Monday, 29 September 2014

Athens Link Fellowship

Iain and Norma Allan have just returned from a visit to our sister church in Georgia USA, Athens Link Fellowship. As well as ministering at the Sunday services and the Wednesday evening meetings, they had the opportunity to meet and pray with various people throughout their time there. There were a number of healings reported, including:

  • Paul Wiggins who was unable to open his hands properly for around 15 years. After Iain prayed for him he was able to fully open both hands.

  • A lady who was in severe pain from a fractured elbow was healed.

  • A lady who had worn hearing aids for 25 years was healed of deafness and able to remove her hearing aids.
Praise the Lord!

1050 and 1051 Baxter Street

Athens Link have recently purchased these two buildings on Baxter Street, and Iain and Norma were able to see them for the first time during their visit.

This is both an exciting and a challenging time for Athens Link as they take on these buildings to renovate and use them for the Kingdom of God.

Work has just begun on clearing out the pink building. The people of Athens Link are trusting God to provide for repairs to the roof and ceiling, which must be done before they can get permission to use the building. Among others plans for this building is the possibility of doing Messy Church here. Diana Zylow of Athens Link will be visiting us for the second time in October and she is looking forward to finding out more about Messy Church while she is here.

Work starts on clearing out the building
    John and Cindy Gaultney

               The Athens Link Family

Monday, 22 September 2014

Soul Action South Africa

As a church we support Phil and Rachel Bowyer, through prayer and giving, in their work with Soul Action in Durban, South Africa. Here is an update taken from their latest newsletter. Copies of the full newsletter are available in church.

Peer Mentoring

As part of the work we're involved in training and empowering teachers to teach phonics, we've put in structures and encouraged teachers to observe colleagues - peer mentoring.

Rachel felt it was important to give teachers the opportunity to be involved in peer mentoring since it:
  • is a way in which staff can support their colleagues by helping them to identify what they are doing well
  • allows constructive feedback to be given
  • helps people to learn from one another
  • can help to promote good practice

When Rachel and Diane facilitated the termly workshop in July, Rachel introduced the concept by considering:
  • what peer mentoring is and what it involves
  • the advantages and challenges of peer mentoring
  • ways to give constructive criticism

The response was varied. Some teachers were incredibly excited about he prospect, whilst others questioned why it was necessary. Having been through the process several times as a teacher herself and knowing the benefits, Rachel did not let some teacher's doubts alter her plans, but it did make her more aware of the need to carefully guide teachers through the process for it to be of value.

Well, in August all the teachers were peer mentored and, from the feedback, it is clear they all felt it was a good and worthwhile experience. The teachers were all able to identify what their colleague was doing well, thus encouraging one another and promoting good practice.

Each teacher was also asked to identify a learning point, something they had observed in their peer's lesson that they wanted to apply to their own class. This worked very well, each teacher took away with them something to implement to improve their own teaching.

Reflecting on the process, teachers from two of the schools shared how much they had appreciated the opportunity to engage with peer mentoring and asked if it would be possible to do it again.

Film Festival
(In partnership with Grace Aid and Film Craft)

Throughout June and July a local charity sponsored a film making course for 30 individuals from 18 different Christian churches and non profit organisations (NPOs) from Soul Action's network. The aim of the course was to teach leaders how to create video stories that:
  • advocate for change
  • showcase their ministry
  • create awareness of their work
  • communicate effectively impactful video stories
  • provide a tool to market, fundraise and report to donors.

Each organisation was expected to produce a four minute film, that is: writing the script, drawing the story board, shooting the footage, lighting, audio, editing and so on.

In August the film makers celebrated their work with a film festival, complete with red carpet, a movie star walk of fame, mini Oscars, press-style photography and interviews. The audience was treated to free popcorn and asked to vote for their favourite film.

Best Film went to "Voice for the Voiceless" - the story of how Shepherd's Keep provides loving care for abandoned and terminally ill babies.

Good News Christian Radio's captivating film on the positive role the media can play in preventing suicide came second, followed in third by a creative animation by Key of hope and Grace Aid highlighting Anti-Human Trafficking and the need for Christians to respond to the proposed reforms to South Africa's prostitution laws.

