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Local Mission

Sarah Ison

United International Cafe

By Sarah Ison

United Cafe meets in the church hall every Wednesday throughout the year. Our mission is to welcome international students into a Jesus-centred community where they hear of and encounter the love of God.

Every year we welcome hundreds of language school students, au pairs and other international visitors, providing a friendly and relaxed environment for them to make friends, practice their speaking skills and to meet English people (us – the team!).  It is an honour to serve in this way, perhaps being the first Christians some students have encountered, and to share the Good News of Jesus through the welcome talks, church building tour, presentations, and invitations to Alpha.

“We are privileged to be able to freely share our faith with people from Islamic and other religious backgrounds”

United is more than a social night, it is an opportunity to get alongside internationals who are often at a junction in their lives between study and work, or exploring what direction their life may go in.  We are privileged to be able to freely share our faith with people from Islamic and other religious backgrounds and countries where their likelihood of meeting Christians may be very limited or unlikely.

Many regular students who come every week are from Islamic countries; they choose to come to a welcoming Christian environment, where they can socialise as well as hear about the Good News in a non confrontational and natural way through friendship evangelism and informal presentations and discussions.

“You never know who you are going to meet”

Team members enjoy being part of United for various reasons, one member said they love coming because they never know who they are going to meet and to have this mission field on our doorstep is such a great opportunity to practice open ended conversations and friendship.  Strong and lasting friendships have been made, as well as fleeting ones when we sometimes wonder what happened to that student from Kuwait, for example, and if we remember them perhaps they also remember their time with us!

We never cease to be amazed who God brings along to United, especially those from Turkey and the Middle East and it is such a good opportunity to get to know these young people and hear something of their lives and share something of ours with them.   It has been wonderful welcoming students again who have returned to the city a few years on and return to United to say hi!  It is such an encouragement to the team that we see students come week after week, inviting their friends, and even some who come along after a long day at work to keep in touch with everyone.

“We give all departing students a personally inscribed New Testament”

It is humbling to see how genuinely appreciative students have been on their last night with us before returning home, thanking the team for the Cafe and accepting the personally inscribed New Testament that we give to all departing students.  It is energising and encouraging to have conversations with people from around the world, using opportunities to share God’s love with the nations without leaving our city.

The team welcomes you to see United in action for yourself and explore whether it may be somewhere you may wish to serve on a regular basis (e.g. weekly/fortnightly/monthly) through coming on a Wednesday evening.

We also welcome additional regular support through prayer or by providing homemade cake for Wednesdays!

Please contact the church office or see Tim or Sarah Ison if you want to know more, or are interested in coming along.

Topics: Local Mission
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Mike Baldwin

Friendship Centre

By Mike Baldwin

Our Friendship Centre is a community centred on meeting weekly for a low-priced wholesome cooked lunch and good company. We aim to provide a relaxed environment where mainly, but not exclusively, older men and women can enjoy friendship and a sense of family. We try to promote the opportunity for general everyday conversation, and an open atmosphere to talk about matters of faith if that is wished.

The Friendship Centre is served by a volunteer team from Holland Road church who have a heart for encouraging people, many of whom live alone, by building relationships and providing a friendly setting to share experiences, challenges and good times. The team comprises some who come early on Friday mornings to prepare food or set up the hall, and others whose main role is to welcome and mingle with our visitors while they are with us over lunchtime.

Our visitors – numbers currently about 30 to 50 – mostly come from nearby streets on foot or from further afield across the city by bus. Some have been coming for years, but there is also a steady inflow of new folks over the weeks. Some belong to our church or come from other churches in the city, but many have some other faith allegiance or would say they subscribed to no faith commitment in particular. There is no commitment, but we do offer just a short five-minute talk or testimony by someone, presented between main and dessert courses. This is the only formality, but opportunities are available for follow-up should that be what a visitor wishes.

Recent comments of a visitor on social media are very positive: “No one in attendance should ever feel in isolation ……….it is clear that the time is not just aimed at church folk ………..the short talk is someone talking about the source of their faith or giving an insight concerning the meaning of certain scriptures ………..folk are sometimes given the opportunity to talk further with someone if they wish but no one is compelled to do so…………a highlight of the church putting its faith into practice”.

The core details of each meeting are:

**  the main course is served between 11.45am and 12.15pm, the best range of time for a visitor to arrive,
** the short talk is from 12.30pm, and after this dessert and tea/coffee is served,
** a two-course meal plus free drinks typically costs £3.30,
** we are broadly open from 11.30am to 1.30pm most Fridays of the year.

Our Friendship Centre team continually welcomes those who can give time on a Friday to help with any aspect of preparation in the kitchen, mingling with our visitors in the hall, or a mixture of both. Do get in touch with Sean Avard, Maria Nwanwene, Pauline Lawrence, Mike Baldwin, or any member of our team you know, if you feel you could help us for however long or short an amount of time.

Topics: Local Mission
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Jonny Holman

Hope 2014

By Jonny Holman

From the 2nd and 7th July the church engaged in an intensive week of mission in Wales and in Brighton. We partnered with other churches across the city, in Wales, and three from the USA, as we sought to show others how the love of Jesus brings life and light to even the hardest of situations.

I had the privilege of leading the Brighton ‘Hope 2014’ end of the mission, which many participated in. We began ‘Hope’ missions in the city in 2008 and having taken a break for a couple of years 2014 marked the start of our fifth ‘Hope’ mission, ‘Hope 2014’.

In an age when austerity is a watch-word in many circles and it is only too easy to find a charity which is struggling, the Church in our city bore witness to the kind of prophetic counter-culture that Jesus calls His disciples to be. As we built up to the launch, people shared testimonies of their missional community’s plans, as well as some of their own personal wrestles with God as they sought to be obedient to Him in participating in Hope 2014.

“It seems all too easy to give of our finances, but what really hurts is to give of our time”

One prophetic word which was brought to the church that resonated, and has remained with many, was, “It seems all too easy to give of our finances, but it really hurts to give of our time”.  Many responded to God’s call to participate. and over the four days we saw 215 people give a staggering 1,819 hours of their time to serve people in our city!

The mission had a strong emphasis on both showing and telling people. We ran 16 ‘practical’ teams which worked right across the city in schools, churches, people’s homes and supporting para-church organisations, like Brighton & Hove City Mission’s Basics Bank which serves some of the poorest people in the city. Operating in a more hidden capacity we ran another 6 teams including drivers, childcare, hospitality and prayer.

They brought life, light and hope as they went with their paint brushes, garden forks and even crow-bars!

I would love to tell you what each team did but that would be impossible! What I do know is that each team made a life-transforming impact in the place they served. They brought life, light and hope as they went with their paint brushes, garden forks and even crow-bars!

I know there are many who participated and saw God’s Kingdom coming in and through them, and it has left them hungry for more. Similarly I know of many who really wanted to join in but for various reasons could not do so at that time.

Hope 2014 was always meant to be a catalyst for something greater, not merely four days of intensive mission but to move the church into a lifestyle of mission; and to sustain this, the best vehicles we have are missional communities. So, my closing words are that we have not now reached the end of our mission, merely the beginning. If you enjoyed Hope 2014 and want more, why not check out one of our communities?

You can see more on Twitter @HopeBrighton and on Facebook.

Topics: Local Mission, Partnerships
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