Autumn Gathering, 2nd - 4th November 2012
I hope I speak for all when I say that we had a very special time indeed over the weekend. We were blessed in so many ways, not least with Spirit-filled worship led by Roddy Porter and by Matt King speaking predominantly on us being the ‘Real Deal’ as Christians.
This was a combined event with Naval Christian Fellowship and I’m pleased to say that, despite a healthy amount of banter, no fights broke out! You tube videos featured a number of times to great effect, including a particularly clever parody of the modern church service (‘Google’ it!). Whilst on the subject of films, we had a taster of the ‘Defenders’ DVD produced by Christian Vision for Men which I rushed off to order for my church and workplace. It’s fantastic and I urge you all to get a copy. Go to www.cvm.org.uk/defenders for more details.
There’s no doubt that God was with us throughout the weekend. It was lovely to be amongst like-minded people, some of whom know each other well, others hardly knew a soul. But it was also fantastic to be challenged as well – whilst the majority of Britons profess to have Christian beliefs, we were exploring how to become or remain being the ‘Real Deal’ such that our faith directs every part of our being and can’t help but leak out to those we come into contact with.
Whilst the adults were being challenged through Matt King’s passionate teaching from the book of James, the children and young people were treated to a full programme of their own by a fabulous team (thanks to all the lovely ladies who gave up their time). My daughter Abigail’s favourite part of the weekend was singing a version of “we are marching” with a big boot on a stick!
Saturday evening was time for something completely different, with a huge roaring bonfire and firework display to rival the Olympics Opening Ceremony (or do I exaggerate a little on both counts?), followed by an evening of illusions and silliness with Steve Legg – ‘International Baffler and Funny Man’. He had us in stitches and flabbergasted with his jokes and tricks.
Sadly this action-packed weekend had to come to an end... but I have every confidence that the next one will be just as rewarding, so book your place at an AFCU event NOW!
Summer Houseparty, 19th - 25th August 2012
'What I Did On My Summer Holiday By Albert Ross'
For my Summer holiday I went to the AFCU Summer Houseparty at Westonbirt. There you have lots of fun, lots of food and meet nice people. There are things to do all the time, including swimming, tennis, the murder mystery a quiz night, It’s A Knockout, Sports Day, The Hash, tree walks, films, BBQs and loads of clubs for every age. There are speakers, music groups, worship sessions and late night cocoa.
The house is enormous and set in a beautiful park where we can run around as much as we like. We dress up a lot so those who have been before bring wigs, false moustaches and strange hats. The staff and our AFCU house parents are very helpful and kind and the house is full of old things. It’s really good for disabled people because there are lifts and ramps everywhere. The food is fantastic and my mum says it is very healthy too.
The peacocks sometimes keep us awake at night but mostly we are so tired we sleep through. In the clubs we make things, talk about Jesus and have fun. The leaders are great and one day I want to be one. Next year I want to bring my mum and dad because the grown-ups have just as much fun as we do. I have made some brilliant friends so I will see them next year as well. Albert.
8/10. Very good Albert and you know that we have been coming to these house parties for 25 years and would never want to miss them because they are so full of joy.
Tim King, Maddy King and Charlie Bland.
Soul Survivor Momentum, 17th - 21st August 2012
Eleven serving folk, 2 spouses, 2 fiancés, one ‘older’ couple and their son along with girlfriend (who became fiancé on day one of Momentum – but that’s another story) assembled in a field near Shepton Mallet. We had representation from the RN, RM, Army and RAF ... one of our merry little gang unpacked his tent to find a distinct lack of poles ... so a bit of accommodation re-alocation was required , but after that was sorted everyone got into Momentum routine.
Up at 0830 ish, first seminar at 0930 then the main meeting at 11. Seminars all afternoon with the Big Top at 1900. Helen and I were running the stand in the ‘Tool Shed’ ... we will never drip about the opening times at New Wine .... Momentum being for ‘younger’ folk it remains open till 2330 ... The normal diet of worship, teaching and ministry provided much to talk and pray about, and as ever it was a privilege to hear folk being touched and challenged by God ... one of our group received four prophetic pictures for individuals during one meeting, the first time that had happened to them!
There were a couple of not yet Christians with us, and there was some lively debate and discussion going on over the tea mugs up at the campsite! A first this year was the whole ship Hog Roast .. a great feat of organisation, in which everyone partook ... 25 hogs to feed about 5000 punters! Brilliant. The stand in the tool shed was as busy as ever, we made some great contacts to follow up ... 3 serving folk, 3 with relations in the military, 8 with definite start dates to join up, 5 at OTC etc and 7 who want to pray for the Military.
