Fareham Community Church

Author: FCC

New PTI Newspaper highlights ‘extreme’ child poverty in Sierra Leone


FCC member, James Fallah-Williams has recently returned from visiting his PTI projects in Sierra Leone and writes below to say thank for the support he has received.

A major focus of Jame’s trip was to distribute copies of the brand new PTI Newspaper, ‘The Inch‘, which shines a spotlight on the suffering of so many children, disabled people and women living in Sierra Leone today. The first edition also includes the PTI annual report for 2019-2020; an amazing account of how the charity alleviated suffering in Sierra Leone last year. View The Inch here

James writes:

“I just want to thank you all for the prayers and support for the work in Sierra Leone. It has been two weeks since I came back from a nine-day visit. It was a very eventful visit as I was there to catch-up with our field work after the lockdown, and to distribute a ‘protest’ newspaper.

“Your prayers allowed me to carry out the activities seamlessly, distributing the newspaper to foreign embassies, media houses (and doing a pre-recorded TV interview, which was published a day after I left!), government ministries, and to the general public.

“The key issue was the challenges we encountered with the school project, and the relentless struggles destitute children, women and disabled people are facing day-in-day-out in the country. I am really pleased that we were able to challenge these things publicly. This is the first time this has been done in the country. “

Thank you,

James

Reflect on God’s diversity

I hope you have been encouraged as much as I have by the many different contributors to our online services over the summer.  It’s been good in so many ways.

Firstly, I have enjoyed seeing lots of the FCC family onscreen!  These last five months I have missed you! Life groups have been just that – a source of life.  But these last few weeks we have been reminded that we are all part of something bigger.  As Caroline noted last week, Hebrews 10:25 says “Do not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another….”  We may not have been able to meet in person, but seeing others continue in their faith encourages us to keep walking and enriches our fellowship together.

Secondly, it has been wonderful to see the treasures deposited in you as you have shared them with us in a variety of ways, providing practical insights, provocation and challenge to us all.  That’s the outworking of verse 24 of that same passage: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” I have certainly found your insights causing me to reflect again on the Psalms and to see how my life is mirrored in them.

Thirdly, it has been great to see the creativity and diversity there is amongst us.  I believe these are key building blocks of God’s character and creation and he delights to see them at work in us, his people.  I’ve loved the different way each group has interpreted the brief and the variety of styles and contributions in the services.  I hope, it’s been as life-giving to you as it has to me.  I know that some of you have found yourselves well outside your comfort zone, and yet you have still contributed what you have.  My prayer is that having done it once, you will be encouraged to step out again!  We need the variety of each other’s experience to shape us to become more like Christ.

Finally, it has been so good to see the diversity of spiritual gifts at work in the services.  Some have brought pastoral exhortations, others have taught, some have reflected the heart of the mercy extender and others the passion of the evangelist.  For me, this has been a clear example of “When you come together, each of you has a hymn, a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation…” which is vital for the body to “build itself up in love” (1 Corinthians 14:26 and Ephesians 4:16).  Let’s continue to function in our different gifts – not comparing or competing with one another – but instead using whatever God has given us for the good of the whole.

In this strange time for the world, may God continue to reveal to us the treasure we carry, enable us to value the riches of grace in one another, and give us the confidence to share what we have with others, both inside and outside the church. 

Richard

06/09/2020

Crafty Makery – light in the darkness

I’ve just had the privilege of attending the cutting of the ribbon by the Mayor for Shane and Lesley’s newly located Crafty Makery.  They now have a fantastic two storey unit in a prime spot in the shopping centre and have already been busy making contacts with many passers-by.  It’s a wonderful next chapter in their story!

When I first met Shane, it was in the Crafty Makery, opposite our building in West Street.  I popped in on the off chance and ended up having a long chat with him, which left me so inspired that I encouraged him to come and meet Mark Nash in Imbizo.  There was a real synergy between his vision for building a restorative community through craft sessions and our thoughts on what Café Imbizo could be.  Not only that, but he had also once been part of FCC and was a Christian with an incredible heart for people in need.

