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Rebekah Harrington

We are halfway through November now and while here in England everyone is already preparing for the Christmas season, at home in Georgia, people are getting ready for Thanksgiving.  Plump turkeys are being bought, plane tickets are being purchased, and calls are being placed in anticipation of coming home for the feast that will be served the fourth Thursday in November.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favourite holidays. First, it falls near my birthday, and second, it has all the benefits of Christmas (family, fun, food) without the pressure of giving and receiving gifts.  Christmas is often a stressful time for families. Many cannot afford to buy a lot of presents for their children, or the recent loss of a loved-one can make the day a hard one. However, in the States, Thanksgiving is usually a happy, carefree time without the financial worries that can often plague Christmas.

Two years ago, my grandmother died the week before Thanksgiving. Her funeral was held the Monday before and we buried her the following day. Two days later, we were able to sit as a family around a table of good food and give thanks for every thing and blessing that we still had. My grandmother’s passing, in a way, made the day that much sweeter. We were able to celebrate her life and legacy while being thankful for each other.

While the holiday may have been started by the pilgrims fleeing religious persecution in Europe, today it is even more. As Christians, we are able to look back on the past year and see the ways that God has specifically blessed us. It is often traditional to go around the table, saying at least one thing that each person is most grateful for. These sweet traditions are nice, but it is important to remember that God deserves our thanksgiving all of the time. I like to think of Thanksgiving as a fun but specific reminder that God has blessed us and we are to give Him thanks always.

This year’s Thanksgiving is going to be a little more unusual for me, but I am sure that it will be no less sweet. I may be without the family I was born into, but I will be with the family that I have chosen. I have planned a wonderful and delicious feast with my Community, and am lucky to get to tell the kids at Hub about the first Thanksgiving.

The Lord has blessed me in more ways than I can ever imagine, and for that I am truly thankful.

Topics: Transform
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Sam Lawrence

Who are you?

Sam Lawrence

How long have you been at Holland Road?

21 years, I was dedicated here as a baby and have been here ever since.

Why did you apply for Transform?

I applied for Transform because it was great opportunity to build a strong foundation of faith before getting married to my fiancée Megan (in October 2016) and looking for a full-time job.

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to the Impact training and going on the mission trip abroad. We’ve already been on one training block and the theological teaching, along with making some great friends, has been a real blessing to me in my first month of Transform. It’s exciting too that we will get to experience different cultures and see what God is doing around the world.

What can you see yourself contributing to the Transform Team?

I hope I can bring a smile to other people and also a willingness to learn.

What can you see yourself contributing to the life of the church?

Having been a member of the youth and recently graduating from university, I’m hoping to share some of my story by serving in those ministries. I’m also looking to continue helping with the children’s work and playing in the band.

Do you have a testimony of your journey on Transform so far?

The idea of doing Transform was floating around since the start of my final year of university. It was a hard decision to make as on one side, I was going to get married and needed to think about how I was going to provide for my fiancée and I. On the other hand, coming out of university I really felt like I needed a strong foundation of faith, and this year was the only opportunity that I would realistically have to take time out. After praying and talking it through with Megan and I’s families, God really put it on my heart that Transform was the right thing to do.

What can we pray about for you?

I want to be stretched in my serving but naturally, I’m also anxious about being pushed. So please pray that I would truly understand what it means to do all things in God’s strength and that by doing this, my faith would grow exponentially.

Topics: Transform
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Rebekah Harrington

Who are you?

My name is Rebekah Harrington. I’ve come from Atlanta, Georgia in the States to spend the year at Holland Road.

How long have you been at Holland Road?

About a month!

Why did you apply for Transform?

To spend time with and serving the Lord after I graduated from University. I hope that this year, the Lord will tell me what He wants me to do with my life and that He will prepare me for whatever He has planned.

What are you most looking forward to?

Building awesome intrapersonal relationships and growing stronger in my relationship with Jesus.

What can you see yourself contributing to the Transform Team?

Enthusiasm and hard work with a long history with the Lord.

What can you see yourself contributing to the life of the church?

Compassion and a love for people. I have served at my home church, New Hope, in many different ways over the years and hope to use that experience to be the best worker I can be while I do Transform.

Do you have a testimony of your journey on Transform so far?

Well, the Lord got me over 4,000 miles here in one piece and with all of my luggage, some tears and a lot of heartache, but so far He has done great things in my life as I’ve begun this yearlong adventure. I have found some wonderful new friends and rekindled old friendships and I look forward to building even more.

What can we pray about for you?

Please pray that I continue to settle in well with my host family and that I make good, lasting friendships that strengthen me. Pray that I find peace with being so far away from my family for so long and that it does not distract me from doing what the Lord has placed in front of me.

Topics: Transform
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Debbie Varney

I joined Transform with two goals in mind,to get to know and understand God better and to learn how to serve Him. I felt very strongly that God had called me away from my job at the school I had worked at for many years and had other plans for me but I had no idea what those plans were.So,how is Transform helping me to succeed in meeting those goals and am I any closer to knowing what his plans are for me?

