Stepping Stones (Luton)

posted in: Luton 0

You may not have heard of this organisation.  It was set up in 2008 by a Christian from LCF. Karen Godfrey was a Drug and Alcohol worker who saw that her service did not work for the women she saw. Services were delivered for men and women together, and often the problems in which women found themselves resulted from poor relationships with men. Many of the women had children; where would they go whilst women were in medical or legal appointments?  

Karen resigned her job and set up Stepping Stones (SSL).  Initially she had one helper and together they borrowed a room at Luton Christian Fellowship and began seeing women. Friday mornings quickly became popular – Coffee, Cake and Chat, a free drop in where you could meet women in similar circumstances. Initially SSL offered key worker assessment and support, counselling, parenting courses, and Karen began to devise courses on building confidence and self-esteem.  Key workers would attend court hearings with the women when they were under threat of children being taken into care, or help get them returned. The work was fluid and responsive. Although run by Christians and on LCF premises, it has never been specifically a Christian organisation, and it has always been open to any woman. 

I have been a committee member from the early days but the work rapidly grew and space at LCF was insufficient.

We moved into a building in the centre of town, with a garden. There are rooms for groups, and smaller rooms for offices and individual meetings including counselling. There an Ofsted-approved childcare area with access to a safe playground outside.  We formalised the committee and I became chairman of the community interest company.  

The growth in the organisation was exponential after the move. In the first six months we had over 400 referrals.  

After the initial reach to women with problems of addiction, many came from abusive relationships, some with terrible stories.  Later we were asked to take low risk women on probation. Whether they were self-referrals, or sent by social services, prison, probation, mental health services, or the police women’s diversionary scheme, the needs were similar.  The women had been crushed by life circumstances, responding to this in different ways.  

New courses were introduced: anger management and managing abusive relationships; a local legal firm offers a fortnightly free drop in on our premises and we employed an education, training and employment worker.  

Finances became a real problem and we converted to being a charity for wider access to funds.  Karen moved and on and we employed a new CEO. There are now 18 staff members and in 2016 we worked with over 500 women, their children and families, with 275 new referrals received.  We are now a charitable company; I am still the Chairman and love the fact that we are making a real difference in Luton. Please do ask me for further information or if you would like to support in some way.

 


Maggie Simons. Mobile 07974 692444 Email: margaret.simons@clara.co.uk

Prophetic word about feeding the 5000!

Having a God who speaks through prophetic words is exciting and encouraging. Recently a leader in a church outside of Luton felt God speak to him about Hope Church. What he felt God say the elders believe is very relevant as we move into community areas.

He sent the following:

Hi Tony. How are things with you?  I have had a few thoughts about Luton!

 

Feeding the 5000 comes to my mind when praying for you at Luton.

I hear communities, communities, communities! And sense Jesus saying “multiply out communities”.

It will be like the feeding of the 5000, where Jesus said get into groups of 50s and 100s and this resulted in 100s being fed.

I see the outward flow of God’s life into communities accelerating. Like ripples when a stone is thrown into a pond. It will not be as you expect. These will not be just pastoral communities.

I see that a miraculous supply will come from what seems small and almost insignificant. I wonder if this is a person or people who will flourish into leadership.

I also see the importance of gathering to nourish each other in life in the spirit, stir up gifts, especially prophecy. Somehow gathering is key to the going!  Drink in the spirit. Keep near a river of God’s resources, streams in the desert.

I see you, Tony, have been going around in circles like circling a roundabout several times looking for the exit. God says he is with you where you are in this time of encircling the church.  You are a father to the church and its less about going places for you and more about just being there, being a bringer of the Spirit. I wonder if there are others to release further in going.

I see a new road sign being written for you, Tony, one of invitation to come to one side and to seek God’s face. He has great pleasure over you.

 

Received from Adrian Horner, leader of Open Door Church Kettering in February 2017.

Suffering – The ‘conscious endurance of pain…too intense to be borne.’

posted in: History 0

For the past 25 years, trying to gain an understanding of a particular element of the suffering caused by man’s humanity to man has played a key role in my walk with God.

Has there been any more poignant example of man’s inhumanity to man, at least in our culture, in our times, than the Holocaust?

Aged 16 and studying Religious Education for GCSE, it was a school trip to the main synagogue in Manchester that sparked a fascination with the Holocaust that is as vivid today as it was then. Even now, I remember standing numb with shock and sorrow before the iconic photographs of the time, blown up and exhibited on the walls. One image in particular, that of the mother shielding her baby whilst an SS officer aimed his rifle a meter from them, sent me into a stunned silence that remained for the duration of the journey back to school. On that coach, we were a very different group of pupils to the ones who had sung and sneaked the best parts of our packed lunch into our mouths on the way there.

