Showing posts with label encouragement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label encouragement. Show all posts

21 January 2014

More soup and bread

Visiting Huntingdon with soup again, we are astonished at the way Father is leading us. We spent several hours walking and meeting people, but nobody needed or wanted soup. But just as we were about to leave we met a man on a mobility scooter and everything changed.

In Huntingdon
In Huntingdon
Following the first soup run to Huntingdon, we have repeated the exercise twice more.

On 12th January Sean went on his own as Matt and I were at Open Door in St Neots. And on 19th Matt, Kevin and I visited Huntingdon with flasks of Donna's tomato soup.

I'd better backtrack a little. Kevin is a friend from Caffè Nero in St Neots. He's part of a group of local people I've got to know quite well by visiting Nero's between 15:00 and 16:00 several times a week. With a swollen ankle and visitors over the Christmas period it's been quite a while since I was there.

Meeting on the street - I had met a group of the Nero guys in town. They were chatting in the street and I stopped to join the conversation. It crossed my mind to invite Kevin to join us on 19th, and I was amazed by his enthusiasm to come along and help with the soup run. Matt and I loaded the soup, rolls and paper cups into the car and collected Kevin from Nero's. John and Gordon were there as well and they were very supportive of Kevin.

When we arrived in Huntingdon we spent some time walking, chatting with people who were willing to talk (and a few who were not), and offering soup. We visited the river bank, a play area, the bus station, the High Street, and other parts of town. But we failed to give away a single cup of soup.

A special encounter - We sat by the fountain, warmed up our hands with some of our own cups of soup, and chatted. Just as we were considering leaving, we were making our way along the High Street and saw a man sitting on a disability scooter. Kevin was very clear and definite at this point, walking right up to the man and offering him soup [Tweet it!]. After a few moments he said he would like soup and Kevin gave him some from one of our paper cups.

Soon we began chatting about football and other things. Gerald told us a bit about himself and explained that he was waiting for his wife who was in one of the shops nearby. When she returned we chatted briefly with her too, and then I asked Gerald if we could bless him. He agreed, so we prayed a short prayer for him and for his wife before saying goodbye and heading home. Gerald wanted to shake us all by the hand before we left, there was a real connection between us.

All three of us felt we were in Huntingdon that morning specifically to meet Gerald and his wife. It's not that the walking and talking in and around the town centre wasn't good. It was good but it wasn't special. Meeting Gerald was special, and we knew it.

We don't know what will come of this. We don't know if we'll meet Gerald again. We will continue to pray for him and for his wife. And we are excited about what is happening in Huntingdon!

Questions:

  • What makes a meeting special? Is it about us, or about the person we meet, or about the Almighty who arranges our day if we are following him?
  • Matt and I almost passed by the one person we were supposed to meet in Huntingdon. But Kevin's eyes, mind and heart were wide open. What might you miss in your own life if you are not fully awake and open?

See also:


12 January 2014

Sharing soup with strangers

Here's what happened when we took some tentative first steps in reaching out in Huntingdon. We enjoyed good soup, met interesting people, had some great conversations, and found that Jesus was with us and took us straight to the right places and people.


Huntingdon town centre
Huntingdon town centre
Back in December Sean told me that he wanted to do something positive for people on the streets.

Reading Chris Duffett's blog I'd found a story about Louise Frood, a young Baptist pioneer who had taken soup and bread onto the High Street looking for people who are hungry, lonely or willing to talk.

Sean had taken this very much to heart and wanted to do something similar. We decided there and then to put 5th January into our diaries and make a start.

Giving it a try - On Sunday 5th I drove over to Sean's with two large vacuum flasks and a pile of paper cups. Sean was already making leek and potato soup when I arrived and we filled the flasks, drove to Huntingdon, and set out to walk the streets from about ten o'clock.

It was a fresh morning, the shops were not yet open, and there were only a few people around. We walked down the High Street, looped around the back and returned. Then Sean suggested another street where he thought there would be someone selling the Big Issue and, sure enough, there was. We poured out some soup and sat on the pavement to talk, soon getting to know Richard a little and having some good conversation. We were with Richard for quite some time; when we decided to move on again he suggested we try the bus station.

Sure enough, the bus station is a warm place to go when the streets are cold and there we found Paul and Matt. Sean spent some time chatting with Paul, while I sat next to Matt and quickly discovered we had a lot in common. Matt has recently lost his job and has nowhere to live at the moment. He follows Jesus and has a similar understanding about church to Sean and me. All three of us have a strong sense that we are supposed to meet again; we are waiting to see where the Holy Spirit will lead us.

The results - Now, just a week later, Matt is using the spare room in my house and Sean is out on the soup run again. I can't make it today, but plan to be back in Huntingdon with him again next Sunday. Watch this space!

