Christ Church Tonbridge The Messenger Summer 2011
As most of you will know, I broke my leg in April and had to spend a week in a French hospital. It takes about three months to recover, and so as you read this I hope I will be walking almost normally again. It has been a long three months, with plenty of opportunities to try to grow the fruit of patience in my own life and the life of my long-suffering family! I’m not sure how well I’ve succeeded in that, but the experience has
given me a small insight into how frustrating things must be for many disabled or housebound people. I also felt at Easter that I had been given a very small glimpse of something a little like Jesus’ loneliness and pain in Gethsemane and after when I was lying on my hospital bed feeling very alone and helpless (not that I am comparing the extent of my suffering with His, of course). I thank God for iPods, because it was listening to worship songs on mine that kept me from going into panic mode too often! But I don’t want to dwell on the negatives in this letter. I want to thank you very sincerely for all your prayers, cards, phone calls, offers of help and visits. And I want most of all to thank the Lord publicly for helping me through. In that first week in hospital I experienced some very odd and unpleasant side effects from the anaesthetic and morphine I had been given, but as soon as I begged the Lord to come and help me, I felt the warmth of His presence surrounding me, even in the middle of nightmares and hallucinations. He gave me two pictures to hold on to: the first was of a pair of very strong but amazingly soft, golden wings, like the wings of a huge angel, cocooning me and protecting me, with the words of the Scripture ‘the Son of righteousness risen with healing in His wings’; the second was of the inside of my body with a warm, really bright gold light flowing through it and many other coloured lights exploding like fireworks all around. I suspect the second picture was enhanced by the ’high’ phase of the drugs, because the colours were incredibly intense and beautiful! But the Lord was really there, even in the drug-induced weirdness I was experiencing. As well as seeing these two pictures, I felt Him telling me over and over again, whenever I was tempted to give in to fear
(which was rather often) just to rest and let Him work His healing. I can’t pretend I found it easy, but I am really grateful that He showed me He was working in me, rather than just expecting me to trust Him without any evidence. I really needed Him at that time, perhaps more than I ever had before, and He answered my cries for help. These experiences have made me more aware of how fragile life actually is, and how
weak I actually am, how little in control of things. But they have also shown me how much God can be trusted to look after me, how my weaknesses give Him the opportunity to give me His strength, and how He turns everything to good for those who love Him. I am glad to have had that lesson, and thankful to Him for being with me, and I hope that if you are in difficult circumstances right now you will be encouraged by my story to ask the Lord for help. He will come to you and give you everything you need to make it through. And if all is well, I hope you will pray for those who are suffering, and give grateful thanks to your loving heavenly Father for all His blessings. I hope and pray you will all have a very blessed summer.
Home Groups, Bible Study Groups, Cell Groups – all names used to describe “Small Groups” at Christ Church – so starting in 2011, we’ve adopted the name “Small Groups” to describe this area of church life. The group leaders have met a couple of times and we looked at: Vision. membership, material, organisation and leadership.
Vision: Some of the things that our small groups see as part
of the vision include:
· Meeting close friends for coffee (this experience will
be different for different groups).
· Building friendships and relationships that are deeper
than happens when we meet in large numbers.
· Supporting each others needs
· Fun, social contact, sharing meals, events, outings
· Using and developing spiritual (and practical) gifts
· Being challenged
· Making disciples
o Inward (teaching, learning, loving)
o Outward – reaching out to others and making them welcome into our group and the wider church
o Sharing – what we’re doing, sharing ourselves, sharing with others
o Group Leader is a facilitator – needs support on material, resources, growth, vision, membership. The leader doesn’t have to do
everything. Hosting is different from leading, some good leaders are not happy hosts and vice-versa
o Ideally each group should have shared leadership to split the load and broaden the group experience
o Groups should mature, develop and evolve – each should learn how to bring in new members to their group (and where right move them on)
o What is each groups vision for its particular role in the growth and life of the church?
o What is the groups’ ministry? (Prayer, healing, evangelism, service, pastoral care) – some or all?
o How does it serve and support its members?
o How does it grow and develop its leaders?
