Showing posts with label youth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label youth. Show all posts

22 November 2011

St Neots (XT) - Reunion at Cornerstone

< 21st November 2011 | Index | 29th November 2011 >

We hired the local church cafe and bookshop and invited parents and children from last summer's X-treme Camp. We had a great evening with dance mats, games, pizza and chips, coffee, cold drinks and a camp slideshow.

Rafting at X-treme Camp 2011It doesn't seem more than three months since last summer's camp - but it is!

It was time for a reunion and an evening of fun so Paul hired Cornerstone Cafe and Books and invited all the families involved in the camp from the St Neots area. We met from 19:00 until after 21:00, playing Jenga (with giant blocks about 50 cm long) and giant-size Connect Four (discs about 30 cm diameter). The adults mostly sat and chatted over tea or coffee.

Then Paul Shinners, who manages Cornerstone, opened up the meeting room where professional dance mats had been set up. The young people got stuck into some competitive dancing and had a lot of fun in the process. At the same time we had a projector showing activities from last summer's camp - rafting, archery, rifle shooting, survival skills, fishing, singing and crazy fun and games on the last afternoon.

And to round things off there was pizza and chips from Hotspot, just along the street. Delicious and just what was needed.

We felt afterwards that it had been a great evening, some of the parents offered to help with the next camp and we all got to know one another a little better.

Enquiries about next year's camp should go to Paul Billington (the local St Neots contact) or Pete Stamford (other areas in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, or Northamptonshire). Enquiries about Cornerstone should go to Paul Shinners.

< 21st November 2011 | Index | 29th November 2011 >

11 August 2011

X-treme Camps - A meeting

< The problem | No later items >

When I visited a home in Bedford, I didn't expect to have an answer to my prayer for guidance and help dealing with some troublesome young people in St Neots!

Father has some surprising ways of organising things. Sometimes an apparently insuperable problem is dealt with by an unexpected revelation or an unplanned meeting. So it was for me.

Pete teaching survival skillsI'd been invited to Rupert and Uli's home to join them and some friends in a meal, and a time of prayer and praise. It was a warm, sunny day and I was the first to arrive; they suggested I take a drink out into the garden and that is what I did. While I was waiting there a man I had not met before walked in and we began to chat.

We introduced ourselves and he told me his name was Pete, we quickly warmed to one another and I began to tell him about the recent events in St Neots. (These are described in the previous part of this story, but in essence some young people had driven a couple out of their home by stone throwing and other abusive behaviour.)

As I explained I mentioned that I didn't even know who these young people were. 'He stopped me in my tracks by saying, quite emphatically, 'You will do'.

Pete continued by explaining that for a number of years he'd been running an annual summer camp for youngsters in the Bedford area. The camps are aimed at youngsters who might not otherwise have a chance to live in a tent, experience open countryside, try their hand at things like raft building or survival skills, or take part in competitive team activities. There are also short sessions where they can learn about caring for other people in the way Jesus taught us to do, discover what it means to follow him, and understand why he wants us to love one another.

This was an exciting development for me. It wouldn't help deal with the recent problem of stone throwing and intimidation but it might help head off similar anti-social behaviour by the next generation of teenagers. As I drove home later that evening I felt the next step would be to share the news with Jim and Sean, the two guys I meet regularly each week in the St Neots/Huntingdon area.

There is a useful lesson in all of this. If we see a need in the community where we live or in our own lives, even while we are wondering what to do about it our Father in heaven may be preparing a solution for us. He does this a lot, preparing the way for us to walk in later. If you read the gospels you'll see many examples in Jesus' own life and if you read Acts and the letters to the churches you'll see the same thing happening again to the early believers.

There's a pattern here, so next time you are struggling with a major issue in life, stop for a moment and think. Wait for him to prepare the way for you and see what he will do. Often it will be something unexpected and will arrive unannounced. When you see it, rejoice and give thanks. But don't be so distracted by the original problem that you don't recognise the answer when it arrives!

