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NEWCOMMUNITY

LIFE

ISSUE TWO FREE SUMMER 09

IN OUR COMMUNITY

WE LOOK AT ORCHARD LANE PAST AND PRESENT

SUMMER’S HERE! FIND OUT WHATS GOING ON THIS SUMMER...

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life

foreword with Billy Kennedy Leader of New Community

NEWCOMMUNITY

CONTENTS 4 Gatherings 5 Healing Prayer 7 Ibiza 8 Romance Academy 10 Orchard Lane 17 My Story 20 Kick 4 Life 23 African Adventure

SUMMER 09

Dinner Date with God When I was on my sabbatical in 2006, I thought about doing a cookery course but a friend told me that his son, Stuart, worked in a top Southampton restaurant – Dockgate 4 - and he would see if I could have some work experience there. I spent two weeks with Stuart learning how restaurant kitchens run and how to cook exotic dishes. They were long tiring hours, but I realised how much I love to cook. Food – and sitting round a table sharing a meal with family and friends – is something I enjoy. It is also – and always has been - a prominent aspect of both Jewish and Christian life. There are many stories of meals in the Bible but the most important is, of course, what we sometimes call the Lord’s Supper, Breaking of Bread, Communion or, in traditional circles, the Eucharist. Over the years, this has been expressed in all sorts of ways, but for the early church it was an ordinary meal, usually the evening meal. The Greek word used to describe it in the Bible is the word deipnon, meaning ‘dinner’. Eating together is about honour – the honour conferred on the host by the guest by his or her attendance; the honour conferred on the guest by the invitation from the host. It’s about acceptance - the table signifies inclusion; and celebration – of friendship and provision. In God’s order, the communal table brings well-being to all involved. It has even been recognised that children statistically do better at school and are physically healthier if they regularly sit round a table for meals with their family members. Isn’t that because this is what God designed us for? To be family together – community - as much as we can…and celebrate all he has done for us. Bon appetit!

Art Direction, Illustration & Design Dave Kennedy

(davekennedydesign@hotmail.com)

Photography Pete Smart

(trailoffire@msn.com)

Thanks to all our Contributing Writers Special Thanks to you the reader...

NEW COMMUNITY LIFE Central Hall, St Mary Street Southampton, SO14 1NF Tel / 023 80 237700 Email / info@newcommunity.org.uk www.newcommunity.org.uk A company limited by guarantee number 3578938 Registered charity number 1072645

Billy & Stuart in the kitchen

Editorial Team Sim Dendy Caroline Kennedy Billy Kennedy

............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ www.newcommunity.org.uk


Gatherings

Congratulations! Amanda Thom

...................................................................................................................................................................................... Congratulations to Amanda Thom, Hospitality Manager at Central Coffee (New Community Enterprise), who received the City Horizons Employer of the Year Award from the Mayor of Southampton, Brian Parnell, at Southampton City Training’s award ceremony at St. Mary’s Stadium. Amanda and her team at Central Coffee have created opportunities for numerous young apprentices to learn skills in catering and service. The ceremony held on Monday 20th April was held in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal who honoured all the apprentices aged 16 to 60 who have completed their studies. Princess Anne presented five special awards on the day to certain employers and apprentices, which recognised their special achievements. Amanda Thom - Holding Her Award

Well done Amanda, Melodie and Kathleen and Sabrina!

Woman 2 Woman Hard Hats & Heels

...................................................................................................................................................................................... Vibrant and welcoming – that was the mood of the opening event on Saturday 7th March of W2W’s 2009 programme: Women in the Workplace: Hard Hats and Heels. The W2W Team believe that this year God wants them to see W2W resource and equip women for where they’re at in their lives – ‘for such a time as this!’ A Saturday morning brunch introduced an alternative to W2W’s usual Friday evening events. While warm croissants, breads, jams, fruits and the waft of fresh coffee created a warm and friendly atmosphere, Jenny Deagle and Anna Wright’s stories of their life experiences brought inspiration and encouragement to the forty women who came along. Jenny, who has recently joined the W2W Team, works as a Senior Nurse in Southampton City PCT. She looked at life in the workplace from a woman’s perspective, highlighting the differences in how men and women approach their jobs – their brain functions ARE different! She illustrated her talk with examples e.g. many more women are now employed as London Tube Drivers because they cope better with repetitive work and are better at multi-tasking.

or feel guilty about family commitments. She looked at what makes work enjoyable and what can make it difficult. ‘Often God can take us out of our comfort zone in order to be His hands to help others’, said Jenny. Anna Wright owns her own business, managing four nurseries in Southampton. Building on what Jenny had already talked about, Anna made everyone laugh as she explained her encounters with bank managers. One by one, she expanded her ownership of the nurseries against all the odds. Having experienced the loss of a child, and endured the hardship of dealing with a life-threatening illness, Anna has become even more determined to generate a warm, loving environment for the staff and the children who come into her care. She urged those present to step out, persevere and follow their dreams.

W2W is open to any women who would like to meet others, learn together about the Christian faith and have an enjoyable evening with women of all ages and backgrounds. For more information, contact the church office on 02380 237700 or the email address: carol@woman-2woman.org.uk.

Jenny also encouraged women to believe that they can have a career and enjoy their jobs, rather than just work to pay the bills

...................................................................................................................................................................................... www.newcommunity.org.uk

CENTRAL HALL MORNINGS - 10am (St Mary Street, Southampton) A service in the city centre geared up for the whole family, with lots of opportunity for participation and involvement. Children stay in the main service until about 10.20am then go off to different groups for their own activities. CENTRAL HALL EVENINGS - 6.15pm (St Mary Street, Southampton) A friendly gathering at Central Hall on Sunday evenings for worship, teaching and ministry. Plenty of opportunities to participate and engage or respond with creativity. Small groups run during the week. EASTLEIGH - 10.30am (Barton Peveril College, Cedar Road, Eastleigh) New Community Eastleigh have their main gathering on Sunday mornings at Barton Peveril College, with other activities from 9am. New Community Eastleigh have a variety of small groups and activities that run through the week, with something to suit almost everyone! JAMES STREET - 10.30am (James Street, Golden Grove/St Marys) A family service with children’s groups in the Golden Grove area of St Mary’s at 10.30am on Sunday mornings, with coffee from 10.15am. James Street also hosts Healing Prayer Clinics on Mondays 10am-1pm and 7-9pm, and runs fellowship evenings, clubs for toddlers, kids and youth during the week. SWAYTHLING - from 11am (Aster House, Aster Road) A family service at Aster House on the Flower Estate in Swaythling, every Sunday at 11am. All are welcome to this time of worship, testimony, teaching and ministry. Different groups for men, women, teenagers and children run throughout the week. WEST END - from 10am (King’s School, Quob Lane, West End) New Community West End have recently been joined by New Life International Church, and meet on Sundays for a family service at Kings School, Quob lane. Fellowship over coffee from 10am followed by a time of lively worship, teaching, ministry and prayer starting at 10.30am. There are groups for children and signing for the deaf. All are very welcome. ORCHARD LANE – 10.30am (Orchard Lane, Holyrood) A diverse gathering of people meeting on the Holyrood Estate on Sunday mornings for worship, teaching and prayer, reaching out to the surrounding area. All ages welcome, activities for children. CITY LIFE - 10.30am (Cantell School, Violet Road, Bassett) City Life Church partner closely with New Community and meet in Cantell School on Sunday Mornings at 10.30am. A lively service for all ages with worship, teaching, ministry and groups for children.


