Authors
David Young
Caroline Young
Graham Richardson
Abigail Elkins
Derek Oliver
Liz Floutier
Owen Cooper
Sally
Subjects
Holy Spirit
Grace
Vision
Worship
Marriage
Prayer
Forgiveness
MONTHS
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
My trip to Zimpeto
by Sally

At the end of January, I left our cold English winter and plunged into the heat of an African summer.  I had come to Maputo, Mozambique’s capital city, to visit the Zimpeto children’s centre. Zimpeto is home to 260 orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children. It’s the first and largest of the Iris Ministries’ children’s centres and was established by Rolland and Heidi Baker when the civil war ended in the mid 1990s.

We first visited Zimpeto in 2004. In 2005 we returned to live there for a longer period. We spent two amazing years there, in which we learned many valuable lessons about love, faith, family, community and friendship. Since returning to the UK in 2007, we have continued to build our relationship with the Zimpeto team through visiting, through email contact and through the fact that I still work for them - processing applications to serve there. Some months ago I felt it was time to visit again. I did not have a clear agenda for this other than wanting to continue to build relationships through blessing, serving, encouraging and generally spending time with the team.

One of the great things about visiting a place over time is that you can really notice the changes that have happened. Between 2004 and 2015, both Mozambique and Zimpeto have changed dramatically. Mozambique is no longer the poorest country in the world and its economy is growing year by year. There are new shopping malls, roads and restaurants. However, like many developing countries, only a minority of the population benefits from this economic growth and most people live in very basic conditions. The sights and sounds of the drive from the airport to Zimpeto always take me by surprise and it takes a while to adjust, no matter how many times I visit.

Zimpeto itself has changed a lot since 2004. Back then, there were over 550 children, mostly teenage boys who were former street children. Zimpeto’s directors strongly believe that children belong in families and over the years, wherever possible they have reunited those children with family members, giving financial and practical help to enable families to stay together. Nowadays, most of Zimpeto’s children are under 7 and there is a particular focus on helping vulnerable children with medical needs.

Many projects have developed in recent years: a Special Needs house, a Nursery, the Casa de Oracao (House of prayer - with round the clock prayer and worship), a large fruit and vegetable garden, a community food programme and a project to support widows and new mothers. On top of that there is a church, a pre-school, a school for 1350 local children, a Bible school for trainee pastors and a clinic that provides care for the local community. There are skills-training programmes in carpentry, sewing and entrepreneurship. There is a weekly outreach to people living and working on the rubbish dump as well as evangelical outreaches to rural communities. Over 20 of Zimpeto’s youth are in University education.

Zimpeto really is quite a miraculous place – not least because the whole community is run by faith. Somehow there is always enough money to fund it all, though this often arrives at the 11th hour. It is also miraculous in that the team is made up of people from different walks of life, different nationalities, different languages, different denominations, different personality types and different abilities. They all live and work together 24/7, united by their love for Jesus and for the children.

So, apart from learning about these new projects, what did I actually do? 

Well, most of my time was spent sitting in the shade with people from the Zimpeto team, listening, talking, praying and drinking tea.  Some of these people were old friends and some were new team members, who I hadn’t met in person before but had communicated with by email. All valued the opportunity to talk confidentially with someone from “outside”.  In addition, it was a privilege to be asked to lead the team’s home group and to share words of encouragement with them.  I was glad to reconnect with some of the Mozambicans who have worked at Zimpeto since our first visit. For example, pastor Joshua, with whom we ran the dorm, the women who work in the kitchens, the clinic staff, maintenance staff and pastors.

As for the children, most of the boys from our dorm had left Zimpeto some time ago, but I was thrilled to meet up with several who were now young men, helping to look after the younger children. (As I’d expected, they were disappointed not to see Paul, with whom they love to talk football).  Many of the boys from our dorm now work in very good jobs, thanks to the skills-training course run by our friends, Jimmy and Linda. While visiting Jimmy and Linda I was able to meet up with some of them – it was wonderful to see how mature and grown-up they have become and to see that they have a good future ahead of them.

You may remember that we were close to several little children who had arrived at Zimpeto in a state of severe neglect and malnutrition. Since our last visit, some of those children had been returned to their families or adopted but others were still there: healthy and thriving, full of life and exuberance, loved and secure.

