AUTUMN WEEKEND LŰBBECKE
By Ryland Jones
The AFCU Autumn weekend at Church House Lübbecke was memorable. The theme was living the victorious Christian life with the title "Punching above your weight". Adam Pyrke based his teaching on the conquering of Canaan by the Israelites and challenged us to consider whether as individuals we are living in the wilderness. Alternatively are we prepared to believe God and step out in faith like Joshua and Caleb?
Adam's premise was that whilst we have to pass through the wilderness, this should not be the normal Christian experience but a journey, preferably as short as possible! Joshua and Caleb believed that, despite the battles that would need to be fought, God wanted to bless them and give them the Promised Land, the land of full blessing. Living in the Promised Land should be the normal Christian experience through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Are we experiencing God's best for us in Jesus Christ? This was the challenge which Adam gave us and which caused us to search the Scriptures and our own hearts. Do I believe that God wants to bless us, bless me, above all that we think or imagine? And am I prepared to walk in faith and obedience? Adam presented the Scriptural evidence verse by verse. The Word of God is active and sharper than any two edged sword. The Word of God through the Holy Spirit did His work over the weekend and we were built up in our faith and greatly blessed.
Richard and Sian Downes catered for the children and young people and presented their work at the Sunday morning service which fitted in beautifully with the weekend's theme. This was based on the battle between David and Goliath, a battle which was won by David through his trust in God.
Thank you Val and Juliette for all your efforts in arranging such a wonderful weekend and thank you Lord for such a wonderful salvation.
"Jesus and all in Him is mine----
Alive in Him my living Head ---
I claim the crown through Christ my own.”
MEN’S MINISTRY TO CYPRUS
By Mark Johnson-Ferguson
Great teaching, friendly and supportive fellowship, lively singing and worship in a relaxing mountain top location. What a great start for Cyprus Men's Weekends.
On Friday 16th October five of us gathered at Troodos Camp, some 1800m above sea level, almost at the top of Cyprus, to spend a weekend learning about and investigating John's Gospel, sharing time, chat and prayer and walking the local hills. (Oh, and cheering the Rugby World Cup). Rhett had pulled together a flexible programme. Rev Geoff Berry kicked the weekend off with a simple field service on Friday sharing his experience as the last 'Combat Padre' on Op HERRICK.
Martin Riddall had prepared a scroll of John's Gospel some 6m long which he used to illustrate in full rainbow colour structure and themes across the whole Gospel, over 3 good sessions, which were memorable and thought provoking. Les led us on his 12-string in lively singing throughout the weekend.
Troodos is a great location: away from it on the mountain (closer to Him?); simple, but good food; tidy clean en-suite rooms and easy access to the hills. Looking forward to next year with a bigger crowd.
LADIES MINISTRY TO CYPRUS
By Anne Monkcom
I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend the ladies' weekend in Troodos recently. My visit was short but definitely sweet! And I am not just referring to the abundance of cakes!
It was great to meet with other Christian women in an environment without denominational barriers giving me the chance to renew old friendships and make new ones. Somehow these opportunities seem all the more precious when living at a distance from the UK and the Christian experiences it has to offer.
This year's topic of Spiritual Pathways really caught my imagination. Coming from a Roman Catholic background I welcomed the chance to examine the appeal of some of the wide variety of ways in which we humans express our love for God. The teaching was presented in an informative and non-judgemental way, encouraging us to see not only the appeal to others but how we might incorporate some aspects to enhance our own relationship with God.
The visit to Kykkos Monastery was fascinating. Towards the end of our visit we held a short act of worship in this new environment which left me pondering which of the different elements of worship make up the right approach for me.
All this, together with the stunning scenery of the Troodos Mountains added up to a great weekend with plenty to think, and indeed pray about in the coming days and weeks.