Local Projects Healing Prayer Clinic

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............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ When Irene Butt was eight years old, she was drawn to a church meeting held in a tent near the council estate where she lived. It was a special ‘tent meeting’ to pray for people to be healed of any diseases they had. At her age, Irene hadn’t really thought about it much, but what she saw there changed her forever. In the meeting, a mother brought her baby to be prayed for – the baby had a withered foot - and, as the child was prayed for, Irene saw the foot straighten up and return to normal. Something happened in Irene that day – she was moved by what she saw and the desire to see God heal people was planted in her heart once and for all.

People need good news… Irene feels strongly that Christians are here to bring good news to people. ‘It moves me when I see people robbed of their physical or mental health,’ says Irene, ‘I feel God has given me the gift of healing hands so that I can pray for people in faith and see something change’. One of the biggest problems Irene comes across at the healing prayer clinics is depression. ‘It’s the illness of the century’, says Irene, ‘and we have hope to share with people struggling with depression’. One person came to the clinic suffering with depression as a result of the economic downturn. ‘Fear had really gripped her heart,’ said Irene, ‘but we were able to pray with her and see her fear alleviated’. Peace about dying Another person who came to the healing prayer clinic some time ago was suffering from terminal cancer. Although she wasn’t healed from her condition, she came to believe in God for herself and was able to say she had no fear of dying because she knew where she was going. ‘She received something more than physical healing’, said Irene, ‘she had peace and assurance about what was waiting for her after death’. On one occasion, a homeless man came in for some prayer. He said, ‘I’ve got no hope – I don’t know what I need prayer for’. Irene and her colleagues told him about the love of God. He simply said, ‘I want some of that…’ and gave his life to God there and then. On his way out of the Bargate centre, this man saw someone in a wheelchair and told him that if he was sick, he could be prayed for in the shop upstairs. Irene and her team prayed for this young man in the wheelchair who had a problem with his hip and

“ I feel God has given me

the gift of healing hands

so that I can pray for people in faith and see something change

leg. As they prayed, the man’s leg became very hot. ‘Whatever happened to him physically, that man received a touch from God that day’, says Irene. Back problems…no problem! A man who had back problems was prayed for and said, ‘It’s amazing!’ as he was able to move physically in a way he hadn’t been able to for some time. He had no pain. Irene says, ‘All we have to do is pray and God does what he wants to do for that person.’ One lady had been struggling with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Irene felt that this lady had eaten something as a little girl that had affected her badly and prayed for her accordingly. When she returned six months later, the lady said she had no problems at all. Was she healed? ‘Yes, I think so’, says Irene confidently. Irene likes to help people learn to pray for themselves too. ‘God hears the simplest prayers like ‘Please help me today’. It doesn’t need to be complicated – just from the heart,’ she added. What should I expect at the clinic? Everyone is welcome to the Healing Prayer Clinics – whether you’ve never been to church, or don’t believe in God, or used to go to church or Sunday School, whether you’re walking towards God or away from him, or just want

Now Irene runs the Healing Prayer Clinic which is held on a drop-in basis at the Wesley Owen bookshop in the Bargate Centre on Fridays from 10 – 1pm. She also runs another healing prayer clinic at James Street church, just off St. Mary Street on Mondays from 10 – 1pm and again from 7 – 9pm, where you can also come for coffee and chat.

to try it out! Irene believes what the Bible tells her - God is close to the broken-hearted, the perplexed, the crushed, and the forgotten. ‘He wants to bring comfort and healing. He just wants to let you know that he’s there for you – whatever your situation’ adds Irene. People who come to the clinic are not required to share a lot of personal details. The purpose is to pray, not counsel. Two people pray for each person and the session may be for about thirty minutes. People who’ve come to the clinics before have said they can really notice something different - Irene believes it’s the presence of God. A thank you… One person got in touch and said, ‘Since you prayed, I feel a great weight has been lifted off me. I have a different attitude to my difficult situation. It’s a wonderful thing…I can’t thank you enough. Thank you for all you do.’ If you would like to find out more about the Healing Prayer Clinics, you can drop in at James Street Church on Mondays from 10 – 1pm and again from 7 – 9pm, where you can have a coffee and ask any questions you might have. Alternatively, you can call New Community at Central Hall on 02380 237700 and be put in touch with someone who can help.

............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ www.newcommunity.org.uk


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Friends Abroad Ibiza

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............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ team took between 250 and 300 drunk and drugged people back to their hotels or hospital. The team have also been praying for the many West African prostitutes who work along the waterfront in San Antonio. After three years, they have now had the opportunity to talk and pray with some of them, and listen to their sad stories.

Building community Brian and the team feel strongly that building community with the workers is important. They have opened their home and invited people for meals. ‘We quickly realised that many of the workers live in kitchen-less flats and welcome the chance to have a homecooked Sunday roast’, said Brian.

Brian and Tracy Heasley were leading a church in Diss, Norfolk, when God began talking to them about going to Ibiza as part of the work of 24-7 Prayer. The aim was to develop a community of people in San Antonio who are committed to praying and doing acts of kindness. San Antonio is the place to which most young British tourists gravitate to sample the delights of the clubs, the bars and the beaches.

An urban centre Now in their fourth year, Brian and Tracy, sons Daniel and Ellis, and long-term team members, Helen Gross and Bruce GardenerCrehan, are well and truly settled in! Last year, they acquired a centre in San Antonio that now provides internet access, free wi-fi, Nintendo Wii, Xbox, pool table, plasma screen TV, water, a place for the seasonal workers to sit, talk and rest, and a prayer room (where more than 350 prayers were posted on the wall or privately in a bottle last year.) ‘Conversations with workers can be about anything - the future, fears, struggles, relationships, God, life and everything inbetween,’ says Tracy. ‘It’s not unusual for people to say, ‘I haven’t told anyone this but…’ she added. About twenty people per day use the 24-7 Ibiza centre.