For me, the take-home message is that on our first day of obedience in taking soup to Huntingdon, Sean and I found three interesting people. A tiny amount of obedience led immediately to a remarkable result [Tweet it!]. Neither of us had the faith to expect such an outcome, both of us know we must continue whether or not amazing things like this happen every time.

In the end the outcome is not in our hands, but in Jesus' hands. He provides, he leads, he sends us but he also accompanies us. Who could want a greater guide and friend than that?

Questions: 
  • Are you willing to take a risk with your time, your money or your reputation?
  • Have you ever tried reaching people you don't already know?
  • What could you do to open up possibilities for conversation? How will you make significant contact?

See also:


05 August 2012

A story of encouragement

Are you an encourager? Has anyone ever encouraged you? If so, and especially if not, this is for you. We can all learn to encourage and it's probably more important than we realise. Here's a good story about encouragement.

A treasured piece of paperFloyd McClung posted a story on his blog this morning. He writes that he doesn't know if it's a true story, but it is a story of truth. He is right about that.

We are called to encourage one another. This story is about encouraging, how to encourage, what it takes to tend to a person's heart so that the growth that happens in them becomes permanent. It's a good story. We should all try to find ways to encourage those around us.

No doubt we'll all find different ways to do it, but the important thing is not how I encourage, it's that I do encourage, that I am an encourager, that I have a habit and a heart to encourage.

Here's the story...
One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.

Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.

It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual

On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. ‘Really?’ she heard whispered. ‘I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!’ and, ‘I didn’t know others liked me so much,’ were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature.

The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. ‘Were you Mark’s math teacher?’ he asked. She nodded: ‘yes.’ Then he said: ‘Mark talked about you a lot.’

After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark’s mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.

‘We want to show you something,’ his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket ‘They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.’

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him.

‘Thank you so much for doing that,’ Mark’s mother said. ‘As you can see, Mark treasured it.’

All of Mark’s former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, ‘I still have my list. It’s in the top drawer of my desk at home.’

Chuck’s wife said, ‘Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.’

‘I have mine too,’ Marilyn said. ‘It’s in my diary’

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. ‘I carry this with me at all times,’ Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: ‘I think we all saved our lists’

That’s when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don’t know when that one day will be.

So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late, tell them while you have time. Tell them in carefully crafted but simple, heartfelt words of love why you appreciate them, the good you see in them, the love and hope you carry in your heart for them.

28 September 2010

Eaton Ford - A crooked line

Sean and I had coffees and a catch up chat, then decided to look at 3 John which we've been wanting to do for a few weeks now.

Sean had the feeling this letter was written in haste, and I think he's right. It seems to be written to encourage Gaius, The road aheadclearly a Roman, who seems to have been struggling under an overbearing (and misguided) Greek leader called Diotrophes. It's a letter of reassurance, perhaps to someone who is inexperienced or lacks confidence.

We were interested in the use of the phrase 'The Name' in verse 7. This is a traditional Jewish way of referring to Yahweh and is still used in Israel today, 'Ha Shem'. The oldest texts we have of 3 John are in Greek and it's likely that Gaius would have understood both Latin and Greek. We looked up all 17 occurrences in the New Testament of the phrase 'τοῦ ὀνόματος' (Greek for 'The Name') and found this is the only time it's used in this way. The other examples are phrases like 'in the name of Jesus'.

As we turned to prayer and worship I was given a picture of a straight line and on its left-hand side a crooked line that touched the straight line in one or two places. And the Lord said, 'When you are close to me, I am also close to you; but when you are far from me - I am close to you!'

He also gave me a word about Moses and Isaiah. Moses had felt inadequate as a speaker and therefore wanted Yahweh to choose someone else (Exodus 4:12-13). Isaiah knew he was unworthy because his lips were not holy but was made clean and was willing to go for the Lord (Isaiah 6:5-9). We may be prevented by lack of confidence or ability on the one hand, or lack of worthiness on
the other, but if Moses and Isaiah were good enough for the Lord to use, who are we to say he can't use us?

Sean elaborated on this in prayer, mentioning that there is so much fear to be dealt with, fear of speaking and fear of not speaking.

And then the Lord gave me more words, 'It's easy for me to live in you, but hard for you to live in me. But they're the same thing! So just trust that I am living in you.

We felt greatly encouraged by this evening, it seems to be another step forward, another little bit of progress on the journey.

Copyright

Creative Commons Licence

© 2002-2014, Chris J Jefferies

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. A link to the relevant article on this site is sufficient attribution. If you print the material please include the URL. Thanks! Click through photos for larger versions. Images from Wikimedia Commons will then display the original copyright information.
Real Time Web Analytics