I mentioned recently that we had appointed a new Operations Director. Thad will join us with his wife, Jana, and their three boys. Thad will start at the end of March. We’ve shared the role among various people for over a year so it’s great to have someone heading up this area again. The Operations team resource and enable this movement to exist, so having someone to head up this area is so vital. Thad will be my immediate line manager and I’ll get with work with him on the technology and other projects I’m tasked with implementing. I’m just a little excited!
In 1966, Kalevi Lehtinen travelled from Finland to the World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin. He met with Campus Crusade for Christ (Agapé) founder Bill Bright and expressed his burden for the evangelisation of Europe. At the same time, Bud and Shirley Hinkson were putting together a team of fresh faced American graduates willing to invest three years in building movements internationally. A year later, the University Ambassador Team boarded a ship to England.
A team of 56 arrived in Southampton on the 14th November 1967 and travelled by train to London. They chose leaders and split into six teams. They settled on sending teams to London, Southampton, Reading, Birmingham, Brighton, and one team to Germany. They found accommodation and started to meet students.
This is how Agapé started.
50 years later Agapé is celebrating God’s faithfulness over the years and looking forward to what He has in store for our future. We’re hosting a celebration weekend 3rd to 5th February with tons of workshops and outreach opportunities in partnership with the local churches. It’s an exciting time.
Please pray for this event and for the local churches we’re partnering with. More details are here: http://www.agape.org.uk/50years
Christmas is upon us. Are you ready? On Thursday I’ll be heading to stay with my parents over the Christmas period and will be back in Birmingham for the New Year. What are your plans?
I’ve been mulling over the time when the angel went to Mary and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you”.
Firstly, humorously, I have to get over the replacement phrase ‘most highly flavoured gravy’ often sung with a chuckle in the carol, The Angel Gabriel… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pliqObTHxUQ
I don’t want to expound the Christmas story, but I’ve just been thinking about what the Holy Spirit might be saying to me through the events that Mary experienced. It’s good to let the words sink in that the Lord is with me. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139 v 14). How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! (Psalm 139 v 17)
I hope that over this Christmas time you will have opportunity to hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit. Whatever you may be experiencing in life right now, in the depths of the sea, or soaring on the wings of eagles, the Lord is close to you. That’s a good thing!
Thanks for your support of me over the last year. I really have appreciated it.
The photo is from our HR/Communication/IT/Finance/Admin teams’ Christmas lunch.
I’m plugging away serving at the HQ. Our student focus is just one of a few priority areas for us and there is always a lot going on.
I’m enjoying the complexities of leading a project around how Agapé manages all the personal information we handle (i.e. names, addresses, giving information, connection and communication preferences). There are new laws, which I think are a step in the right direction, coming and Agapé needs to be ready. I’ve been spending time arranging conversations and growing our knowledge around the whole movement. I love this kind of stuff and am happy to be serving this movement in this way.
We’ve also recruited a new Operations Director which I’m personally excited about. He’s a friend of mine currently living with his family in Budapest. They’ll hopefully be moving to join our team in Birmingham around Easter 2017… I’ll introduce them in another newsletter.
Personally I’ve been thinking about how I can be more fruitful. Probably like many of us I want to be following Jesus, but also being helpful in this mission we have of making disciples. (Matt 28v16-20). The bible talks about remaining in Him, and we will bear much fruit. So, the question then is, ‘how do we remain in Him?’ – The answer I realise is WE ARE IN HIM. We have been given new birth, we have new life. It’s a relief for me knowing that the fruit is God’s business—I’m just going to continue serving and see what happens. Come Lord Jesus.
The other personal thing I’m preparing for is the winter. If you’ve been reading these news updates for a number of years you will know that during the darker days I struggle more with my emotions, and it can be harder to feel ‘normal’! It’s technically called SAD. I know it’s a thing a number of us can relate to. I’ve got all the usual things in place—coffee with friends, getting as much daylight as possible (real and artificial), etc. Please pray for me. It’s different every year so it’s not always easy to be ready.
September is an exciting time of year. All the students return! Student Life is the name of our student outreach on campus and is predominantly led by students with the help of our staff.