Summer teams out all night on the streets Teams of Christian young people come out during the summer for two weeks at a time - in 2008, over ninety people came to help. From May to October, four nights a week, from midnight until 4 or 5 am, the teams alternate between praying at the centre and going out on the streets. The latter involves talking and praying with people, or assisting those who are drunk, sick, lost or who have been robbed or attacked, by taking them to their hotel, the local Health Centre, or just staying with them if they are vulnerable. Now the Health Centre calls the team when a patient needs a lift home or to the hospital, or if they need someone to help with communication. Once, an ambulance driver called the team on their mobile phone. Brian quickly explained that they hadn’t called an ambulance, but they said, ‘No, we are phoning you!’ They had found a drunken guy who needed help to get back to his hotel, which is not their job, but they were reluctant to leave the man in a vulnerable position. Last summer, the 24-7 Ibiza

Home is an important part of the work for Brian and Tracy, even more so now because they have recently started to rent an Ibicencan finca - a farm - in the hills above San Antonio with Bruce and Helen. The house is the oldest in the area – built by the Moors over 500 years ago. Owned by the Serra family, who were very ‘religious’ and ‘prayed too much’, the family would help people who needed food or a place to stay. So the house already has a history of hospitality and prayer. When the estate agent was showing them around, Brian whispered to Tracy that all they needed now was to find a prayer chapel on the land. Just as they were about to leave, the agent turned round and said, ‘Oh, I forgot…there is a small prayer chapel on the hill’. That sealed it for the team – and they moved into the farm on January 1st.

A rural centre There are challenges – it has over 100 acres for a start! The water from its three cisternas has to be supplemented; solar energy is not quite sufficient; internet access is poor; there’s no phone – yet; and the road up to the farm is playing havoc with their vehicles. ‘But it’s also the gift of God’, says Brian. The plan is to have the house as a retreat for those that need it – especially workers from San Antonio – who can participate in looking after the land – onions, potatoes, olives, almonds, pomegranates and lemons. The house even has its own bread oven! The possibilities for God’s work in Ibiza are endless.

Can I go to Ibiza? The team is looking for people to get involved on a longer term basis. Is God calling you to join them? You can also pray. And you can support Brian and Tracy in their personal finance either as a one off donation and/ or a regular donation. Their bank details are:

LLoydsTsb Sort Code - 77-66-12 Account No - 12100068 Account Name - B & T Heasley

You can find out more about 24-7 Ibiza at www.24-7ibiza.com and on Brian’s blog – www.brianheasley.blogspot.com.

............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ www.newcommunity.org.uk


Exciting Projects Romance Academy

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............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. part of it. ‘It’s such a privilege to work with these teenagers - they are able to be real in a way that I never could’. The group agrees to abstain from sexual activity for the duration of the course and everyone has the chance to talk about sexual health, pregnancy, relationships – everything! Parents come in and talk about their experiences – Holly’s even hoping to obtain some ‘mechanical babies’ to help the group understand what’s involved in caring for a child.

When you ask 27 year old Holly McMahon why she loves Romance Academy, she says, ‘I just do! It’s as if I was made for it – all my experience, my training, everything!’ She brims over with enthusiasm. But what is Romance Academy? Holly explained that it’s a 15 week course for 12 young people - of both genders and diverse backgrounds - aged 13-18 years. ‘The programme covers every aspect of sex and relationships’, said Holly, who is quick to point out that the two are related! Topics on the course include love languages, gender differences, communication, as well as the risks associated with drugs and alcohol. However, the Romance Academy is not about delivering teenagers into adulthood free from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies; it’s about investing the time, information, support and values that sees them entering adulthood stronger, wiser and able to find happiness and success in their relationships. ‘I saw Romance Academy on TV one day and decided to get involved’, said Holly who trained as a Social Worker and found she really clicked with young people. She then worked for Barnardos, helping young women who had gone missing and been sexually exploited. This was all preparation for Holly to get involved in helping young people learn how to build healthy relationships and avoid damaging ones. Holly has a heart particularly for young people at risk and has met with the Teenage Pregnancy Co-ordinator for Southampton, and with Breakout, who help young people who consider themselves to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or who are unsure, to discuss how Romance Academy can support the good work they are doing.

Holly McMahon

When Holly did the Romance Academy training in Chichester, everything within her knew she had to be

The programme is interactive and informative, but also holistic, taking the whole person into account, not just sex and relationships. Romance Academy leaders say, ‘We have discovered how issues of sexual intimacy and identity act as a doorway for young people into all other areas of their lives’. The clear message presented is that having sex won’t answer the ‘who am I?’ questions and that delaying sexual activity is a positive choice and a useful foundation for finding these answers. “I found the group discussion educational and it benefited me…everyone is very supportive” (14 year old boy.) Every teenager has the opportunity to be mentored once a month – they can talk about anything going on in their lives. It’s a kind of Life Support system, says Holly.

What difference does Romance Academy make? One person who came on the course, explained Holly, had already had a number of different partners, yet now has a deeper understanding of the importance of developing relationships and sees abstinence more positively. Another person abstained from using cannabis for the duration of the course. The real benefits are not only in young people delaying sexual activity and waiting for a long term committed relationship, but also in developing selfesteem, confidence, assertiveness and useful social skills that equip them for the future decision-making. ‘Romance Academy has taught me sooo much stuff like STIs, sex and relationships, drugs and alcohol and lots more. It’s going to feel different not being there on Wednesdays now...

it’s become part of me!” (15 year old girl) The course has a Christian ethos which respects that every person is made in the image of God and is therefore valuable. The course is not about moral judgement or making people wrong. It’s really about helping young people be the best they can be, to talk things through, develop new skills and begin to make their own healthy choices about their lives. An 18 year old girl said in her feedback on the course, ‘Goal for my life: Not having sex till married.’

More Romance community?

Academies

in

our

Holly has only run the course twice so far – at Central Hall. It costs about £1800 to run a course in all, and includes a weekend away – ‘a very special time for the group’, said Holly. One 16 year old girl said, “You learn new stuff each week at Romance Academy...the weekend away was AMAZING...I won’t forget it!” There’s a graduation ceremony too – party time! All the young people said that their understanding of sex and relationships has improved as a result of attending the course. ‘I would like to see Romance Academy more established in the city of Southampton first of all as an integral part of the Sex and Relationships curriculum in schools,’ hopes Holly. ‘There’s really nothing else like it in Southampton.’ Holly’s so keen for Romance Academy to grow that she’s been asked to take part in the national picture, setting up ‘hubs’ across the South where Romance Academy leaders can share experiences and ensure it goes on from strength to strength, helping our young people to live healthier and more fulfilled lives. Thanks, Holly! If you would like to take part in Romance Academy as a teenager or helper, please contact Holly McMahon on HollyM@ newcommunity.org.uk for more information.

