go before the army - that’s quite a display, but still worship.
The myth of ‘the right road’ or ‘the right one’ is, unfortunately, one that derails many young lives. We stand at many crossroads in life and have many choices to make. God, in His sovereignty, knows how to work out His best in the lives of people who have free will. Take a step, follow your gut, and trust in your God. He meets us on every path we choose!
We have all been given passions, talents and abilities. I think these are guidelines from God and we enjoy life much more when we can study, live and work in a way that uses those gifts. But, remember – one day you’ll have to pay the bills, too! Sadly, not all of us will be the next Lionel Messi, so some of those gifts might be best used in a hobby rather than a career.
I don’t think God wants me to play music on stage. Should I carry on going to worship practices?
Obviously, these aren’t the only answers we could give to these questions (after all, Christians do have different opinions sometimes!) But our sincere thanks go to Val Cottee, Marija McKean, Nell King, Lisa O’Brien, Alan Lander and Krystyna Lysakowska for their input.
Worship or music practices are not just rehearsing for Sundays, we could call them “search for God sessions”! It is not about ‘on stage’ or ‘off stage’, it is just about worship. As followers of Jesus, we should all be worshippers
Words: David Williams Pictures: John Mitchell
WOULD YOU LIKE TO ASK YOUR OLDER SELF SOME TOUGH QUESTIONS, SO THAT YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO NOW?
My new business isn’t going well. Should I look for another job?
A mischievous grin, smiling eyes and a kind face that makes you want to be his friend. Looking younger than his 44 years, Tim Wheatley relaxes in a comfy chair in the Kerith Centre office where he works as CAP Debt Centre Manager. You’d expect his story to be about great mates and success. Instead he talks of bullying and addiction, broken relationships and bad decisions ….and how much his life has changed in the last two and a half years.
Life seemed to deal Tim a good hand. Growing up in Windsor as the youngest of four siblings, he went to church with his parents where he was confirmed and sang in the choir. Behind the scenes though, by the time he was 9, life was not making sense. Violent arguments between his parents and the sound of breaking glass sent Tim and his brother and sisters into hiding upstairs. Tim would sit alone at the top of the stairs to eavesdrop, certain that he was the cause of their problems. School was no refuge, where Tim was bullied from the age of 7. Name-calling followed him everywhere and he constantly questioned: “what’s the matter with me?” His only success was sport, which blocked out reality but, despite being team captain, the same painful emotions re-surfaced at the end of every match.
CAP IN HAND At 13, fed up with home and school life and paranoid about his appearance, Tim decided to go to his local youth club and try to fit in. Knocking back cider and wine with “friends” in the park beforehand made him ill at first, but over the weeks it gave him a sense of confidence - girls even started to ask him out. Drinking had a price though – “one of my regrets is that I chose alcohol over sport”. The decision to stop playing football was just temporary he thought, so that he could have a bit of fun for a while. “I felt I was having the time of my life, finding my own identity. No one had to tell me what to do.”
He started to work his way up the firm, his mantra being ‘work hard, play hard’. He knew his drinking was out of control – at 21 he was going to stop by 25, at 25 it would be by 30 – but it continued, even when he married and had two lovely children. By his mid 30s Tim was living with redundancy, increasing ill-health due to alcohol, and a failing marriage. He was devastated at the impact of his decisions on his children “I didn’t want them to go through what I did growing up and end up an alcoholic”. Tim’s first stay at Yeldall Manor (a local drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre) was at the age of 36. By then he was divorced and had tried a couple of rehab places, urged on by friends, who were worried at his self-destruction. He re-committed his life to Jesus while he was at Yeldall, and as he came to the end of the programme, his life appeared to be on the right track. But the day he was due to leave Yeldall he was nervous, knowing that he hadn’t prepared his outside support well. Driving out of the grounds he heard an inner voice saying “turn round, go back”. Tim describes his decision to ignore that voice as one of the worst he’s ever made. Fear of looking stupid kept him driving and that night he was in his new lodgings with a burger, chips and a bottle of wine. He relapsed badly, drinking up to three litres of vodka a day. He knew that he had to get back to Yeldall somehow. Life had become totally unmanageable, even when he wasn’t drinking. It was either go back or face a huge mental breakdown.
