As always we have so much to be thankful for amidst the difficulties of everyday life!
We rejoice with the Hammersleys in the arrival of their son, Levi. It has been a joy to see the Church family support Chris and Becca in this new stage of life. He is proving very popular with the other children.
We rejoice that Jakob, a young guy who has been meeting with us for about a year, has decided to follow Jesus. He has been asking many questions over the year, and listening to all that we have taught over the past year and is convinced that eternal life is only to be found in Jesus and the forgiveness of sin. We are looking forward to his baptism shortly.
Sadly, just before Christmas the Breadons moved house, out of the village, and have joined a group closer to their new house.
Since Christmas we have started from Genesis 12 and plan to work through till the end. It has been encouraging to be reminded of God’s grace to His people through his dealings with Abraham.
In our midweek meetings we are looking at sexuality and gender issues we are all facing in our workplaces and the public sphere in general.
Door to door
We are about to embark on the task of visiting every house in the village (3000+) to introduce Grace Church and to look for opportunities to share the gospel. It will probably take us more than 3 years, but we pray that we would find many that God is already preparing to follow Him.
Big fail at keeping this up to date, thank you to many who have prayed for us regardless, but here is a bit of an update which will hopefully help you in your prayers for us.
Comings and goings…
There has been some coming and sadly some going over the last two years, which I suppose is quite usual for a church, but felt that bit more acutely when there are few of you to begin with! Sadly the departures have been personally difficult for me (Chris) as it was my sister and her family who, after marriage break-up, decided not to continue in the faith. The church still see my sister and her daughters who still live in the village and I am still her brother, so pray that we could continue to show her love and that they would remember the things of Jesus that they had learnt.
We have had another family join us in that time, though, and they are now very much part of the family group.
It has been encouraging that a couple who joined us very early on had to move away with work, but chose to come back as soon as they were able.
We meet on Sundays, now in a room in the Village Hall and then have lunch together afterwards. We are just coming to the end of Luke’s Gospel which has been such an encouragement. This time focussing on the final hours before Jesus’ death has been good. We are going on to Genesis after Christmas, pray God would use His Word to brig growth in us all.
We have been looking at ‘Work’ in our midweek meetings, as that is such a significant part of everyone’e life and so often a struggle to kee it in perspective.
We are working with the Village Hall to organise the Village Christmas Fayre, including a Nativity Celebration. Pray that the Good News of Christmas would be clearly proclaimed through this event.
We have started offering a regular Uncover course, although as yet we haven’t managed to get anyone to come!
We expect the church to grow in about 10 weeks as Chris and Becca are expecting a baby. Pray for them!!!
Again, this has been left for too long, apologies those to those keen to pray for us.
It has been a few months of very real life. We welcomed our newest member of the family as Theo was born to Mark and Anna in July. That same week one of our friends, Steve, who we have been getting to know at the pub quiz, died very suddenly. One of our families is also dealing with broken relationships. Throughout it all, though, we feel encouraged and greatly blessed. We have been learning from Luke’s gospel that He is in control and can be trusted to do what is best for us. The urgency for The Gospel to be shared in Hilton feels stronger!!
We have had a few visitors over the summer, who are part of other fellowships outside of Hilton. Pray that they would be wise in their choice as to whether to join us.
As we grow stronger as a core group we are starting to prepare some ideas of things to engage the local community more explicitly. Pray that these would forge string relationships and lead to gospel sharing opportunities.
Only just April, though, so this can count as March 2014 too!!
We are excited that the Rayner Family have moved to Hilton to become part of Grace Church, tripling our number of children! It has been encouraging how quickly they have become part of the family, opening their home and invading the others!! Having more people means looking for new ways to organise everyone. For example, it is becoming more difficult to eat all-together so we are having a children’s tea earlier in the evening, with the opportunity for other families to join us, and then an adult’s tea later for those who get back from work later!
Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC)
After applying we have been accepted as a part of the FIEC, a national grouping of churches. This will immediately be a help as we set up the legal structure of Grace Church, but also as we start to meet with other, like-minded, FIEC churches for mutual encouragement. It also gives us the credibility of belonging to a wider body, rather than looking like a small cult-type group.
Some of the ladies are looking at ways of meeting others in the village during the day and it is looking like some kind of craft group or similar. It is exciting to see everyone looking for new opportunities to get to know people on he community, as we continue to develop relationships in the other areas we are already involved like Cubs, Bowling, Football, Pub Quiz!!
