Friday, 12 October 2012

The Importance of Coffee...

Ok, so I have taken up drinking coffee again. Not sure if this is the best of my ideas but I have felt sharper in the office, not that I have made colleagues bleed at the sight of me, I'm not that sharp (maybe on the football pitch) but it has helped. It even got to the point where I was handed my own sticker by one of the church administrators to stick on a church coffee mug, just so I had my own mug. Well, just out of consideration for the mug, I had to fill it with fresh filter coffee... but in a way I have never drunk coffee before. I had it BLACK, that is WITHOUT MILK!!!!! I don't know what I was thinking, but it was strong and I felt I needed to run 10k right at that moment. Since that day, I have had a coffee every day, even 2 or 3. I have also invested in one of these...

Which is Sweden's answer to a Starbucks card. This also allows me a whole 20% off one of these...

 So in terms of a ministry/missional blessing, this has to be good. Helps me to concentrate, and it gets me money off. So depending on your views on coffee, please support/pray for me, which ever you feel appropriate.

Another amazing discovery was The English Shop. Here are some of the wonders I found there, with the rough converted SEK to GBP cost (and the reason I bought nothing).


 about the same...

 Ok, so I can buy this in a Sweden supermarket, but it was nice to see a whole wall of it.

£1.80 a packet.

As you can see, it's a little much, but I still spent a good time in there, missing English supermarkets a little bit. Don't get me wrong, I am loving every minute of being here, the youth are all wonderful and I am loving getting to know them, and the church is fantastic. But nothing beats a cup of tea and a couple of custard cremes from the St B's biscuit tin. 

Also Annie and I have started doing the Alpha marriage course (minus the section that we will have to do after we are married...), run by the guy who is marrying us and is part of our marriage prep. We having a great time, investing in our relationship, and will I blog about that very soon as it really is an experience. 

And good news!! I am now officially sponsored by Stewardship, so anyone who would like to support me can now do that via Stewardship, and if you are a tax payer your giving can also be gift-aided. How cool is that? Get in touch if you would like to do that and I can send you a form. 

Thank you to those who are praying for me. Things are really moving over here. I am sending out a newsletter next week, so If you want to here all the news of the ministry then please also get in touch and i'll add you to the mailing list. Your prayers are hugely needed, and appreciated and I really believe they are making a difference. God is so good, and has been making settling in so smooth. Today I applied for my ID Card, the last piece of the puzzle to me being fully integrated into Sweden. Praise God. 

Over and out, 
The Captain!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

I'm in the paper...

Well hello supporters, followers and anyone else who happens to fall upon this page. It is exactly 1 month since I have moved to Sweden and it has been fantastic, interesting, slightly stressful, trying, wet, windy, sunny, and brilliant. I have been through illnesses which have been nothing but aggravating when 3 days in I was diagnosed with pneumonia (a consultation that cost me £30 as I wasn't registered in Sweden) and given a second dose of antibiotics in less than a week. The first lot was for a bowel infection, those at Soul Survivor with me would have seen the affects of that. Now I am nearly fully recovered, and already stuck into this wonderful job, and using my spare time to protest against a huge injustice!

Ok, so that sounds a little general, but the protesting did happen. It was about 2 Iranian woman who were being refused asylum and being sent back to Iran. They had become Christians during their stay here and were to face the death penalty because of the conversion. I was told that the migrations board had not believed their story, but apparently this was due to poor interpretations. The protest was started by their Pastor who baptized them and could vouch for their faith. So the demonstration was to stop them being put on the plane and to buy more time to give them a fair hearing. And we were successful. We handed out letters to anyone on the same flight as them, asking them to stand up and refuse to be on the same flight as these women. Lufthansa were notified about this before the flight and had refused to carry them. However to be sure, their pastor got on the same flight and saw the rest of the passengers standing up, as asked in protest of the injustice. Makes my heart just warm up hearing about this event.

