A Wee update
As nighttime continues to creep sooner and sooner, the tasks of the day are not decreasing. Actually, the opposite as the events of the day continue to increase right now! As more and more items add themselves to the calendar, it becomes increasingly important for us to decide what are the most important items to complete and to invest our time in. There’s so much to do that it would be easy to get ourselves overloaded, and that’s what we are struggling with right now. We must, more than ever, go to the Holy Spirit for guidance and direction to tell us the best route for devoting our service and our time.
As summer turned to autumn, various responsibilities and tasks fell all at the same time onto our laps, and time itself has come in short supply. The feeling of being overloaded hit strong in September. I (Chris) joke that it feels that I’m doing the job of five people at times, but I want to do each task well, so that has had me pushed to my limits. We strive to make the updates honest, because openness is central to who we are as Followers of Jesus. There were several points in September and into October that I personally felt the pressure of exhaustion creeping in. A new baby and lack of sleep will tend to do that to you, even if you aren’t otherwise busy with life! Now that a couple of decent nights of sleep are under my belt, I’m feeling a bit like my old self. As well, we are all trying to take care of our health, though its been a challenge navigating the healthcare system.
I think right now of Elijah, coming from Mt. Caramel and how delicious the past hours of his life had been up there as he stood in God’s power. He watched God move in amazing and earth shattering ways, but now he finds himself tired and depressed. It reminds me that I am a human being and have physical limits as well. Elijah doesn’t ask, but God knows His needs. God provides him with what he most needs in that moment, food and rest, then invites him to run and meet Him. For me right now, that’s a powerful image.
We are still sorting through life and transitions, and right now we are walking through some of the more difficult points of transition as we sort some health needs and finding the right doctors, but also the basics like: Sleep. With a new baby, it is expected not to get a lot of sleep, but I think everyone hits a point when the lack of it builds to a point of exhaustion, so its been a blessing to receive a couple nights of more rest and to feel more energized, because that was what we all needed! I forget often how important a proper nights sleep is and how much it effects us all, and its good to not only have Elijah’s example to see, but that Jesus also rested and took time. Finding routines and rhythms in life here have taken longer than we expected, but we know that God is at work in what He is doing. With all that being said…here’s some of the things that have been keeping us on our toes this season!
Life in the Village
I was trying to think of the best way to give a glimpse at everything happening ministry-wise here, so I’ll start with a list, because I like lists! Here are bulletin points to some of the things in the works, and Shannon and I will expand on a few of them!
- Christopher accepted a Pastoral Worker Role
- Christopher serves on Village leadership team
- Shannon is helping with Mainly Music – Toddler Group
- New baby here, Shannon’s been recovering
- Christopher serves by helping take over responsibility at Village to serve other leaders who are out for maternity leave: Social media, email, website
- Continuing to create, plan and support the new Men’s group
- Shannon helping serve the local “Mom’s at-risk” group
- Shannon helping provide lactation assistance and new mom support
- Christopher continuing to help lead music and plan Sunday mornings
- Christopher is in ministry training for European church planting/evangelism. Next event is early November in Wales.
- Building relationships within the community and seeking to serve
- Planning a Halloween event at our home for our community
- Hosting a “Texas themed” Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving day at our home for people to experience
- Christopher is helping to support a new home group, provide resources and encouragement to a new leader
- Our ministry vehicle was also down for 3+ weeks with a fried clutch.
Supporting the Village
Our passion is for people.
We don’t just want to see a program go well, what we want is for people to experience Jesus in their lives. We desire to see struggling churches encouraged and becoming missional, and to see new communities of followers in each little village and town.
For us, that journey starts here at Village Church in Oldmeldrum. The village itself is a beautiful place filled with wonderful people, and Village Church is doing wonderful work within the Village to serve and love people. Often going unnoticed, Village serves people where they are at in life.
