Ladies' Amport Weekend , 7th - 9th June 2013
'Equipped to Pray'
”How are you going to fit so much blessing into an article of so few words?!”
My friend’s comment is a challenge as I write. She knows something of the effect this weekend had - and is still having - on me, and on others who were at Amport House; to learn more about how to pray, for themselves and with other people. Prayer Ministry was explained and practised in sessions led by Liesel Parkinson and Sue Piper. The women attending were free to choose where they felt comfiest, either in a beginner or intermediate group.
We were encouraged to get ourselves right before God, and in relation to others, in order to be a clean vessel for His use. The leaders demonstrated how to connect with and listen to people who want prayer for a situation or an area of their life; and our need to be alert to wider issues or underlying roots - drawing on our helper, the Holy Spirit, for guidance, and trusting God to complete His work in the fullness of time.
For many ladies, the seminars and time in company dispelled fears about getting it wrong, and emboldened us with new skills. It was wonderful to see smiles widen and spirits soar as people grew in understanding and felt God at work. Our worship sessions, led by Libby Piper, dovetailed exactly with the teaching and God’s presence among us was very real.
One nugget which impacted several people was a reminder from the life of the Dutch Christian, Corrie Ten Boom, who was imprisoned for helping Jews escape Nazi persecution in the second world war. Corrie’s biography relates her father’s explanation of how; in the same way he would give his daughter her train ticket just before it was time for her to board the train; our Heavenly Father knows exactly when we’re going to need things, and equips us at the right moment.
And – wouldn’t you know – the very next week after learning about prayer ministry, a friend in great distress asked me to pray with her. Here I was with a new-found grasp of (some of) the tools for the job… how could I say no? Containing my initial panic, I did grin inwardly - and even though I’m not super confident or competent, we went on to have a really valuable time of prayer. As I’m learning, if we step out in obedience, God promises to honour that, and He does the rest.
by Julie Knox
CVM Gathering, in a field near Swindon! 21st - 23rd June 2013
For a weekend in June 1180 men came together from around the world as part of Christian Vision for Men's 'The Gathering' conference. The British military were well represented with around 40 from the three services camping together.
18 x 24 tents were erected, ensigns proudly raised and our presence most definitely was felt amongst the camp, if only because the mess tent was raptured during the first night. Coming together to meet with our Captain, Brother, Rescuer and Friend, Jesus, was central to the weekend activities. Worship was led by Graham Kendrick and his team and the sound of praise was something else. Who knew that men could sing so loudly and with such passion away from a football terrace? The teaching brought challenge and commitment, with many making decisions to follow Jesus for the first time and some amazing and inspiring testimonies of regular guys doing crazy things for the Kingdom. As well as all the worship, fellowship was a key component to the weekend. Barbeques seemed to be the cooking method of choice, with more meat than would be found in the local abattoir being cooked over the three days. Other opportunities for manly fun were found to include beer, sport, talks, inflatable rodeo, darts, a huge scalextric track, fast cars, comedy, music, pub quizzes, bowling and so much more. ”Tell me more!” I hear you cry. Well no, come and find out yourself. The Gathering 2014 is open for bookings now and AFCU are looking to increase their numbers next year. Don’t miss out on what God’s doing with men who are prepared to go all out for Him. Thanks must go to all those who made it happen with especial mention of JP, whose hard work made a good weekend into an unbeatable one. And remember, like Yorkies, it’s ”Not for Girls”
by Paul Collins
Gorsley Activity Weekend, 24th - 27th May 2013
Arriving at the camp site in the pitch black, with a never-used 2 man tent and no idea how to put it up, the Gorsley camping weekend was getting off to a great start. After an hour’s struggle, my friend Becky and I finally had somewhere to sleep and a chance to look around at our new home for the weekend.
The facilities were top class, everything one could want from a campsite and more; hot showers, hot beverages and a lot of cake. Things were looking up! Having both been members of the AFCU for 4 years, this was shockingly the first time Becky and I had managed to make an event, and so had no idea what to expect. The morning kicked off with some worship, a short preach by the organiser, Mike Forsyth around the subject of ‘I am the bread of life’ followed by some discussions and prayer. This made a great start to a great day.