The women were taken to Franfurt another way, but when they got there they were brought back to Sweden and are waiting for the next step. Please pray for them, we are doing all we can, but I believe that prayer works and is powerful and effective!

I am planning a newsletter soon, as so much has happened already and I have been very busy (hence the lack of blogs). Thank you for your prayers for me and for the ministry I am involved in! Within 3 weeks I have got my person number (normally takes 1 month) and my residents permit (normally 2 months), so thank you!

Over and out,

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Wedged between eras!

Ok, so my boxes were picked up today, eventually after the first attempt from the couriers allowed them one look at the amount of boxes, and they realised they didn't have the space for them to fit in the van. Even thought they knew what they were picking up... anyway, after a lot of waiting my possessions are on their way to Sweden and I will be meeting them there on Monday.

It has been a pretty weird process of leaving, different emotions, and different feelings. Excitement, doubt (yes but as we know doubt is simply a way to challenge and be more sure than before), anxiety, nervousness, fear, extreme happiness and also sadness at leaving so many people behind who have been a huge part of my life for the last 2 years. (Sounds like I should be checking myself for bipolar...) But finishing equip has literally felt like the end of an era, and being in Sweden will be the start of a new era... so i'm kind of in-between era's at the moment and I don't know what to call that...

Whatever you call it I am wedged there, and the only thing that can un-wedge me will be the bump when I land at Gothenburg City Airport next monday morning! Then it will be the start of the new dual-linguistic era with lots of Fika breaks and if Annie has her way.. walks! I love walking, but I just don't think I appreciate it as much as Annie does. For me it's more the company than the activity. So I guess that is something in the new era.

I know this weird feeling will go once I am there, so I am going to cut myself a break. Someone told me recently that I am experiencing change in the 4 most stressful areas in life. So of course I going to feel out of place. But I do know that the one thing that is getting me through, apart from the fact I will be near to my wonderful fiancee once and for all, but that God has been the unchanging constant through the whole process. He went before me during the whole process and He continues to do so, being faithful as ever. The fact it has all come together so nicely can only be credit to Gods blessing on this whole move.

My next blog will be from Sweden next week, so stay tuned for that one!!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Ok, so that was a long day... or 5 months...

So hello again, that was a very long cup of tea and eventful to say the least. 5 months ago I was reflecting on what a crazy year it had been, and how God was doing incredible things amongst the youth of my church, and He's been at it again. Tonight I want to talk about one thing of many, and then I will be leading up to something very big that is changing my life and I need lots of prayer and support for, but lets sit back and relax and have a good time.

So what has happened to me? Well I have gotten engaged to Annie, my wonderful Swedish girlfriend-now-fiancee, I have led a retreat for 14-18s, I have been to New Wine Sweden, secured a house and a job in Sweden, and currently seeking sponsorship for the job as I go to Sweden next month. So exciting and scary times. I have been reflecting on that a lot recently, and God reminded me that when I started Equip I had accepted that He would be calling me elsewhere at the end of the two years. I was just not aware that it would be overseas and that He would be using someone so close to me in order to get me there. Annie and I have an amazing relationship and we do our best to keep God involved as much as we can, and the proof in the pudding here is that God has blessed us so much with a future together in Sweden, at least the near future anyway... who knows where God will send us next.

So lets start with the first big moment of the last 5 months, or should I call it the biggest moment of my life. Getting engaged to Annie. Now girls who are already engaged or married, please do get jealous of the effort I went into for Annie if your spouse didn't go to the same effort I did, and those not yet engaged... This type of thing could be something to hope and pray for. Guys, take note. Ok, so I am getting a bit proud now but my main focus for this proposal was to make Annie feel special... and I think that worked. 