This of course is only one way that the Almighty communicates with us, by showing us. Watching and listening are important ways of discovering what he wants us to do.

< The problem | No later items >

08 August 2011

SOCIETY - Riots in the cities

If you live in Britain you will be aware of the rioting going on in London and Birmingham right now. What are we to make of this, we know what is happening. But why is it happening? And why is it happening now?

Fireman dousing the flames
Last Wednesday a man was shot by police in Tottenham, London. He was travelling in a mini cab at the time of this incident. He died. The details of what happened are unavailable because the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating.

Bizarrely, I know the victim's cousin. This gives me an unusual perspective of the whole affair, I feel more involved personally, I can sense something of the family's pain.

Is there any link between this death and the current riots in various parts of London and in Birmingham? I think the link is extremely tenuous. As I understand it, following the shooting there was a peaceful demonstration in Tottenham. But the peaceful demonstration was overwhelmed and swept aside by other people wanting to cause trouble. Many of these people were not from the local community and had no interest in the shooting or in helping the man's family.

There is a pattern here. Similar disturbances have followed other peaceful events such as the student protests last November.

The people acting violently seem to be either angry or feel they have no future, sometimes both. They are almost entirely young, ranging from late teens to late twenties. They seem to be detached from the rest of British society. They lack empathy towards others and don't appear to care about harming people or property.

I believe most of these young people feel overlooked, discarded by a society that doesn't care about them. There are not enough jobs to go round, there is a squeeze on benefits, they have no chance to create a home or build a family or a career. They're trapped and the reaction of some is to hang out in groups with nothing useful to do and too much time on their hands.

Is it their fault? No, I don't think so.

What can be done? That depends on the rest of us. Are we prepared to spend the time and money and emotional energy to get involved? Are we willing to give up whatever is necessary to make it happen? If we just sit back and say, 'The government should deal with it', things are likely to get a good deal worse. The government will do their best, but it will be an impersonal and not very effective best.

Those of us who follow Jesus should be taking the initiative here. If you are one of his people you can begin by praying for your country with renewed vigour and asking him to reveal the practical things you could be doing in your local area.

Ask him to redeem the young people of Britain, to rescue them and give them hope and fresh opportunities.

Pray for the government, ask him to guide them and give them wisdom.

Pray for the rest of society, that they will realise the need for real change in their attitudes, words and actions towards the young and disenfranchised.

Pray for families, for fathers and mothers who care and love their children.

And pray for yourself, that you will hear and see what the Spirit is doing and saying in our day. Pray for a renewed spiritual life for yourself and others in the church, for a deep recognition that turning up on a Sunday morning and 'being a good person' is nowhere near enough.

And if you don't believe Jesus is the answer to Britain's dissolving society may I suggest you get to know him a little better. Begin by buying a good, modern version of the Bible and take a look at the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts. Ask yourself if the Jesus portrayed there and his followers portrayed there might make a difference in Britain in 2011. Could you use some of those ideas? And while you're digesting those books, consider how you might help the hurting people all around you. Begin with your next door neighbours and also with the kids that hang out around your area. Are there things you could involve them in that are constructive and fun and will meet some real needs?

Think hard and if you believe pray hard. Then act. If significant numbers of us don't do this things could get a lot worse - and nobody wants that.

(Related post, 'SOCIETY - The London Protests')

29 June 2011

X-treme Camps - The problem

< No earlier items | The problem >

It's time to write about X-treme Camps again. This year's camp takes place at the end of July; although I'm only slightly involved this time I sense that Father wants me to write down some of the early history and review progress so far.

The first camp involving young people from St Neots was in July 2009 and this year's will be the third. But the story begins back in the summer of 2008 when I read an article in a local newspaper, the Hunts Post.

Local press articleThe article is no longer on the paper's website, but the gist of it was this. A couple in their thirties living in Mallard Lane in Eynesbury had been attacked by youths ranging in age from eleven to eighteen or so. Let's call them Joanne and David (not their real names).