Words: Penny Lander Pictures: Jack Todd
Tim was 13 when his Mum left home. Anxious and confused, he dealt with that in the only way he knew – “drink blotted it all out”. In his mid teens Tim had his first encounter with Jesus. When he was 15 at a Christian camp with his Dad, he responded to an appeal to become a Christian. By then he was a heavy drinker, sinking 10 pints at a time. After the camp, he resolved to give up drinking by the time he was 18. But he knew that his response to Jesus was really about impressing a girl, and the drinking continued - drowning self-pity in half pints of vodka.
“I got down on my knees before applying to Yeldall and surrendered to God. This wasn’t other people telling me to go, I knew I had to.”
Leaving school at 16, Tim landed a job in an insurance office. Early on a speech impediment scared him silly; he was terrified of answering the phone or making a fool of himself like at school. Alcohol and using drugs for 2-3 years seemed to support him on the inside “but in my lowest times alone, I called on God”.
CAP IN HAND October 18th 2012 is embedded in Tim’s memory – the day he arrived at Yeldall for the second time, and the day he stopped drinking. This time his experience of Jesus and of rehab was totally different: “Jesus made my heart melt.”
as a debt coach. Then early in 2015 he became CAP Centre Manager and now he also helps people with addiction issues.
Over the 11 months at Yeldall he started volunteering at Bracknell Foodbank and found that he loved both the people he met, and the church. His old fears had disappeared, this time not with the help of alcohol. He realised that he was finding his purpose in being around all types of people, giving them hope and help. “People’s outer shell might be scary, but I like to connect with their spirits.”
Tim lights up when he talks about his work. He feels the connection with so many clients who struggle with what he faced – breakdowns, addictions, hopelessness – and is amazed at seeing answers to prayers. He always prays that God will go before him and give him the right words when he meets clients - “It’s not all my own love.” His long-term goal is to study for a counselling qualification to enable him to work with families who have suffered the destruction that addiction leaves in its wake.
He applied for Kerith Academy and was accepted to start straight after finishing at Yeldall. Volunteering with CAP, befriending clients, all added to his sense of purpose and meaning. During the Academy year he became more aware of God’s love and purpose for his life and in August 2014 joined the Kerith CAP staff team
Reflecting on his life, Tim talks honestly about his love and longing for his children and the pain of not seeing them grow up - “they’re the two most important people in my life”. He contrasts selling insurance for years - something temporary - to speaking the truth about Jesus’ love which will last for ever.
You’ve started the choir here at Kerith, but what is your day job? I am currently working as Director of Music for the Windsor Upper Schools and I just love it. I was a student at the school myself, worked at the school during university and trained there too. It is like a second home and a huge part of my life. You could say I’ve never really left! What have been some of the best moments of your career so far? Taking a music tour to Beijing was a real highlight as was my 2013 production of Les Misérables. I get to do some amazing things, like perform for the Queen, and I just love spending time with students making music. I also love teaching young people and working with them to secure a future in whatever they might want to do. How did you hear about Kerith? I have always known about Kerith and so when we moved back to Windsor, it was a natural choice for us. We have been coming on and off for about 3 years but now it is really starting to feel like home. What made you decide to start the choir? I was approached about a Christmas event and I said straight away that a choir is key. And so here we are, we have a choir, and I am thrilled! Plus it is nice to be able to use my gifts in a church setting.
