Thank you to RSVP supporters! Tears have been turned into smiles for a family living in extreme poverty. On a visit to a poor area of Rwanda earlier this year, RSVP mission leaders, Alison and Richard Fenning, met a family without hope.
The family’s home was crumbling. The roof was broken and the structure was falling down around them. They also had no food. Everything looked desperate.
Thanks to the amazing generosity of RSVP partners and supporters, we were able not only to supply food for the whole family, but completely rebuild their home including a new roof.
We can only do this with your great support and so we say THANK YOU to all who support us!
Alison Fenning was one of the keynote speakers at the conference and Don Egan introduced some of the sessions and helped with the baptisms at the end of the conference. Don is a Trustee of Proclaim Trust, which is based in Rochdale. Along with Barry Woodward, Don and Alison are Associates of J John.
Get this completely free e-book from RSVP Trust today!
Don Egan looks at 8 helpful thoughts that can help us overcome the daily problems we face.
The book is designed to display well on iPad and tablet computers but can also be read on any Laptop or desktop computer.
This afternoon I drove my work colleague, Alison Fenning, and her husband and RSVP Trustee, Richard, to Heathrow. They are now in the air, enroute to Rwanda, for RSVP’s Mission of Hope.
RSVP’s Mission of Hope will include speaking to a gathering of women involved in prostitution, providing food and bedding for the poor in Bugesera, community outreach, food and bedding for the poor in Kayonza, speaking on National Radio, speaking in churches, lecturing in Bible School, leadership seminars, visiting in the slums of Kigali.
Many thanks to all RSVP Partners who have donated finance to make this trip possible. Thanks to those of you who, I know, will pray for Alison and Richard every day through this mission. Please pray for good health, especially for Alison who suffered a serious health attack on an Africa Mission last year.
RSVP has been working in Rwanda since 1997, when I first visited the country with my Rwandan friend, Charles Mugisha.
The story of those early days is told in the book Beautiful on the Mountains (available from RSVP). Since then we have helped build a school, built an orphanage which we continue to support every month, helped educate hundreds of children, feed street children and support vulnerable women. We have supplied tons and tons of food to the hungry, provided matresses and bedding to widows and the elderly. We have helped women out of prostitution and start small businesses.
I had hoped to join Alison and Richard on this trip but funds have not been sufficient. So I did my small part and drove them to the airport. We greatly value all who support our work in transforming lives in Africa.
We still need to meet the full costs of the mission and it’s not too late to make a donation, however small, to help us meet urgent needs.
Thanks for your partnership and support.
Last week I found myself in a chip shop cafe in East Belfast. Before I left England I made a mental note to avoid East Belfast. Once a year or so, I meet up with a small group of Christians who are trying to make a difference. This group is made up of people who want to think outside the box and pioneer new things. We are not afraid to experiment or to try something that may or may not work. Our passion is to see the life of Christ touch the lives of ordinary people.
So I made my mental note to avoid East Belfast, because of the riots about the flag I had seen every night on the TV news. And you probably have to be Irish to understand the passions stirred up by the changes in when the flag is flown.
However, the Irish members of our little group are ministering at the very heart of East Belfast. They are engaging with the community at street level.
So, to my surprise, we spent most of the 48 hours we were there, in the area where the current troubles are focussed. The Irish are resilient and one hallmark of their character is to keep business as usual in times of riots and bombings.
So we shared our thoughts and ideas on ministry and community, in the chip shops and coffee shops at the various flash points of the current troubles. We found a friendly Irish welcome everywhere.
We wandered around Belfast docks where the Titanic was built and recalled the long history of this place. But the fighting about the flag goes back much further than the Titanic. And really, it is not about a flag at all. But fear and hurt and a broken past.
My paternal ancestry goes back to Ireland and I grew up in Manchester because my ancestors fled the famine that the English inflicted on the Irish.
Down at the chip shop the portions were large. I was struggling to finish my chips. But in a land where potatoes were once valued like gold, I felt it would seem ungrateful not to finish them.
Politicians have a part to play in resolving conflict. But the real solution, I think, is found in the discovery of a new life in Jesus. An encounter that can transform hurting, frightened people into people who can bless and even embrace their enemies.
So this week I am praying for my Irish friends, still there in East Belfast – quietly praying, befriending, helping, feeding the hungry with good things, weeping with those who weep – that Christ may shine through them, and his life and healing be revealed through them.
My abiding memory is, shortly before leaving, we had coffee in a coffee shop at one of the flash points of the riots. An armoured Police Land Rover was parked outside on 24 hour security duty. The owners were glad to have customers. It almost felt like we were doing something positive just being there – making it business as usual.
For we visitors it was an adventure. For my Irish friends it is a life style. Food for thought.
Christmas Day morning, when I was little, was always exciting. The night before, we five boys would struggle to go to sleep because of excitement. Each of us had an empty pillowcase with our name on, at the bottom of our bed. We were told Father Christmas would come down the chimney as we slept and put toys and goodies in the sacks.
Our old house, in Manchester, did actually have a very small cast iron fireplace in our bedroom. I couldn’t see how even a small boy like me could get up or down that narrow chimney, let alone some overweight adult in a red fur coat. But, as long as the toys arrived, who cared?
