Alison was invited to speak at a Josephine Butler Society meeting, held at The House of Lords, Westminster. Alison and Beckie traveled down to London earlier this week.
Alison shared with a group of people about the work the RSVP trust has done with women in the sex industry in Ipswich over the last 9 years. She spoke about how the work began, and how Alison spent a year prayer walking and thinking to get to know the area and the culture before starting.
She shared stories and talked about forming trusting relationships with the women over a long period of time, being there for the women, helping them to invest in their lives, taking them for coffee or to the cinema, organizing teams to help decorate their homes to empower them to help them to value themselves.
However as society changes the industry alongside it is changing too. This means women are now using the internet to work. Therefore the way the ministry connects with women is changing. Alison spoke about how we are looking to pioneer new ways of ministry to women online, and what that might look like.
It was a great opportunity to connect and network with other people doing similar work around the country. Alison’s words were able to help and inspire so many others giving them hope and faith in the work they are doing.
It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it!
You can watch a short video about the day below
Prayer and support for this ongoing work is so valuable. We really appreciate your support and partnership with us in this ministry.
RSVP Trust’s Chaplaincy project works alongside vulnerable women and people with addictions.
Our new partnership with Stowmarket Foodbank means we will be able to provide these people with food parcels to make life a little easier for them and their families occasionally.
Today we’ve been able to deliver a food parcel to a struggling young family in Suffolk.
Foodbank are also able to provide essential items for the men and women we work with who have been rescued from trafficked or exploited situations. We are very happy to be in partnership with a shared vision to be a blessing.
I was chatting to a friend recently about not really fitting in with church. He pointed out that Jesus spent most of his time with the outsiders, the ones that didn’t fit in. The religious people of the day excluded the poor, the prostitutes, the Samaritans and all the others who didn’t fit with their strict criteria. If the Messiah was coming, surely he would visit the righteous, they thought. But when Jesus returned from his going out into the desert, he came to the synagogue and made the announcement to the religious people –
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me…’ (Luke 4:18)
He makes a speech about Jubilee – the blind see, debts cancelled, prisoners freed. They all say how wonderful he is.
‘And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ So all bore witness to Him, and marvelled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, ‘Is this not Joseph’s son?’
He said to them, ‘You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in your country.”
Then Jesus tells them that, just as in the past, he isn’t coming for the religiously content, but for those who don’t fit in. He lists some of the times God did that before.
‘But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. (An outsider.)
And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian. (An outsider.)
So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.’ Luke 4:21-30.
Then the people got really angry with him and threw him out of town.
But, actually, if you don’t fit in, or you’re a bit of an outsider, Jesus is good news.
At his birth he wasn’t found in the palace or even the hotel. He was found outside in a stable with a few farm workers, outsiders.
In his death, he wasn’t in the city, but outside the city wall. He came for the outsider. He identified with the outsider. And most of his miracles were done out on the street, with the outsiders – the least, the last and the lost.
So many people tell me of their struggles with Sunday church – feeling like a passive observer, watching an irrelevant performance, cringing at a shallow and often trite worldview.
We seem to have wandered far away from what Jesus left us in the Early Church – a group of people who just spent time together each day, who went about their daily routines, and yet transformed the world.
History is at a crossroads. A new reformation is taking place almost imperceptibly. Recent studies show that more than two thirds of Christians in the UK have left the Sunday morning event and gone off to explore a deeper more meaningful walk with Jesus, outside the church structures.
Something is happening in society. There is a sea change going on. It is time to be prophetic.
But we need not fear. Jesus comes to us outside.
I recently invited a few people to join me on a spiritual journey called The Community of St Anthony – a scattered group of believers who are journeying in a more Celtic or monastic way with their faith. If you sometimes feel you don’t fit in, you’re welcome to join us. There aren’t any services as such, but meeting for coffee, or a walk, here and there, now and then, in twos and threes, and journeying online. This Christmas, even if we don’t fit in – especially if we feel we don’t fit in – Jesus comes to us with hope, healing and life.
I have written about this journey in my new book Excess Baggage – a new kind of monasticism, and am working on the follow up book as I write.
May you know the closeness of the Father, the guidance of the Son, and the friendship of the Holy Spirit on your journey.
In Searching for Home Don Egan visits the street where he grew up and discovers that many things have disappeared or changed. As he reflects on his childhood, he explores the human longing to belong – to have a place we call home. But what if our home no longer exists?
Using childhood memoir, Don explores thoughts on life, community, God, tragedy,
abandonment and girls, among other things.
Available in paperback and on Kindle from Amazon here.
Discover the secret origins of Manchester and the whole world.
It all started on a hill near Oldham when a magic hermit named Godfrey decided to invent humans.
Things didn’t go exactly as he hoped, due to a very unpleasant boggart who lived in Blackley.
But aided by his son Jack and the mysterious Sophia, Godfrey hatches a plan to rescue the humans.
Angels pop in for a brew most days apart from when Godfrey goes on holiday to North Wales.
Don Egan has written this allegory of the Bible but all the stories are set in Manchester.
This book is available from Amazon.co.uk – here.
In 2004 Alison Fenning began exploring the back streets of Ipswich and befriending women involved in prostitution. She quickly became known as the Street Chaplain. She prayed with people who had addictions and provided genuine care.
Soon she found herself sat in crack dens sharing communion and teaching the Bible to women on the street. She trained a small band of volunteers to help with the work. And friendships with the women began to grow.
In 2006 this ministry to the red-light district was rocked by the Suffolk serial killings as five women were murdered, several of whom Alison had befriended. Since that time Alison has continued her friendships and introduced more women to Christ. The ministry developed and also helped men with addictions too.
As people began to embrace faith in Jesus, they asked how they could live out faith against the background of their often troubled and sometimes chaotic lives.
This book is a series of ‘letters’ that reflect conversations Alison has had about how to ‘do the God thing.’
Currently only available from Amazon here…