Now as a group of 8 adults we are enjoying our times together and seeking to continue to get to know each other better so we can truly be a Godly support to one another in our real lives. We also have a new family planning on joining us at the start of March, if house moving processes continue to go well. Mark and Anna are also expecting the first Grace Church baby!!
We have changed our weekly pattern slighty and now meet for Bible Study on Tuesday evenings. In this time we are going through a new resource called Uncover, which is short series of studies in Luke’s gospel. They are specifically designed to read 1to1 with non-Christian as a way of introducing Jesus and the Christian Faith to them. We are going through as a group in preparation for opportunities we may have to read it with a contact in the village.
Then on a Thursday night some of us have started going to a local pub quiz. Apart from enjoying ourselves we also hope this will be a good situation to invite people to join us in. A non-threatening environment where people can meet us and get to know us.
Although winning the quiz is not the primary objective, we were disappointed with 8th place last week!
We all continue to go to work, to take part in our local groups and are seeking to meet new people and look for gospel opportunities. The weeks go by quickly and it can sometimes feel like not much has happened, but are all encouraged by our Sunday teaching from Luke, and our midweek studies in Philippians. The gospel is certain and central to our work, and we continue to strive in His service and for His glory!
We have been talking to a family about moving to join us in Hilton, and things are looking encouraging. We continue to seek The Lord’s guidance, and housing, schools and money will all need sorting so there is much to be praying about.
More Local Interest
We have been encouraged to have another two couples meeting with us for the past couple of Sundays. They seem to have enjoyed their time with us and as they are both already living in Hilton we are hoping they will decide to join us. but as we are a small group it will take time for us all to get to know each other.
We have now started meeting as a church on Sundays. Times have varied, but we start with drinks and chat before a time of praise, prayer and preaching. We have started looking at Luke’s Gospel, written to make us certain about Jesus.
On Thursday evenings we are studying Philippians together, up till Christmas. We have invited other Christians living in Hilton, but going elsewhere for church, so that they can meet us, get to know us and decide whether God is calling them to join Grace Church and join our mission to reach the people of Hilton with the Gospel.
Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches
In considering a wider network and accountability we are deciding whether to affiliate to the FIEC.
We have met with John Stevens, one of the directors about this, and we will meet with Andy Patterson in a few weeks, who is the director for Church Planting.
Living in Hilton
We all now live here. The Selbys moved in July and we praise God for a calm and smooth moving process. They are now settled in well. Also, Jonny has moved in with Chris. He is a graduate who has started work at JCB, just up the road.
Mark and Anna have met their new neighbours and are starting to get to know them, as well as starting to meet other parents as Cerys begins pre-school. Jonny has starting playing for the local football team. Chris starts back at Cubs after the summer break. Pray that we would become friends with the various people we meet, in different situations, and that we would be speaking of The Lord and His glorious gospel.
Next Sunday will be our last time as part of Woodlands, the church we have been part of for the past year or so. We will then start to meet, albeit as a small group, in the Selby home. Pray that we would grow in fellowship together as we study God’s Word and praise him together.
Selbys’ imminent move.
We had hoped to announce that the move into Hilton for Mark, Anna and Cerys would happen today, but sadly solicitors were not ready in time so it has been delayed. It is imminent, though, and as soon as the relevant paperwork is in the right places, it will happen.
Those considering joining us have all decided against it before the introduction group started. We are still continuing to meet weekly for prayer and fellowship, and when we are all in Hilton we will start to invite the other local Christians we have had contacts with.
Contacts in Hilton
Chris has started helping at the local cubs group, which is going well, and we have also made some contacts in the local dog walking group. Slow going, but progress nonetheless.
Selbys sell and buy in a weekend.
After 10 months on the market, the Selbys sold their house just before Easter, and then had an offer accepted the next day. Hopefully, in The Lord’s Will, the various processes involved in buying and selling houses will go smoothly and they will move into Hilton in 6-8 weeks.
For various reason we have delayed this a little, so the home group will start now on 13th June after half-term. This will be a temporary group for those people considering whether to join us or not.
Contacts in Hilton
Chris continues, albeit slowly, to make contact with people in Hilton, and some people from work at the University who live in Hilton. He is also planning to invite neighbours to a ‘house warming’ of sorts, soon.