Sadly, Shane was not able to sustain the business in West Street, and so we gave him a “refuge” in Café Imbizo for a while.  Very soon, he became an integral part of our Imbizo community, and he gained the trust and friendship of both volunteers and customers.  Over the past year, as well as helping us in the café, he and Lesley have been building relationships with the council and other agencies and developing Crafty Makery as a CIC, which has culminated in the ribbon-cutting today.

I’ve popped in several times since they relocated and I’ve found Steve, Andy, Zara, Stuart and Gill, and some of our customers from the café all coming in and out.  It’s a joy to see so many there.  Shane was telling me today about a man who came in with his daughter.  The man opened up about his recent divorce, while his daughter sat and chatted with Bill, one of Imbizo’s regular older customers.  The next day his daughter came back, and the first thing she asked was “Is Bill coming in today?” Another story was of a lad with type 1 diabetes who has been in the shop regularly to do some 3D printing – his blood sugars had been all over the place during lockdown but, with his new focus, they are stabilising. 

In her speech, the mayor commented on how Shane was impacting the community, and how much the Crafty Makery can contribute to the town.  I think its impact is already clear to see – light in the darkness!

I’m reminded of what Richard said last week about the hydrangea in our garden.  The plant was pruned heavily and then bore greater fruit.  Isn’t that what has happened here?  Shane’s first attempt was cut back but now, with a whole community of people alongside him, his vision has begun to bear much fruit.  Long may it continue!  Let’s pray and continue to support him in any way we can.

2 Thessalonians 1: 11-12 says:

We constantly pray for you that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith…so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I’ve been challenged about these verses which speak of our desires and our deeds prompted by faith.  What dreams do you have?  What is in your heart when you think of being light in a dark world?  That’s where God starts – He put those desires there in the first place – and He delights to fulfil them by his power and grace.  I pray we will have many stories like Shane’s in the days to come.

Bless you, Caroline

16/08/2020

The joy of meeting

Well, the picnic was a washout and yet people enjoyed chatting together under umbrellas, and the communion was far from the norm yet it was great to gather with others around the Lord’s table.  We have so valued meeting as leaders to pray and reflect on what God is saying to FCC at this time, and our life group has been able to say its hello’s and goodbye’s in person (as people have joined and left the group) and to sense the tangible presence of God as we have met in Room 7.  None of this is surprising – we are meant to value meeting together! 

When we became Christ-followers, we were adopted into God’s family and welcomed into a new home for life.  It isn’t like joining a gym where there are lots of different individual membership packages to suit availability or preference.  It’s a place of belonging where everyone is important and necessary for the good of the whole.

In Hebrews 10 verse 25, it says “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching”.  The writer recognises it’s easy to fall out of the habit of gathering, to drift away, but he stresses how important meeting together is, not only to support each other but also to spur one another on to love and good works. 

I know meeting together in person is difficult for many right now – that’s why I’m so grateful for technology!  It’s not the how, where, or when we meet that matters – it’s that we prioritise it and keep on doing it as often as we can.  And the Holy Spirit is happy to help us as we seek to do that.  Last week, for instance, as I was working in and around our building, I just “happened” to run into a couple of people I had, that morning, felt prompted to contact and we had a few special minutes together.  We have also found ourselves “bumping into” people during our walks along the beach or in the town and enjoyed catching up and seeing what we could pray for. 

It’s simply being aware of God’s promptings, intentional about taking his cues, and interruptible when God sets up those chance encounters.  Let’s make the most of the opportunities he gives us, however brief, because we don’t know how long this marathon is going to be, and all of us need some help along the way.  I’m so grateful I don’t have to make this journey alone and that God has put a great bunch of people around me.  Thank you for the care, encouragement, provocation and support you bring.  I hope I can do the same in return, whenever, wherever, however, we meet.
Caroline

30/08/2020

God’s wonderful provision

After what Caroline wrote last week, to encourage us all to be asking those questions “what dreams do we have; what is in our heart when we think of being light in a dark world?”, here are some more stories that have inspired me this week.