Shared Reading and Writing

Towards the end of August Rachel facilitated a workshop for 28 teachers from two Amaoti schools in response to a need they'd expressed for training on shared reading and writing.

Through the workshop teachers were facilitated through a process which helped them to understand what shared reading is. In groups they considered what they could teach through shared reading lessons.

Due to the generous gift from Wesley Hall Church, every Grade 3 teacher was given a big book stand. These will greatly help the teachers when facilitating shared reading.

The teachers developed an understanding of what shared writing is. They were able to  look at key information in relation to shared writing. A shared writing lesson was modelled to the staff and through this the facilitator demonstrated the various stages -
  1.  talk before you write
  2. demonstrate the writing process
  3. write through collaboration with the class
Staff were able to identify the advantages of shared writing and relate to their context.

The response to the workshop was extremely positive. Some teachers are now asking for increased support in their classrooms which is helping to provide direction as we start preparing and planning for literacy in the coming year.

Upcoming Events for Prayer

September 25th - Connect Gathering
We will be gathering staff who are working with children and youth between the ages of 0-18 from organisations who are part of the Network to a meeting where we will be exploring holistic well-being; both their own well-being and the well-being of the children and youth that they work with.

September 26th - 28th Church Weekend Away
The family will be travelling 100 miles south along the coast were Phil will lead five sessions on the Kingdom of God; loving ourselves and loving others wherever we are.

October 14th - Phonics Workshop
Rachel and Diane will be facilitating a workshop to consider the sounds and blends to be taught throughout the term. Also we will use this opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the teacher training programme that has taken place this year.

Pray For:

  • Phil, Rachel and Zac in what is proving to be a busy period
  • Space to rest, clarity of thinking and good judgement
  • The right new opportunities as we plan for 2015

Friday, 12 September 2014

David Storm's summer in North Africa

David Storm is just back from a trip to North Africa with a small team. Here is his update:

Hospitality the North African Way

Within 10 minutes of entering a North African home you will be seated on the floor, a small round table brought before you, your hands washed and dried, and a wee cup of freshly brewed green or mint tea put before you.

 A large round piece of bread, baked that morning, will be brought to the table at the same time as the tea with the head of the house breaking the bread and giving a piece to each person at the table – does this practise remind you of someone?  Depending on how well off the family are; you may get some butter, jam, olive oil or even honey to dip your bread into.

Remember that this family probably only met you 10 minutes ago. Remember that they are Muslims and live in a Muslim culture. Remember that today you have been praying and asking the Lord to introduce you to people of peace, that today you have been asking the Lord to open a door to someone’s home that He wants to bless.

Into the Saharan Dunes!

Throughout each mission trip we run team devotionals. On this trip we focused a couple of weeks on the character and nature of God. It was brilliant to drive 30 minutes into the dunes and to have devotions in the desert wilderness! Here we reflected on the wildness of God.

Campfire Stories

Sometimes the simple things are the most memorable! Of all the things the team were a part of and experienced, this night was their favourite memory of the entire trip. We drove off-road a few kilometres, scavenged for some fire wood, dug a wee fire pit in a sheltered spot and very importantly brewed up some Galaxy hot chocolate!  Then under a starlit night sky, the licking flames warming us nicely from the chilled desert air, we listened intently for the next two hours to story after story from a couple of missionary friends who had joined us to share about their experiences of God answering prayer and moving among the people of North Africa.  What a fantastic night filled with stories of faith and answered prayer!

A Week with Nomads

One of the team, who had been on several trips with us before, had the opportunity to join a mission worker to go and live in the desert with a nomadic family for a week.  This was a family that we had met on a previous short term mission trip (when asking God to open up a door among the tent dwellers).  In between the trips a friendship had been struck up with the missions worker, communication continued and here was the invite to live a week with them and share life together.  This was a huge opportunity, yet also a huge challenge!  It was a very positive time where much was learnt and many stories shared.  Praise God for this time but continue to pray for this line of pioneer missions work.