How different is it from working with school students? The average age of the choir members is a little higher… It is a little different, but also fairly similar - musicians and singers are a certain type of person! Adults tend to worry more than students, and panic when it comes to a performance. But ultimately a choir is a group of people who love singing. With a church choir, we are doing it directly to God, so it’s a different type of expression. Having a group where you can talk about your faith and share that as part of the songs is so refreshing. You’re planning to have the choir sing at Christmas – what can people expect to hear? The idea is for the Kerith Centre to be transformed into a kind of inner-city cathedral. We’re looking at a ‘traditional’ carol service with candles, Bible readings and the warmth of Christmas. The building will be lit and it will be festive mulled wine and mince pies. As people enter they will see a choir and Christmas trees and hopefully an orchestra - the kind of comfortable place that most people associate with Christmas. There will be performance pieces but also carols that everyone can join in with, sung from a traditional carol sheet. At all four meetings there will be a charity appeal, and Simon’s going to do a short message to tie it all together.
be a huge symphony orchestra, but it will give a slightly different sound that will help with getting that traditional feel. It will give people a chance to be involved in something that might not be so easy throughout the rest of the year – if you play the violin or a brass instrument, this will be your chance! Finally, do you have one last word to get us excited about Christmas at Kerith? I think this Christmas event is going to be really fresh and exciting. It’s going to be different to our usual style of service but have Kerith stamped all over it - quality, excellence, outward vision, purpose and joy. My hope and prayer is that the community of Bracknell will experience a really amazing event that will kick-start their Christmas!
It’s not too late to get involved. Cast aside your pre-conceptions of singing in a choir. Email: email@example.com
You mentioned an orchestra, what are the plans there? We’ve got quite a lot of people who play instruments, so probably sometime in the autumn we’ll try and get them all together to see what we can do. It’s not going to
Words: Penny Lander
Words: Derek Jones Picture: John Mitchell
SINGING FROM THE SAME SONG SHEET
Let’s start with a little about you – do you live locally, do you have a family? I am 32, married to Amy, with 2 children – Aidan, 6 and Fletcher, 3. I live in Windsor.
ADOPT ADAPT ADEPT Megan and Charles live in Hampshire and have two sons. Charles makes the long daily commute to London where he has a senior job in project management and financial planning. Megan has used her academic research into youth homelessness and now works for a local charity to coordinate counselling services. They joined Kerith Community Church soon after they had adopted Tiger*. The decision to adopt was the biggest decision of their lives and was taken after much discussion, deliberation and prayer.
Words: Jacqui Webber-Gant Picture: Creighton Oâ€™Brien
LinK met up with the whole family to find out a bit more about them and their journey to adoptionâ€Ś. What were the circumstances that got you thinking about adoption? Megan: We thought having children would be easy but we struggled to conceive our first son. You decide and plan and wait in readiness for tell-tale signs, then nothing happens. A second child was lost to miscarriage and fertility treatment proved to be an unbearable physical and psychological burden that ended in failure. We felt a sibling for our son would complete our family and Dan kept telling us that he wanted a brother. I had a foster brother and Charles had grown up with other kids around, so adoption seemed to be a possible solution. We made enquiries and started the process. What sort of screening and vetting process did you have to go through? Charles: Becoming non-biological parents, begins with a prolonged period of preparation designed to test your suitability and resolve. You are assigned social workers who are looking to see if you have successfully weathered storms and if you are resilient and able to cope with the consequences of trauma in a child. They want to know if you have a support network to sustain you. Itâ€™s quite a challenge as they explore things you may have never talked about before. After 2 years we were approved to adopt.
*Name has been changed to protect the child
Help us find a home for every child who needs one.
Our vision is a home for every child who needs one. In the UK, 4,000 children are waiting for adoption and 8,600 foster families are desperately needed. We believe that the Church can make a difference. Home for Good raises awareness of the need for foster and adoptive parents, encourages families to provide loving homes for the children in care, and equips the Church to offer welcoming communities for them. We are dedicated to inspiring, equipping and coordinating the network of local movements, churches and individuals who are making our vision a reality.
