Thursday, May 19, 2016

Good Stewards of our Finances

Not long ago someone in our family asked me about renewing their house insurance (people ask me the strangest things!). They'd always used an insurance broker who every year offered them what was in in theory the best policy for them, and had never questioned the advice they were given. They were interested to know what Catrina and I did.

I said that we normally go on a price comparison website to make sure we're getting the best deal, and offered to do the same for them. They were staggered to find that they could buy the policy from the same company the insurance broker was recommending, but with better cover in terms of the excess and the amounts covered, for over £200 a year less than the broker was offering. Not surprisingly they declined the deal the broker was offering and signed up for the online offer.

There's a weird thing in our society that very often being loyal puts you at a disadvantage. Whether it's car or house insurance, gas and electricity contracts, mobile phone contracts, bank interest rates or car breakdown cover in most cases being loyal will mean getting a worse deal year after year.

I'm sure there's a deep theological point to make there, but until I work out what it is I want to make the more obvious point to encourage us to be good stewards of the money God has entrusted us with. That means getting the best deals we can with the resources God has given us. Jesus said these words:

“‘Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11)

I'm not suggesting anyone is being dishonest by paying over the odds for services, but I do want to suggest that part of being trustworthy is to steward the resources God has given us as wisely as we possibly can. I want to be judged trustworthy by God in these small things in order that he would trust me with true riches.

I'm not going to give you any sort of advice about which comparison websites to use, or how once you've used them to decide who to go with, other than to recommend Martin Lewis's Money Saving Expert website which is packed full of helpful advice on stewarding our finances well. (Martin is also a big fan of Christians Against Poverty - I'm told that every time he mentions them on TV or radio phone calls to the CAP debt advice phone line go up significantly).

And for those in our community who would struggle to use the Internet to do something like this please find someone else in our community who can help you. Part of community is us helping one another in exactly this sort of way. I love it!

Hopefully that helps somebody :)

Simon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Calling all Leaders - Tuesday 24th May

Next Tuesday evening at 7.45pm we've got our All Leaders Meeting in the K2 building on our Bracknell site. I'd love you to be there if you currently lead a Kerith ministry or small group, would aspire to lead in the future, or would just be interested to hear a bit more about what's going on and our plans for the future.

Amongst other things we'll be talking about :

  • The development of a vision for where we'd like to get to by the end of 2020
  • Progress in the 8 focus areas we identified at the beginning of this year
  • An introduction to new members of our staff and trustee team
  • Developments on our Bracknell, Sandhurst and Windsor sites
  • Plans to extend the K2 building on our Bracknell site
  • Plans to have a permanent facility for our Sandhurst site
  • Changes to this years Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit
  • New developments within our Academy
  • Changes to our MyKerith online database
  • And much more!

We'll start with refreshments so please come on time ready to hear about all that we believe God has in store for us.

Hope to see you there,

Simon.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Pentecost Sunday & The Northern Powerhouse!

This coming Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, where we remember and reflect on the Holy Spirit being poured out on the first disciples on the day of Pentecost. We'll be creating space in all of our meetings for those who would like the opportunity to be prayed for to be filled with the Holy Spirit - please come full of expectation of how God wants to meet with you in fresh ways.

The three following Sunday's we've got a great line up of visiting speakers, all from places far North of Bracknell (where they know how to properly say castle and wrath!).

On Sunday 22nd May Roger Bretherton will be with us. Roger is a Clinical Psychologist who spends lots of his time exploring the intersection between the world revealed by research into psychology and the revelation of the Bible. He's an amazing guy, I know people loved hearing him last time he came and I'm sure it will be the same again this time.

On Sunday 29th May Ben Cooley will be with us again. Ben leads Hope for Justice, an organisation aiming to bring an end to human trafficking and slavery. Ben has been a great friend of Kerith over the years and it will be brilliant to have him with us again.

Last, but certainly not least, John Kirkby from Christians Against Poverty (CAP) will be with us on Sunday 5th June. This year marks CAPs 20th birthday, and the 10th anniversary of us opening our CAP debt counselling centre. It will be great to celebrate with John all that has been achieved both locally and nationally through our partnership with CAP.

I really want to encourage all of us to prioritise our Sunday gatherings. It will do you good to be there, and it will do others good to be with you!

Hope you have a great weekend,

Simon.

 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Albania Women's Conference Review

Last Friday and Saturday a group from Kerith, along with our good friend Priscilla Reid from Belfast, helped host the second year of a women's conference in Albania. By all measures it was a huge success, with over 420 women attending from 28 churches from 16 cities / towns in Albania (with 10 churches from the capital Tirana). Some good friends also drove over 5 hours from Macedonia to be there. There were salvations both days, lots of responses for prayer, prophetic words, swords, chains and fire!

Here's a video Catrina recorded before the conference.


And here's a video of the worship during the conference - see if you can identify the song!

One of our eight goals this year is to increase our impact with the churches we work with overseas, which includes more people from Kerith getting involved in supporting these churches. Our involvement with this conference is part of us helping achieve that goal. I'm so proud of the team who went out - if you know any of them please take the time to thank them and to hear some of their stories next time you see them.