Jo had become ill and needed a wheelchair. Dave had given up his job in order to become her full-time carer, and they were regularly seen in the area between their home and the town centre shops. They were good, friendly people struggling with a distressing problem and coping with serious difficulties.

The trouble began with name calling; a group of youngsters shouted out that Jo was a 'lazy cow' because she was in the wheelchair. At first, Dave had tried to talk to them and explain, but that only seemed to offend them and make matters worse. After a while the name calling developed into something more serious. The group began throwing stones at the house, hitting the front door and windows. The stones grew in size until one night a brick came through the front window and landed inside the house. Although the window was soon replaced it was broken again just a week later and in desperation Dave reported this to the police. The problem just got worse and worse.

The press came round to interview Jo and Dave, the story appeared in the paper, and I read it. Here's what I wrote in response at the time.

I simply couldn't leave things like this. I wrote an unsealed letter to Jo and Dave and asked the local police to pass it to them. A few days later Dave phoned me and we had a good chat, I stressed that I wanted to do whatever I could to help. Dave explained that they were about to be moved into housing in another town and I told him that I would pray for him and for Jo and that I would see if there was any way of engaging young people in the area in more useful and less destructive ways. I've lost contact with them since they moved away.

Now, I am not a youth worker and would be hopeless at engaging youngsters in anything. All I could do initially was pray and expect Jesus to show me what to do. Imagine my astonishment when he answered that prayer in a way that demonstrated he had it all planned out from the beginning.

< No earlier items | The problem >

06 April 2010

St Neots - X-treme Bowling

This evening was a reunion for the young people and their parents. X-treme Camp reunionWe had arranged a bowling night with pizza and chips, and we had about thirty people there on the night. It was great fun, I think everyone enjoyed themselves.

There are several more photos online, if you were there perhaps you can find yourself in one of them!

During the evening Jim described the background to X-treme Camps in Eynesbury and I announced the dates for this summer's X-treme Camp, Friday 23rd July to Sunday 25th July 2010. Don't miss it! More details from me, Chris, by email.

THOUGHT - Enthusiasm!

Someone shared this video with me earlier today, it shows real enthusiasm for Jesus in the lives of some students in the USA.

Watch it and see what you think, how do you feel about the student's attitudes? Encouraged? Challenged? Horrified? Amused? Upset? Emotional? Excited? Rejoicing? How does this make you feel about your own life? Leave a comment to let us know.

Student CPx rough intro from Erik Fish on Vimeo.

12 December 2009

Bedford - Tough Talk

This evening Donna, Paul and I drove into Bedford for the X-treme Camps reunion meeting at Priory Methodist Church in Newnham Avenue. At the X-treme Camps ReunionThe numbers were lower than expected, but the evening itself was just great!

There was live music and Stacey made an excellent job of capturing the attention of everyone in the room, especially the younger ones. This, of course, was the object of the exercise. The music and singing were strong and enthusiastic and were followed by a sort of bush tucker competition during which volunteers were invited to consume such delicacies as lemon and lime slices, banana and gravy, anchovy and chilli. One young man stuck at it valiantly and took away a very worthwhile winner's prize.

Tough Talk had been invited to take the main part of the evening and they were very good. They combined an account of one man's very rough life with brief episodes of squats by another guy carrying a heavily loaded bar across his shoulders. Each time Chris returned he lifted an increased weight and in between the story of Simon's life continued. This created a sense of tension throughout, keeping us listening to every word.

The true story involved Simon's love of money for the power it gave and the final loss of everything. There was also loss of a job, involvement in a club brawl, a court case because of the violence, and then a remarkable phase in which Simon met a follower of Jesus who persuaded him to come to church. It turned out to be Holy Trinity, Brompton - the home of the Alpha Course! Nicky Gumbell prayed with him, he took an Alpha Course, and his life was transformed.