To find out more about adoption visit: www.homeforgood.org.uk
What was different about your adoption? Megan: Tiger had been removed to a place of safety and fostered before we adopted him aged six. Most children are placed with families as toddlers; Tiger came to us with many memories of his old life, that haunted him. He needed consistent love and a willingness for us to learn to understand his needs and respond with sensitivity. Before he moved in, our life group began praying us through every step of the way. They saw the adoption preparation period as a type of pregnancy and knew a new arrival calls for other adjustments too. The first days, weeks and months were as challenging as scaling a mountain in the dark. We had to feel our way and try so many different strategies as we learned to adapt and make room for the needs of our son. How did you feel about having a younger brother, Dan? Dan: I wanted a brother so much. Someone to play with, to talk to and have around. Getting a brother is the best thing that has happened in my life. I was so excited that I was counting down the days and then hours at school before he moved in. Now I can’t remember a time without him. I really love him. We’re so different but we look out for each other. I love being his big brother. It’s cool. What’s it like to be adopted, Tiger? Tiger: My birth parents couldn’t look after me because they took bad drugs. I was fostered before being adopted. This means I have been in at least four families. Moving in with my new family was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I wanted a family, I liked my family. It was happy and scary at the same time, but now I have a forever
family. My forever family go to church – a lot. I started going to church too and got to know about Jesus. Now I have been adopted twice once by my family and once by God. What would you say to someone else who was considering adoption? Megan: Adopting has to be a positive choice. You don’t drift into it, you have to go into it with your eyes wide open. You can’t adopt because you want to be loved, you have to focus on the longterm outcome for the child. You can’t expect a child to love you instantly, they have to trust you. You have to invest in them, spend time with them, build memories together – literally create a family. Charles: We have made some personal sacrifices to make our family work. You have to be able to roll with the punches because there is an extra level of unpredictability that has come with our adopted child. In order to support Megan, I get a later train into the City. This means that I can start the day by connecting with my family. I stop working in the early evening to make sure I have time with the boys, then catch up with work when they are in bed. I work from home on Fridays so I can take the boys to Life – the Youth Club at Kerith. This is an important time for all of us. Megan: When times get tough, we ask for God’s wisdom. We ask him to give us the keys to unlock specific situations. It has been so rewarding when we pass a milestone and celebrate an achievement. We are custodians of a child we believe has been pre-ordained to be in our family. We are called to be his mummy and daddy.
Carols by Candlelight Kerith Centre Saturday 19th December 7pm Sunday 20th December 4pm & 7pm Sandhurst School Monday December 21st 7pm The best of Christmas wrapped especially for you and your families this season.
For more information or to book your free tickets go to: kerith.co.uk/carols
THE PROJECT LEADER Catriona Mitchell In 2011 I had the idea of a Kerith charity shop primarily to make a profit to sustain a number of our social justice projects, which benefit local people. We wanted a town centre presence where we would continue our ethos of serving people well, of excellence, of being in the community. THE MANAGER Rob Eveleigh I remember one elderly lady broke her hip outside the shop. Teresa (assistant manager) rushed to her aid, and later we gave the lady’s husband a lift to hospital. Another bereaved lady needed a funeral outfit and she was kitted out for free. A highlight for me was the look on the faces of three children as their mum collected duvets and a camp bed – they’d been sleeping on the floor with no bedding. A fantastic thing to do that’s what I’ll miss. I’ve had all types of volunteer staff and they come and feel accepted...
Initially we were told our lease would only last for 18 months. So each time it was extended was wonderful. In the end we have had three years! God doubles what we expect.
A Hungarian student studying English. A young lady with severe learning difficulties coming with her mentor, gaining skills and confidence. Young people volunteering for their Duke of Edinburgh award. A young man wanting work experience, who went on to get a paid job with a sports retailer. Another guy who’d been homeless gained the confidence to go self-employed. The general public have donated amazing things. And in 2014 we made £21,712 profit, all for local social justice projects. It’s been an amazing success story – a privilege.
THE CUSTOMER TURNED VOLUNTEER Geannie Barry “I remember the day I walked into the shop. I was told I could just have it, I immediately I went from having nothing, to a roof over broke down in tears. Teresa asked me when my head, food in my stomach and a smile on I last ate. I said ‘a couple of days ago’ and my face. I came into K4 at my lowest, after she said ‘right, come with me’. I was taken sleeping at Winnersh station. I asked to have to Foodbank and found as much love and bedding put by as I had no money and when kindness as I’ve received in a long time.” THE COLLEGE GRADUATE Chantal Michela I finished my college course in costume design, but was haunted by the thought of having no ultimate purpose in life. I was looking to volunteer and joined the shop team and came to realise I could have a relationship with God. I met Jesus and my life was turned upside down. I have a sense of purpose.