All our student teams had stalls at Freshers events and made connections with hundreds of students. The photo above is from Newcastle where 53 people attended the weekly event they run. The photo below is the Oxford stall.
A number of our student teams held a poll over the weeks asking the question, ‘Is God real?’. We’re genuinely interested to know what people think, but also by asking the question it starts a conversation.
The photo and results above are from Cambridge. You can see that a majority of people would say God is real and there are quite a few floating voters. At Birmingham City University 62% of students believe in a God, 16% don’t believe in a God, and the rest are unsure.
Our teams of students and staff will now be following up with their unique blend of creativity to introduce people to Jesus. Please pray for them.
Find out more about Agapé, including the work of Agapé Student Life, at http://www.agape.org.uk.
To use the analogy of fishing, Agapé’s central support staff provide the boats (structures, processes, communications and technology) from which our field staff go fishing (student, family, workplace ministries). I’m aware that, as Agapé grows and evolves, the boats from which our field staff fish need to change, and some replaced. It’s daunting. In the analogy I’m a boat builder.
Here are some of the boat builders I work with
Philip (pictured above/left) has actually just left Agapé staff after 15 years. In his time at Agapé he previously had been in the communications team and in recent years the I.T. team. I was his team leader for the last few years. He managed a lot of the day-to-day administrative activities, both in terms of I.T., but also database management. He regularly shipped orders purchased on our resource site (http://shop.agape.org.uk). He served willingly and left a sizeable hole! I’ll miss Philip.
Thad (Pictured above between Steve [Left] and me) serves as part of Agapé’s worldwide staff in Budapest with responsibilities for Eastern Europe and Russia area I.T. A week ago Thad was helping us craft future possible I.T. systems, helped in some team development, and helped us fix a problem in one of our financial reporting systems. Thad is a good friend of mine and I hope we’ll be working more closely together in the future.
Abby (Pictured on the above/left) has recently joined our staff team to help Agapé raise funds. Abby, like all are staff, is currently raising funds to cover her own salary and expenses, but in the long run she will sharpen our focus on raising greater funds to enable us to go further and reach a broader audience with the good news of Jesus. Fundraising is often in the news in relation to charities doing it forcefully which can leave a sour taste in peoples’ mouths. Abby will bring her expertise in this area to help us do it well, and in compliance with all the rules and regulations. The picture is from a recent trip to London where we were learning how new rules relating to Data Protection impacted charities.
I feel like I’ve been on a life journey the last few months. I hope I can find words to help you experience some of the journey with me… I’ll give it a go…
The first part of this year was fairly mapped out for me in terms of what needed to be done; a trip to Bangkok was needed to connect with our Global Technology network and an operation was needed to repair my hernia. However, since then it has been clear in my mind that, looking at the work ahead in Agapé, either I needed to change, or I needed a new role, or it was time to leave Agapé staff.
When I joined Agapé staff it was with a clear sense of God’s calling. I was successful in my career working in computers. I had professional qualifications in the trade which were respected. However, my priority was not my career but to follow Jesus. When I look back over the last 14 years it has been incredible what God has done, not least that He’s provided through many of my friends (you!) to keep me going! God’s generosity is reflected in so many of you and I’m so thankful.
The trouble I was encountering was I felt responsible for everything from national operations, I.T. support/maintenance and trying to map and navigate the future, and then implement it. This is why a change was needed. My head was full. My heart was empty. I couldn’t do what I was doing.
There hasn’t been a sudden change, or revelation overnight, but I have just started a new role in Agapé, and in many ways it looks quite similar! Steve, who I’ve mentioned before in my newsletters, is now responsible for all current I.T. things, and I am now responsible for future I.T. things. That simple clarity is disproportionately releasing.
To use the analogy of fishing, Agapé’s central support staff provide the boats (structures, processes, communications and technology) from which our field staff go fishing (student, family, workplace ministries). I’m aware that, as Agapé grows and evolves, the boats from which our field staff fish need to change, and some replaced. It’s daunting. I do feel this is what God has called me to.
Thank you for supporting the boat builder (me). Every week people are hearing about and responding to Jesus in a whole variety of contexts. Our website, http://www.agape.org.uk, is a great place to read stories of these occasions. You can also sign up to news and prayer updates from the whole ministry there.
Thanks for listening.