Change often happens slowly: it can take time to appreciate the fullness of transformations. Visiting Zimpeto over a ten year period has allowed Paul and I to see the results of faith, hope and love in action. We have seen the fruit of all the love that has been faithfully poured into these children over the years. 

Thank you for your prayers for this trip. It has been so good to see that relationships can endure and grow despite absence and distance. Furthermore, I have come home with renewed conviction that no matter how great the problems we might see ahead, it is possible to make a difference, starting with loving one person at a time: the person who God puts in front of us.

2nd March 2015
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"It's more than debt counselling, it actually saved my life!" - John's Story
by Owen Cooper - CAP

"It’s more than debt counselling, it actually saved my life" - John’s story

Over 8 years ago in 2006, I was introduced to my fifth CAP client, who I will 
call John. I was in my second month of operating the centre and still felt a little 
apprehensive and out of my depth, but God had other plans. 

John had heard about our service via a radio broadcast I did with 3 counties radio. At that time he was very, very low, struggling with high levels of debt, relational problems 
with his wife and family and seriously considered taking his own life. (He actually 
planned how he was going to do this). 

I remember the first time I saw John was when he walked into my office at the Community Centre. He was big stocky guy who had a career as a fire-fighter. However life had been so cruel: He was pale, had not shaven for some days, his hands were shaking and completely felt he had lost hope. 

It took him a lot of courage to visit me and make an appointment with CAP. This turned out to be a major decision in his life. He became debt free after 4 years from that initial meeting. 

Fast forward nearly 9 years, 5th February 2015. I met John and shared a coffee to catch up on life. He was now retired from the fire service, after 28 years. He was very happy, contented, things were good with his wife and family and he had money in the bank. He was also helping 'Meals on wheels' as a driver.

He spoke about the time he was introduced to CAP. He said, "Owen, it was more than debt counselling, it actually saved my life. It was the fact I could talk to someone in person, I could pick up the phone and speak to someone. The chats over coffee; the fact I was never judged made a huge difference to my self-
esteem." 

I just feel overwhelmed right now by our glorious God. I am thankful for every day that this ministry has been operating in Hemel Hempstead. The reason we opened this centre was for people like John. Time has passed but God's glorious love for His people never changes. When we are feeling insignificant, not good enough or wondering if we are making a difference just remember guys like John. Through him we see the beauty of Jesus working. 

9th February 2015
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Are You in God's Dream Team?
by Derek Oliver

Drawing a Blank on my ability to dream 

My wife, Penny, and I recently welcomed a delightful young lady into our home that had just finished a season of global ministry for Youth With A Mission (YWAM).  Our time together provided some welcome rest and the opportunity of a little London sight-seeing, before she returned home to the USA.

During her stay, we took some time to prayerfully listen to the Holy Spirit – to hear the heart of our Father-God for each of us.  Our guest received this picture, from God, for me:

She saw a book, a journal. Its pages were cascading open as if someone was flicking through them to find a certain place.  As the pages of the book flashed across her imagination, she noted that although the early pages contained writing, when the book finally fell open, the pages were blank.

Blank pages… me, a blank expression.  I simply didn’t ‘get’ it. What could God possibly be saying to me through that?

Fortunately, for me, there were others close at hand to help and bring understanding.

This picture was an invitation from heaven for me to start dreaming. To write down the desires of my heart.

Really? My Father-God wants to know what I think!?

Sovereign God wants to know my hopes? Seeks to hear the desires of my heart? Wishes to hear and know my dreams?

Really?

This interpretation of the picture is particularly relevant and significant for Penny and me, right now.  You see, just over a year ago, we returned from a three-year season of mission in Kenya – our thinking was that we were returning to the UK for a temporary five-week leave of absence… but God had a different idea.  He wanted us to stop and rest!

Recently, I’d been seeking Father God for His direction, asking, ‘what do you want us to do?’

The more I asked Him, the more desperate I became for Him to show our next step. I mean, after all, he’s God – he’s the one with the plan, right?  Well, yes… and, no!

You see, when I asked God what He wanted us to do, He replied with a question of His own. His reply was, ‘what do you want to do?’