Words: Penny Lander Pictures: John Mitchell
SHOPAHOLIC BETWEEN ITS OPENING BY THE BOROUGH MAYOR ON 26TH JULY 2012 AND CLOSING ITS DOORS ON 30TH MAY 2015, THE K4 CHARITY SHOP IN BRACKNELL TOWN CENTRE HAS WELCOMED HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE. THE DECISION TO CLOSE BECAUSE OF THE TOWN CENTRE REGENERATION WAS OUT OF OUR HANDS.
Here the people involved tell their stories of the decision to open K4 and its impact.
Customers feel there is a family environment. An elderly man came in dressed too lightly for the cold weather. Though he didn’t have enough money for a jacket, we said he could just give what he could, and he went away overjoyed and warm.
THE VOLUNTEER FROM THE START Liz Phillips “I’ve been at K4 since it began and my aim is the pain had gone. Each week I would go to to show God’s love to the customers. K4 with expectancy of what God might do One day Teresa and I prayed for a lady who had through us.” a trapped nerve and she said afterwards that
Children come to Catherine for many different reasons. Some are referred through schools or social services, some parents come to her direct. Each child is an individual and their needs vary greatly. Some have witnessed domestic abuse or have been abused or neglected themselves. Some have suffered bereavement or bullying. Others are living with huge family changes or disabilities. Over the weeks she works with them, Catherine sees children gain confidence, become more self-aware and slowly start to accept themselves. They learn to build better relationships and to play! One child came to Catherine unable to play properly but ended up relaxed, building sandcastles and free to be a child.
CATHERINE BARRETT DESCRIBES HERSELF AS SOMEONE WHO “ISN’T REALLY A RISK TAKER”. YET IN 2010 SHE LEFT HER FULL-TIME SECURE JOB AS A CHILDREN’S CENTRE MANAGER, TO BECOME A SELF-EMPLOYED PLAY THERAPIST, HELPING FAMILIES ACROSS BRACKNELL.
Over the last 4½ years, Catherine has seen significant change when she is able to work with whole families by encouraging and empowering parents. Create Hope was born out of this need - to increase the capacity of the work she can deliver locally, to develop family support, to bring emotional healing to children, young people and adults. As the work expands, the relationships with the teachers and families Catherine is working with are growing. She is also training up new people to be able to work with the children and their families. Catherine talks of it as being a lonely journey sometimes, having to make decisions on her own and not having team relationships, but these are now starting to come. Making decisions continues to be a balancing act between praying and using common sense, holding things lightly but still taking action and seeing what God does.
LET US PLAY Words: Rebecca Morland Pictures: Becky Nallon
Catherine has since branched out to build Create Hope, a charity offering extra support to local families. Although she loved her work at the Children’s Centre, Catherine wanted more direct contact with the children and families and to make use of her therapeutic skills. She felt God directing her to use her training as an accredited Play Therapist and this was confirmed when a leader at Kerith spoke to her one Sunday about ‘stepping out of one boat into something new’. She knew that she was doing the right thing. When Catherine first decided to pursue her dream, she applied to set up play therapy in Africa, but didn’t get the funding. She was disappointed but God spoke to her again, saying that she didn’t need to go to Africa as there was plenty of need in the UK - “At this point I felt a clear reassurance that He had a plan for me”. Off the back of this, she took the brave step of becoming self-employed, basing herself in Bracknell. Her previous work at the Children’s Centre linked her in with local schools and children’s services, enabling her to begin this new and exciting role.
In all the hard work and steps of faith, Catherine’s enthusiasm shines through: “Create Hope ties my passion to give children a voice, a space to communicate their emotions and be heard, with my love for art and creativity”.