The day then split off into different activities. Some people used this opportunity to ‘chillax’, enjoy the beautiful surroundings and unusually warm sunny weather. Becky and I, after consuming a large proportion of the cakes the night before, thought a hardcore bike ride would be the best option. So a group of us headed to the local mountain bike trail and took on some exiting but challenging routes. Prayer was most useful at certain points of the ride!
After the day’s activities we all joined back together and had a well deserved BBQ, with just about every meat you could imagine. I quickly consumed any calories I may have burnt off during the bike ride! To finish the night we all joined in with party games and laughed the evening away. The next morning we joined together for a delightful service with Gorsley Baptist. This was the perfect way to end an amazing weekend.
As one of the younger members of the event, who often faces the challenges of being a Christian in the armed forces, I would strongly encourage others in a similar position to not miss out on these opportunities to interact with similar minded people. I hope to see you all there next year.
Spring Weekend at Lubbecke, 26th - 28th April 2013
Arriving at Church House we were all focussed on being refreshed over the weekend. We had Jerry Field as the 'facilitator' and I did not know what to expect. I could not stop myself thinking of the food in Church House; once again, the staff at Church House excelled in providing service to us. The environs of Church House also allowed us to completely rest and get refreshed in the Lord Jesus. However, it was not just the physical nourishment which mattered for attendees, but re-focussing our spiritual compasses. For us to be refreshed, Jerry explained that we need to keep surrendering to the Lord through confession, repentance and forgiveness (Isaiah 30:15).
Jerry also brought in the element of healing of emotional wounds. The emotional wounds we suffer are often ignored, thus we walk with an emotional limp and are always struggling. Or we are walking along spiritually in an uneasy manner. In this position, it will be very hard for us to be refreshed. Therefore, Jerry told us we need to ask for God’s
Spirit to help us with these things so that we:
- Engage with healing with a professional – perhaps a Christian counsellor or go on retreat. God comes to us in different ways; we need to keep all channels open for complete interaction.
- Engage through scripture – a way to start towards spiritual healing / refreshment.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to come and heal us – we need to deal / engage with the emotional pain and move on – we should not let it be baggage or a yoke around our necks. We ask the Holy Spirit to help us not to look at ourselves, but look outwards.
As parents of young children, we were glad this weekend had a children’s programme run by the wonderful Peter and Kathy Bramhall for the young ones and we were greatly impressed by Chris Beaumont and how he handled the young adults. It was a real blessing to them that they could enjoy the weekend in a Christian setting.
There was opportunity for prayer; this led to spiritual refreshment and those who needed prayer received it. God knows what we need before we even mention it to Him in prayer. We came away from the weekend refreshed in the Lord; I now have to find a way of shedding the pounds gained through the bodily food I thoroughly enjoyed feasting on. I intend to keep refreshed in the Lord.
by Theo Komen
Easter Camp, 1st - 7th April 2013
What do cold porridge, fancy dress, shaving foam and awesome worship have in common? Easter Camp!
Laugh harder than you ever have before, look to the sky and thank God for all that He is to you, put a hand on a friend's shoulder and thank them for listening, hug a friend that you haven’t seen for 12 months but have been chatting to on Facebook nearly every week, share your stories, your concerns, your ambitions…..now you’ve got some idea what it’s like to be at Easter Camp. Some say it’s like being with 90 other cousins – there’s a family connection!
Easter Camp 2013 was once again held at Westonbirt School near Tetbury and was another amazing year. For 7 days, 90 youngsters laughed, worshipped, studied, swam, ran, raced and apple bobbed in rice pudding! We studied 1 Peter looking at 'Darkness into Light'. Our Camp Pastor, Stephen Potter, led us brilliantly through challenging studies. He encouraged us to recognise the dark places in our hearts and minds and throw them away to Jesus. Many of the youngsters felt a real healing through this experience. It was a chance to let go of fears and there was a real joy in the room and a release as the campers realised they didn’t have to carry their own anxiety. Seeing the kids praying for each other afterwards was fantastic. Those involved with Easter Camp over the years know only too well the remarkable blessing that it is to the kids (and to the leaders!). They grow so much in their faith, enjoy supporting each other, and look forward to coming back the second they climb in the car to go home.