We heard a second life story from another member of the team, the band came back for more music, and then we all headed home. I was greatly impressed by what I'd seen and heard. I came away with a DVD of more Tough Talk stories and two books with even more of the same. It's great stuff. Highly recommended for any youth or adult audience.

See Tough Talk in action for yourself in the video below. Premier.tv has more Tough Talk videos online.

26 May 2009

Eaton Ford - Freedom?

We discussed the final details of the leaflet for the Eynesbury kids camp, and we also talked around the issues in reaching out openly when this might put our families or friends in danger. HandcuffsAlthough this is not something that is a problem for us in the UK right now, it is a severe problem in some countries. It's interesting to ask ourselves how we'd react if this happened for us. We have no idea how the political and social scene will change, wherever we may live!

Chris asked, 'What are the two most important things we can do to make the church more successful?'. The major points seem to be that we should listen to the Lord's direction and follow it, and that we should give one another the freedom to do the same. After all, we must love the Almighty with all our heart, mind and strength and we must love our neighbour the same way we love ourselves (Mark 12:28-34, Romans 13:8-10). If we have that kind of love in our hearts we cannot help following the Lord's commands and giving one another the freedom to do so too.

Yahshua set us free so that we could live free (Galatians 5:1). And if he has set us free, we really are free! (John 8:36) Does this mean we are free to follow whatever men and women tell us? No! We always had that freedom, Israel demanded a king 'like the other nations' and in modern times people have followed all sorts of leaders.

No, we were set free to follow the Lord! We are free to hear his voice, to walk as he reveals, to love, and to give that same freedom to one another.

07 May 2009

Eaton Ford - Empty barn?

While we were chatting this evening and considering prayer needs, Jim's mobile rang with news that a friend's toddler granddaughter had just fallen downstairs and been taken to hospital. A wooden barnWe prayed for her and for all the family, and heard later that she was home from hospital with no ill effects.

As we moved into a time of quiet peace in the Lord's presence, Jim reminded us that, 'Even though the barns are empty, I will rejoice in the Lord' (Habakkuk 3:17-18). He pointed out that when we face difficulties in our lives we have to get through them, and often this involves praise and thankfulness despite the problems.

We spent most of the evening considering how to proceed with the youth camp now that we know the school field will not be available. We discussed the kind of leaflet we would need for a door-to-door drop and what information we should put on it.

09 April 2009

Little Paxton - Camp

This was a quiet and relaxed evening, only Jim and Chris were there.

We discussed the plans for the Youth Camp A tentin July and its pre-meeting on 25th May. We still have no venue and are hoping to take this forward soon. But the choice of venue is out of our hands, we need to discuss it with someone else who is not available at present. We are not nervous, but we are depending on the Lord to provide whatever we need and lead us in the right direction.

Jim read Luke 22:24-27 and we talked about how, if you want to become great, you must choose to be weak. We discussed how the church belongs to Yahshua, not to us. This is a point made by Wolfgang Simson repeatedly, he knows how important it is. The church is not ours to rule or plan or build, not ours to order. It is Christ's - he gives the orders, we carry them out.

Chris was interested in Matthew 21:33-46, this passage came just before the passover meal shared by Yahshua and his disciples. He tells them the parable of the tenants and then he says, 'He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.'

This is an intriguing saying. Jesus is the stone.

If we fall on him we will be broken. We believers have fallen on him, we fall on him for his mercy, grace, and forgiveness. And he does indeed break us! In becoming believers, if we are serious about it, we are challenged to change our ways. We can no longer go on being the people we were, we are utterly broken.

But if Yahshua falls on a person, that person will be crushed. We usually think of 'crushed' as destroyed, snuffed out, but there is another possibility. Perhaps we could say that Christ 'fell on' Saul on the Damascus Road. Saul was crushed, not in the sense of destroyed, but in the sense of having a completely new and different perspective. His views, opinions, and certainties were crushed and he had to begin again.