 

My first action following this initial exposure to the horrors of the Holocaust was to present myself at Waterstones, asking to be directed to everything I needed to read to learn more. What followed was months of devouring every book I could get my hands on, poring over the accounts of survivors like Primo Levi and Eli Wiesel.

 

The ensuing years saw the fascination grow: a degree in French studies entailed a year in the city of Lyon, the centre of the French resistance, and for my dissertation I interviewed surviving members in their homes; a spell of traveling in Western Europe saw a visit to Dachau; a summer at a kibbutz gave the opportunity to come face to face with elderly Jewish members who still bore their concentration camp numbers on their arms in the Israeli sun. Words don’t exist to express how humbling each of those three events were.

 

This was surely one of the most bizarre points in my life, though, for while all of this was happening, God was beginning to ‘romance’ me. Having never known him, I was now starting to have very real, very personal and undeniable experiences of him. It was a confusing time. On the one hand, my knowledge of the Holocaust was shaping my understanding of suffering: the more I knew, the more accounts I read of the horrors, the more angry I became. On the other hand, the reality of God as a being, who spoke, lived, supposedly loved, was becoming harder and harder to ignore. It was a strange juxtaposition for someone in their early 20s to find themselves. If this God existed, if he really loved the way the Christians I was meeting said he did, then how could he allow the suffering I was reading about to take place?

 

Eventually, though, I could no longer deny that the anger I felt wasn’t towards God as a concept. It was towards God as a person. I was using the Holocaust as my reason for not coming to him. How did I know I could trust him? How could I make myself vulnerable to someone who could let such a thing happen? It flew in the face of everything I was being told about him. I wanted his answers, his excuses, even, before I could risk letting him into my life. Surely we deserve that much?

 

I think, though, that once we experience God as a very personal, very real being, we have come to a crossroads. We realise that, actually, we don’t deserve that much. We realise that the choice to accept or reject him is in our hands. We realise that, unless we accept that we may never get answers to our questions this side of heaven, we could be missing out on something amazing with him. Personally, I decided to take that chance. I decided that, just because I didn’t understand him, that didn’t mean that I could deny him.

 

These days, I’m still as passionate about the Holocaust and anything Third Reich related. My husband likes to tell the story of how, a couple of years ago, we visited Berlin. The grandparents had the children and it was our first time alone in a very long time. He had visions of a romantic weekend, only for me to insist on spending half of it in the Gestapo museum. But the difference in the me in my mid 40s and the me of 25 years ago is that, because I was able to overcome the anger and questions that were holding me back, I’ve come to know God. I’ve come to know that he doesspeak, he does live, he does love with reckless, ridiculous abandon. I’ve come to know that not one question I have for him, to which I may never know the answer, is more important than that. I’ve come to know that all of that is true regardless of whether I understand him or not.

 

Written by Karen Roy

Karen Roy

Prophetic themes – To be a European / International gateway & Building and resources

We have been looking at recent prophetic words that have led us as a church to expect and respond to growth in both influence and in numbers. It is also good to look at other, older prophetic words and themes that continue to influence us as a church. These words describe something of the flavour that God has drawn out of Hope Church.

 

  1. To be a European / International gateway.

 

Prophetic Words

 

I saw loads and loads of planes, all over the place.  Some of them were wonderful, and I longed to be on them.  There were others, which I didn’t want anything to do with.  I felt God was saying He wants you to be very, very focused.  To be absolutely clear on where you are going and what you are doing.  This is because there are going to be planes that are like ministries, almost.  They are going to come across your path and if you are not careful they are going to distract you, and make you wish you were on one.  But God says, “Well, actually no.  I want you to know you are going this way and you are secure in it and you are clear about it and you know, yes, that is a wonderful ministry, but no, it is not for us, we’re not going that way.  We’re not on that one, but let them do their job in God, we’re going this way”.  I felt that one of the planes was a bit negative; it could have a negative influence if you get caught by it.  Just know what God has said, we are doing this, we are going this way and we are secure and know that is what we are going to do.

 

Wisdom gift.  I saw a wisdom gift coming to this church.  It wasn’t primarily evangelistic, although that was its fruit.  You are going to pioneer new nations, but they are nations in Luton.  There are nations in Luton and you are going to pioneer into them.  God is going to plant a wisdom gift which will pioneer into these nations within Luton and will unlock them.  Believe that God is going to plant that straight into your church, right early on and it may even come as a person, a significant person who will come in and say ‘You want that nation?  This is how you do it’, and they will open it for you.  There is an enormous price to pay in some of these nations when they come to Christ and the power of the gospel needs to be supported, underpinned with a wisdom gift that shows you how to draw them, not only to the wonder of the cross, but to a whole new dimension of freedom in Christ.

And I feel you are going to bless many other churches and send people to other cities to unlock the same thing in other places.  You are going to pioneer this whole area.  Brought by Kim McCaffery in May 2002.