But we needfirst-timers too. As our hardened Easter Campers grow through the years to become leaders it is important to encourage those at the younger end, who will be starting Secondary School this September. All those between 11 and 18 are welcome. Could this be you next year? Or your child? Or are you between 18 and 25 and would love to help out as a leader? We’d love you to join us next year. The 2014 dates are 15 - 21 April. Put the dates in your diary or write to Peter and Marie Daulby at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll remind you to book in the New Year.
by Pete and Marie Daulby
Officers' Spring Weekend at Denham Grove, 8th - 10th March 2013
'God's Call to be Steadfast'
Having missed last year's event because we were in the process of moving house, we were all the more determined to attend this year's Spring Weekend. As a family we appreciated this opportunity to meet other Christians dealing with the challenges of military life. Our eldest child particularly liked the range of craft, activities and Bible teaching for the older children at what she called “Saturday and Sunday School”! The crèche was also extremely helpful for those of us with young children.
The main element in the weekend’s programme was Rupert Shelley’s series of studies in the First Letter of Peter. Describing the Letter as an apostle’s travel guide for Christians in this world, Rupert explained from the Scriptures what great privileges we have in Christ but said that we must not be surprised by suffering. On the contrary, the Bible is very clear that we should expect suffering and he discussed what our response should be. Rupert challenged us with some areas of our lives in which we should be showing more submission and encouraged us to be steadfast, hoping in Christ for the future.
The weekend also featured an interview with Sir Paul Coleridge, a distinguished High Court judge and also the founder and chairman of the Marriage Foundation. Sir Paul spoke on the topic of ‘Fighting for Marriage’, not only explaining the excellent work of the Marriage Foundation but additionally setting out the evidence for why stable parental marriage is best for children. Another highlight was a talk delivered by Brig Ian Dobbie on the Siege of Malta. As Brig Dobbie’s grandfather, Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie, was the Governor of Malta during the siege, the talk was enriched with personal insights. Not only did Sir William’s leadership contribute enormously to the successful defence of the Island but also his living Christian conviction bore witness to God’s faithfulness in the most demanding of times.
There was widespread appreciation of the modern facilities at Denham Grove, especially the swimming pool, and the food was first-rate. The exceptional Bible teaching and warm fellowship made this a weekend to remember and we certainly hope to return next year.
by Jonathan and Jennifer Greenald
Ladies' Spring Weekends, Amport House, 22nd - 24th February 2013
and Lubbecke, 15th - 17th March
'Come Aside and Rest Awhile'
I arrived at Amport House on 22 February complete with a bag of knitting needles and wool, towels, throws and a CD player. This was to attend the first ‘The Sanctuary’ ladies’ weekend. It was a retreat-style ladies’ weekend focussing on rest and the thirty seven of us attending were encouraged to do as little or as much as we wished. Optional workshops included learning to rest, the importance of laughter, card making, creative design, debt management, knitting, making natural air fresheners and brooches. There were a couple of salsacise workshops, you could have your nails done, pamper yourself with bubble bath and chocolate or even go for a long guided walk in the surrounding countryside. We were also treated to some amazingly decorated homemade cakes.
For the weekend, the chapel was transformed into a prayer room where you could stay for as much time as you needed. The layout encouraged ladies to leave their burdens behind on entering the chapel. There were then a number of stations where you could contemplate different aspects of God, and ladies had the opportunity to receive prayer ministry if they wished.
The weekend did not have a speaker. There were times altogether as a group and then a number of the AFCU ladies ran the workshops, sessions and arranged the prayer room. Saturday evening was given over to exploring going deeper with God through prayer, or the Word, or worship. It was a great opportunity to get to know other members of the AFCU and to be able to take time to do this.
The weekend seemed to go far too quickly and I would like to thank Liesel Parkinson and others at the AFCU for arranging such a good event.
The idea was transported on a slightly smaller scale to Lübbecke 15-17 March by Liesel Parkinson, Sian Campbell-Colquoun and Val Hall. We drove over – we had far too much luggage to take on an aircraft – and the office car was packed so full that we did not have room for Becky Maskell who had also offered to come! There was not quite so much choice offered this time, the main difference being that there were two separate sessions for going deeper with God through prayer and through the Word. It was a wonderful opportunity to rest, relax, learn and have fellowship together, and God once again poured out His blessings on those who came. Thank you Lord!
by Fiona Priest and Val Hall