Now we had been talking about marriage quite a bit, and it got to the stage where I just had to do it. When we started the relationship we were already living in separate countries so we knew it had to be serious from the start, and we were committed from then, yes even me the commitment-phobe, or should I say now ex-commitment-phobe!!! Haha- in your face scaredy cat Jason of years before, I am making a commitment and its for life... what? for life...  hang on... have I really thought this through... ermm..... :) Of course I have. But it took a lot of processing in order to do that... anyway. On with the proposal. So I had to ask her dad for permission, in Swedish. He doesn't speak much English at all, and to be fair thats ok. He doesn't work internationally, and until his only daughter started dating a handsome English stud (yes thats me), he probably didn't really expect he would need to learn it. And in Sweden with the high level of equality, I didn't actually need to ask him for permission. But with my British tradition, morals and values, I would still ask as it is only polite and this would be a big moment for both of us. He said yes!!!  The hard part was over...ish. I had spoken nearly perfect Swedish to ask the second biggest question of my life. Now if that's not commitment to the cause, I don't know what is. 

So to skip a few parts, (I still need some stories for the wedding day...) I had chosen the date, Annie's next visit to England, the style, and got the ring. I had arranged for one of her best friends to meet up with us both on the day of her arrival, playing down the whole evening with a story about hanging out with friends to watch a film and scoff our faces with greasy pizza. What I actually had arranged was a 3 course meal for the two of us (cooked by me), candlelit of course, and a creation of light in my back garden. I found an excuse to leave Annie with her friend for a couple of hours, and for her friend, the wonderful Bianca to bring her to the house at an allotted time. She was in on the plan. Annie walked through the door to see the meal set out and me stood in the back garden with biggest, and probably very scary smile on my face. Annie then walked up to me at the back, and we exchanged pleasantries and I got down on to one knee. I don't feel it right to fully say everything we said as it was a very special time for us both and there needs to be something we can keep special. You might find more out on the wedding day or at the blessing back in England. But of course she said YES!!! The scariest and happiest moment of my live. Here are a few pictures to show exactly what it looked like. 

The best thing about the whole thing was that we both had the best night ever, and still think back to that night on the 20th February 2012; the day we chose to commit ourselves to each other for life and help lead each other closer to God in our relationship. The commitment of marriage is a special one and shouldn't be taken lightly but when you find that one person then do it in communion with God bringing Him into all your decisions and see how He really blesses you. We are still trying to fully do this and He has already blessed us so much with answered prayers and fruitful ministries, so how much more might He bless us if we can involve Him more. It also shows that God isn't after perfection, He achieves that for us when He forgives us and wipes our slate clean. But He is after faithfulness and obedience, and most importantly our love. The only way we really know how to love one another is by knowing God, because He is love and He showed us love first. Thats what it really comes down to. If we centre our relationships in that, then we can't go much wrong!

So that's been a bit of an insight of what I have gotten up to. Not so much youth work based, but it was such a big moment in my life, I felt I had to share it. Next I will be talking about the youth weekend away and then my next step to Sweden where you, my readers, can play a part in something big God is doing. 

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the next part of the 5 months. 

The Captain, Jason

Friday, 10 February 2012

Wow, Nearly a year since my last post...

I can't actually believe it, it has been 10 months. I could say I have been lazy and have found better things to do, but I have seriously been busy. I am also very busy right now, with essays and coursework coming out of my ear but after finishing a night of youth work, following a day of planning and setting up for the youth group, studying is the last thing I want to do.

Sooooo I will start using this time to blog, and catch you, my committed readers (not committed in the neurological sense, but the loyalty sense), up on what I have been up to in the last year. It will be over a few posts, but my aim is to bring you up to speed, then carry on blogging after, sharing experiences, and building community. I am planning on moving to Sweden for a year (at least) in September, and realising the importance of sharing our skills and experiences to help each other and build each other up. Youth ministry can be lonely at times, but it doesn't need to be.