When we popped into Crafty Makery the other day, we found Shane overwhelmed again by God’s provision.  First, he told us about the mentoring project they want to develop for those, especially young people, who are finding themselves unemployed at this time, giving help with CV writing, numeracy and literacy.  This means they need computers.  A man came in and, hearing about this, returned the next day with three refurbished ones.  Just like that!  So, now what they need is some people who can give some time to help with the mentoring.  There’s a great opportunity for some Kingdom of God serving and sowing!

But that’s not all, a widower who was clearing out his wife’s craft room came in and asked if Shane would be interested in having some of her kit.  “Yes please,” he said and went off to get a carload – except it turned out to be three carloads of mostly unopened craft materials.  An amazing and very timely gift!  More of God’s blessing as Shane pursues being light in the darkness.

The third story is from James and Practical Tools Initiative (PTI).  Earlier this year, PTI did a project drilling boreholes to provide clean water to a village of people disabled during Sierra Leone’s civil war.  On Tuesday, PTI received two drilling rigs, donated by a Welsh company.  Having their own rigs will halve the cost of future water projects and mean they can do more of them!  PTI has always been faithful with the provision they receive and now God is calling them to be faithful with more, as they seek to bring a practical expression of God’s Kingdom order to Sierra Leone.

It reminded me of Matthew 5 where Jesus says: “You are the light of the world”, and John 9 where he says “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world“.  I can skim over these familiar words but, this time, I paused.  It struck home afresh that now we, as citizens of God’s Kingdom, are sent to the world as the light of the world, and where light is, darkness is dispelled! Shane and James are responding to what God has put in their heart – to be light in the world – and are seeing God’s goodness pursue them, giving them stories to build their faith and encourage ours. 

We are the light of the world, especially in difficult and dark times.  Christ in us brings light to others through us as we respond to the dreams and compassion in our hearts.  So, I urge you to think again about those questions I began with and seek ways to spread the love and hope of the Kingdom of God where you are. 

Perhaps you have some recent stories of God blessing you, as you have sought to be light in the darkness.  They may not seem as dramatic as those of Shane and James, but they are significant to God.  If so, we’d love you to share them with us so we can encourage one another, spurring each other on to the good works God has prepared in advance for us to do!

Richard

23/08/2020

Encouragement in the garden

Since the end of March, many of our “worlds” have been reduced.  Key workers have, at times, had their worlds reduced to working, eating and sleeping.  Shielders, have had their worlds reduced to their home, video calls and over the fence conversations with neighbours.  In some way, all of us have experienced our worlds reducing and it has been something of a relief to have those restrictions lifted recently – even if only for a season! I certainly have loved meeting with some of you in the flesh! And it is good to take the opportunity we have to meet together to encourage one another as the writer of Hebrews says “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together,……but encouraging one another…..”.  

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Caroline’s celery experiment and how it caused me to wonder if the Holy Spirit was wanting to grow something new for us as FCC – still Church but different.  Since then, I found God speaking to me again through two gardening related things.

The first was through this beautiful hydrangea.  Last year it looked pretty good, but this year we have nearly twice the number of blooms on it.  The reason? – we pruned it.  We not only took off the old deadheads in the spring, but we also cut each stem back further to above two leaf buds. The result has been this astonishing display of flowers! 

The second was through some seeds we bought too late to sow this year.  Soon, we will sow them at the back of a border where they will be hidden and forgotten, behind late summer flowers, until next spring when they will bring early colour to our garden.

Pause for a moment and reflect – “What might God say to you through these things?”  –  then read on….

For myself, I sensed God’s encouragement.  Whenever we or our world feels reduced, it is always for increase … “He prunes every fruitful branch so that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2).  But God also reduces us, to re-shape us so we become more like Jesus.  I’m asking God to show me what He is doing through this “reducing” both for me and FCC so I can cooperate with His plans for our good. 

I also sensed the Holy Spirit encouraging me to sow God’s word into my life now – frequently and regularly.  Some of what I read and pray about may not seem immediately relevant.  I may even forget about it or it becomes “lost” in the business of life.  But God was saying that as we sow His word in us, He will be preparing us for the next season of our lives so we are ready and equipped when it comes and whatever it may hold.