We serve in a village of 6,000 people, which includes the surrounding countryside. Roughly estimating, 97%-98%% of those people do not know Jesus and have never heard the gospel or experience Jesus through a follower. That’s very heavy to think about. We could be serving at a church in a larger town or city, which is what is more common, but for us and our hearts and calling, leaves us to ask then who would serve the villages? Success isn’t measured by warm bodies, but by sowing seeds and being present for one person through their hardship, through discipling someone for the first time who has never met someone to walk with them and lead them.
It may seem simple of the physical, but it’s powerful work spiritually. It may seem like just a men’s group, or a coffee on a Tuesday, or singing some songs on a Sunday, but for me, it’s so much more than that.
I just introduced the older song, “Lord, Reign in Me”, because a current goal is to build into the church some easy, singable songs. Two Sundays ago as we sung, I was taken aback, because for the first time I heard the roar of voices coming toward me. I heard the sound of the church singing their songs, “over all the Earth you reign on high” and “in my darkest hour, you are the Lord of all I am” and “may my life reflect the beauty of my Lord”.
To look in at the physical alone you might see a small group of followers gathering in a building overlooking a local park, but what you miss in the stories, the journeys, the lives being changed after years of struggle and hardship, after stories of loneliness and pain, after anxiousness and stigmatism, finding for the first time…family. If you look in and only see the lack of a church “building”, you miss the church itself. There are rumbles happening in the ground, because the Holy Spirit is at work and soon an earthquake is going to happen that will change the surface of this place.
My new role as a Pastoral Support Workers is to help provide discipleship, and to tend to the spiritual health of those at Village. The Holy Spirit is helping me and revealing potholes and areas that can be of concern and helping me provide the proper words or support. Sometimes it’s sharing a story, like Nathan did for David, or a parable like Jesus, providing Biblical wisdom and guidance indirectly. Sometimes it’s helping someone share and walk through a pain that’s become a wall they can’t get passed in their relationship with God. I am finding often that tools I have picked up over the years are helpful, especially the tools I learned from, “Marked Men for Christ”.
In my role on the leadership team, I serve alongside three other local folks and we take on aspect of Village life from the spiritual to the physical life at Village. We sort logistics for events and how to best serve alongside community organizations, to what is the best goals for our gatherings and what people need right now.
Another new change is the “prayer and care” group. What was a weekly prayer walk has begun to take shape into something different, as one of the church members has began to hear and find her gifts and calling. She finds that she has a big heart for people struggling and in need and began to simply reach out to people struggling. She was struggling with calling it a prayer walk as sometimes she liked to just gather at a local cafe and reach out to people there. I suggested that really what she was doing was praying, but as she did she was also caring for others and seeing needs and coming alongside people in that need. I made the small suggestion that it looks more like a “prayer and care” group, and so the end of October became the first “prayer and care” group, and it was powerful! Two of the people who showed up poured out their heart, and one was in tears as she confronted some very real pain and hurt with honesty, and then to hear from God and feel the arms of Jesus around her. Another was able to find support, family and know that she is only a text or call away from people who would be available and surround here.
Life in the village flows with the school schedule, which looks different than one from the states might be used to following. The first term resumed on the 23rd of August, and ran for 7 weeks. With the school year commencing, so did local mum groups. It is a very common and normal thing amongst life here for organizations to host events for children under 5, with the overlying concept being to keep children occupied with positive activities, and giving mums a time to connect for adult conversation and share a “cuppa” and sweet.
Village Church provides a program in the village called “Mainly Music” which is a popular UK program with Christian themes that provides a fun time of singing and dancing for “wee” ones and a time for snacks and drinks after. I (Shannon) have jumped in to helping run the program, as does Silas who loves setting up and running the technology aspects of things. Silas has been a big help with running slides and changing the tunes, which helps myself and the other two ladies leading focus on other things. This term started slow as the day changed that the event was being offered, but we are now at maximum capacity for the building we rent for the event!
I also am the Village Church representative at the Monday morning Home-Start Garioch connection group at the Royal British Legion. Home-Start works with at-risk families, and the goal is to get at risk mums together to build relationship, conversation, assistance, and to let them know they aren’t alone. I am looking forward to seeing how this group evolves as it is a new group in the community.