God’s response took me by surprise. I thought that God had the plan, that He had everything figured out and it was for Him to tell me what to do.

Basically, my inner belief system was saying, there was God’s way and there was another way, or, in other words, there was a right way and there was a wrong way.  But God is saying, ‘there is no right or wrong way, whichever way you want to go, whatever choice you make, that is fine by me!’

Simply put, God was saying, ‘Derek, walk in your FREEDOM!’

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” – Galatians 5:1 [The Message]

What I’m Not Saying 

Now let me clarify something. I am not advocating immoral behaviour or a choice to live independently from God. What I am saying is that in Christ we are no longer slaves, and as such, simply being to told what to do. No, we are all sons and co-heirs with Jesus. Therefore we are partners. We work together with God to fulfil our role in the family business.

The bible tells us that before the foundation of the world our Heavenly Father breathed His destiny and desires into our inner-most being – that means that each one of us is born with the potential to be the authentic person that our Father-God intended! It is in Christ that we become fully, and abundantly, alive!

So, let’s expose the myth that God wants to control our lives and remove this unGodly belief from our thinking. God’s way is the way of freedom – the freedom to choose – the freedom to dream. It is our Fathers pleasure, and His desire, to partner with us in making our dreams come true.

Your Father-God is asking, ‘What do you want to do?’ 

Your Father-God wants to know what you think!?

Sovereign God wants to know your hopes? Seeks to hear the desires of your heart? Wishes to hear and know your dreams?

He wants to know because He wants to help make them come true!

Food for thought 

1. It is never too late to start dreaming with God – your age is never an acceptable reason not to dream! Read these passages from the bible: Joel 2:28 & Acts 2:17.

2. I have found that my ability to dream is like a muscle, in that its power can become weakened, when not used. So, lets put our dream muscle to work – get a book and just start capturing your dreams now! The more we do it, the easier it will become.

3. Go with the flow of your dreams and write them down. Go LARGE with your dreams – never question their feasibility. Remember, your heart can go where your head won’t fit!

“God is able to do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]” – Ephesians 3:20 [adapted from the Amplified Bible]

Go on, dream with God!

I dare you!

22nd January 2015
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Love Is...
by Liz Floutier

Way back in the 70's a cartoon series by Kim Casali gripped the public imagination and went, whatever was then the equivalent of today's 'viral', around the globe. If you were there, you will remember the 'Love is...' series, the sweet little characters appeared on greetings cards, T shirts, mugs and all manner of merchandise, declaring the slogan 'Love is...followed by a statement. Undoubtedly the most famous of them all was 'Love is...never having to say you're sorry'. Most everyone who went through adolescence in that decade will have sent one to someone, hands up, I know I did!

These cartoons came to mind recently, when I was given pause to think about the whole business of saying sorry. Yes the sentiment is sweet, that people who love and care about each other enough possess an inherent ability to forgive without the need of words, but this is fatally flawed. 

Forgiveness can be a thorny issue. For some, the forgiveness equation can seem like plain nonsense and the act of forgiving nothing more than a sign of weakness, to be shunned at all costs. For us though, we accept that to forgive is the only course but it's just so darn difficult sometimes. We know that forgiveness is vital if we are to walk in freedom but sometimes are still unwilling or even unable to release it. 

'Never having to say you're sorry' is wrong on two levels. Firstly  it allows the one who has caused offence to avoid taking any responsibility for whatever it is they have done or said and secondly, it leaves the offended person without any closure.  That lack of closure can seriously impede our ability to let go of the offence and forgive, and withholding forgiveness will always be costly, inevitably leading to friction, bitterness and strife.

'Sorry' is the mechanism by which forgiveness is released. Saying sorry is simply taking responsibility and admitting that we got it wrong. Often silly, often seemingly trivial, often completely unintentional things can be painful and cause offence.

Hearing sorry is being given the opportunity to let go of the offence and forgive. 

And making up...well, we all know how good that can be!

Love is...always saying sorry if you need to.