................................................................................... Romance Academy was an amazing journey...we met and came to know some fantastic young people...personally the experience was priceless” Aneli Goetz volunteer leader

............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ www.newcommunity.org.uk


In Our Community Orchard Lane Church

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Orchard Lane Church is tucked away in the heart of the city centre on the Holyrood estate, close to the East Street entrance to Debenhams. You would hardly notice it, in fact, except for the distinctive white cross outside the door. But this is a church that has withstood the test of time. Originally known as the King Street Mission, established by Above Bar Congregational Church in order to reach out to the local area, it closed with the start of the Second World War, but was reopened in 1942 by members of the Church of Christ (currently known as Above Bar Church). The new Orchard Lane Church was built in1971 when the King Street Mission building was demolished, along with much of the local housing that has since been replaced by the flats we see now.

moved away – to Sompting, Sussex and the Isle of Wight respectively – but Russ and Rosie felt God calling them to stay. Their vision was always for the church to be God’s message, serving the estate in the hope that local people would become disciples of Jesus and lead the church themselves for the benefit of their community. The church has sought to outwork this over the years, reaching out with the provision of toddler groups, kid’s clubs, and outings to Mudeford or Sandbanks, even camping holidays in Devon! Children have always been a focus for Orchard Lane, befriending and caring for them, building links with parents on the estate.

‘We knew we could do something useful and make a difference here.’ This vision for local leaders has proved difficult because the estate houses many families who are in transition; there are not many families who live in Holyrood permanently. In fact, for some, Holyrood is merely emergency accommodation. Many want to move from flats to houses, especially with families. Russ explains that many people have come through Orchard Lane Church from the local area over the years, but not many who were able to lead a church community. Other ways the church has served the community have been through Alpha courses, women’s meetings, mission

The Orchard Lane well won’t run dry… Russ and Rosie Wilmott have been part of Orchard Lane Church for the last 35 years. They originally went, aged 21, to help two longstanding members of the church – Bernard Frampton and Murray Veal – run the children’s club and the teenagers’ group, which took place on Wednesdays and Fridays in an effort to encourage local children to come to church meetings. Russ and Rosie soon realised they had to stay. ‘We knew we could do something useful and make a difference here,’ said Russ. They were joined by friends Colin and Judy Frampton, and Sean and Ruth Luther. These two couples have since

weeks, a fruit and vegetable co-operative, taking part in the Oxford Street Fun Days, SAFE courses, as well as allowing AA and SureStart to provide their services from the building. There’s still so much more to do! God has no plans to let the Orchard Lane well dry up. We’re family… The various leaders over the years – Ted Slade, Tony Knight, Ian and Jayne Newton and others – have all doggedly carried on with the work in a very difficult area. Ian and Jayne Newton lived on the estate at one time, which made a great difference to their friendships with local people, enabling them to pastor the community as well as the church. Now a group of young people from New Community, led by Michael and Amanda Thom, have committed themselves to building up the church and reaching out to the community in line with its heritage. Michael and Amanda, as well as some of the young people, live in the city centre near to the estate. God touched Michael’s heart one day when he was walking around the area, praying, and saw the building for the first time. He felt a deep compassion for the church and decided to attend in the hope that he would be able to serve the small group that met there. Things just developed from there! ...................................................................................

God touched Michael’s heart one day when he was walking around the area, praying, and saw the building for the first time. ................................................................................... Russ and Rosie are delighted to see the influx of young people making a contribution to church and community life. They welcome others to join them. ‘Because we’re a smaller church, it’s always felt like family,’ said Rosie, ‘but the local community has always been our focus too.’

Left to Right - Tom Chapman, Rosie Wilmott, Murray Veal, Bernard Frampton, Russ Wilmott, Jayne Newton, Ian Newton

Is God asking you to get involved somewhere ‘on the ground’? You’re welcome to visit Orchard Lane Church to see if this is the place to make your contribution, practically and spiritually, in community. Why not come along? The meetings take place on Sundays at 10.30am.

............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ www.newcommunity.org.uk


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You Got Snapped Send us your photos!

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............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ Email your photos to carolinejkennedy@btinternet.com


You Got Snapped Send us your photos!

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............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ Email your photos to carolinejkennedy@btinternet.com


Food for Thought Film Reviews

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Charlie Wilson’s War

Reviewed by Peter Wilson to be asleep”. This is Charlie Wilson’s epiphany moment. When his mind should have indeed been asleep, dulled by his hedonistic lifestyle, his antennae home in on little known events developing in a seemingly irrelevant country on the other side of the world.

There is a quite remarkable scene at the beginning of this film. Tom Hanks plays Congressman Charlie Wilson – “Good Time Charlie” as he is known. We are introduced to Charlie in a Las Vegas club sharing a hot tub with various women strippers, drink and cocaine in plentiful supply. Suddenly Charlie’s attention is drawn to a TV screen on the far wall. He recognises a well known media figure reporting from a country which Charlie quickly identifies as being Afghanistan. He shouts across to someone to turn the TV up. In his stupor, he picks up a phrase in the report “America seems

Charlie soon links up with an old flame, Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts), a rich Texan socialite with a self-styled evangelistic passion for the redemption of Afghanistan from the scourge of the Russian invader. After she persuades him to visit an Afghan refugee camp, and he movingly witnesses the human suffering – children with arms blown off trying to pick up mines disguised as toys – Charlie decides to engage the help of the CIA. This arrives in the shape of the unlikely named Gust Avrakotos, a misfit, eccentric CIA operative, played by the always superb Philip Seymour Hoffman, who just happens to share the same passion to free Afghanistan as the other two. This is a true story. Charlie served on a U.S. defence sub-committee and, with the help of the other two, using diverse and devious means, engineered a covert operation to divert over $1 billion dollars towards arming the Afghans over a period of eight years, until the Russians were eventually defeated.

Lars and the Real Girl A film that tackles issues of mental illness and a community’s response to it may not sound like everyone’s cup of tea. But this quirky, offbeat comedy is surprisingly effective and moving. It is also refreshing to come across a new film with no swearing, violence or overt sexual content. Lars is an introvert and loner in a small, Canadian community, refusing every attempt from Gus and Karin, his brother and sister-inlaw, to engage in their family life. He finds it difficult to interact with or relate to his family, co-workers, or fellow parishioners in the church he regularly attends. Lars is clearly on the edge - will he embrace life or retreat into complete isolation? One day, Lars happily announces to Gus and Karin he has a visitor he met via the Internet, a wheelchair-bound missionary of Brazilian and Danish descent named Bianca. The two are startled to discover Bianca is in fact a lifelike doll Lars ordered from an adult website. Lars treats her as though she is alive. Concerned about his mental health, they convince Lars to take Bianca to the family doctor who is also a psychologist. She agrees to see Bianca every week in order to assess Lars’ condition and urges Gus and Karin to help Lars by treating Bianca as if she were a real woman.

It is a film which punches hard at many different levels. Superficially, it’s pure entertainment as the Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing; A Few Good Men)) dialogue positively crackles with droll one-liners and pithy sarcasm during the interplay between the three off-beat characters. “You’re not James Bond”, says Charlie to CIA operative Gust. “You ain’t Thomas Jefferson, so let’s call it even” is Gust’s immediate repost to the congressman. On another level it’s a tale of unselfish persistence, almost heroism. Three uncelebrated, very flawed people see a need and determine to make a difference. Finally, however, it is pure tragedy, made all the more acute by contemporary international events. After the retreat of the Russians, Charlie is seen trying to raise government funds for a school in Afghanistan, pointing out that half the post-war population is under the age of 14, and the country is now at its most vulnerable. But no one is interested any more. “We always go in with our ideals and change the world,” says Charlie, “and then we leave. We always leave. But the ball doesn’t stop bouncing. The ball keeps on bouncing”. Current events in Afghanistan serve to make this a chilling sign-off.

