Church Army - January 2011 - Kevin Metcalfe
Church Army Evangelist Kevin Metcalfe works on two housing estates in Bangor, Northern Ireland, building relationships with families
Starting things from scratch in a new place and a different culture is always a challenge, but my heart and ministry is committed to the Bloomfield Estate in Bangor.
My vision is to see individual lives changed and communities transformed through knowing the love of Jesus Christ and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The people here are two or three generations back from any real positive experience of church. Sometimes I feel like a missionary in a different culture – one which is still living under the shadow of sectarianism and division.
However, there is a real spirit of renewal and opportunity as we reach out in new ways to families and children who have had little or no connection with church. It’s all about building open and positive relationships, and introducing them to the love of Jesus.
People are beginning to gossip the good news of the Gospel in this area, as we visit around 50 households each week (and have more than 70 children registered for the Kidz Klub we run each Friday).
My vision is to develop this Kidz Klub, and the links we are making with parents and carers, into a new kind of family-focused, midweek fresh expression of church, thereby building a real bridge into the heart of community life.
I am also trying to respect my responsibilities as a husband and father of two young daughters. It’s sometimes a challenge to get the work-life balance right, when there is so much to do.
Along with my family, I am based just a short walk from the estate and the work I do here is mainly in the local primary school and community centre. The focus of my work is on children and young families as I build relationships through school assemblies and Kidz Klub, making use of multi-media presentations, fast-moving games and modern music.
I have been able to build up a team of volunteers from Christ Church to help with the work.
However, as the numbers of children increase, we need to find more helpers to assist with this fantastic work of God in a challenging area where the overtones of sectarianism continue to leave a legacy of a divided community.
We are beginning to get children with no church background interested and involved in the work we are doing. We have created such demand that we were able to host the first holiday Bible club in the area for five years.
These children are telling their friends and parents what a great time they are having. There is a real positive buzz about our work all around the estate as many of the young people can’t wait for our Friday night mixture of music, drama, fun and hearing about Jesus.
Fiona had suffered from a broken marriage and some incredible stress due to involvement in some illegal activities. Fiona came to an Alpha course because she had seen something in her mother’s recent return to Christianity.
Following the care we were able to show her, she gave her life to Jesus Christ and was released from her stressful burden of guilt. Fiona’s renewed life under Christ is speaking powerfully to her friends as a witness for the hope and fresh start that Christianity can bring.
Fiona’s mum is now a helper in Kidz Klub, and in her grandchildren attending Kidz Klub each week we have seen the good news at work in all three generations of this family.