8th January 2015
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Doing what you're good at
by Liz Floutier

Killed some time in Cafe Nero last Saturday waiting to collect some specs, (kicking hot chocolate by the way, a beautiful glass of melting Belgian bliss!). It was busy so had to join a fairly long queue stretching to the end of the counter and thought I'd have a while to wait,  but within a few seconds a very slight and very pretty Barista lady was asking me what I wanted. I'd watched her work her way along the line, writing nothing down, taking mental note of three or four orders at a time and chatting away to the customers.

The cynic in me didn't hold out too much hope of her getting things right but as I looked on I realised that she was in fact spot on with everything. Each person got what they'd asked for quickly and with a smile. It was joyful to watch and when she served me my drink I couldnt help but tell her how impressive she was, she looked at me almost confused and then with a laugh said how they aimed to please.

I took my seat and thought about what I'd just witnessed. So often staff in these busy places seem either so indifferent or beleaguered that once you're served you don't give them another thought. But this girl was different, she was very busy, but she was more than coping , she was efficient and most affecting of all , she was happy. She was doing what she was good at.

It got me to thinking about church, the family, not the building.  In any family the members have different talents and interests , different strengths and weaknesses. What might be a joy and a delight for one could easily be a worst nightmare for another and we never expect that family members are exact representations of each other.  Parents, loving their children will encourage them equally to pursue their strengths and siblings can strike out along wildly different paths. 

For many of us, our church family is far bigger in size than our natural family (that's certainly true for me) and the pool of treasures and talents is both big and varied. And very exciting. How good to encourage each and bless each other in our strengths. The bible talks of one body and many parts, each one functioning perfectly to form a healthy whole. Every one as necessary as the next but each one different. And each respecting and valuing the others equally.

I'm not advocating that we never step out of our comfort zones and try new things, how boring would that be. But if we step out and discover what we've stepped into is our worst nightmare, then let's not berate ourselves for failing but rather rejoice that we've tried, accept that our strengths lie elsewhere, and be thankful that God has appointed others who can do that thing!

Lets identify and strengthen our strengths and help each other do the same, celebrating our differences. When we do the things we are good at, we do them well and it makes us happy. And just as that beautiful barista lady did for me last Saturday, when we're happy, we make others happy too.

25th November 2014
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It's time to set sail
by David Young

Over the last few weeks quite a few people have asked what it feels like to be leaving Haven House which has been our church home for the last 16 years.

Haven House was such an amazing facility that all started with a vision, as a dream really. It was back in 1994 that our founding pastor, Bob Bennett, first had this vision.......

"As I looked down there was a very large horseshoe shaped bay that was sandy and had boats moored in it and the water was smooth and rippling. I felt God say to me that He was going to create this wonderful Haven, where people were going to come from near and far to be refreshed, blessed, strengthened, and encouraged and then launched out into the deep."

We moved into Haven House in 1998 almost exactly 4 years after that heaven sent picture. It was definitely God's "more than we could ask for or imagine" home for HHCC. It was not long before we had the privilege of welcoming people from near and far. So many personal visions and dreams were realised, too many stories to tell, but we were living in the field of our dreams!

So first and foremost I feel grateful, thankful and privileged to have been part of such an amazing time in the life of HHCC.

But during the last few months a new picture has emerged and a new vision become clear with another nautical theme. This all started with a word we received about 8 years ago followed by several others during this year..........

"You are going to be leading many ships in the water. I see you have a ship and then you are in the waters. It will seem small compared to others around you but I see that you are going to be the one that will be able to go in between all of them and all of a sudden to bring direction and it is going to lead many ships"

"The picture I am getting is like a boat in the water. The boat is going through the water. At first it looks like it is by itself but then there are all these other boats that attach to it and say I want to join with you I want to join with where you are going."

"The picture was of a ship in the harbour a rather full looking heavy ship sitting low in the water. I felt the Father say that this was Haven House, that the hold of the ship was fully loaded with everything it could be possibly need and I got the impression that a long time had elapsed whilst the hold was being filled. Then in the picture another little ship appeared. This one was bobbing lightly on the water next to the heavy grey one - it was much smaller and was decked out with lots of bunting and flags etc, it was a lively little ship, readily manoeuvrable and was just filled with life and vivacity and itching to go"

"I had a picture of HHCC as a great big ship, that had foundered on the rocks.  However the front opened (rather like a car ferry) and out of it shot a slim, streamline yacht. I believe this is a picture for now.  You move away from the old, cumbersome structure into a new, slimmer more streamline boat, shaped for a new purpose"

Then in September there were two more separate pictures we were given within a few weeks of each other. The first was of a ship with its anchor being raised in readiness to go from the harbour and the other of Tower Bridge opening to let a ship (HHCC) go through.