Reviewed by Phil Orchard From this unlikely, even disturbing, premise of mental delusion comes a journey of negative reaction followed by love and acceptance. The whole community responds, not with condemnation or medication, but with genuine care and understanding. They include Bianca in their lives, without patronising Lars in the process. The experience enriches them all and helps Lars come to terms gradually with past traumas and future possibilities. Due to their acceptance of Bianca, Lars soon finds himself interacting more with people. We see him tentatively adjusting to normality, whilst seeing the delusion through to its own plausible point of closure. It’s a matter of opinion whether this film stretches credulity to breaking point, but the role of Lars is played so convincingly by Ryan Gosling that most doubts are genuinely removed. Through its offbeat humour, it gently challenges us as viewers to consider what our response would or should be. What, for example, would Jesus do? - as we see the minister asking his church parish council. The healing power of love and acceptance makes far greater, time-consuming and emotional demands upon us than the “quick fix” (medical or spiritual)!

Does Lars re-engage with the real world in the end? Well, that would spoil the plot to tell you, but in a sense it’s also not the point. More importantly perhaps, how does the journey impact all concerned - Lars, his family, his doctor, his work colleagues, his church and the rest of the town? Do we identify with any of them? Or even learn something from them?

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In The Community Debt Advice

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............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ It doesn’t matter whose fault it is – it can happen to anyone’, she added. Ruth feels that this opportunity to get involved in the community enables her to show God’s love in a practical way. She is released from her job for one morning a week to serve in the community. ‘I can use my skills to help people who can’t help themselves, but it’s really just about loving people,’ she said.

More than just repairing the damage… Although Ruth has been working for three years, she hasn’t seen many come through their debts yet. ‘It can take a while to get out of money problems’; said Ruth, ‘and I’m in it for the long haul’. She would like to do more than just help people when problems occur; she would also like to train people in budgeting so that they don’t get into financial problems again. ‘There’s a lot more work to do!’ she added.

So what help is available and when?

Financial Administrator Ruth George felt she wasn’t making much of a contribution tucked away in her Central Hall office. Naturally outgoing and friendly, Ruth longed for an opportunity to help people and make a difference to others. Then her colleague, Adrian Thomas, came across a charity that had a vision to set up debt advice services on every estate in Southampton. Ruth was instantly interested. Already having a natural aptitude for finance, Ruth completed the training and a year’s supervised practice. Now the Just Money Centre is run at two venues in the city: at the Natterbox in Thornhill, run by Ruth, and at Aster House on the Flowers Estate in Swaythling, run by Dom Williams. What does the Just Money Centre do? People come to the centre with their financial problems and really don’t know what to do to get out of them. Ruth’s main work is in helping people in debt work

out a repayment plan with their creditors. Some people feel harassed and upset by creditors calling on them or phoning. The Just Money Centre acts as a go-between, making life less stressful and contact with creditors more reasonable. Ruth (above left) looks closely at the client’s situation, writes a financial statement, suggests a budget for the client and makes a recommendation for paying money back. Money problems can be such a strain. One person said, ‘I feel so much better when I come and see you – it’s great to know I’m not in it on my own.’

‘Listening is the first skill needed in my job…’ ‘People appreciate being listened to – we don’t judge people. When we say we can help you, people feel as if a great weight is lifted off them’, said Ruth. She stands in the other person’s shoes and sees their struggle. ‘There are many reasons why people get into financial problems – many just haven’t been taught the skills.

The Just Money Centre is part of The Frontline Project, a Christian registered charity no. 285044, providing debt and benefit advice. It can help with debt, completing forms, loan advice, overdrafts, bills, repossession, eviction, final demands, benefits and bailiffs. Aster House, Aster Rd., Swaythling, SO16 3BG. Tel: 02380 559 894 or 07977 175 949 Email: justmoneycentre@tiscali.co.uk Mon: 9.30 – 3pm | Wed: 12.30 – 3pm Natterbox, 382-384 Hinkler Rd., Thornhill, Southampton Tel: 07806 264 020 Email: jmcthornhill@googlemail.com Thurs: 9.30 – 11am.

www.frontlinedebtadvice.com Visits can be arranged at the office or your home if you live in Swaythling or Thornhill.

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My Story Bev Webb

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............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ Jesus. I felt loved and accepted. It wasn’t long before I gave my life to the Lord – I was desperate to know him and hear him speak to me. At that time, the atomic bomb was a very real threat and I had fearful questions about what was beyond death. There were still many things about God that I hadn’t experienced, but I knew there was more. Then I read ‘Nine O’Clock in the Morning’ by Dennis Bennett, which was all about being filled with the Holy Spirit, as the early disciples were in Acts 2. In my room one evening, I asked God to give me his Holy Spirit and dutifully practised speaking in tongues from then on! Since I had been confirmed as a believing teenager, I felt no need to be baptised, that is, being immersed in water as a public declaration of my faith. This all changed when I saw my friend baptised in the sea. As I watched her emerge, I knew I was missing something. Riveted to the spot, I listened for an invitation and found myself running forward for baptism. The sea – cold and grey - seemed to grow warm and calm as I walked in, and soon I was emerging from the water full of joy, and sensing the presence of God like never before. > Mum, Dad and Jesus My parents, particularly my Dad, reacted negatively to my new-found faith and this remained a difficult road for us for many years. In the end, I had the privilege of praying for my Dad as he lay on his death bed, and although I was never able to hear him say that he accepted Jesus for himself, God showed me that he had saved him. I initially regretted that my Dad had never had time to use his energies to proclaim Jesus, but then God showed me that my Dad’s watercolour paintings, for which he was well-known, revealed him to countless people. (See www.alaningham.co.uk to view his paintings.) I was also able to lead my mother to Jesus some months later. Bev Webb, part of the leadership of City Life Church in Southampton for the last fourteen years, has been helping New Community develop its pastoral care across the communities, but Bev is a new face to some of us. Here Bev tells her story so that we can get to know her better… When I was born in the Naval Hospital, Portsmouth on 2nd February 1957, I was christened Beverley after my mother’s American penfriend. I always disliked my name until my West Indian pupils in a Hammersmith school said they loved it! Beverley means ‘meadow of the beaver’ – hardly beautiful – but I’ve come to realise that it suits me, as my approach to life is to beaver away with all my energy! One very kind person told me that beavers change the landscape significantly. I have come to hope that I will be used by God to make a difference too. In addition, my surname was Ingham, which means ‘chatterbox’ in Chinese! Names really do point to one’s destiny! Aged three and living in New Zealand whilst my Dad was on a naval posting for two years, my sister, Kim, was born. Sadly she died nine days later and I remained an only – and sometimes lonely – child. We moved constantly as a result of my Dad’s postings and, even when he left the Navy when I was seven, it took time to settle into civilian life. We finally made a home in Brentwood when I was eleven. I became a real Essex girl at Brentwood County High School for Girls, dropping my ‘T’s along with the best of them. These years weren’t particularly happy: my Dad was always trying to raise me as if I was a naval rating rather than a daughter. But things were about to change. > Fearful Questions I joined a Covenanter group in the next village. A wonderful couple welcomed me into their home and spent hours telling me about

