Jenny Colby has a well-established ministry at the Tea House, a café in Bracknell, Berkshire. For five years now the sign on the Tea House every Friday market day reads ‘All are welcome’, and anywhere between 70 and 100 customers every week take that sign to heart.
Many of the Friday regulars are not churchgoers, but they know that God loves them through their conversations with Jenny, and the friendly community which they have built around the simplest of acts: drinking tea.
Jenny's study in The Fullness of Life
is entitled ‘God over a cuppa’, and describes how Christian witness can and does arise from a chat about mundane, everyday matters.
In Jenny's words: "When others see Christ in our life through our actions and words, we are being true witnesses in a most natural way. It is easy to make ourselves available to God for Him to use us through our ordinary, unexciting experiences. What is important is that we are prepared to serve and ready to share our faith when the moment is right.
“Whether we agree or not that Christian presence can rightfully be termed ‘evangelism’, Christians are present in the world and this will have a direct bearing on how they are perceived by non-Christians.
“When we give testimony of our life transformed by Christ, we share in the mission of the Church that was inaugurated by Christ.
“In my ministry as an Evangelist, I have seen those who previously lived for themselves start to live with others' needs in mind. I have seen people who are materialistic change and share their resources with others. Lives that are transforming reflect Christ and are inspirational.”
A wide variety of people come to the Tea House, and Jenny has come to know most of them through serving them tea and coffee. One family she is close to asked her to baptise their baby son and, within the same year, asked her to officiate at the funeral of their stillborn daughter.
Jenny found herself drawing heavily on God's strength for the funeral, as she tried to show the depth and power of His love through her words and actions.
Some of the elderly people come to the Tea House to escape isolation and enjoy the company of others, whilst several customers have learning difficulties. Jenny's calling is to welcome, value and love one and all, in the same way as our Father does.
She also leads a monthly 'prayer and praise' session in Bracknell Care Home, bringing Church to those who are unable to attend traditional services, and is a chaplain at the local hospital.
For Jenny, prayer is an essential tool to succeed in her mission. As she says: “We need to challenge ourselves to be different and love those who come into our life; we need to be good to them, by at least praying for them.”
Each separate study in The Fullness of Life has areas of Focus, Reflection, Discussion, Action and Prayer. The Discussion area raises questions such as, “Where could we engage in presence evangelism?” and “What will we do when people respond to us?”
The studies show how Christian witness can be adapted to almost any setting and any group of people. Other Evangelists featured are Rick Tett (‘Out of your comfort zone’) Jonathan Wiggam (‘It’s a man's world’) Richard Martin (‘Jesus in the workplace’) Ian Maher (‘Spanning the divide’) Gordon Banks (‘Our daily bread’) and 'Sue' (‘Befriending the outcasts’).
These seven examples of real-life evangelism are designed to help the reader think about what God is calling him or her to do in being a witness for Him. And, in this season of giving, Church Army is making a number of free copies of The Fullness of Life available to Inspire readers, to help them engage in evangelism in 2010.
Go to www.churcharmy.org.uk/JennyColby
where you can also see a short film of Jenny in action. To support the work of Evangelists like Jenny, call Church Army on 020 8309 3519 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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