19 February 2009

Little Paxton - Summer planning

This evening we discussed plans for the Youth Camp in the summer and prayed again for the Lord of the harvest to send in more labourers. It was good to have the video and other materials from Pete and we were able to make a start on planning, sketching out our main ideas for an event in Eynesbury, perhaps in May.

The video below was made for a camp in 2007 and will be updated for this year's event.



Although we discussed some of the practical aspects this evening, we are also very aware of Father's hand on everything that has happened so far. He has put us in touch with the right people at just the right moment at every point along the way. Usually he has surprised us, sometimes we haven't even understood what he's done until afterwards. There is already an impressive array of 'coincidences' and these are encouraging us to expect more around the corner.

We praised him and thanked him for it all. All the honour and glory is his!

06 February 2009

Eaton Ford (day) - Arctic conditions

We met at Paul's at 10:30, it was a really useful and encouraging time. Deep snowRoger was snowed in and couldn't come while John was feeling quite unwell; so it was just the two of us.

We chatted, we prayed for a number of friends and their situations, and we listened to the song 'Halleluia' because it seemed relevant. We were given a picture of a lone figure walking across an empty arctic landscape (not a surprise in view of the snowy weather)! The land was flat and white with no trees, no buildings, no hills - nothing but flat snow and a constant stream of icy, wind-blown particles across the surface. The lone figure was dressed for the conditions, and trudged slowly but steadily onward. Sometimes we feel so alone, but we are not alone, we are never alone! We broke bread and shared soup together,

It was an encouraging time. Paul is really excited about the Youth Camp this summer, he has already started approaching some of his contacts to see who would be willing to support it.

22 January 2009

Eaton Ford - Youth Camp

This evening we met again with Pete after a long gap over the Christmas/New Year break. We thought and discussed and prayed and were greatly encouraged by the end of the evening.

Pete explained that the campsite was booked and that YWAM were involved again (though with different participants this year). He plans to meet with us again next Thursday too and will be able to bring some materials along with him - a short video presentation and some leaflets.

18 September 2008

Eaton Ford - Lazy or diligent?

We began with a hot drink and a chat about events during the last week. Once again the main topic was next year's youth camp, important aspects are to make sure that Father is glorified in all we do and say, to have some plans for earlier events that could help us meet young people and their parents in Eynesbury, and to consider how best to bring new believers into the church in St Neots. Nearly ready for harvestWe have had one enthusiastic response and one unclear response from the two churches we have approached informally so far.

Jim mentioned that we are all supposed to feed the other sheep that belong to the Shepherd, we are not meant to feed our own organisation with a supply of his sheep. Sheep are not a commodity, we are a family.

Chris read Proverbs 10:4-5, he'd come across these verses while reading privately before the meeting. He said that in his own life he feels he's been a lazy son, but it's never too late to start and now is the time. Yahshua said the fields are full with the harvest (John 4:35), if we are diligent and wise we'll be busy gathering those crops.

Jim has been reading about the period of time between the old and new testaments, a time when Israel had no revelation and no real sense of the Lord's purpose. He thought how he would hate to have no revelation or purpose in his own life. But Jesus came and everything was changed, and his Spirit is with us and speaking to us daily. What a privilege we have!

Sean emphasised the importance of loving our neighbours. He read out Romans 13:8-14 where Paul writes that the time has come to wake up from our sleep. He had read this passage recently and it had been on his mind. Like Chris, he feels that he has been, if not lazy, then at least asleep. We talked for a while about how the church in the UK seems to have been asleep during our lifetimes. Christians seem to be mostly inactive in our day. It's as if night has come, everyone is asleep so it's natural for us to yawn and slumber too. But we need to wake up!