WHAT IS CREATE HOPE’S VISION
Create Hope’s aim is to enable children to find their voice through creativity, whilst providing families with hope. Create Hope works with primary schools, children’s centres, voluntary agencies and Bracknell Forest Council to deliver play therapy to children. They work with parents and siblings to bring a holistic family approach. Catherine is looking for volunteers to be part of Create Hope by supporting local families and children. If you would like to know more about her next 5-day training course, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT IS PLAY THERAPY
Play therapy provides a safe space for children to explore and express their emotions using different play and creative materials. The role of the therapist is to come alongside the child, giving them freedom to lead the sessions, showing them unconditional, positive regard and helping the child to make sense of their emotions.
“Through play therapy a child in our school was able to regulate his emotional responses, which built his resilience and sense of self-worth, and dramatically improved his academic progress.” Holly Spring Infant School “Catherine has supported our family with play therapy for our daughter (who is adopted and has additional needs relating to trauma). This space allows her to feel accepted, gives her a sense of belonging and enables her to share her thoughts and feelings.” Parent “My son has special needs and is socially immature. He’s now more confident, and having an adult (who is not a relative, a family friend, or a teacher) to whom he can speak openly about his emotions is invaluable.” Parent “Staff report noticing the difference in the children attending the play therapy groups.” Children’s Centre, The Oaks & Hollies, Bracknell “Thank you for helping me! I have had lots of fun with you.” 10 year old
EARLIER THIS YEAR WE HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF TAKING ‘REAL’, OUR WOMEN’S CONFERENCE, TO A DIFFERENT NATION.
So what led the team of eight Kerith ladies to step outside of their comfort zone, to serve alongside Catrina? “ ‘Am I too old?’ was the first question that went through my mind when I considered going to Albania. Thankfully, Catrina responded enthusiastically to my request to join her. The whole experience has changed me. I felt so honoured to be there with all the Albanian ladies.”(Iris Joyce)
FROM BRACKNELL TO ALBANIA
A REAL JOURNEY
“As soon as I heard about the conference, I thought, ‘I could do that, be a ‘gofer’ for Catrina; I have the money, time and no one is depending on me’. This thought was so sudden and unexpected that I knew it was from God. The conference was a great way to reach the wider community; I think that stirred my heart more than anything.” (Catriona Mitchell)
During an interview on stage, Catrina Benham was asked her dream: “to speak in another nation,” she said. This led to Miranda asking Catrina if she would consider coming to Albania to speak – quite literally a ‘match made in heaven’!
“Catrina invited me to join her as a friendly face and for some company. Easy! As the weeks passed, the role slowly changed into me speaking at the conference. No longer easy! I had been praying for God to move me out of my comfort zone: I think He may have taken me up on my offer!” (Sarah Farley)
Around 400 women (5% of the female Christian population of Albania) flocked to the Unike conference, some travelling by coach for up to 3 hours. Catrina preached on the unique gifts that God has placed inside each one of us and the team of eight Kerith ladies who accompanied her shared their stories.
“As for the team, I had initially asked Sarah to accompany me for support but was blown away by the wonderful Kerith ladies who volunteered to join me – all self-funded, all first time to Albania and for most, the first time on any kind of mission trip. Every one of them gave of themselves wholeheartedly, being stretched out of their comfort zones. Interestingly, quite a few were older (more vintage!) than me. In Albania, they are not used to seeing older ladies doing anything in church, least of all standing ‘up front’ or being vulnerable. It was a powerful encouragement.
“As soon as I heard about the conference in Albania, I knew that I would love to go but didn’t think it would be possible. One Tuesday, I specifically prayed that if it was right for me, God would make a way. The following Sunday, Simon spoke of Catrina needing a team – such a quick answer to my prayer!” (Penny Lander) The exciting news is that we have been invited back for UNIKE2016. Miranda is hunting for a venue, as we have already filled the largest available in Tirana!