How does it fit into the Church’s wider vision
Some of the above are answers – some are questions we would like the different groups to pray about and discuss.
What are our small groups like? What do they do?
They are all groups of people who are developing their relationships with God and each other. They meet in different numbers –
often in homes and also at the church. They are part of the community that makes up the church. And because of that they are all different. Each has strengths of its own: the energy and growth of the Thursday morning “small group” is something that is currently inspiring the other groups. Jayne and David Laird’s group has moved to a Wednesday evening to meet the needs of people who wanted to be able to attend (that was a big change for a group that has met on a Monday for many years). Diane’s group meets on Tuesday’s at Peter Foot’s – sharing the load of leading and hosting. The Munns meet on a Monday and are going through their changes of membership. Meals and sharing is something they have in common and sometime combine with Diane’s group.
We believe there is a specific gap we would like to fill for a group that does deeper bible study, linked to the themes of Sunday sermons. It will probably meet bi-weekly as there are some for whom a weekly meeting is too much. We also want to make sure small groups are well connected to other parts of church life, Part of this will be met by using 5th Sundays (roughly once a quarter) which small groups will lead together to share some of what they have been studying and learning. We are creating a pool of material that we talk about and share so that groups will often work on similar material, though it will be selected to suit the particular group. If you’re not in a Small Group already, please feel free to talk to me, to any of the small group leaders or your pastoral elder. If you’d like to try a group once or few times, with no commitment then talk to the leader of the group. If you have any suggestions, questions, ideas or thoughts about this area again please speak to me or any of the above.
Current Small Groups
WHEN LEADERS WHERE
Monday 8pm Nigel & Deborah Munns Kings Road
Tuesday 7.30 pm Diane Farquhar at Peter Foot’s
Wednesday 8pm Jayne & David Laird Cardinal Close
Thursday 10 am Howard & Brenda Ansdell Christ Church
A sewing machine called Paddington
I wonder how many of you noticed the sewing machine that one day appeared in the back entrance to the church. Nobody seemed to know who put it there, but rather like Paddington (bear, that is), it did have a brown luggage label attached – Tools for Africa it read. One wondered how it was going to make its way to Africa because not only was it very old, but it was also exceptionally heavy. Did any of you notice it go, and wonder who lifted it, stole it or perhaps took it to the tip? Well, I don’t have the complete story, but I can tell you what happened next, and let you know what happens to sewing machines like our stray. One Sunday Trevor manfully struggled with it to the car, and on the Monday morning I made a phone call to Tonbridge Baptist church, because I remembered seeing a flyer there of an organisation called Tools With a Mission. Within 5 minutes my call was returned, and within half an hour the machine was collected from my porch – we had staggered no further with it. John Wright, who is a collector for TWAM, gave me a hint of the machine’s fate. He left a mission newsletter which contains this little story of a recent visit to a lady called Beth somewhere in Uganda: “Equally inspiring was the visit to Beth, a married woman with four children, for whom Chris and Martin had arranged delivery of a knitting machine in addition to her sewing machine. Before her training with Mindset, Beth had been unable to feed her children properly or send them to school and her husband, who was unemployed, had left home. Since she started to make clothes, and particularly school uniforms, she has been able to feed her children and send them to school. Having seen what could be achieved, her husband returned home and Beth has in turn trained him to sew and knit and they now have a thriving little business, which they run together. Beth is also taking on other trainees.” Our machine may end up being used by someone like Beth – or, John suggested it may be destined for the USA, where collectors give good money to charities like TWAM for old machines like ours. Wherever it goes, I suspect that the lady who originally owned it 50 or more year ago would never have thought that it would end its days thousands of miles away from home – a bit like Paddington Bear. For more information of Tools With a Mission please see their website www.twam.co.uk .