‘Interspersed with the talks, we had several ‘practical’ sessions which gave us the opportunity to try out some of these pathways. We may all have been pushed slightly out of our comfort zones at times, but I’m sure it has helped me understand and appreciate other styles of worship and give them a try, which is hugely rewarding. The highlight for me was the service at sunrise on Mount Olympus, watching that beautiful red orb rise from the sea of cloud.’ Julia Johnson-Ferguson
By John Gueran
Would you Adam and Eve it! Even as a 59 year old, completely retired from all forms of employment, ex matelot- I still got a crash draft! The Naval Christian Fellowship was temporarily without an Executive Secretary. When I resigned as a Trustee, some time ago, my last words to the Chairman, Dan Peskett, were, “If I can ever help out in the future, give me a shout”. You’ll never guess what... here I am, Temporary Local Acting. The very first thing I did in this new role was to find out when the AFCU/NCF Autumn Gathering is and are there still places available? There was good news on both fronts. So I joined about 60 on the recent weekend at Milton Hill House. A good combination of serving, retired, families and supporters. I knew it would be a great weekend and so it was.
Good teaching on Daniel, very relevant to life in the Services. Great fellowship, it is just so good to pass the time with like-minded fellow Christians who understand the trials, tribulations, joys and blessings of military life. A superb children’s programme, with some of the most unbelievably gorgeous children in the entire world, gave parents the opportunity to concentrate on their Christian walk.
Worship led us before each teaching to a place where our minds and hearts were settled and ready to receive from our Father. Plenty of prayer ministry available for those who wished.
In the background the hotel was very comfortable, food very good and location just right. A pleasant walk on the Saturday afternoon enjoyed some glorious countryside.
There is something very special about drawing away from the world for a short time to recharge the batteries. Also stepping back from the hustle and bustle of life to reassess priorities. When you read this you should pray about whether it would be good for you in the future.
LADIES’ WEEKEND AMPORT
By Sarah Barton
AFCU women have been meeting together in Spring and Autumn for many years now but my first experience was in March this year where I met many who make these two dates fixed markers in their annual calendar. And so it was that twenty-four women met together over the weekend of 19/20 September for the autumn ladies’ weekend, this year held at Clanfield in Oxfordshire. The venue at Windmill Farm worked really well and we were looked after fabulously.
It always amazes me how deep and close women can get to each other in such a short time, so when I greeted old friends from six months before, it was as if we’d never been apart. Re-connections were established immediately, and new friends made in a matter of a few conversations. There is no one like the Holy Spirit to bind sisters together!
The headline for the weekend was ‘Deep Cries Out’ where Liesel taught on the inextricably linked body, soul and spirit, and how our spirits can be wounded by events and experiences. It was a profound subject, sensitively communicated, and the Holy Spirit ministered to all of us over the weekend. It was beautiful to see the trust and love in those twenty-four women, even amongst those who didn’t know each other. Sian led the worship – no instruments or lead singer – using film clips of breath-taking shots of creation, followed by hymns and songs, and it took us into the presence of the Lord in a heartbeat.
It’s hard to believe that we only had a day and a half together, such was the depth of our time together. In amongst the tears there were many laughs, and as we all said goodbye to each other there was a heartening feeling of knowing the fixed marker of 26-28 February 2016 isn’t that far away.
Families’ Weekend Lubbecke
By Frank Callanan
Yes, spring had almost sprung over the weekend 24th to 26th April as the annual Armed Forces’ Christian Union Spring Gathering took place in Church House Lübbecke in Germany. We had a packed house with over fifty from across BFG, and beyond, and on this occasion we were also joined by European Navies Christian Link Up (ENCLU) and Military Ministries International (MMI) members. The theme for the weekend was 'Connected'.
On our first evening Martin and Rachel reminded us that we are connected in Body, Spirit and Soul. That we are sons and not slaves and that God connected with us by sending his son Jesus. Liesel led the first session on Saturday and talked of the Triune, Father, Son and Spirit, (Body Soul and Spirit) and reminded us that it is essential to be connected to the 'Power' source, “Without Him, the power source, the light goes out". That we are built to become a dwelling in which God lives. (Ephesians 2 v19.)
Later on Saturday morning Martin talked of us being 'Connected in Christ' from Adam and Eve through Noah to the Apostles and each one of us being part of the body of Christ.
Rachel spoke on Saturday evening about 'Reminding' and reminded us how Christians live together, that the connection we have with God is as Father and that we are his sons/children. (1 John 3 v1) We were also reminded that our lives are in His hands. Trust Him. Put down fear and pick up trust.