At university, reading Marine and Freshwater Biology, I still had a strong desire to hear God and see God work supernaturally. I couldn’t find a church that helped me with this and I felt far from God, even though by this time I had met my husband, Clive, who had found God dramatically. We married in 1980, after I had become a primary teacher working in a social priority secondary school in London, teaching Maths and Science. It was a school with many problems but my eyes were opened to the glories of multicultural society – 40% white, 40% West Indian and 20% from other nations and backgrounds. It was there that I learned how to dance in my ‘soul shoes’ and love Reggae music. When I left to have my son, Nick, in 1984, my entire class traveled to see me in hospital. > Grow up, little girl! By the time I had my daughter, Charlotte, in 1986, we had moved out of London and were still trying to find a church that seemed in touch with God. I eventually found a small community of people in Didcot who were able to say ‘YES!’ to my question, ‘Does God speak to you and do you believe he raises the dead?’ I learned to recognise God’s voice as he showed us that he is our only source of hope, strength, provision, protection and destiny through a series of crises and difficulties. We began a business with the church leaders, with a vision to release funds for God’s work; and at the same time, I became involved in the care and development of church members. We also began a vibrant children’s work, which served the local community. It was during this time that God spoke to me and told me that he would redeem my natural curiosity (nosiness!) and bring people to me for guidance and counsel. I opened myself up to the possibility and it happened! Twice God said to me prophetically ‘grow up, little girl!’ Each time, these words preceded a season of greater responsibility and greater

g

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My Story Continued...

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............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. reliance on God. We had to take on the business we were involved in which was now in debt, and I became the sole leader of the church! Grow up I did! These were the best and worst of times. God is faithful, however. I can still see my husband, Clive, leaving the house, not knowing whether the bank would foreclose on our business loan. When he arrived at work, a cheque for £14 000 had been put through the door. During these times, our church community became a loving, active, faith-filled family who believed God and who worked hard to reach those around us. We saw healings and people saved but most found us ‘too committed!’ The business just survived, clawing back the ground, slowly clearing debt. It was just as the business and the church became more stable that I felt God say we had to move on. God said I would find fruitfulness in my next home and that I would find the church of my dreams…or at least make it so! > Sweet peas We sought out a church that was part of the same network of churches – Pioneer – and one that was within a commutable distance to the business. We arrived in Southampton, knowing no-one and with another crock of a house! Eighteen months later, the church went through a traumatic time and we were literally torn in two. I became part of the team trying to hold it together. At this time, a friend came to me with a bunch of sweet peas, one of my favourite flowers, and said, ‘Bev, I’ve brought you these because they’re tall and straight but frilly on top…be yourself, be feminine. You don’t have to be one of the boys to fit in.’ I believed this to be God’s word to me. I didn’t go looking for, or expect, any of this – I was a Maths teacher! I needed God to give me confirmation for this leadership role. I felt him clearly say to me: ‘At the moment, much of the church is like a one parent family. It is difficult, and it can work, but it is not the best way. I desire mothers and fathers working together to grow my church’. I believe men and women are both needed to bring others to maturity; in the same way as children benefit from a father’s and a mother’s perspectives on things. I’m so grateful to Clive, a secure man of God and shaper of my life, who has always supported me and released me to be who God has made me to be. On our 22nd wedding anniversary - seven years ago now! - I asked him what were the high points (and low points) of our married life and he said his greatest thrill has been seeing me come into my place as a woman of God and as a leader. > Mending broken lives My passion is to see God build his Church but the thing that motivates me most is seeing God mend broken lives and helping people find their place in God’s family. Even though God has led me into church leadership, I have to keep a part of my heart free to serve broken people outside its walls. It has taken me into some strange settings - massage and salsa classes, delivering lessons in schools for the Firgrove Crisis Pregnancy Centre, Winchester market with my fused glass creations, finding God’s treasures among the bric-abrac, bhangra dancing with Asian friends; and, more recently, making friends in the Community Café on Sunday afternoon at Central Hall. I continue on my journey to see the ‘church of my dreams’ emerge, grow and change the world for the better. It’s so much more than I ever thought it would be. I didn’t know at the time that it would include Thailand. When we arrived in Southampton in 1993, there was no multicultural feel to

the city at all, apart from a small Asian community. In November 1999, our church received a prophetic word saying we would be a ‘giving and going’ church with a world vision. Challenged to put our money where God’s mouth was, we began to look for God-given connections beyond our city. He opened up an opportunity with a family working in Thailand amongst the poorer Thai people and the refugees who were fleeing ethnic cleansing in Burma. Mainly tribal people, they were hiding out in North Thailand, working on orange and lychee groves in their thousands. Under the banner of HANDS (Health And Nutritional Development Services), this couple provided practical support, built friendships and helped displaced people become independent again. > Falling in love with Thailand As a church, we began to give a tenth of our income to our overseas connection and released a small amount to help people to go there - everyone, except me, I hoped. I had only ever travelled to France! However, everyone else thought I had to be the one to go, which I finally did in April 2000. To say I was nervous about the trip is the greatest understatement of all time. Could I cope with the heat and the food? Would I like flying? Would I get lost? What about the insects…and the toilets? Would I let people down? My main fear was not being able to cope with the plight of the refugees and to be unable to do anything any valuable. Needless to say, God met every fear with his love and grace, exceeding my wildest expectations and causing me to fall in love with the place and the people. People say, ‘If Bev can come out here and love it, then anyone can!’ I now take two teams out each year and the next trip in October 2009 will be my 18th. Anyone can come to Thailand as part of a team. We also like to take people who don’t see themselves as part of a church, since they have a lot to give and also get very touched by the love of God. So far, I’ve taken a friend who’s a GP, an architect, a drug-rehabilitation worker, my hairdresser and my neighbor - all of whom have loved it. Since that time, we have had a world vision, sending teams regularly to Thailand, India, South Africa and Uganda, as well as continuing to work with refugees in Southampton through CLEAR (City Life Education & Action for Refugees) and developing relationships with the Asian community in the city. ‘ I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me. Then those sheep are going to say ‘When did we do all these things?’ and the King will say, ‘I’m telling you the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me’. Matthew 25:34-40 The Message > Partnering with New Community I didn’t know at the time that the church of my dreams would include a partnership between City Life and New Community. I feel so encouraged and excited at all God is doing between our churches and it is a privilege and pleasure to be working together, particularly in the area of the pastoral, because I believe it really is a case of two can go further than one. I’m enjoying working with other skilled and talented people, and I sense that both churches are gaining through the sharing of gifts and the shaping of one another, made possible through our deepening relationships. My hope is that I can play a part in helping every individual to realise the unique contribution they make, and to release them to play their part for the benefit of many.