“I always thought that I would one day like to go to Albania so when the Unike conference was mentioned, that was it! The ladies there were so hungry to hear God’s word, it was such a privilege to be part of it all.” (Glynne Novelle)
Words: Suzanne Whitton Pictures: Catriona Mitchell
Kerith has been connected for some years to Albania - supporting a summer youth camp, and helping advise on children’s work. Over the past eight years, as part of their work serving the Balkans, Ken and Ann Bothamley have built a wonderful relationship with the Albanian churches and their pastors. Tomor and Miranda Ajeti pastor Victory Church in Tirana. Miranda came to REAL in 2014 and she loved it! As she absorbed all that was going on, she began wondering if something similar could be brought to Albania.
Catrina: “Miranda and her team did a wonderful job of creating a warm and welcoming environment. It was such a privilege to serve the Albanian women; to come alongside them, to speak worth and value into their lives and to help them live out their faith.”
Albania. I was fearful and felt I had nothing to offer but knew God wanted me there. We received the warmest of welcomes both in Elbasan and Tirana where we shared our stories through laughter and tears. We made a real connection with some amazing ladies and I hope one day to repeat this experience.” (Lesley Fixter)
“As a lady of a certain age who has been a missionary for many years, it’s so easy to think that Christian ministry is over. But when the conference was first mentioned, I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit and was delighted when Catrina accepted my offer to be part of the team. It was such a joy getting to know the Albanian ladies with their enthusiastic hugs and kisses! I even got to visit a country that my husband has never been to!” (Esther Ross-Watson) “After ‘exposing’ Catrina’s dream of speaking internationally, at REAL last year, it was an easy YES for me to watch how God was going to make it come true!” (Lisa O’Brien) “Like many of the ladies on the team, I felt prompted to stand when Simon asked us, back in January, if anyone would like to accompany Catrina to
DIRECTORY COURSES INvest
INvest Theology Course will help you grow your relationship with God through the study of the Bible and its practical application. Pick up a form from Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: email@example.com Group Leader: James Evans
Freedom in Christ The Freedom in Christ course is designed to help you take hold of the amazing truth about who you are as a follower of Christ. Pick up a form at Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 Register via www.kerith.co.uk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Marriage Course The marriage course is an evening course that is run over seven weeks. Each week includes a meal together, a talk and time to discuss together. Pick up a form at Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 Register via www.kerith.co.uk Email: email@example.com
Peach and Coconut Course A 10 week course exploring what it means to follow Jesus and be part of Kerith community church. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Course Leader: Caroline Hanbury
Masterpiece A course tailored for those wanting to find out about their gifts and skills and how to best use those for God’s purposes. Find out more about yourself and what you are uniquely gifted to do. Phone: 01344 862699 Course Leader: Ben Oliver Email: email@example.com
CAP Money Course For advice on gaining control of you finances and handling your money well on a day to day basis join the CAP Money course. Pick up a form from Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Course Leader: Helen Dodwell
The Parenting Course The Parenting course is an evening course for any parent or carer of children up to ten years old. There is also an annual course for parenting teenagers. Pick up a form at Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 Register via www.kerith.co.uk Email: email@example.com Course Leaders: Tim and Elaine Felgate
Bereavement Course A 5 week course for those who have experienced bereavement whether recently or in the past. Pick up a form at Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 Register via www.kerith.co.uk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Course Leaders: Pete & Alex Moon, Sue Davis
The Alpha Course Alpha is an opportunity to explore the meaning of life through a 10 week course designed as a basic introduction to the Christian faith. Pick up a form at Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 Register via www.kerith.co.uk Email: email@example.com Course Leader: Caroline Hanbury
CHILDREN & FAMILIES Konnections A number of groups that seek to support both children with disabilities and their families. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Group Leader: Jo Dawson
