Church Army - Inspire May 09 - Odyssey Community
Church Army Evangelist Nikki Foster-Kruczek describes her work with the Odyssey Mission Community in Derby
"Nikki, I can see your aura," said the spiritual healer, Cedric, who came with my friend to our 'open dinner' gathering.
The statement caught me by surprise and I looked at him wondering what he was on about. What aura? Where?
This was a good call because it led to a long conversation about healing. One that I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to have with this particular spiritual healer had this opportunity not presented itself.
As we chatted, I told him more about Christian healing and gently challenged some of his own ideas about the Christian faith.
This is what Odyssey is all about, creating opportunities to speak about God. The members of Odyssey spend their time building relationships through their daily life and then find appropriate ways to share their faith – and they are in it for the long haul.
This is no quick hit-and-run missionary activity; we live alongside the people we share faith with and see them as part of our lives, not just as an evangelism project.
It takes time, energy, and an awful lot of patience, which is why being part of the Odyssey Community is so important. We support one another in our various areas of mission.
In Derby where I live, I come across all kinds of people. People who are searching for faith and community and who want to know how to get on with this thing called life.
People who have been to some hard places in life and need some support to carry on. People who may have had little or no contact with church and just have questions that they want to talk about.
I pretty much spend most of my time helping others to build relationships and share their faith.
At the moment there are eight members of the Odyssey Community and they’re all out there sharing their faith in different ways. Matt and Rhoda both work with an amateur theatre company, bringing alive the Gospel message of love and grace. Louisa, who's been with us for 18 months is alongside alcoholics and Babs works with addicts, helping them to transform their lives and discover the great power of God.
One woman recently said to me: “I didn’t think that God cared about me as a person. I’ve been so screwed up, but you said that I’m worth something and you spend time with me. You make me feel like I’m better just by being there. I’m thinking that maybe God does care about me – I just need some help learning to trust him.”
We don't place an emphasis on being in a church building. We believe that church is wherever we find ourselves. A building is just a building; it is the heart of people that moves God.
And we want the people we come into contact with to have a love for God, not for religion or tradition but to truly develop a sense of who God is and how much they need him.
A typical Odyssey gathering is like being in a family, sitting around the table, having a meal together. The hassles of life are shared with one another and we’re just there – and God’s in the midst of us. There’s a tangible sense really, you can almost touch it, that God’s in the house.
We had the bishop of Derby, Bishop Alistair Redfern come to one of our community meals about a year ago. We were all sat round the dining table eating and chatting and sharing stories when the Bishop suddenly went: “Oh, this is terribly biblical. It’s just so lovely.” We really hold that because it’s a pretty affirming thing for the Bishop in your diocese to come and sit at your dinner table like that.
People ask me all the time what’s the next step for Odyssey, but there really isn’t a plan, there isn’t a piece of paper somewhere that says, “This is Odyssey. This is what it will look like in the future”.
It's very much, “This is where we are today, tomorrow”. We might be different and if we’re different tomorrow, we’ll work that out then.
As well as watching the film above, you can also go to www.churcharmy.org.uk/nikkifk where you can watch a film about Nikki Foster-Kruczek and Odyssey.
To support the work of Evangelists like Nikki, call Church Army on 020 8309 3519 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org