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Be Inspired I Am Second

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You know how it is…your kids are on Facebook and they say, ‘Come and see this, Mum’. I always show some interest in what’s happening on their screens, whether it’s a comedy clip, a photo or a piece of music, but it’s not often that you come across something that makes you want to look more closely for yourself. That’s what happened to me when I watched the website iamsecond.com that my son had discovered. Strange title, I thought. What’s all that about? When I investigated further, I found a site with simple clean lines, muted colours and people’s faces. Iamsecond.com is a showcase for people’s personal stories of how God affected, invaded, changed their lives in very real ways. Click on a face and an 8 minute film starts with the person telling you their story. The stories are varied – about prostitution, abuse, sex addiction, for example. But some are about things like satisfaction and success, meaning, purpose in life and pride – some of the more invisible things that get in the way of finding God in our lives. It takes courage to share our story. We can feel shame. But that’s the overriding impression from iamsecond. com – these people have moved past the point of shame to a place where they are free of it. What matters is only what God thinks of them – and that’s why they can say, ‘I am second.’ God’s first. Because he loves them. You might recognise Jason Castro who featured on American Idol, or Brian Welch, ex-Korn band member telling their stories, but most of the people featured are not well-known. They are just ordinary people like you and me. Some of the stories are dramatic in content; others are more mundane. But they are all compelling. Go, look and listen… www.iamsecond.com

...these people have moved past the point of shame to a place where they are free of it. What matters is only what God thinks of them – and that’s why they can say, ‘I am second.’ God’s first. Because he loves them.

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Around the World Continued...

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............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. I even managed to persuade her to go for an HIV test. She was positive, but she is fortunate as she is now on antiretroviral treatment which has made her feel a lot better.” Selloane is also one of the first people to be enrolled on Kick 4 Life’s Scholarship Scheme which funds disadvantaged youth through school, and she is determined to complete her education so that she can build a better future for her family. “Kick 4 Life has changed my life very much for the better.” Selloane is just one of many young people who have embraced Kick 4 Life, and after a successful start Steve and his team are

working hard to reach many others. HIV prevalence is more than 23% in Lesotho. Among 30-40 year-olds, it is 40%. They are known as the lost generation, and that is why it is vital that young people are educated, To find out more about Kick 4 especially as 35% are Life visit: www.kick4life.org - To support us visit www.kick4life.org/ orphans or are vulnerable donate.htm and have little family For more information, please support. These young get in touch with Steve Fleming: people are the future of steve@kick4life.org or 07710 999 169 Lesotho, and despite the difficulties, there is a strong sense of optimism that the country can see big improvements over the coming years. Kick 4 Life is glad to be a part of this effort.

Selloane - enrolled on Kick4Life’s new scheme

Students My Life as a Care Intern

............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. that would inspire me, and the Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) Leadership Programme crossed my path. CARE is a charity whose aim is to bring insight and experience from a Christian perspective to matters of government policy and to engage in practical caring initiatives. They think it is important to have people in key areas of decision making who can put forward a perspective based on Christian values. It is because of this that they invest in people with Christian beliefs whom they see as having the potential to be in positions of leadership in the future.

Tanya Srokosz - Currently a Care Intern

Hi, I am Tanya and I was a member of New Community Church before heading off to University. I was brought up in Southampton, studied Physiotherapy in Birmingham and am now living in London doing a charity internship completely unrelated to my degree. You could be forgiven for wondering how on earth I came to be where I am now, considering my degree…I can only describe it as God’s direction for my life.

I am one of eighteen people privileged to be doing the programme this year. Five of us spend four days a week on placement with charities; eleven have placements in Parliament and one is working for the BBC. Every Friday we come together and have a series of discussions and seminars to help us understand more about what it means to be a Christian, how our faith affects the way we live our lives and the policy areas that might be of interest to us. Christians working in a variety of different professions come and discuss how their journey led them to the job they do currently. It is great to have the opportunity to learn theoretically one day of the week, and then put into practice some of the things we learn about on the other four days. (We do get to have loads of fun on our weekends away…going to Brussels for a weekend to visit the European Union was definitely a highlight!).

I love understanding more of God’s character and having this opportunity to develop my skills alongside my faith in preparation for whatever it is that the future might bring.

My placement is with a charity called Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) which is a human rights organisation working for religious freedom around the world. I have spent a lot of my time working on issues relating to religious freedom in India. There are so many people around the world who are discriminated against, persecuted and marginalised for their faith. So often their stories are never heard. CSW lobbies and advocates on behalf of those people, and also for long-term changes in the policies and laws in many countries that prevent freedom of religion being available to everyone. I love understanding more of God’s character and having this opportunity to develop my skills alongside my faith in preparation for whatever it is that the future might bring. I don’t know exactly what I will do when this year is over, but I know that this has been an invaluable experience and one I would recommend to others!

If you are interested in finding out more I didn’t totally enjoy my degree, and so about the CARE Intern Programme, visit when I came towards the end of it, I was their website - www.care.org.uk praying for something else to come along ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. www.newcommunity.org.uk


Round the Table By Caroline Kennedy

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Beer and Strawberries We arrived at a farmhouse, deep blue and wooden, like something out of Dr. Zhivago, with ornate woodwork. There was a husky dog, totally out of place, with ice-blue eyes, at the gate. Our taxi driver’s parents were smiling and welcoming us, anxious to usher us into their garden, place benches under the trees in the orchard, spread redchequered cloths on them, and ply us with ice-cold beer and strawberries for tea, washed with water from the well. Kittens and chickens ran around our feet. Once, when I was working for a few days in Romania, my colleague, Sarah, and I were treated to a day out around Iasc (pronounced Yash) in the north of the country. It was a very hot day, and our hosts told us we were taking a taxi-driven tour around the famous monasteries. It didn’t sound hugely inspiring, to be honest! At one monastery, we discovered we could have lunch there, in an upper room with the monks. Many of the people from the rural locality filed up the stairs and into a very long spartan room, where there were two equally long tables. We joined them in this rather uncomfortable setting – guests at Sunday lunch. All the monks sat on one table, and the rest of us sat on the other. There was a discernible sense that we were expected to be reverential and solemn.

Stale Bread and Smelly Cheese The food left a lot to be desired. Stale bread, bright yellow polenta cake, a foul-smelling cheese and a soup poorly disguised as chicken soup! All the locals began their meal - I felt I could only join them, out of respect. There was a rule of silence while a monk read out the life of a saint. I just remember a head-scarved old lady looking at me rather vacantly. It was obviously an important meal in her week, but there wasn’t a sense of being together as God’s people – more of a workhouse feeling actually. Carrying on to yet another monastery, the taxi driver declared that his parents lived nearby and we should visit them. I asked Geanina, our host, if she knew the taxi driver. No, she didn’t! Well, this was a novelty!