This was of course over and above the numerous conversations about what we do (inc one who thought it was inappropriate that we were recruiting at such an event, and one who didn’t know there was a Christian Division in the UK Military ... tempted as I was to pursue these openings for a bit of harmless winding up, we did tell them what we were about!). The stand had a great addition in the form of the scalectrix Olympic Velodrome set, which attracted quite a lot of interest ... So all in all a great 5 days ... the weather was kind, and it only rained for about half an hour on the final day, just before everyone was going to take their tents down ... it was hilarious.....sort of.
New Wine, July 2012
Whilst most of the UK sat back and watched “Team GB” excel in the London Olympics, some of us were at New Wine experiencing “Olympic challenges” of our own!
This was my first time at New Wine. Last year my wife, who is not a camper, went for the first time and, as she feared, her tent flooded, my son’s iPOD drowned and yet despite this they insisted that we return again this year. I needed to know what was it about New Wine that; attracted my wife to joyfully endure whatever the great British weather could throw at her, to be separated from her hair straighteners after 18 years and for my reluctant children (15 and 11 yrs) to demand that New Wine become a permanent fixture in our summer calendar?
I quickly learnt that New Wine was a special place where one can sense the presence of Jesus in many ways. The broad range of teaching seminars sensitively catered for Christians according to their respective journeys and at the same time challenged all of us to grow in our faith. There was plenty of choice to do as much or as little as you wished throughout the day. The evenings were also packed with praise and worship, a choice of teaching sessions and late night cafes and bars. The AFCU tent also provided a great place to meet up later in the evening for a glass of wine and fellowship together. I was particularly impressed with the children’s work that was extremely well run giving the children a unique opportunity to learn and experience more about faith in The Lord Jesus. It was also wonderful to see how the environment at New Wine enabled many of the children to enjoy a level of personal freedom that is often denied them in today’s world.
However, what I hadn’t anticipated was that a great deal of my personal refreshment and challenge would come in another way - primarily from the rain - and lots it! So much, in-fact, that even emergency trenches had to be dug to prevent flooding and stop some of us from being swept off down the hill. But it was this experience that proved to be the one I will take away and treasure. They say that you can’t have a rainbow without the rain and we will never forget the amazing luminescent rainbow that spanned across the Camp site as a sign (we felt) of God’s promise that he would never leave or forsake us, or the sense of community that we experienced as we all helped each other stay dry.
We decided to name our AFCU ‘village’ “Kibbutz Ramat Yohannah - gathered on the height of God’s Grace”, the challenges of the rain brought us all closer together and we were able to experience God’s grace being poured out, as we shared in community together and laughed more than I can remember in a long time.
Let me end with a word of encouragement for those of you who have never attended New Wine. I believe that you can witness a glimpse of how God wants us to live our lives; experience and deepen relationships with other AFCU members (and their friends) and have many laughs at the same time. Do not be surprised if your children insist on coming back to New Wine each year.
by Andy & Kate Smith
Day of Prayer, 28th June 2012
The Day of Prayer for the Armed Forces was held on Thursday 28 June at St Augustine's Church in Queens Gate, London.
It started with an early service of informal worship, reflection and prayer led by the AFCU, followed by a more formal service run by the Royal Navy Chaplaincy.
It was a deeply moving and reflective day. We were joined by approximately 200 people for all or part of the day.
The theme of the day was Jubilee focusing on Revival, Redemption, Restoration and Reconciliation. Following lunch there was a quiet time of reflection using prayer stands and the afternoon finished with a closing service led by Lt Cdr Mark Barton RN.
by Cathie Weldon
CVM Weekend, 29th June - 1 July 2012
'A Festival of Faith'
It was the 12th year of 'The Gathering', an annual event hosted by Christian Vision for Men (CVM). So on a wet and windy Friday afternoon in a field just outside of Swindon, eight intrepid explorers set up camp in what was to be an ever increasing village.
This was my first experience of a Christian camp and if I'm perfectly honest, I initially thought it might be too much too soon, but how wrong could I have been? It was to be a lads weekend away to take stock of our lives, celebrate our faith, pray with one another and participate in good old fashioned boys' activities. We even got to burn stuff!
In the main marquee, there were powerful testimonies about the amazing way God has worked and the opportunity to welcome new brothers into Christ's family. We heard from guest speakers in seminars and services, even one who gave us the lowdown on “What women wanted us to know”!
