History of Hope Church – Family to a Travelling Kiwi

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I discovered Hope Church on the internet as I was preparing to leave New Zealand, to move to the other side of the world.

I was researching for a place to base myself in the UK, and had come across this town called ‘Luton’. Having been so involved in my church growing up, I knew that I needed to find a place where I could be ‘at home’. Knowing I would not find a replica of what I was leaving, I instead looked at the possibilities where I was going, especially those that were different (in a good way!). Detailed story short, Hope Church was the second Church I visited once I landed in the UK, and there I stayed!

Hope Church became my home and my grounding for the two years I lived in the UK. Working as a Primary School teacher, and teaching in Hertfordshire, I was limited by time, and without Hope Church, I doubt I would have lasted as long as I did in my profession. Hope Church introduced me to wonderful people and I have great friends there, and many great memories. I was also able to get involved with a variety of different activities run by or in conjunction with the church such as Forte Voices, Open House, Breakout, and Newday, to name a few.

I had no spectacular revelation or moving event that God did while I was part of the Church, rather the biggest impact was through serving. I started out on the welcoming team which was great as a new person, getting to meet a whole lot of different people while they got to meet me. I don’t remember exactly what happened to cause the shift away from being a greeter (I think it might have been the recognition in myself that while greeting was great and I had been filling a need, it wasn’t utilising my passions), but I felt that the sound desk was where I needed to be.

I began learning the ropes of Sound Engineering under the capable tutelage of Nigel and Luke. Hope Church is so welcoming, caring, and centred on being/showing God to the community, I didn’t feel like I was standing on anyone’s toes when I expressed my interest in learning about it. When I started down this track, I knew my time staying in Luton was coming to an end, and while I only spent about 8 or 9 months serving Hope Church this way, the flow-on effect has been greater than I could have dreamed.

Planning on returning to New Zealand in September 2015, I instead found myself living in the kingdom of Bahrain. And it is here that I am currently using the skills God started training me with my time in Luton. Without my time at Hope, I wouldn’t have had the courage to volunteer for the Sound Team at my new church (a larger congregation), I wouldn’t have found myself being challenged musically and spiritually on the worship team, and I wouldn’t be my new school’s go-to person for audio requirements!

God knew what I needed, and he knew that I would receive it at Hope Church Centre in Luton. A step in my journey, a training ground for the future, choosing to visit, and then stay at Hope Church has blessed me. What is the best thing about Hope Church? It’s the people. The people prepared to serve, laugh and run events. The people who invite you to Sunday dinner the first day you attend, invite you to movies and games nights. The people who are God’s hands and feet, becoming a family to a travelling Kiwi.

Written by Anna Johnston

Anna Johnston

History of Hope Church – Story of a Teen

posted in: Hope Church | 0

My story of being involved with Hope Church started when I was 13 years old. I had been going to another church in Luton with my family all my life and was just about to transition from the kids work into the youth. I was excited to go hang out with the ‘big kids’ like my brother had done before me. However the midweek youth club was unfortunately closed and there was temporarily no youth leader to take this forward. A little frustrated I was also coming to the age where several of the friends I had grown up with in church were no longer attending regularly. My hunger to continue to learn about and serve God was there, but with this situation I was beginning to think why should I bother.

We saw an article in the local newspaper in September 2002 with information about a Newfrontiers church being planted in the area. We found out about the youth group they were starting, I went along and met Wayne Parsons and Linda Geevanathan who were leading it, as well as some of the youth including David May and Jen Williams. (For those of you who know Linda she was taller than me back then.)

After about a year of making friends and really enjoying the youth programme of activities I decided to make Hope Church my home. This was one of the best decisions I could have made for my Christian walk. 13 years later I have seen God use me and I have experienced so much within the church family as people have come, gone and stayed.

Hope Church and its leaders have been so releasing and encouraging which is part of the reason it is the church it is today. I’ve done things I’d never thought God would do with me and met people from varying walks of life, which is what is so great about a church family. Some particular highlights have included the floods of Newday in 2004, where heavy rain brought us together to form close friendships and encountering God in it. Getting baptised in a large tank. Watch night worship evenings, where dreams, tongues and spiritual gifts were released. Helping to launch and build our student and 20s work in 2011 named Breakout. The celebrations and worship times through the years especially at Christmas and many others. Ask me about them some time, but what I am most looking forward to is the future of Hope and what comes next, as we continue to be people obedient to God and living as family with our Hope in him.

Written by Luke Middleton

Luke Middleton

History of Hope Church – Just a Normal Family…

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Over the last few weeks we have heard testimony of the ups and downs of Church planting in Luton.  I just want to give testimony to what it means for a family to hear, trust and follow God. Through the years our family have discovered the faithfulness and steadfast love of God through the many and varied situations we have found ourselves in.  God has shown that He is faithful in all of His ways. From the provision of money to ensure the house we brought had safe lighting and hot water, schooling and the provision of accessible and affordable music services to ensure that our children were able to develop and grow beyond what we could ask or imagine.

When God asks you to do something he does provide the resources and abilities for you to complete what he initiates. We took a risk with God as we moved from a quiet Cambridge village with excellent schooling and a fantastic network of friends.  Our children (triplet boys aged 10 and a daughter six) were catapulted into the centre of Luton, they had to be educated in the problems of prejudice, poverty, foster care and drugs. They wanted to be able to walk to school and have their own bedrooms, God granted their desires.  He put us next to a park, so they could play.  We had an open home and many children found fun, food and shelter within its walls.