It was hospitality, simple and perfect. Such a contrast to the monastery! Despite the fact that we were complete strangers and couldn’t speak a word of Romanian, we had a wonderful time in their company. Three hours worth! Unforgettable.

The heart of the home What is it about someone’s generosity and sitting round a table with food that makes something magical happen? The table is a common feature in many of our homes (though sadly not all). It’s so ordinary really, but so central – the heart of a home. There’s a scene in that old musical, Fiddler on the Roof, when the family are being gathered by the mother round the table in time for sundown when the Sabbath starts. She and her husband, according to Jewish tradition, preside over the table and sing in celebration of the Shabat meal. It’s very moving – a reminder of who they are in terms of their heritage, who they are as a family, and who they are to God. Another less well-known story is Babette’s Feast, a story written by Isak Dinesen, also known as Countess Karen von Blixen. Karen von Blixen is the woman featured in the film Out of Africa, played by Meryl Streep. The story has been made more well-known by Philip Yancey in his book, ‘What’s So Amazing About Grace?’, but there is also a film of the story in Danish!

Starved of love The story focuses on a small religious community in Denmark whose members have aged and dwindled in numbers. The two daughters of the deceased pastor are asked to take in Babette and employ her as their cook and housekeeper. One day,

after a long time, Babette receives a letter telling her she has won the lottery in France. A huge amount of money! The ladies are certain that Babette will leave them when she asks if she can put on a special dinner for the community. The religious folks are a little too religious to relish this prospect and make up their minds to attend but not eat or drink anything. There are other threads to the story, but what happens is that the community succumbs to Babette’s culinary delights – turtle soup, blinis Demidoff and, of course, excellent wine. In the process, one brother leans back on his chair and taps another on his shoulder. ‘Yes, brother, I cheated you of that timber…I am sorry. Will you forgive me?’ Confession, forgiveness, brotherly love! One by one, the community is slowly transformed – all around the table. One of my most precious books is ‘A Pattern Language’ by Christopher Alexander. I picked it up at a friend’s house (I like browsing other people’s bookshelves!) because I thought it was about language, but it was actually about architecture. Instantly, I knew I had found something that resonated very deeply with me.

Convivium – Life Together The book gives detailed ‘patterns’ for constructing towns and homes congruently and sensitively. One of the patterns is for ‘Communal Eating’ and it says this: ‘Without communal eating, no human group can hold together’. The book lists various meals: the Christian practice of Holy Communion, wedding feasts, birthday parties and Christmas dinner, wakes and family evening meals, and goes on to quote Thomas Merton: ‘A feast is of such nature that it draws people to itself, and makes them leave everything else in order to participate in its joys…To call a feast a convivium is to call it a mystery of the sharing of life – a mystery in which the guests partake of the good things prepared and given to them by the love of their host, and in which the atmosphere of friendship and gratitude expands into a sharing of thoughts and sentiments, and ends in common rejoicing.’ That sounds good to me! Lunch anyone?

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Out and About African Adventure

............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. Pete Smart and Tom Haig, members of New Comunity, came back from a gap year trip to South Africa in 2008 with a dream. They had visited the Daily Bread School and Orphanage, a Christian charitable organisation near East London, which houses sixty children between the ages of 5 and 19, and discovered that there was a run down house with outbuildings that had fallen into disrepair. Something began to stir in their hearts – a vision for what that site could be for the benefit of the children.

of the children were quiet and unsure of their presence, but by the end of the week they had grown attached to the team and vice versa. ‘It was incredibly hard to say goodbye,’ says Pete.

Back home in Southampton, routine life took over, but the dream hadn’t gone away. Tom was determined to go back. As a result, five other people – Emily Iles, Kathleen Chart, Gareth Ward, Gary Sankey and Lloyd Davidson – decided to return on 2nd April 2009 with Pete and Tom to work on the house for two weeks.

Townships and Troubled Hearts

The team, hosted by a church called the Christian Centre in Abbotsford, stayed at the Santa Paloma Guest Farm in converted milking sheds surrounded by beautiful countryside. On the first night there, the group was treated to a night time drive to see the stars. ‘We knew we‘d arrived in Africa then’, said Pete.

Paint and Play The following week, the team were with the Daily Bread School and Orphanage. The children there are the most underprivileged and at risk children, many coming off the streets from violent or abusive backgrounds. In the mornings, the team did practical work on Danz House, which caters for fourteen children aged 12 – 15. They redecorated it, painted it and even did some welding. The afternoons were spent with the children themselves who were aged 4 -19, splitting them into teams and doing energetic activities with them like dodgeball, parachute games, volleyball, assault courses and football. Prizes of football shirts were given out.

The staff and house mothers (or “Mamas”) at Daily Bread were so grateful for the team’s trip. They were blown away by the amount of money raised to support them in future building and renovation work and want to convey their thanks to all who donated.

During their time in East London, the team were also taken to various townships and informal settlements. These are communities, made up of thousands of impoverished people crammed into houses that are nothing more than tin shacks. These were incredibly challenging and moving experiences as locals showed them the conditions in which they lived. Children as young as three ran around barely clothed or naked amongst heaps of rubbish, while pregnant women, high on drugs, told of their struggles. These experiences made the team feel quite sick, knowing they were going home to lavish lives and palatial homes. Their time in East London was rounded off with vibrant church meetings, attending a Christian Youth Camp and saying goodbye to all the wonderful people at Christian Centre and Santa Paloma Guest Farm. The last section of the trip saw the team heading for a whistle stop tour of Cape Town, cramming in three weeks worth of activities and tourism into three days, visiting the winelands, climbing Table Mountain, diving in a shark cage and seeing the famous V&A waterfront. Pete and Tom are hoping to continue building the relationship with Daily Bread and the Christian Centre to support them financially. But most importantly they are looking to support them with teams who are willing to go out and work both on the school and with the children. Seven team members went out to South Africa - now seven team members cannot wait to go back. If you’d like to be a part of any future trips to this wonderful country, chat to Tom, Pete, or any of the team.

The team had the opportunity to talk about God to these children – basic messages about who God is and why Jesus died - accompanied by songs on acoustic guitar. These were well-received and gave children the space to be honest about what they believed and who God was to them. The team was able to pray for them about their future lives and To find out more contact Pete on aspirations. At the start of the week, some trailoffire@msn.com ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. www.newcommunity.org.uk


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MEETS IN ST MARYS / WEST END / SWAYTHLING / HOLYROOD / EASTLEIGH / BASSETT / GOLDEN GROVE

NEWCOMMUNITY CHURCH

REAL GOD & REAL PEOPLE

MEET A

New Community Life >> Issue 2 // Summer 09  

New Community life magazine is a publication produced by New Community Church, Southampton, A a network of Christ-centred communities. In t...

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