What can I say, when you know it's His time for you to go, it's time to go! It's time for us to set sail, to leave the Haven, to leave the harbour!

In truth the last couple of months seem to have been the busiest days of our lives! Starting with our own house move across the town, followed closely by our church move from Haven House to our new office base. At times it has felt like we have been packing the hold of a ship that is not very big. We have only been able to take with us the essentials, what we need and what we are going to use. We feel a lot lighter and slimmer (not my figure unfortunately!)

God has clearly directed us personally to our new family home, and the church to our new office base and Sunday morning venue - all of which are in Apsley!

So right now there is a sense of great excitement and anticipation as this ship sets sails. It is now our time to go, to go near into our community and to go far into the nations. I am so looking forward to the journey where we get to live in the field of more God-given dreams.

4th November 2014
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Keeping Your Love On
by Derek Oliver

We recently headed up a small group from Hemel Hempstead Community Church that flew to the town of Znojmo in the Czech Republic.

Our mission was to assist and support a local church with their annual summer English Camp.

Now, although the camp was hosted by a church, we had been asked to refrain from sharing Jesus openly – after all, those attending were paying to improve their English and not for a week of evangelism from a group of eager-believers!

This was hard for the team. We all struggled at some point (gladly, all at different times) because none of us were really passionate about teaching English – what we really wanted to do was share our Father-God’s love.

A central part of our daily discipline was to meet as a team and quietly listen for God’s heart concerning us as individuals, a team, and those attending the school. It was during one of these times that I wrote this in my journal:

“I saw a master craftsman at work. He was intensely – lovingly focussed upon his work. He was deliberate and slow – taking extreme care to perfect his work. I sensed that this was God at work – perfecting his love in us… I also sensed that God is desiring quality. It’s about the quality of his love in us but it is also about the quality of the love we share.

He wants us to love deliberately – taking extreme care and not to hurry. We are being made into master-craftsmen. Craftsmen of his love at work within us and the perfect expression of that love.”

Corinthians 13:13 says, ‘… Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly…’

So that’s what we tried to do every day – teach English diligently and love extravagantly, honing our master-craftsman skills.

Establishing a Culture of Love

As the week went on the change in the atmosphere around the school was staggering and God’s presence was tangible. As we spoke tears would begin to flow amongst the students – they didn’t know what was happening, but they were feeling the presence of their Father-God as he moved around the group with his perfect love.

And the students began to change – there was a freedom for heart-connection and we saw defensive walls begin to crumble as love (God) did his work.

It all sounds too simple, doesn’t it? But God is love and in His presence hearts are changed. Sometimes words can just get in the way – especially when we don’t even share a common spoken language. I guess, love is the one truly common international language.

Recently a quotation from Danny Silk was posted on my Facebook wall, it says:
“Each display of love, no matter how seemingly small, is a powerful act of spiritual warfare that removes anxiety from the environment and replaces it with freedom and safety.”

This was so true in our experience. A we loved in seemingly small and often imperceptible ways a culture of love was established in which those present started to feel safe, valued and free.

Come the end of school we were able to openly pray and bless each student and one chose to become a follower of Jesus right then!

Following the camp a mother called the organiser to ask, ‘what happened to my daughter, she has returned changed?… she says that she knows that Jesus loves her!’

And on the following Sunday three students visited the church for the very first time to learn more about this wonderful God that loves us all so lavishly.

    “… you can release the most potent power known in the cosmos”

It doesn’t matter who you are or what abilities and talents you may, or may not, have – you can release the most potent power known in the cosmos today – yes, you can do it, by simply loving the one in front of you wherever you are!

We recommend that you read 1 Corinthians 13 in as many bible translations that you can find (www.biblegateway.com is a good resource) and then meditate with God on the definitions of love that you find. Together, with your heavenly father, explore answers to this question:

How can I apply that love in my life today… and every day?

3rd November 2014
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