Our Prayer time on Saturday evening was dominated by rebasing and its associated problems for both those serving in the forces and those serving the forces. Also our prayers of concern extended to our German friends present and for those of our fellowships remaining in Germany.
The Rev Mike Terry RN (retired) led our all age worship on Sunday morning and led the children with the 'connected body' that they had assembled throughout the weekend. Grapes and vines were the main theme. Altogether the weekend was a wonderful experience with a mixture of emotional and spiritual highs, amazement, enlightenment, empathy, fellowship, and friendships.
MEN’S WEEKEND DEVON
By Damian Briggs-Wilson
Despite a twenty-year career in the British Army, and having now ‘retired’ for the last eighteen months, I am ashamed to report that this AFCU event was my first. It will certainly not be my last. What an incredible event it was.
Drawn together from all over the UK, active and retired servicemen met together, many for the first time, at St. George’s House, Georgeham for this fantastic men’s weekend. Georgeham is located in beautiful North Devon and a stone’s throw from incredibly rugged coastline and an array of top grade beaches. The house itself is a large Georgian manor with ample room for its guests, and exists as a Christian activity centre.
Within hours on Friday evening, and with a modest amount of alcoholic inebriation, the main hall was soon alive with our group of nineteen roaring with laughter, playing fun games and demolishing astonishing quantities of cheese! The following morning after a hearty breakfast teams deployed onto different activities including sea kayaking (in this instance it was definitely ‘surf’ kayaking) and mountain biking. If this wasn’t enough, the afternoon was then spent ‘coasteering’: leaping off ridiculously high rocks into the sea below at the renowned Baggy Point. Sunday was a more leisurely ‘rambling’ affair; naturally, apart from the challenge of finding the space for the most wonderful (and huge) roast lunch.
It was a weekend imbibed with true Christian fellowship and the exchange of incredible personal testimonies and the opportunity to meet extraordinary men, setting about some quite remarkable purposes in the world. For me the most important was the fellowship and the privilege of feeling at home with men united in Christ (and then to enjoy the great outdoors interspersed with some wonderful food). Well done and thank you to Martin Riddall, Rhett Parkinson and Ben Campbell-Colquoun for setting it all up and for making us all the richer for the experience.
By Ethan Palmer aged 11 (son of a serving RAF pilot)
My name is Ethan and I’m one of the many that get to enjoy EASTER CAMP. I first heard about Easter Camp from Felix Parkinson who told me all about the fun, games and worship and I instantly had a desire to go.
Once I finally got there, it was even more fun than I thought it would be! There were so many good bits it is hard to choose the best from sports to the night game to the worship. There was so much laughter and fun and I made many new friends. Now for the bad bits, well actually they weren’t bad just gross. One of the things at Easter camp was if you were naughty you ate something GROSS. I pushed a leader in to a swimming pool and had to eat ... a scorpion it tasted like burned chicken that was disgusting. Another thing that was really revolting but fun was the messy games. These are some of the things we did:
- Throw lard to a partner, I caught it on my foot; and my mum had to wash my shoes when I got home because it was still there.
- Pick out potatoes and pickled Gherkins with your foot, extra points if you eat the Gherkins;
- Make a pyramid of full cups of water whilst lying down, extra points if the guy holding the cups of water stands up;
- Throw water bombs full of water, peas and carrots and pass down the line diagonally to get in a bucket;
- Paint your hair and paper plates using Ketchup;
- Cover yourself in shaving foam to look very silly, extra points if you write a nice message to the leader there.
We also had some amazing teaching. I was in the best bible study group, I learnt so much and the leaders really helped us (even when we brought in “Lord of the Rings” whilst talking about fellowship). We talked about the different types of sin, stuff about what sin looks like and how it affects our lives but we also learnt how God is a forgiving God and may set standards extremely high but when we fail to reach those standards he helps us get there and the 10 commandments become the 10 promises.
Easter camp is now very special to me and I can’t wait to see you all next year. If you haven’t tried it before you really should give it a go. No parents and loads of fun, what more could you wish for!