The rain may have dampened the competition on the Bucking Bronco, Human Table Football and Bungee Run, but it did not dampen our spirits. As the mud thickened, for reasons unknown trainers were replaced by flip flops, flip flops replaced by wellies. Our smiles however, were never replaced, they just got broader. Over the course of the weekend, I truly began to feel at home; I was at a family reunion. During worship I was overcome with emotion and happiness. It was then I openly declared my love for our heavenly father and as I belted out song after song in worship, I felt His Spirit run through me. I know for a fact I am unable to sing (just ask my wife) but I never thought the sound of 850 grown men singing would sound so beautiful; it was powerful, heartfelt and overwhelming.
My thanks go to Rhett Parkinson for corralling the troops and to the whole of the CVM team. CVMs aim is to reach out to a million men in Britain; as the AFCU we can and should support this vision.
But how can you summarise such a successful weekend? 3 days of rain, 850 brothers but most importantly one best friend; Jesus!
by Maj Steve Turnock REME
Families Weekend, 11th - 13th May 2012
We had a wonderful time at the AFCU Lübbecke weekend. The key speaker was Rev Gordon Hickson and the theme was the life of Peter. Gordon gave us a moving account of his own coming to faith and of his exciting road to spiritual maturity. The key point that really stood out for me was the distinction between saving faith and kingdom faith. Gordon highlighted the difference between man's thoughts and God”s thoughts. How do we get God's thoughts to enter our spirit and soul? By allowing the seed of the Word of God to germinate in our spirits and create kingdom faith. Gordon foresaw a time of persecution for the church - but under persecution the church always flourishes. The Christian life is impossible to live in our own strength, but through faith in the promises of God in Jesus Christ, we are more than conquerors in every situation. How do we live the Christian Life? By faith, exactly as we started it. Are we available to God? If we are, he will be available to us and through the Holy Spirit the indwelling Christ will empower us to accomplish the work of the ministry which God has prepared for each one of us.
The theme of Peter's spiritual journey was concluded on Sunday by the Warden, Rev Cole Maynard. Peter had many faults but through God's gentle leading, Peter became a living stone in God's temple.
Peter and Kathy Bramhall did a superb job with the children and young people's ministry. Our sincere thanks also go to Paul and Jo Eaton for their wonderful work as hosts for the weekend. Mark Leakey led inspiring worship to the accompaniment of the guitar. There was a very real presence of God throughout the weekend. Body ministry was evident when we met together to pray for each other. How good it was to be in the presence of God”s family.
Finally, we thank all the staff at Church House for making this weekend so memorable for us. The food and hospitality was something very special.
by Ryland and Antoinette Jones
Gorsley Weekend, 1st - 5th June 2012
This was my first Gorsley weekend and although my daughter Heather and I missed the fish and chip supper on the Friday evening due to travelling we were looking forward to the rest of the weekend.
By mid-morning on Saturday we were all gathered together in the crèche of Gorsley Baptist Church for a period of collective worship. The weekend was led by Mike Forsyth and he had chosen “encouragement” as the theme of these small daily meetings. With about twenty people attending it was a good time of praise and reflection. There was even some colouring books brought along for the children, as well as an indoor bouncy castle on Sunday and a separate building full of games which they took full advantage of.
There was a relaxed atmosphere to the weekend and after the daily worship people were free to do as much or as little as they wanted. Some people stayed in the Gorsley area while others went cycling around some of the Forest of Dean on Saturday and kayaking on Monday. The well stocked BBQ on the Saturday evening was enjoyed by everyone - many thanks to Liz Carter for taking charge of this! We were able to worship with Gorsley Baptist Church on the Sunday for both the morning and evening service. After the morning service we had an amazing dinner, mainly using the leftovers from the BBQ and a lot of imagination. The food was delicious!
The weekend was a great chance to meet old friends and to make new ones. Despite the weather (and a few leaky tents) a great time was had by all. If you are looking for a relaxed weekend, or an active weekend, whatever weekend you want, Gorsley can do it for you. To be able to meet as a group of Christians and spend time thinking about our Lord and Saviour is a great thing and I would strongly encourage more people to come along next year
by LCpl Morag Todd
Link Up weekend, 18th - 20th May 2012
The Link Up weekend is a most important event in the AFCU calendar. This year some seventy members gathered at Sunningdale Park, a conference centre with comfortable rooms, excellent meeting facilities, and menus to stretch the waist. Our theme was “Persistent Prayer”. In our sessions we were updated on the work of the Union and future plans, and listened to the experience of serving members, under-girding each with dedicated prayer.