Women’s Events Unique is the ministry for all women and includes REAL, our annual conference. www.catrinabenham.com (blog) Phone: 01344 862699 Email: email@example.com Group Leader: Catrina Benham
KERITH Kids We welcome all children from birth to final year of primary school, including those with disabilities. To find out more come along any Sunday. Phone: 01344 862699 Visit: www.kerith.co.uk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Group Leader: Lydia Harris-Lane
Parents and Toddler Group A large, friendly toddler group for pre-school children (including babies) and their carers. We meet on Monday and Tuesday afternoons or Wednesday mornings in the Kerith Centre. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: email@example.com Group Leader: Susannah Mills
Youth & LIFE at the Kerith
A group for young people. School years 7-13. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.kerith.co.uk/youth Group Leader: Liam Parker
Fostering & Adoption Partnering with national charity Home For Good to inspire and equip people in Kerith to foster or adopt. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: email@example.com Leaders: Alan and Penny Lander
A women’s writing group for those who would like to grow in the art of writing. Meets third Tuesday of the month. Group Leader: Jacqui Webber-Gant
A book club for all women who enjoy reading or want to be motivated to read inspirational books. Meets bi-monthly. Group Leader: Ope Olugbile
Retreat days for women. This is a day for you - time for rest and enjoyment, for personal reflection & prayer. Group Leader: Elizabeth Pudner
FREE TO BE
Saturday night events designed to empower all women to take hold of the life they were created for. Runs every other month with space to worship, connect and be inspired. Event Leader : Helen Cottee
Midweek Bible Study An informal opportunity to explore the Bible, led by Ben Davies. 12.50pm Wednesdays in K2. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Group Leader: Ben Davies
Men’s Events A mixture of evening and daytime events to build friendships and our faith. Phone: 01344 862699 email@example.com Group Leader: Matt Ranger
WILD AT HEART
The new Wild at Heart small groups are running on a regular basis. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s More To Life TMTL is a group dedicated to the retired. Thursdays from 1.00pm in the Kerith Centre. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: email@example.com Contact: Caroline Hanbury
Deaf Hope A group serving the deaf and hard of hearing in the Kerith community. Pick up a form at Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Group Leader: Alex Hooper
Doing Life Together Small midweek groups that meet in people’s homes. We seek to get to know God more and do life together. visit: www.kerith.co.uk Visit the Life Group Stand in Reception after a Sunday meeting for a chat. Email: email@example.com Group Leaders: Duncan & Sharon Klitgaard
Hilltop HILLTOP is for adults who have a learning disability and is a place where they are welcomed and valued. Sundays, once a month from 5pm in the Kerith Centre. Pick up a form at Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Group Leader: Hazel White
SOCIAL JUSTICE CAP
Job Club Free support and advice for anyone looking to return to employment. Club open on Tuesdays 10am- 2.30pm upstairs in the Kerith Centre, Bracknell. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: email@example.com Job Club Manager: Richard White
CAP Release Group Freedom from life controlling habits and dependencies. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Group Leader: Andy Jackson
Debt Advice Free advice from charity Christians Against Poverty for anyone struggling with debt. Appointments freefone: 0800 328 0006 Phone: 01344 828805 Centre Manager: Tim Wheatley Email: email@example.com
Bracknell Area Restoring dignity, reviving hope. Partnering with a national charity to feed local people in crisis. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Foodbank Manager: Pat Hallett
Social Justice Outreach Serving the whole of Bracknell community with practical help and support to families and individuals. Pick up a form at Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 Mobile: 07591 579149 Email: email@example.com Group Leader: Lorraine Wade
Prison Outreach Leading Sunday services in local prisons and mentoring ex-offenders through our Restart Mentoring Programme. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Leaders: Lee and Sonia Brett
ONE CHURCH TWO LOCATIONS SUNDAY VENUES Bracknell: The Kerith Centre RG12 1EH Sandhurst: Sandhurst School GU47 0SD www.kerith.co.uk/sundays for times
Catch the latest Kerith news: kerithcommunitychurch @kerithcommunity www.simonbenham.com
We would love your feedback on LinK, please email:â€ˆfeedback@kerith.co.uk
Kerith Bracknell The Kerith Centre Church Road Bracknell RG12 1EH Kerith Sandhurst Sandhurst School Owlsmoor Road Sandhurst GU47 0SD Tel: +44 (0)1344 862699 email: email@example.com
Published on Feb 20, 2016