Sunday, 31 December, was the turn of Karibuni Children to be the focus of our Circuit Prayers.
As it is one of the charities that our Circuit supports, it is good to hear that we are helping to make a difference in the lives of so many young people who do not enjoy the lives of plenty that we are privileged to accept as normal. This charity aims to enable and equip these young people to lift themselves out of poverty through education and the learning of life skills.
Below, John shows us just how effective the help offered to these young students can be – it is a life changer, so please remember the vital work of this organisation, pray for them and support them where you can.
If, like me, you had cause to visit a supermarket during the days immediately prior to Christmas, you will have probably experienced longer queues than usual, as people "stocked up for the Christmas break." Of course in practice most shops reopen on Boxing Day, but that does not stop the rush to fill supermarket trolleys.
Contrast that with the experience of the typical Kenyan communities in which Karibuni Children works, where families often live a hand-to-mouth existence, home being one room slum dwellings with rusty tin roofs, mud walls and floors. They have no need of grocery cupboards. They have no money to stock up.
From such challenging circumstances come the children and young people whose education Karibuni supports and whose lives we seek to transform.
Take Ronnie, who comes from one of Nairobi's slums. Here, in his words, is evidence of amazing transformation in practice.
"My name is Ronnie, currently a first-year student at the Railways Training Institute. I am doing a course in Diploma in Civil Engineering. The course duration is three years.
I have been a total orphan from a tender age; I never got to know my biological parents. I have a relative of mine who agreed to be my guardian after the burial of my parents; however, she cannot fully take care of me due to the financial pressure from her own kids but I am lucky enough to have always had a shelter, food and clothing. She doesn't have a stable job. She does laundry for people; the laundry job isn't guaranteed because at times she may fail to find the opportunities.
I have been a beneficiary of one of the projects of Karibuni Children. This project has been there for me as my second guardian. I have received clothes, food, education and moral support from the project. I never missed the daily meals provided in the project because it is what we at times solely depended on, due to this we rarely slept hungry.
I am looking forward to finishing my course in few years to come. The skills acquired will help me to become a better person in the society and to help people in need by giving back to the community. Without the Karibuni support I wouldn't have reached this far. I am thankful for the support, hopefully believe and pray that the organisation never lacks finances to continue supporting children to achieve."
As we look forward to a New Year, let us pray for Ronnie and all other such children supported by Karibuni Children.
Sunday, 24 December, the focus of our Circuit Prayers was on the Circuit Leadership Team.
In common with many organisations, this team of dedicated people rarely hit the headlines, they work away quietly in the background and as long as all is running well, they remain almost invisible. This group has a lot in common with other similar set ups, to ensure that the daily business runs efficiently and achieves its set objectives, that everyone involved knows what their role is, and has the resources to finish the job in a satisfactory manner.
What this group does not have in common with those other similar leadership teams in different organisations, are the unique gifts that God has provided to enable them to carry out the task that Jesus gave the church to do all those years ago and that is desperately needed more than ever today. That task is to ensure that all people, everywhere, regardless of ethnicity, geography, ability or gender, get to hear and experience the love and warm embrace that Jesus offers to everyone.
Offering the love of Jesus to everyone around you does not come easily and sometimes difficult decisions have to be made, risks have to be taken when opening ourselves to the possibility of hurt, to offer love knowing that the love we offer will not always be valued or reflected and there will be a cost.
In all the decisions that this team is called upon to make, the good news of Jesus, the gospel, is always kept in the front of people's thoughts, along with the implications of that good news in a particular situation. This ensures that our decisions may not always share the response of the bank manager, or the CEO of a top financial establishment, but instead, will be prepared to take a risk, to offer love and whatever else we have, to stand alongside those in need, just as Jesus asked us to.
This Sunday, 10 December, it is the turn of Wingrave to be the focus of our Circuit Prayers.
This week we meet Joan who reminds us of the beauty of God's creation that surrounds us that so often we miss as we rush through life. This week, please listen to Joan's wise words, and pause to look around and marvel at the wonders that surround you.
"Creation – What an incredible wonder before my eyes every day.
I only have to be slicing a cabbage for a meal and there in my hand is the beauty of creation in the tight leaves. No man can achieve this wonder from the earth to the human in such perfection.
Creation – the relationship given to man between loved ones; friendships with those around us and the connection with mankind and all the natural world, the great universe, to the smallest insect flying by as one sits and gives thanks to the Creator.
Be aware and grateful.
Sunday, 3rd December, Whitchurch was the focus of our Circuit Prayers.
We meet Paul who shares his experiences of the influence that God has had in his life. It is good to hear Paul confirming that his experiences in the junior church stayed with him. So often when young people drift away we feel that we have lost them but Paul shows this is far from the case! Please pray for all those who care for our young people and strive to instillan appreciation of the love that Jesus has for them.
Here in Whitchurch we are a committed but usually small gathering at Sunday service so it was great to see half our pews full on the 19th for our service conducted by Noreen, the occasion being the introduction and impending membership of a local family who have given great support to the "Little Chapel" and "Little Steps" activities over the past couple of years.
Following on from the recent trend in "Good News from...." for personal accounts of the journeys we all make to know God better, I would like to add my own.
After being a member of junior church here in Whitchurch, during my teenage years I moved away from regular attendance, although I never forgot my Christian roots, and since re-starting regular attendance have been keenly aware of the influence of God in my life.
During my prayers I cannot claim to have had a conversation or any instantaneous answers from God. What I do have is an absolute belief in the guidance and support I receive from having God in my life. When I trace back events through my life I can see in retrospect where He has helped and guided me through difficult times, influencing me and holding my hand – very much as in the popular "Footsteps in the sand" poem – gently nudging me to a closer relationship with Him.
The comfort I get from knowing He is with me throughout life is my greatest blessing.
With every blessing
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