Saturday, May 23, 2009

After the Andrew MacKay Meeting


Well I think we achieved what we were asked to do on Friday night, which was to provide a venue where constituents could hear from Andrew MacKay about his expenses claims, ask their questions and make their feelings known. Quite a number of people clearly feel very upset and disappointed with what has happened, and eloquently made their points in a number of different ways. Others expressed their appreciation for what Andrew has done as a constituency MP, but were divided as to whether he should stay on or not. The meeting got quite heated at points, which felt really strange as it was such a contrast to the atmosphere we would have on a Sunday. I'm not going to get involved in the debate over Andrew's future, beyond what I've already said, but overall was happy that we'd said yes to hosting this event.
I also want to say a huge thank you to our teams who have overseen two conferences and two major public events over the last fortnight, as well as all our 'normal' events. I'm so proud to be part of such a fantastic team.
Simon.

Friday, May 22, 2009

7pm at The Kerith Centre

When I turned up tonight there were media vans outside The Kerith
Centre from the BBC, ITV and Sky - and they're not all here for the
youth open mic night! The meeting with Andrew MacKay is about to start
with about 450 people in the building.
It is good that we can host meetings like this, I just long for the
day we will have the national media camped outside our building
because God is moving so powerfully.
I'll post a blog about how it goes when the meeting is over.
Simon.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A New Home

I've now registered the name simonbenham.com as the new home for my blog. You can still get it at the old simonbenham.blogspot.com address, but I reckon losing that pesky blogspot bit represents a major step forward :-)

Sad techno geek or what! I'll be writing about installing Ubuntu Linux on our laptop next.

Simon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Andrew MacKay Meeting Update

There have been some changes in the details for Andew MacKay's meeting at The Kerith Centre on Friday.

First of all it's now at 7pm, an hour earlier than we originally thought. Secondly it's now an all ticket event and is only open to Bracknell constituents - to get tickets either call call 01344 868286 or e-mail bracknellca@tory.org. Or alternatively why not phone Sue Ranger and offer to help steward!

If there are any more changes I'll let you know here, or you can check on Andrew Mackay's website.

Simon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Better than Newcastle

You'll be pleased to hear that our football team won the plate competition at the weekend. Sean Green reckons Reading Family Church were robbed, but a win is a win in my book, even if it's on penalties!

Let's just hope Newcastle can get some sort of result against Aston Villa at the weekend to avoid having to play Reading next season :-)

Hope you're having a great week and catch you at the prayer meetings.

Simon.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Zambia Photos

When we were in Zambia Catrina took a load of photos which she's now put into an online album, which you can view here. There are some stunning pictures in there, and they give a great feel for some of the places we went to and the people we met.

We also took a load of videos, a small portion of which we'll be showing in the prayer meetings next week when we'll be talking about and praying for Serenje.

Hope you're having a great weekend, and that Newcastle can beat Fulham!

Simon.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Andrew MacKay

I guess most of you will have heard by now that Andrew MacKay, the MP for Bracknell, has stepped down as a parliamentary aide to David Cameron over his "unacceptable" expenses claims.

Andrew has clearly made a very serious error of judgement, for which he is rightly being held to account. However, from what I've seen of him Andrew is also a very good constituency MP with a genuine concern for local people. Andy Jackson speaks of a number of CAP clients who have had their benefit payments sorted as a result of Andrew's interventions, and I know that he has helped quite a number of other people in our community in different ways. Recently he's also been lobbying on our behalf over some of the health issues surrounding our special needs community.

We've been asked by Andrew to host a constituency meeting at The Kerith Centre next Friday (22nd May) at 8pm, which we've agreed to do. This will be open to the any member of the public who wants to come along and make their point of view on the expenses saga, and to listen to what Andrew has to say about it. As a church we don't have any political affiliation or allegiance, but we are very keen to serve our community by facilitating this sort of dialogue, and for the church to have a voice in speaking into issues like this.

So if you're interested then please come along. There won't be any parking at The Kerith Centre so you'll need to park elsewhere, but hopefully we're all up to meeting that challenge!