I don’t know what God might say to you out of those two snippets but be encouraged He is working out His good purpose for us. Remain faithful in reading (or listening) to the Bible and pray expecting the Holy Spirit to shape and equip you both for now and the future.  And let’s encourage one another with what He is saying to us, whenever we can and whenever we meet so that together we become mature in Christ.

Richard

PS: The celery is growing bigger😊!

Our stand on racism

This is a statement from the FCC leadership team regarding our stand on racism as a church

Recent events in USA

Recent events in the USA have once again drawn attention to the ongoing injustice caused by racial discrimination. The killing of George Floyd by police officers on 25 May in Minneapolis and the subsequent killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta last Friday (12 June) are horrific reminders that injustice in this, and many other forms, continues to be a reality across the world in our day.

One body of Christ

Fundamentally, we believe that all people are made in God’s image, are of equal and infinite worth, and that we all, together, form one body in Christ.

We, therefore, believe that God’s commitment to justice and love for everyone He has created demands that racism, and, indeed, all forms of injustice, be acknowledged and tackled.

We weep, along with many others, for the suffering we have witnessed, for those who have lost their lives, for those who have experienced persecution, and those who live in fear.

While the outpouring of grief and the protests in many nations, with people of all ethnicities standing side by side, are to us a sign of hope that we may be approaching a watershed moment, there is much that needs to happen if change is to be real, long term and effective.

Call to repentance

As a church, we must be prepared to challenge injustice in whatever form, wherever we find it, especially when we find it in ourselves! If, and when, we come across it, we know that there is no condemnation, but there is a call to repent. Repentance leads us to change, a change of mind and attitudes, to embody a gracious and loving spirit of inclusion and understanding.

Standing together

And as the Leadership Team, we are determined to listen to the voices of BAME (Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic) people in the church. We know of at least one in our fellowship who has personally experienced racist violence and therefore is strongly affected by current events. And we understand that others in our church know what it is to have to deal with racism and discrimination on a regular basis in their everyday lives. We stand with them, pray for them, and acknowledge their bravery, their forbearance, and the valuable contribution that they play in the life of FCC.

The Evangelical Alliance released a statement on 1 June, which we wholeheartedly endorse:

Let us stand together as brothers and sisters in Christ as we cry out for justice, as we stand with those who are suffering oppression, as we weep with those grieving and in pain.

Our responsibility to act

We all have a responsibility to act against discrimination and systemic racism in our workplaces, in our churches, in our justice system and in our wider communities.

As the church, we must unite across all ethnicities in saying and showing that all are created equal and that all bear God’s image. There can be no place for racism in our society. We must work together to see it eradicated from all our structures and relationships.

As FCC leaders, we ask you all to join with us, and with the church worldwide, to pray for those affected by racism, in whatever form, and to call on God to move powerfully across the world at this time to eradicate injustice and bring systemic change.

With our love and blessings,

The Leadership Team

For a thoroughly biblical perspective on racism from one of the father’s in the Salt and Light family, have a full watch of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY9i7nNBtR0

Or, have a look at this theological take on George Floyd’s death drawn from Acts 17:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtR8qVPcX08

Jottings from my chair

This inspiring reflection, written by a member of FCC who is isolating on her own, originally appeared in the April newsletter.

At the beginning of lockdown, as family and I thought being ‘home alone’ was the better option for me, I was considering ways of communicating with other people. Thoughts like: “How will I cope?” or, “I can’t be on my own for 12 weeks!” or, “What about shopping, doctors, dentist?”etc., etc. I’m sure we all had many differing thoughts as the news sunk in, realising that this was for the long haul, for the safety of others, and that we should really do what had been asked of us. Pondering this,I felt a nudge to turn my chair in the bay window towards the street, instead of it facing into the room. Simple you say, but I had no idea how God would bless me through this seemingly little thing.

In those early days of lockdown, God seemed to be bringing Psalm 91 to mind everywhere I looked and talked with people; I found so many of the verses wrapped me around in His love.

Looking out of my window, I saw a camellia bush – it was flowering, but a lot of the blooms, usually white, were turning brown because of the cold wind. As I looked, I saw a flower deep in the foliage, sheltered from the wind, a perfect white flower (no trace of brown). What a picture for me! God showed me how I could be deep in his love and provision – all in Psalm 91.