Creatively and musically they flourished.  Far from ’nothing good comes out of Luton’ Luton blessed us.  They had opportunities that we could never have imagined. Through the highs and lows (including muggers who gave things back!!) as a family we looked to God and he never let us down.

All four of our children are now involved in Churches in London, Southampton and Wales.  They help and inspire others in worship, youth work and support church planting. They did not see many of their friends become Christians (The boys married the girls that did!), but their friends still value their relationships and knowing our family.  The seeds continue to grow.

‘Train your children in the ways that they should go’ As parents we made loads of mistakes but we endeavoured to keep our eyes and ears on God and follow him. Our children are trying to do the same and we are thankful that we followed His call.

Written by Jane Reynolds

Jane

History of Hope Church – An Invitation

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Here is my story from 2005/6, when I was a member of Hope Church for 9 months. This is where I met Jesus and was baptised on the 10th September 2006.

When I met Yvette, the beautiful British lady, as I always saw her, at Central Baptist Church, I tried to refuse her invitation to Hope Church and convinced her (myself…), that I was a catholic and happy with that. However, I felt that I really needed to go to Hope Church, to a living church, where people talk to each other. (In Hungary I attended church, but no one ever talked to me). So, finally I accepted Yvette’s invitation.

Liz picked us up at the chaplaincy and on our way to Hope Church she asked me if I read the Bible every day and I said I did not. On the following Monday I went to a book shop and I bought a Bible (I often had no money for food, but still, I WANTED a Bible!). In my university hall room I had been reading my Bible for months… when one day I told God that He could come and do whatever He wanted to do in my life. He did so. I started to go to Ben’s cell group and my faith grew. In those days I had been in a relationship, used dirty words, had low self-esteem, and struggled with insomnia. By the time I moved back to Hungary, God healed and changed me from these problems and sins.

3 months later I went back to Luton, where pastor Tony baptised me in Simon’s outdoor pool. A Hungarian girl attended the ceremony and said that this experience convinced her that she needed to be baptised too (she was catholic as well), so she did so in Hungary.

Your examples, deeds and hard work for Christ at Hope Church echoes forever, I am the living example for that.

Written by Kalla Tímea

kalla-timea

Church of England Synod vote on Women Bishops and the public reaction: Part 1

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It is not a common occurrence to see issues associated with the church on the front pages of newspapers and the lead story of TV news. It seems everyone has an opinion about the role of women in the church, particularly whether they should be bishops. The advice from many in the church is to keep your head down and not to comment, however I have never taken advice and feel that I want to respond and bring my own perspective on what is happening.

I feel there are at least 3 distinct issues which are worthy of comment and clear thinking which I will try to address.

The first issue is the perspective that the church is out of step with culture and the insistence of many, including the prime minister, that it needs to get back in step.

In my mind this is the most dangerous and important issue, the assumption that the church should keep up with the times, because the times are by definition always right. Tom Wright, formally Bishop of Durham, bravely and eloquently deals with this in an article that was published in the Times.

“But that would be putting the clock back,” gasps a feckless official in one of C. S. Lewis’s stories. “Have you no idea of progress, of development?” “I have seen them both in an egg,” replies the young hero. “We call it Going bad in Narnia.”

Lewis nails a lie at the heart of our culture. As long as we repeat it, we shall never understand our world, let alone the Church’s calling. And until proponents of women bishops stop using it, the biblical arguments for women’s ordination will never appear in full strength.

“Now that we live in the 21st century,” begins the interviewer, invoking the calendar to justify a proposed innovation. “In this day and age,” we say, assuming that we all believe the 18th-century doctrine of “progress”, which, allied to a Whig view of history, dictates that policies and practices somehow ought to become more “liberal”, whatever that means. Russia and China were on the “wrong side of history”, Hillary Clinton warned recently. But how does she know what “history” will do? And what makes her think that “history” never makes mistakes?

… What is more, the Church’s foundation documents (to say nothing of its Founder himself) were notoriously on the wrong side of history. The Gospel was foolishness to the Greeks, said St Paul, and a scandal to Jews. The early Christians got a reputation for believing in all sorts of ridiculous things such as humility, chastity and resurrection, standing up for the poor and giving slaves equal status with the free. And for valuing women more highly than anyone else had ever done. People thought them crazy, but they stuck to their counter-cultural Gospel. If the Church had allowed prime ministers to tell them what the “programme” was it would have sunk without trace in fifty years. If Jesus had allowed Caiaphas or Pontius Pilate to dictate their “programme” to him there wouldn’t have been a Church in the first place.

Well said, Tom, I couldn’t agree more. Let us not be caught up in the trap that public opinion is always right, it often isn’t.  Sometimes we have to stand up for what is right rather than to seek to be popular. We should never be bullied into accepting what the world says we should believe and do, once we do that we loose all our distinctive  we stop being yeast, salt, light and all the other metaphors of what our calling is meant to be to the world.

If the implication of this argument is that the bishops should not sit in the house of Lord’s that is a small price to pay to allow the church to be true to itself rather than to unthinkingly reflect popular opinion.

Questions you might consider regarding this:

Why do you think that so many people feel the need to tell the church what it should do and believe?

What would be the consequences of us seeking to be popular by embracing the world’s view on things?

How important is it for the church to be represented in parliament via bishops in the house of Lord’s?

LOOK OUT FOR PART 2 NEXT WEEK

Written by Tony Thompson

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