 

I see planes going out from this church, taking people to plant churches in other nations.  I also see people coming to see the Luton church from other nations – planes coming in.  Brought by Julian Adams in February 2006.

 

The hand of God is on this church – and this church is not a mistake.  This church is called forth by God.  God says that it will be a place of influence.  It will not only be an influence in this area, but there is an international relevance to this church.  There’s an international gateway here.  This church is in an international gateway in this church.  You are going to even see people coming in, even with an influx of Europeans.  God says that there are Europeans that are going to come into this country and find a place in your community to live, and because of this you are going to gain contacts in Europe that will allow you to go back and do things there to help people there.  You are at the beginning of a new time in the visitation of God and bringing the people that are going to be key to you having a foothold in Europe.  Brought by Keith Hazel in October 2006

 

There will be an increasing international feel. He is already bringing the nations to us. Increasingly we will not be one ethnic group but will be multicultural. We will also be going to the nations. Phil Wilthew in November 2014

 

We have historically been involved in numerous overseas mission contexts, some are ongoing. E.g. Spain, Niger, Ireland, Albania, Ukraine, Sierra Leone.

 

We have also given a priority to gathering people from other nations within the church. We are more multicultural than ever; it would seem as if this will continue. We have previous taught into this area – seeking to accommodate people from other nations rather than assimilate.

 

  1. Building and resources generally

 

Prophetic Words

 

I would love to see you guys with your own building.  I really feel like you need it.  Seriously feel like you need it.  If God does what I think I see, that building is going to have a lot of events, things happening in it all the time, and you can’t just set things up and pull them down all the time like you have to do in a school hall, you really do need your own building.  And it needs to be something with a lot of little rooms off to do things.  Somewhere that does not necessarily look like a church, but somewhere you can advertise, ‘This is going on here’ –you know- ‘Come and be involved in it’.  I think you are going to have quite a lot of little programs going on.  Brought by Kerry Southey in September 2003

I think that there is finance to access in God.  I think that if you get programs up and running that do something with young people, and I think if you have portfolios that you present, ‘This is what we are doing’, I think that there is actually finance of the wicked that you can access.  I really do.  I think as churches we get very scared to go to places and say, ‘Listen, we have this program going, it is going to get some of the kids off the street. Is there something you can help us with?’ or ‘Do you know someone who can help us?’  And be quite bold about it.  Don’t be English.  Be quite bold about it, because I think at some stage maybe there will be finance that you’ll be able to access and not just £s, but equipment and stuff like that.  Brought by Kerry Southey in September 2003.

 

You are standing on a pile of resources to achieve the task.  Brought by Julian Adams in February 2006.

 

God is adding to your team – bring men out of the woodwork – you’ve been stretched and stretched. Help is coming. Keith Hazel November 2006

 

In the area of building, that’s almost as if you felt that one had been in your grasp but it had slipped away from you.  God comes to you today and He wants to heal any disappointment that you have and any sense you have that somehow God is not helping us out.  I believe that there is a unique opportunity coming to you.  There is a building that’s going to come your way, and that building is not the building that you would first of all run to, when you look at it you won’t necessarily think oh gee this is a building that I really like.  In fact when you look at it, it may be like the scripture that says ‘it may have no beauty that you should desire it’.  I believe God says that He’s going to give you a unique opportunity to have the use of a building.  I put it that way because it’s like for a season you’re going to have the use of a building and that building will eventually fall into your hands.  But for a season you will have the use of it.  God says it’s almost like you’re going to be like caretakers of a building for a season and then it will fall into your hands.  Brought by Keith Hazel in October 2006

Tony – do not be afraid to make the big ask. Phone people up, don’t think they will never come here, they will. Make the big ask. There is an anointing to make the big ask in money, finance, resources. An authority for the big ask. Phil Wilthew in November 2013

 

We therefore do not need to be afraid of giving away our best. There will be moments of giving away but God will add to us 10 fold, 20 fold, 100 fold. Phil Wilthew in November 2013

 

The building was given miraculously, we have promises of financial and other resources to help us fulfil the calling God has given to us.

Prophetic themes – Church Planting & Bringing hope to despairing people in Luton

We have been looking at recent prophetic words that have led us as a church to expect and respond to growth in both influence and in numbers. It is also good to look at other, older prophetic words and themes that continue to influence us as a church. These words describe something of the flavour that God has drawn out of Hope Church.

 

  1. Church Planting.

 

Prophetic words.

 

Firework: God gave a picture of a firework, which keeps spurting out.  As you watch it you’re never quite sure what’s coming next, and it pours out all over the place. There is a force and an unknown nature to it, but the certainty is, you know it’s going to spurt out.

 

God said this picture describes church planting, because He will place a firework (per-ching! there it goes!) in Hope church, and there are going to be many churches coming out of here.  From the very beginning you are going to put on a firework display and out of you, whole areas around here have got no chance, churches are being planted all the way around here.