I apologise for my poor attendance of late. You may know that I am engaged to a former School friend Chris. Much of my time has been spent in Basingstoke, which hopefully explains why I’m not around as frequently. Our Wedding will take place on Saturday afternoon, 6th August, at 1 o’clock. All wishing to attend, are invited upstairs afterwards, for the toasts & speeches. There will also be a Buffet. A huge thank you to Jane Smith and her team for putting this on. I would also like to thank Chris Hartley, for all his hard work, leading up to our big day. We’re very much looking forward to sharing our special day with you, and hope to see you there. I’d like to thank you all, for making me feel part of Christ Church, during my 20 years of being a Tonbridge resident, and my 19 years of being a Church member. Even though I’m often missing, you’re never far from my thoughts & prayers. May God keep you and bless you richly.
Because I am blind I was educated at Dorton House School Seal. My friends and myself were taught to read Braille just as your children were taught to read print. The only difference being as parents you could read with your children when they came home, our parents couldn’t do this so it was essential we had as much reading time as possible with the teachers in term time. As you know reading is the key to all learning and through this we learned other skills and eventually after training at various colleges, all for blind and partially sighted students, we were able to gain employment. The staff at Dorton House School spent many hours teaching and raising funds for equipment and now the school is equipped and furnished to a high standard. It would be a shame if it closed after at least 150 years. The school is threatened with closure because local authorities do not want to pay the fees to send children there. It is all part of the cut-backs. Think how you would feel if your child wasn’t able to learn to read because reading lessons were limited to one or two a week at school and you couldn’t read at home, education would be slow and this is what will happen if children from this school go into mainstream education. Please read the letter below from parents whose children are at Dorton House and then write to your MP.
Meg Munday (A Member of the Tonbridge Branch of Torch Trust )
Mum urges charity to reconsider shutting the lifeline facility
by Alice Hemmings
‘Don’t take away my son’s chance for an independent life’, the mum of an 8 year old Dorton House student has pleaded. Jude Bell’s son Jamie, who is registered blind and suffers from a host of medical conditions including early-onset dementia, has attended the Seal school since he was 2. Mrs Bell, 32, said ‘He’s known the staff there since he was 6 months old and you can’t overstate how valuable that is. He has improved so much.’ But the Royal London Society for the Blind is now considering closing the school for five-16 year olds in Wildernesse Avenue, while expanding the nursery and over 16 facilities. A consultation with staff, parents and learners began on Monday and is expected to last for 6 weeks. Chief Executive Tom Pey insisted ‘no decision has been made’ to close the school but admitted it is a possibility as the premises are up for sale. It marks the first step in a ten-year plan called Stepping Up, intended to improve the lives of blind and partially sighted individuals in both academic and social ways. Dr Pey said fewer students are coming to the school, claiming just a dozen would be affected if it were to close, and that the school would work closely with carers and parents in that event. But Mrs Bell, whose four year old daughter Amy is in standard education said: ‘I have absolutely no idea where we’re going to go from here. We had to fight through the courts to get Jamie put into that school and there’s nowhere else he can go. Not only does he get the education there he gets the therapies. ‘Without Dorton House, we’ve got nothing. I just can’t bear the idea of him being sent anywhere else.’ Describing her son as a ‘medical mystery’, Mrs Bell raved about the progress he has made with the teachers. She said: ‘He’s so much more confident now than when we first started. But he’s in a class of five and what will happen to all of them’ And Donna and Lee Telling, parents of student Aaron, said: ‘It would be a catastrophe and such a big change that would put our little man back where he started.’
Three cheers for the NHS
I am a great supporter of the NHS especially when it provides treatment and succour for others! But this year I have experienced 4 visits to different hospitals myself. I am trying not to make a habit of this: not because of the treatment – which was excellent – but because, like most of us, I prefer being well. Your editor kindly published a letter of mine some time ago under the headline “Peace of Mind”. I have called on her again to enable me to thank my friends at Christ Church for the prayers and good wishes for my most recent operation, and for the flowers which I received as a was recovering. All of these were a great help and encouragement as I was recovering.
Thank you and God bless you all.
I’d like to thank all the friends of Christ Church for the flowers I received at the end of May. I had not been feeling myself so the lovely flowers were a joy. God Bless,