Simon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thinking about the weekend already!

If you're free at all this Saturday I've got two different options you might like to consider.

First up is the Christians Against Poverty 'Inspire' supporters event we're hosting at The Kerith Centre from 12:30 to 5pm. Registration is free - just follow this link. It will be a great time to hear about all that is going on in CAP, to reconnect with John Kirkby, Matt Barlow and all our other CAP friends and be inspired again to make an impact in our communities.

Second is a chance to be involved in an occasion almost as momentous as Newcastle beating Middlesborough last night! Our Kerith football team has made it to the final of the prestigious (!)Philmer Plate competition where they're playing Reading Family Church this Saturday at 1pm. The match is being played at the ground of Reading Town FC which is in Scours Lane, Tilehurst in Reading. For all those people with a sat nav the post code is RG30 6AY. They'd love to have a good crowd to cheer them on, especially as we can't lose to a church that we planted :-)

Hope you're having a great week.

Simon.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Not Too Late!

It was great to be in Zambia, but it's always good to be back home sleeping in your own bed without mosquito nets! I'm going to spend about five minutes on Sunday morning doing a quick update on Serenje, but will speak about it in much more detail at the prayer meetings on the 20th and 21st May - come and be excited by all God is doing.

I'm off to Heathrow tonight to pick up Erwin McManus and his travelling buddies. It's not too late to come to the conference on Saturday - you can just turn up and pay at the door. It's going to be a great day so please don't miss out.

Looking forward to seeing many of you over the weekend.

Simon.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Homeward Bound

We are on our way back to Lusaka for the flight home. We spent the last two days at a place called the Jubilee Centre which is in a town called Ndola in the north of Zambia. Jubille works with 62 local churches helping to train the pastors and provide funds for community based projects such as sponsoring orphans and giving people business skills.

Willow Creek is one of the major funders of Jubilee and Lynne Hybrls has been out there on a visit. Bishop Lawrence who leads all of this is an inspirational figure as well as being great fun to be around. It is interesting to see how an urban setting such as Ndola is compared to a rural setting like Serenje-I am learning stuff all of the time.

All on all it has been a fascinating trip. I really wish that you could have been here- hopefully the blogs and what we say when we get back will manage to convey some of it all.

Thanks for reading and praying. Can't wait to see you all again hopefully at Erwin on Saturday!

Simon

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Reflections

We're in the middle of a four hour drive from Serenje to Ndola to see a Willow Creek sponsored project there, so a good time for reflection.

First a renewed awareness that the church really is the hope for the world. Because our church exists 190 children are now in school and that should rise to 600 by the end of the year. Over 400 small scale farmers have enough seed to grow to lift them out of poverty and 90 volunteers have been trained to go and help people with HIV nut there is still so much more to do.

We heard yesterday of five deaf children who need to go to a specialst school to help them but can't because it is a boarding school and families can't afford it.

Many children miss school in the winter because they have no shoes or coats and it is too cold for them to walk five to ten miles to school. So I am very excited about what is already happening, very inspired to do more and very proud of the Kerith Community that I am a part of.

Hope you have a great Sunday and we're praying for you!

Simon

Friday, May 1, 2009

Humbled

I had one of the most humbling experiences of my life today. Each time we go to a project it starts with the people singing to us. Then the district chief will welcome us all and give us an update on how the project is going in their area. Then I will introduce each member of our team and then finally we will mix with the villagers and possibly go and see some of their crops growing.

Well today's second project visit followed that pattern but then towards the end the villagers were going off to one of the huts. They returned with gift after gift for us. A basket and pots that they had made, sugar beet, monkey nuts, maize cobs, sweet potato, haricot beans and a chicken. This was from a group of people of whom this was a huge sacrifice. It felt like a holy moment-like when David's soldier's went and got him water at a huge personal cost. I wish you could all have been there and cried with me.

Tomorrow we leave Serenje to go to a place called Ndosa to see a project Willow creek are sponsoring there.

Hope you have a great weekend and that the weather is at least as close to hot as it is here!

Simon