While the team were out in Albania they also went to a wedding celebration for Tom and Ida Astley, who got married in the UK last year but had an Albanian style celebration last week. From what Catrina said the dancing, the food and the outfits were all quite amazing!

Later this year we'll be supporting both a youth conference and an 18-30's conference in Albania, and Catrina will be travelling to Serbia, Macedonia and Lithuania to explore us helping host women's conferences there. That's on top of our ongoing support for churches in Estonia, Albania, Lithuania, Serbia and Macedonia, as well as our direct involvement in Zambia and people we are supporting overseas such and Sam and Hannah Fairs-Billam in Zambia and Andy and Mickey Partington in Bolivia.

A huge thank you for everyone in Kerith involved in our international impact, whether through prayer, financial giving, hosting international visitors, personal friendships with those overseas or going on trips.

I'll finish with some more photos from the team in Albania. Enjoy :)

Simon.

 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Unike Albania

For the next two days (Friday and Saturday) a group of women from Kerith, accompanied by our good friend Pricilla Reid from Northern Ireland, will be helping to host a women's conference in Albania. This conference has grown out of women from Albania coming to our women's conference, REAL, and seeing our Unique women's ministry, and then taking that vision back to Albania. Much of that has been made possible by the offering we take up each year at REAL, which this year is paying the cost of the conference venue and making it possible for our team to go.

This is the brilliant team that has gone out to represent us. From left to right you have Sarah Farley, Heather Pocock, Priscilla Reid, Iris Joyce, Lisa O'Brien, Glynne Novelle, Ken Bothamley, Amanda Prout, Miriam Barker and Ann Bothamley. I'm incredibly proud of them as they step out of their comfort zones and invest their time, gifts and finances in impacting another nation.

Please be praying for them all, along with my wife Catrina, as they speak, renew friendships from last year, make new friendships, pray, prophecy and generally encourage the 420 Albanian women who will be attending over the next two days. The theme of the conference is truth - be praying that truth of who God is, and how he views each person attending, would come alive in their hearts and that through that the churches in Albania and beyond would be transformed.

This is Catrina with Miranda Ajeti, who with her husband Tomor leads the church in the Albanian capital, Tirana, which hosts the conference. They're a fantastic couple and inspiring leaders to be around.

Having been in Estonia last weekend I see increasingly the ways God is using us as a community to impact nations. Let's be asking God for more of it as we look to play our part in making disciples of all nations, and be praying how God wants to use you as an individual in making a difference. It might even be you traveling overseas in the next couple of years!

Simon.

 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Estonia Reflections

I'm sat in the departure area of Tallinn airport in Estonia (undoubtedly the most relaxing airport I've ever been to - I'm currently sat in the library!) reflecting on a weekend visiting the church we partner with in Kuressarre in Estonia. They were celebrating their 25th anniversary, having been in started in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed and Estonia regained its independence.

The church is lead by Alur, pictured here with his wife Marvi, both of whom have visited Kerith at various times. They're a great couple with a huge pastoral heart. Alur has recently also taken over overseeing all the Pentecostal churches in Estonia - a big responsibility.

It's inspiring to see all the ways we've helped encourage and influence the church in Kuressaare. It might not be obvious but the sign above is from their gents toilet doors (the ladies get an equivalent female angel!). The church meets in a huge building, which was a recreation block for Soviet army officers, and which they managed to buy for the equivalent of 5p! They're renovating it to an incredibly high standard, some of which is possible through money we've given them, and a work team from Kerith which renovated lots of the bedrooms (I got to stay in one of them!). We've just given them £5,000 from the generous gift days to renovate the kitchen - their next project.

A number of young people from the church have attended our Academy. Siim, Nemo, Marlen and Villu were not only a joy to have with us (we've still got Villu!) but from what people say were transformed by the experience. I was actively recruiting for more students for September!

Sue Davis helped the church set up a parent and toddler group - some of the mums I met at the celebration I went to had come to the church through that group - Praise God!

On top of that there is all the impact Ken and Ann Bothamley have had through their numerous visits, and from people from the church coming to REAL, GLS and other Kerith events.

I met some other really interesting people while I was here. This couple are Märt and Alta Vähi. They lived in Canada during the communist regime but moved back to Estonia when it fell to re-establish the Pentecostal church in Estonia which had been banned under communism. They're now pioneering a drug rehab centre in Estonia called Village of Hope. It was a privilege to spend time with them. Märt reminds me so much of Bob Goff - I've invited them to Kerith as I know we'd have a brilliant time with them.

I also met Ago who used to lead the main Pentecostal church in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, and is now setting up a Bible school to train up church planters. His church is now lead by Ivo, a good friend of Liam Parker's and another church we're increasingly partnering with.

Finally it was brilliant being hosted whilst I was here by Mike and Virge Maton - an amazing couple who many of us love deeply from their years in Kerith. Thanks to both of your for your incredible warmth of spirit and hospitality.

My luxurious Ryanair flight is about to board so I'll leave you with this picture painted by Villu's dad Ain which hangs in the church's main auditorium. It's titled "It's time for the daughters of the Lord to arise and take their place in His army". Bring it on!

See you all soon. Much love,

Simon.