Our keynote speakers were Paul and Karen Carr from Eagle Ministries in Colchester. We were moved by their descriptions of the work they undertake leading Alpha courses in the Military Corrective Training Centre, giving testimony to the impact of the Holy Spirit healing hurting lives.
We were updated on the vital activities undertaken by our office staff, and reminded of the importance of the Confidential Intercession Paper, encouraging more to support this work. Rhett Parkinson spoke of the exciting plans being made for the 2014 AMCF Conference in South Africa.
Mark Johnson–Ferguson in his talk emphasised the importance to him and his family of the prayers of the associate prayer group to which they are linked. Again we were moved as we listened to Pete Le Feuvre describing his work at Headley Court and in the Walled Garden, used to aid the healing process for severely injured service personnel.
Altogether this was a memorable weekend. We shared in worship and fellowship, but most importantly we were challenged to be steadfast and persistent in our prayers in support of our armed forces and our members serving across the world.
Many thanks go to Sue Skippage and her planning group, and to Amanda and Val for their detailed administration, love and care for us during our time together. Will you, serving member or associate, be there next year?
by Ian Brannam
Easter Camp, 3rd - 9th April 2012
Whilst Easter camp has been running for 85 years it is constantly evolving. Easter Camp 2012 saw a couple of significant changes: A new location – Westonbirt School (which is a fantastic place, hugely accommodating and producing what must surely be some of the best food in the land!) The free-roaming peacocks certainly gave EC a touch of class! New houseparents – EC was run this year by Pete and Marie Daulby who have embraced Easter Camp and been embraced alike for their enthusiasm; ensuring that Easter Camp is fun, well-organised and focused on God's word. Although there are many reading this who are familiar with EC, or indeed came to know and love the Lord God during that special week near Easter, there are others for whom EC is a mystery. In order to enlighten these people (and encourage them to send future campers!) a brief outline of a 'typical' day at Easter Camp, if such a thing exists, follows:
0630 – The super-keen early birds rise for the early swim.
0730 – Whilst the campers are being woken by duty Mum and duty Dad the rest of the leaders meet for a time of prayer. This is very early for some leaders.
0800 – The campers also start their day in scripture and prayer in their dorm groups. This year's Bible studies and talks were focused on the book of Job under the title of 'My desire'. An intense and challenging book, all the campers and leaders were rewarded with a deeper understanding of God's character and how Job was never abandoned by God.
0830 – Breakfast. The staff at Westonbirt School produced food to the highest standard although they may have been surprised at the amount some of the campers were able to consume!
0900 – After breakfast the members of each dorm decorate their room with artwork based on the previous evening's talk in 'Spit and Polish'. Marks are awarded for tidiness, artwork and overall effort with a prize awarded to the winning dorm at the end of camp.
1000 – The campers have an extended Bible study for an hour with campers of all ages. It's quite novel for some campers to spend so much time saturated in God's word and many have said that they find this to be the time when they draw closest to God.
1130 – Morning activities to meet any and every young person's hopes and dreams: Dodgeball, Juggling, Kubb, Arts and Crafts, Dodgeball (so important it's mentioned twice).
1245 – Lunch. Regarding the quality, see Breakfast.
1345 – Feet off floors / leaders' prayer time. Prayer is the oil that keeps EC running smoothly.
1445 – Afternoon Event. Fun and games are a high priority every year at EC. Messy games made a welcome return this year as well as the Krypton Factor, an Olympic themed wide game and the day trip this year was to Bath. The citizens of Bath were not expecting 30-odd leaders in fancy dress (or rather 30 odd leaders) and 70 excited campers hunting for them.
1715 – Informal Praise. Silliness, games and worship.
1830 – Supper. I've paid good money for worse food at some restaurants.
2000 – At the evening talks Stephen Potter (from Oasis Church in Portsmouth) gave a sterling set of talks in his 25th year preaching at EC. He has continued to serve and preach God's word every Easter, leading many to Christ and many others to a deeper understanding of Him.
2100 – Cocoa.
2200 – Bed time for campers / leaders' prayer.
Easter Camp would not function without your continued support, so a big thank you to the many AFCU members who support EC by sending your children, supporting it financially (particularly through The Cornelius Trust and the 'Auntie Theo' Fund) and most importantly by surrounding it in prayer.
by Benj Shuler