We talked about how everything must be done for Father's glory, we dare not take any of that glory for ourselves. Then Chris shared a picture of a house, it was like looking down at the plan of the house. He realised that the house is Father's living temple built of the living stones of his people. It's the house in which he lives, where his Presence rests. There were many rooms in the house and each room was like a different part of the church - the Baptists, The River, Open Door, the Methodists, St Mary's in Eaton Socon, and so on - each one like a separate room. As he looked, Chris saw that not all the rooms had internal doors. Sometimes a room had an external door, but no connection to the other rooms. And the Lord said, 'What an inconvenient house!' He also told us that he will open up doors between the rooms, he doesn't want a house like that, it needs to be changed to make it more useful.

Jim saw it a little differently, he was encouraged because we are going to go into the town and open up doors for young people to come in and have life in its fulness. We prayed for doors to open up right through the estate, doors to open for the Good News. We asked this in love.

Jim also mentioned that we need the Holy Spirit to give us openings on the estate that we can develop, ideas that can be presented to others as projects, at least four half or whole days of activity on the estate. And we need something for Brampton too.

We discussed this and jotted down six preliminary ideas, but Sean felt a little unsettled in his heart. He reminded us that the Lord will provide the things for us to do, they may not necessarily be the things we think up for ourselves. So as we go forward we need to be open and expectant.

11 September 2008

Eaton Ford - Camp planning

Jim was unable to make it this evening, but Sean and Chris spent some time talking about church in a general way, Campingand then Pete arrived to join us.

We were able to make some progress with planning for the youth camp next year, and Donna sat with us to listen and contribute some useful thoughts and questions.

We prayed briefly at the end of the meeting, and agreed to meet again next Thursday when Pete will bring some of his helpers so we can meet, discuss, and pray about the coming camp in much more detail.

04 September 2008

Little Paxton - Prayer walking

We met at Jim and Pam's for coffee and an initial chat, then headed to Eynesbury to prayer walk the area. It was useful to spend some time there, Mallard Laneto notice the grassy areas that would be suitable for a small tent, or a bouncy castle, or a band to play. It was dark while we were there and we could see plenty of potential for groups of young people to gather and cause trouble. We even saw a broken house window.

After walking for a time we stopped and stood in a group to discuss and pray together. It was a time of prayerful conversation, or very informal prayer, and it was good.

During this time Chris mentioned how helpful it would be if there was a home here on the estate where we could meet. Jim pointed out that there must be Christian people living here, maybe within yards of where we were standing; several of us remembered people we knew who did indeed live nearby.

Just as we finished this thread of conversation, a woman crossed the street and called out, 'What are you doing?' Perhaps it seemed odd to find a group of five adults talking here after dark (Sean, Ben, Tash, Jim, and Chris). As soon as she came close, the woman recognised Jim and then Sean as well! 'What are you doing here?', she asked.

Jim introduced us to Paula and we explained about the plan for a youth camp, but we didn't mention the idea of a house on the estate that we could use for prayer. She immediately said, 'Why don't you come over to my house for a cup of tea?' We were actually quite reluctant at first, but she insisted so we followed her across the street to her home - just a few yards.

We sat and chatted over hot mugs of tea, we met Paula's son and her husband, and then we went back to Jim's before each heading home again.

Isn't the Lord good? isn't he amazing!!

01 September 2008

Eaton Ford - Talking about youth

This evening we met with a specific agenda and several extra people. Jim, Sean and Chris were here as normal, but we also welcomed Ben and Pete who both have a particular interest in youth work. St Neots articleBen runs a young people's group in Little Paxton, Pete runs youth camps every summer.

We spent a lot of time talking, and a number of very interesting ideas and thoughts were shared. Pete told us about his background and how he came to be involved in youth work. Chris explained about the problems in St Neots that had started him thinking and praying, Ben explained his plans for a tent meeting in St Neots.

The amazing bombshell of the evening was provided by Pete who, in faith, had already reserved 100 places for St Neots young people for a camp at the end of July 2009. This is awesome news and had us all smiling and rejoicing. It's going to take some planning and effort, but it seems that Pete will handle the camp details and management, our role will be to find the people who will fill those 100 places.

This was an unusual meeting in every way!

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