Church Army - Inspire October 09 - Founders appeal
INSPIRE FOUNDERS' APPEAL
How Church Army Evangelists are transforming lives with Christ’s message of hope ...
The heart of ministry for a Church Army Evangelist in the UK and Ireland, is introducing people to Jesus Christ as their Saviour. That brave step, to turn away from a life devoted to self to a life devoted to God, brings many challenges for any new Christian.
Johnnie was a young man who found Christ while growing up on a London council estate. As he tried to allow Christ to direct his life, he found that his friends ridiculed him and tried to lure him back to the ‘old ways’.
Often Johnnie would give in to the pressure exerted by his friends. After all, they had been his ‘family’ for most of his life ... and the ‘old ways' had been fun.
He had real struggles with other Christians, who did not understand why it was not as easy for him to follow Christ.
It didn’t help when he was told not to drink, not to fight, and not to sleep around, without being offered alternatives to replace the old ways. And it didn't help that he was seen as ‘trouble’ by some mature Christians, because of his constant struggle between the new-found faith and the old lifestyle.
Church Army Evangelists know that when Jesus invites himself into a life these struggles will happen. Evangelists take time to pray with and nurture those whom Christ has placed in their care. They are committed to walk beside people like Johnnie, who need comfort, support and guidance as they establish their new life with Christ.
Church Army uses the phrase ‘Life to the Full’, taken from John 10:10, to encapsulate what its Evangelists bring to any community in which they live and work. Evangelists such as Ralph Upton who leads the Valley of Hope project, in Aberdare, South Wales.
This project works to rebuild the lives of ex-offenders and substance misusers, providing a range of life skills courses such as debt management and healthy living, as well as liaising with drug and alcohol agencies, prisons and social services on behalf of clients.
Valley of Hope has helped people like Karen* to escape the misery of life on heroin, and supported her transformation into a competent and loving mother of two young children.
In Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Myrtle Morrison works with St Saviour's Church to build relationships with the many people living there who have no contact with the church beyond weddings and funerals.
Craigavon is often known as 'the forgotten city' – an urban development that failed to work, leaving vast areas of housing estates and a high degree of social deprivation. Myrtle leads various community activities, with an emphasis on sharing the love of Jesus with local children.
Through kids’ clubs, youth clubs and holiday clubs she is able to reach the young unchurched generation, which has also provided a starting point for introducing herself – and the church – to an increasing number of families.
She is also the Church of Ireland Chaplain at Craigavon Area Hospital. Through the simple acts of listening and comforting, Myrtle provides patients and their families with a vital service that puts Christ's love into action.
Nick Russell has spent nearly a decade as a Church Army officer living and working among the people of the Ferrier Estate, South London. Using a converted shop premises as a 'church', Nick and his wife Helen provide many of the few community groups that exist on this extremely deprived housing estate.
One of these groups is Gang Time, a weekly club supporting young offenders, and those at risk of offending, by providing a social setting which allows them to experience a 'normal' childhood of which they know very little.
Gang membership, anti-social behaviour and crime are facts of life on the Ferrier. However, Nick and Helen persevere with their young neighbours, demonstrating Christ’s love through unwavering support for those facing chaotic home lives, court appearances and prison sentences.
‘Life to the Full’ for the people of the Ferrier Estate means being shown that God truly values their lives and recognises their huge potential, when affluent society seems to have written them off.
*Her name has been changed to protect her privacy
It costs around £100 per day to fund the ministry of each Church Army Evangelist. Please pray, and if you would like to donate towards this vital work, go to http://www.justgiving.com/churcharmy/donate/ and mention 'Inspire Founders' Appeal' at the final stage of the donation process