Then, I noticed that children had put pictures of rainbows in many of the homes in our street – symbols of hope. “Come on, you can do this!” I said. So, out came the paints and now there is a rainbow in my window.

Next, I thought “I’m praying for people passing by, and for those in my street”, so I made a praying hands motif with a heart underneath to put in the window.

Then, the teddies! I had heard that children were doing a walk to find teddies, so two teddies found their way to my window, one of which is carrying a little one – just another picture of God’s care for us. 

And, of course, I mustn’t forget ‘the special people’ passing by, who will knock on my window for a little chat through it as I sit in my chair – what a blessing!
Yes, I’ve had some medical and dental issues, as I mentioned in my list of concerns at the beginning of this missive, but God is so faithful through all of this. My family are not in my house, but oh so close and I thank God for them. So, if you’re feeling alone, or fearful, as I’m sure many of us are from time to time, call out to God. He IS faithful and loves you so. May God show you ways to ‘turn your chairs around’ in this very different journey we are on at the moment.

Much love (xx)

Acts 1 Reassessing Life

Between Easter and Pentecost, the disciples had a lot of thinking to do, a lot of reassessment. As well as the amazing change in their perspective, theology and everything else precipitated by the death and then the resurrection of Jesus (something they were still grappling with the implications of, as we see in Acts 1:6), they were having to come to terms with a more common, but still traumatic, human experience – the betrayal and then suicide of their companion, Judas.  While John mutters darkly about Judas “helping himself” from the moneybag, it is clear from all the gospels, including John’s, that his betrayal was a real shock to the tight-knit group of disciples.  The thought that someone so close (literally, one who shared the same crockery with Jesus – now doesn’t that suddenly seem an important detail, these days?!) could become a turncoat had clearly never entered their minds, as we see from Jn. 13:27-29.

So in parallel to the big-ticket theology stuff, they are going through a grief process: “I just can’t believe he could have done something like that”; “How could he?”; “What a tragic waste of life”…  And what has Peter been doing to find help in this time? He’s gone back to Israel’s hymnbook, the Psalms, and in particular (we see in Acts 1:20), to two lament psalms of David – Ps.69 and 109 – both of which prefigure the “suffering servant” language of Isaiah 53 (etc), and both of which feature betrayal as part of the load which the sufferer has to bear.

When the UK eventually comes out of lockdown, it will be a time of joy, but it will also be one of grief for those we have lost during isolation (whether due to Coronavirus or otherwise) and of reassessment as we try to come to terms with yet another “new normal”.  And like Peter found, comfort for that grief, and a mirror to hold up to our lives as we reassess things, are to be found in Scripture.  The Spirit, in His wisdom, caused our forefathers to leave these words behind them, because He knew that we would face the same challenges that they did, and need the same wisdom they discovered.  Technology may have changed, but human beings, and human emotions, remain much the same as in his or David’s time.  So take time, in the vulnerability we all share at the moment, to linger in the Bible and may the Spirit minister His encouraging, revealing, sense-making Words to your hearts as you do so.

FareShare food deliveries

Fareham Community Church is now a member of  FareShare and able to deliver  good quality, in-date and nutritious food to local people in need.

This is Lourentia’s story of her first day distributing FareShare food.  If you would also like to get involved or know someone in need, please either contact Lourentia directly or email: fareham community church

“Last Wednesday evening I headed to Tesco and collected enough produce for 10 local families. The next day, my car loaded with food, I started my journey with the Lord. My route would take me to people located in Fareham and as far as Shedfield.  As I arrived at each house or flat, I opened my car boot and knocked on their door. They were then able to come and take whatever they needed from my car. Some people were on the brink of tears at being given the food totally free of charge.

“This week, I seemed to have a surplus of bread rolls; but I delivered to one lady who happened to work at a care home which was struggling to get supplies. So, I was really happy to be able to give them her all the remaining rolls.

“I felt so blessed (probably more so than the recipients) and all it took was my time and some petrol in the tank.”

Please either contact Lourentia directly or email Fareham Community Church if you would like to get involved or know someone in need. People can receive regular weekly help or have a one-off delivery.

For more information on FareShare click here.