You could be pretty sure of several things that would be in the Christmas sack the following morning. First, there would be the main present – the one we chose from the Littlewoods Catalogue a month before. There would likely be a few smaller toys you had identified to Mum at the local toyshop. Then there would be a Beano Annual and a Cadbury’s Selection box. And finally, right at the bottom of the sack would be an apple and an orange.
I never understood why the apple and the orange were put there. We had fruit most of the time at our house. At Christmas time the fruit bowl was extra full. On investigation, it seemed my parents had received an apple and orange from Santa, when they were children, and so they repeated the tradition.
My Mum and Dad grew up during the Second World War. My Dad never talked about it. My Mum didn’t either, except to say she hated it when she was evacuated from Manchester as a child.
If ever we boys complained of there not being enough of anything, my Dad would always laugh and say ‘There’s a war on, you know!’
Fifty years later, as I look back, my parents are long gone. But now I begin to understand why we got an apple and an orange for Christmas. If you grew up during the war, Christmas was subject to government rationing. Fruit was a scarce luxury. Life was necessarily lived frugally.
My parents didn’t talk about the war but perhaps the apple and orange tradition speaks volumes. It speaks of a couple who were glad rationing and war were over. Thankful for the small, simple pleasures in life, like fresh fruit and family gatherings.
These days if you expect an apple and orange for Christmas, it has more to do with an iPad connected to the Orange 3G network. And often, we are less satisfied and less grateful.
These days Christmas seems to be about spending money we don’t have, on things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like.
I have just published a book called Searching for Home – a journey of the soul. In it I wander back through my childhood, searching for meaning, and to visit those places where Christ may be encountered – the manger, the wilderness, the secret altars he has placed in this world. To reflect on the meaning of our lives. To escape consumerism and to discover the simplicity our soul was designed for.
This Christmas, I am looking to be thankful for the little things, the simple things, like friendships, fruit, and laughter.
Alison Fenning writes about a lady she prayed with…
A few weeks ago I was speaking at an Ipswich event having been asked to include praying for people to be healed, something they are trying to develop.
One lady asked me if I could pray with her after the event – she waited ages as everyone always wants to chat with the speaker. She explained that she felt led to come to the meeting and had not been before and didn’t know I would be there.
She needed healing as anxiety and depression were taking a hold in her life beginning to take their toll on quality of life and her relationships with others. I prayed gently that Jesus would heal the mind and emotions. I remember being aware of Gods presence.
As I was preaching this last Sunday morning a lady came over at the end and said “Do you remember me?” Indeed I did, she wanted to tell me that since that Saturday morning she has been healed and set free all the fear, anxiety, and the depression had gone and she was beeming! I noted that God had truly planned for her to come and get her freedom that day.
God never ceases to amaze me of His ability on a situation.
Last night I was speaking at a healing Service in Fressingfield, Suffolk. When I arrived I was talking to a lady before the service. She told me of her cousin who has cancer. The lady had given her a copy of my book on Healing. Although her cousin was not a Christian she read my book.
When she got to the section on how to become a Christian she readily prayed the suggested prayer. She had her first session of chemotherapy recently. When the doctors and nurses saw the tests they were shocked. They all said they had never seen anyone respond to chemotherapy so positively. We continue to pray for complete healing.
When I came to set up my bookstall, a couple of the ladies from the church told me they buy my healing books to give away at this service. So I put the books I had brought to one side, as I didn’t want to compete with their book ministry.
Soon lots of people poured into the building – many more than were expected. The presence of God was almost tangible. The church warden said that as we laid hands on the sick, he could feel the power of God moving down the church.
We made mention of the free books and so many took a copy that the ladies took the supply of books I had brought with me and gave them away too! They did offer to pay for them.
As I drove home, I thought of the lady’s cousin who had read the healing book and found Jesus and seemed to be finding a level of unexpected healing in her cancer treatment. If that one little book changed that one life, what stories will transpire from all the books we gave away last night?
Books may preach when the author cannot, when the author may not, when the author dares not, yea, and which is more, when the author is not.
As an extension of RSVP Chaplaincy we are now heading into our third week of launching our Recovery Now program for people with addictions.
This extension is being done in partnership with New Life Church Stowmarket. Over many years Alison and the team have been doing pastoral care and chatting through elements of recovery through one to ones with great success and through partnering with local secular agencies. So this is just an extension of our original vision.
One person has been able to come and begin to get help after many years of not knowing where to turn or how to break the addiction that is ruining his life.
Please pray for this as it grows slowly that God may use this season to bring hope and recovery of life for many.
Last night we had our quarterly healing meeting in the Cedars Hotel in Stowmarket. We call it Junction 50.
Lots of new faces came and it was great to meet new friends and old.
One of the things I shared last night was a thought from Deuteronomy 8:3
“So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.”
The word ‘manna’ literally means. ‘What is it?’ When the people first saw manna, perhaps that’s what everyone said.
So you could reread the passage as…
“He …fed you with ['What is it?'] which you did not know… nor did your fathers know…that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.”
God gives us mysteries to keep us hungry. Hunger is a blessing. When children lose their appetite we know something is wrong.
When we lose our hunger for God, something is wrong with the relationship. When we try to box God into a formula he gives us a mystery – he gives us ‘What is it?’ so that we seek him and come closer relationship with him.
Further information on our Junction 50 meetings can be found here.