My amazing girlfriend has also gone skiing for a week, and has limited internet access, so I have a little spare time from that too. :)

I left you at Easter, after an exciting term with Friday Night Chill, and the 5 Weekender, and how they had been successful in different ways. At the end of term we hosted Time at the Cross for Youth, an interactive experience for 11 to 18s to experience and worship God, concentrating and reflecting on what the cross could mean for them. We have young people at all different stages of where they are at with their faith, so we had to cater for many areas. We ended up with a mural designed by my colleague Tristan, and painted by a group of young people. A prayer board drawn by one of the 16yr olds, and painted by 10 others, a chocolate cross, broken and given out at the end, which could be seen as a communion style ritual, each taking up a part of the Cross and choosing to 'nom' it (the local word for consume) and take it home. I know it isn't theologically sound, but it tasted good, and it was another way of breaking down how accessible the cross is to everyone. It also brought Tristan much closer to meeting Jesus on the day, when he choked on a part of the Cross, and ended up in me performing the heimlich maneuver on him to dislodge the oversized piece of chocolate. Well second time luck anyway. But fear not, he is still alive and well. This is the Cross in question:

The main youth hall consisted of a worship band, leading charismatic worship, followed by a dramatisation of a bullying story, written by Liz, our wonderful Youth Pastor. The story was read out in the pitch black room to really get a sense of being involved in the story. I could tell this touched on a few of the young peoples lives. This was then followed by more reflective worship involving lighting tealights as prayers and leaving them in a cliche but very fitting cross in the centre of the room.

After Easter, and a very relaxing time in Sweden with Annie and her family, we entered into our final term of the year. The weather wasn't as amazing as it was at Easter, and we had to cancel FNC In The Park in June because of heavy rain. That should put into perspective for you. The church also came out of a financial slum it had been in from the new year 2011. We acted in the way Nineveh acted when they heard God's judgement was coming, with prayer and fasting as a staff team. I just want to point out here that I didn't think God's judgement was coming upon us because of sinful ways, St Barnabas is far from that, but I certainly learned that prayer and fasting in any situation will certainly make you aware of God's mercy and grace, and give you that feeling of being in a life long embrace with Jesus himself.

St Barnabas is a church with a heavy missional focus, and the amount we do for the community, and the members and non-members alike is astounding, from the new-born children, through the youth, the young adults right up to the senior citizens. And reporting from the inside of this church, St Barnabas is a church with always brings the focus back to Jesus and give him the credit. Something that  has stuck in my head which explains this perfectly is something I heard from David White, Vicar at a local church to us. That is 'I can't, You never said I could! You can! YOU always said you would!'.

It is a faith centered church, with sound biblical doctrine and the prefect place for me to train. I can even go as far as saying it has helped me love the church, Jesus' church. And it isn't a walk in the park either doing the work we do. I have never understood the need for unity in the body of Christ more than I did from the Summer Term 2011. We need to love our church, in all its glory and failings! It's family. Need I say more.

I am loving this trainee worker scheme, which Equip was re-labelled as in September last year. I am completely living and loving my calling to youth ministry. There is still so much to learn, and probably still fail in, but I rest in the fact that the more I fail, the more I learn. Isn't that how Jesus teaches us?

I am continuing to be driven from my passion to see young people grow in relationship with Jesus, and lead each other in the right directions. The testimony from a young person to a young person is volumes louder than a testimony from me, and the influences young people have on each other are so heavy. I am realising more and more the importance to sow seeds where necessary and regularly, then eventually, you will sow them without even realising.

If you are a youth worker of any kind, volunteer, employed, in the church, or the secular world, training or qualified, my hat goes off to you all. This is important work, and God has called us all for a reason, and in our humility we need to refresh ourselves of our calling and follow His lead. This is not only the next generation rising up, its the current generation.

I feel the need for a cup of tea before I talk about the summer conferences and more things I have learned from the front line of youth ministry. Maybe a nap for a night. Thank you for reading this, and feel free to comment on this post, either via facebook, twitter or the comments section below.

All the best, (until tomorrow or in half an hour...)

The Captain :)