But remember the unexpected nature of it, you don’t know when a firework is going to burst into life, but you just wait for the ‘WOW!’, when the next one appears.  Have that in your spirits.  Brought by Kim McCaffery in May 2002.

 

I believe that there are going to be a number of church plants into the area and young people will do many of them… Start to ask God to lay places on your heart and to open homes in those areas … God gave me a funny picture of a frog with all the spawn coming out of the frog and then these little babies leaping into all sorts of places.  A little frog pool with the spawn, then the tadpoles and then the little frogs leaping out doing new things in all sorts of surrounding areas.  Brought by Kerry Southey in September 2003

 

Tony Thompson Go and plant church’s.  Raise up foxes, gather them together and send them out. Plant churches! Andy McCullough May 2016 at the Catalyst Festival

 

In February 2005 we planted Hope Church, South Beds which is still going well.

We tried to plant a church into Hitchin in 2006 which didn’t take.

We have supported other church plants and replants around the area, however nothing new is currently on the agenda. However, what does the word given at the Catalyst Festival mean?

 

  1. Bringing hope to despairing people in Luton.

 

Prophetic Words

Thinking of this town, it is a town of 2 contrasts.  There is the airport, full of dreams, full of hope of where it is going.  Everything is going right up there.  But there is the other part of the town that is in despair, it’s all gone wrong, nothing’s working, and people are ruined.  It is as if there is a contradiction within the town.  Through this God wanted to say…

You are to preach hope which is future glory, salvation which is eternal hope.  But He also wants you to have within you a hope for now.  Through His spirit He is going to put skills amongst you to deal with that.  There is going to be a gifting and grace upon you to deal with the despair that is in this town, as well as bringing people through to knowing eternal hope.  Brought by Kim McCaffery in May 2002.

 

Think you are trying to reverse hopelessness.  Do fun courses, not long term but short term, where people come out and they are more equipped, e.g. Marriage, rebuilding, Life after divorce.  Rebuild in the natural so we can also rebuild in the spiritual…. Get some small businesses up and running with people who are out of work.  Believe God for people who have political influence. Brought by Kerry Southey in September 2003.

 

The hand of the Lord is on you, working hard to break through the ground.  It seems like there is a lot of concrete there that you have got to break through and that you have to fight for every soul that you get.  God just says to you that you are going to see increase in this next six months which is going to turn the captivity that’s in the heart of some people who are believing that the church will never grow in the way it should.  Brought by Keith Hazel in October 2006

Grave clothes coming off Lazarus, off the church and then community. Being equipped to Love Luton, part of a strategy for community cohesion. Adrian Horner July 2014
This has long been a flavor of Hope Church, and continues to be through Open House and other activities made possible by the building. As we move into the community areas how do we continue to bring hope to despairing people?

Healing Testimonies from January

posted in: Prayer 0

Over the last month we have had a ‘Focus on Prayer’. During the fourth week Ben preached on ‘Healing’ which you can hear again by clicking here. We also had 2 Praying for Healing prayer meetings and below are some of the stories shared out of that week.

 

In 2008 our daughter-in-law Alison was pregnant with her third child. The scan at about 21 weeks showed too much fluid on the brain (hydrocephaly). An extra scan was done in June which picked up a possible kidney issue and something else to do with bone development. Because there were three things it led the doctor to think it could be a genetic problem and an amniocentesis was offered but Alison refused as she wouldn’t consider termination. During August a further scan showed no improvement and that the head was already full size (Not due until October) and the baby was in the breach position. So a caesarean birth would be necessary and immediately afterwards Matthew would be transferred to Great Ormond Street to have a shunt fitted to drain the fluid.

During all this time many people were asked to pray and God answered the prayers.

During September the baby turned and the next visit to the midwife showed that the head was starting to engage ready for a natural birth which happened on 12th October 2008. Alison and Matthew came home the next day, a few weeks later an MRI scan showed no abnormalities and since then Matthew has developed normally and is perfectly healthy. Praise God!

Shared by Anne Fox

 

Monday Luke and I prayed for Pete Wells back.  He had pulled muscles, was in pain and was not going to play football. 1 hour later he was able to play football with total movement and pain much reduced.

Shared by Jane Reynolds

 

After prayer for my hip on Sunday and Tuesday, I’ve been praying for it as I’ve walked / limped along. Today (Sat), I’ve just walked along Priory Marina with our dogs (10k steps), with very little pain. Praise God!

Shared by Diane King

 

I put my back out earlier in January, but through prayer last Tuesday and Thursday at the prayer meetings for healing, whatever was wrong has been put right again.

Shared by Geoff Simons

 

A Lady who had been struggling with reading lately felt her sight was better after prayer.
Another lady felt an improvement with pain on her side after prayers
1 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 38