October was the fourth month we held our men’s gathering. The purpose of the group is to help men find a place to relax and find a supporting community. There’s not a lot of men’s gatherings here that fit what we do. Some may be overly religious and unwelcoming to someone who has not attended church or another way men meet up is at the pub for drinks, which is generally very surface level. The men’s gathering here is missional with the focus to sow seeds. For many, they have no support structure and the relationships in their life are often “worth based”. What that means is, “You are worth something, because you can offer something”. Those types of relationships exist in life naturally, but that shouldn’t be the goal.
When all of your relationships are based around your work, your looks, your abilities, your financial status, your intelligence, you are left with shallow and empty relationships. We state clearly that all are welcome and cared for, because you are you, not because of what you offer or provide. In doing this, we offer love freely without expectations of return, and we stand by the men in their life struggles. The men’s groups, like much of what we do is offered freely. We’ve found that almost everything has a cost here. All events hosted (community events, toddler groups, etc) have a cost, because there is a financial cost to run them, but I hold dearly to the words spoken by Keith Green that someone shouldn’t have to pay to hear the gospel. As far as it allows, I think opportunities to experience Jesus should be offered freely when they can be.
The men’s gathering is present and hopefully, to the best of our abilities, allows men to experience Jesus. To not just hear about Jesus or the Bible, but to see Jesus with their own eyes and to experience Him in real situations, leaving with a fresh perspective on who God is through us. We hope those who attend are able to see that God isn’t just alive and active, but He is loving, relational, caring, kind, present, not distant and angry.
If this is a project that you feel called to support, please consider making a special donation to our men’s gathering. When you make a special donation, just mark it for men’s group.
We do rent the pavilion each month to hold the event, plus food supplies, some paper goods, game supplies, etc. In November we are focusing on meeting new men, so we are hosting a movie night.
September and October have been busy times for the family. Gideon and Aibhlinn have both settled into school life nicely, making lots of friends and building relationships. Aibhlinn seems to be quite popular because anytime we are out and about in the village, we get stopped because one of her friends spotted her. We have been told on two different instances that Aibhlinn is the only reasons two different sets of parents can convince their little ones to go to nursery. That is fun to hear. Silas is enjoying being homeschooled, and having fun with cooking more as one of his classes.
Christopher’s parents were in town for three weeks to visit and meet the new baby. It was a lovely time to see family and get to show them our new home.
The first term of school ended on October 14th, commencing the two weeks that are the October holidays here. Just like the summer holidays, people travel and take time off. Life is a lot slower paced and more relaxed here than we are used to. One family in the church was going to be gone for the full two weeks, while Gideon has friends that he knew that were going to Disney, Turkey, London, etc.
The October holidays are also known as “Tattie Holiday” as traditionally children were out of school to help bring in the potato crops. Some people still use that term to refer to this two week holiday.
We did a local pumpkin patch and a Halloween trail at a local castle with all the children, and then focused on some individual one on one activities as well. It has been nice to venture out and see more around our area.
Praises and requests
- Praise God we were able to purchase a second vehicle, and that our ministry vehicle has finally been repaired.
- Praise God for the men being reached through Meldrum Men.
- Praise God that all children have been adjusting to new rhythms in life well.
- Praise God for the ways He cares and provides for us.
- Pray for us for favor with medical providers as we struggle with navigating the health care system to get proper care for Shannon’s chronic hip condition.
- Christopher is currently in training on how to create missional communities in a post-Christian culture. There is a cost for it, and if you feel called to supporting this need, please feel free to reach out to us or to mark your special donation for “Training”.
- For success at reaching our community with our Halloween event we will be hosting in our front garden (aka yard) on Monday evening.
- Prayers for us to find time to rest as we are fully in beyond our means in ministry, and for wisdom always on where to best focus our time and energy.
- Prayers for continued opportunities to build relationships and meet people in our village.