Church Link News: August 2014
Welcome to the August edition of the Church Link News. We apologise for not being able to bring you a July edition due to staff sickness but are delighted to bring you a bumper edition this month. We are excited to have some words from Rev John Proctor, and also to be able to introduce two more of our dedicated chaplains. The summer months are another time where one can sit back and reflect on God’s gifts. We are grateful to our supporters, volunteers, and staff that continue to help us with our work.
John Proctor's Silver Jubilee Ordination Message
Thirty years ago my life changed quite dramatically when I encountered Jesus Christ in a very real way which led my wife and myself into forming the Alabaré Christian Community. We had both always been believers but for me it was more about head knowledge than the heart. We felt that by making a commitment to a Community way of living it would help us to remain more faithful to the teachings of Christ as demonstrated by the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles.
As our relationship with Jesus deepened through prayer, I felt drawn to commit my life to ministry within the Church and now I celebrate 25 years of service. This has involved three main strands: service at the altar which includes; instruction in the sacraments, preaching the Word and service to the poor, vulnerable and marginalised. The latter I have done primarily, but not exclusively through establishing Alabaré Christian Care and Support.
The amazing thing is that this commitment to a life of service has brought me innumerable blessings. I have met and journeyed with many broken lives but I have also witnessed some amazing transformations. In John’s gospel Jesus says, “I have come that you might have life in all its fullness.” (Jn10:10) That is our vision for all who pass through Alabaré. It is often difficult to comprehend this promise, just as it can be difficult to love others as ourselves. There is always the danger that our vision of a fulfilled life is based on what we see around us, money, property, success etc. Indeed it might include some of these but the fullness of life Jesus refers to is not based on these things but rather on a relationship with him that will lead us into eternal happiness. You only have to read the press to see how often a significant win on the lottery brings unhappiness when the initial exuberance and high spending comes to its end.
So love is at the heart of our happiness. God’s love for us and our love for one another. We know how difficult it can be to love others as ourselves, but through the gift of the Holy Spirit we are able to love, not through our own fragile love which can be so very conditional, but with God’s love which is placed in our hearts. A love which is unconditional, a love that has a preference for the poor and the outcast, a love that enables us to love ourselves.
So when everything seems too much to bear have the courage to call out to Jesus, the one who gave his life for YOU and ask him to send his Spirit that you might live in his presence and be supported by his love.
Reverend Deacon John Proctor, Chairman
Meet Andy & Sue Smith
Hi, we are Andy and Sue Smith, we live on a narrowboat called Spring Water (named from John 4:14 – ‘Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life’ (NIV)) and we travel around England very slowly to share God’s love on the waterways, in words and deeds. We belong to Boaters Christian Fellowship, Canal Ministries and Waterways Chaplaincy. Recently we also invited to become Associate Chaplains to Alabaré. How we came to be so is entirely of our Lord Jesus Christ’s doing. It is not something we sought, for we did not know such an opportunity existed.
So how did this happen? Well on our way to Devizes last autumn, we were advised to help a boater in great distress. He had lost his benefits, could not pay his boat licence and was in danger of being made homeless by having his boat seized by the waterways authority for not having a licence. Over several months we filled in housing benefit forms for him, tried to sort out a replacement birth certificate and apply for a license. We heard about Community 4 (of which Alabaré is one of 4 providers) whilst volunteering at a church outreach cafe in Devizes. We spoke to one of these charity members about the boater we knew and wanted to help. Through Community4 we met Alabaré’s senior chaplain Jonathan Martin.
Jonathan came to visit us on our boat and we chatted with him for about 2 hours. As a result of his visit we went on to become Associate Chaplains of Alabaré, this meant that we would have a wider network of Christians to help us in our ‘work’ for the boaters and they would be able to offer us further training, which is always beneficial. We prayed about God’s will in this and felt that it was an open door for us to walk through in faith. We were therefore pleased to accept and took part in our first training session in Salisbury on 31st March. It is good to be part of God’s growing family.
Each day we walk along the towpath and often God gives us someone to talk to either about Jesus or about their situation and ways that we may be able to help them. This happened after we had moved to Devizes for the winter. We found N in a distressed state by his boat. We took time with him and shared our story gently with him and asked how we could help him and indeed if he wanted our help. He felt his situation was beyond help but told us his story anyway. We know that we have a great God for whom nothing is impossible and so we knew God would be able to help and indeed he has. Over the winter months we have secured help for him. All the time we are still visiting N each week and giving him food parcels which we have been able to access from two different churches. These will continue until his benefits are restored and he can buy food for himself again. We pray that he will see the love of God being poured out in his life through the various help he is now receiving.
Each day we live among the boaters and this helps us to build relationships and trust with them. We pray that our way of life and our witness of Jesus Christ will speak into their lives that they too may come to know him our Lord and Saviour, whom to know is life eternal. Praise Him!
Yours in Jesus Christ
Andy and Sue Smith
Our Monthly Prayer
“With our thoughts turning to the Assumption of Our Lady on the 15th August. We thought it particularly poignant to share her prayer:”
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
On the 19th September two members of our Alabaré team Mel Greenstock and Gina Vickers will be taking on the 3 Peaks Challenge!
They are looking for kind donations - can you help?
Date for your Diary
15th August - Assumption of our Lady