Transform is helping me to get to know God better in many ways. I go away for Training blocks with other people doing a similar year where we study such subjects as “God’s nature and sovereignty”,” The world Jesus lived in” and “Getting to grips with God”. In January we spent 5 days at Centre Parcs where we listened to teaching on ” Freedom In Christ”,as well as having the occasional dip in the Tropical Paradise swimming pool! But closer to home,I am blessed to be around people at Holland Road who know and love Jesus and share that knowledge and love with me. Being around other Christians is the best way to learn by far.
And am I learning to serve? Definitely. By helping in the Friday Friendship Centre,Alpha and Tadpoles I see how the love of Christ in us can impact those who come along. We can witness in many different ways,through words ,actions and deeds.I recently read in the UCB Word For Today that many people are held back from doing what they feel God wants them to do because “they do not feel qualified”.However “God doesn’t always call the qualified but He always qualifies the called”. So even if we are not able to serve in our own strength, God will empower us by his Holy Spirit so we can serve in His.

So am I any closer to knowing what God’s plans are for me? I think I am living them out at the moment, one step at a time. I hold on to the truth of Jeremiah 29v11 ” For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

Topics: Transform
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Jeri-Lee Kenny

1. What is your motivation for being a part of Transform? 

Matthew 19 v27:  “We have left everything to follow you”.

I wanted to join the Transform team because I am walking as close to the Lord as I can. I stepped out in faith 5 years ago, leaving a job and security to follow where God is leading me. I believe in ‘the great commission’ worldwide mission work. I strongly believe a supporting church is imperative to mission. As God has placed me here at Holland Road, I want to give myself to the church fully, get to know my church family, and enable my church family to get to know me.

2. What do you hope to personally gain through this experience? What are you excited about as you think about it?

I hope to experience closer unity with my church family. I see this as a valuable step in both my personal journey and in preparation for mission. I am excited about serving in ministry and experiencing mission opportunities further afield, whilst trusting in the Lord for his provision, and living a life of service as a disciple. I’m excited about being a part of existing teams, getting involved, and all the people I will meet and the challenges that I will experience on the way.

3. What areas of your character are you seeking God to further develop through your time on Transform?

I know God will use this time to correct me, encourage me, and stretch me. To weed out any underlining personality traits that God wants me to be aware of; reminding me to call on His strengths and examining my weak spots, challenging me to let him guide me. I believe He does all this in love. I see this as another opportunity to be refined by God: ‘He will sit as a refiner and purifier’.

4. Testimony:

When I was aged 21, I was overwhelmed by the cruelty of man to man and I began to reflect on the terrible suffering in the world and how we all long to escape persecution, when it occurs. I began to recognize that it is impossible for any person to experience persistent cruelty, loneliness, and suffering, and escape unscathed. Only God’s power was capable of helping people; it was beyond man’s capability.

At the realisation of this, I cried out in utter despair, sobbing uncontrollably for the suffering in this world, “Please let there be a God”. It was then that He answered. My room filled up with an amazing light, of which I had never seen the like of, and in every pore of the light was love. Unimaginable love. I then sobbed in pure joy, gasping out the words, “There is a God, there is”. The next day I saw the world for the first time, with a believer’s eyes and heart, and I saw God’s world for the first time in my life. I saw His creation. The foliage on the trees, the clouds in the sky; it was like a child seeing something new for the first time. I also felt more love for others and stopped being so isolated. Because I had never been to church, I did not know I could go in. It was another four years before I met my first Christian and immediately confessed that I knew for sure that God was real and I begged her to let me come to Church with her. She said yes and even bought me my first bible. I signed up for weekly Bible study, began to learn about our amazing God, and got baptised.

5. How are you sharing your Christian Faith in your present circumstances at home, work, and church?

All I have is God’s: my body, my life, my work, my home. God is my life. I cannot leave him out anywhere. I believe our mission field is the here and now. I never want to hide God’s light under a bushel. I have always shared my faith in all my secular work places. When non-Christians ask me “did you have a nice weekend?” I openly share about my Church life. I sent text messages asking for prayer support at times, to my non-Christian friends. When one replied saying yes, I prayed God would be able to use this opportunity for His Glory.

I seek to serve, and I see Transform as a way of fully immersing myself within the Church family. ‘Ask not what your church can do for you, but what you can do for your church’. I believe that through serving we learn.

I have always shared my homes with other people, because all I have is God’s. I am a host mother for Olivet International students. I enjoy good prayer time with my children and friends in my home, and use my home for Christian hospitality on many occasions.

6. What do you consider to be the most significant events of your life and why?

A. My conversion, because I knew no Christians and yet God heard my cry, knew my heart, and rescued me.

B. My children, because I see then as a gift from God and I can see God in them. My daughter is a missionary and even when both my children were young, I learned more of God through their faith. Discipleship is a two way relationship; as discipled them, they discipled me.

C. My huge leap of faith, stepping out of the boat to walk on water; leaving the security of a paid job in July 2009 to follow in obedience to God’s call 5 years ago. At the time I had 2 mortgages, no savings, and I was scared. But I obeyed God and he has not let me down. I still have 2 mortgages, no savings, but I am no longer scared.

 

Topics: Magazine, Transform
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Sam Dracott

Why Was Jesus Necessary?

By Sam Dracott

Many people accept that the birth of Jesus happened. A baby was born in a stable in Bethlehem to a mother called Mary and a father called Joseph. What people sometimes fail to see, though, is the significance or even necessity of Jesus. So why did He need to come?

In the beginning God created the world. On the 6th day, He created man and woman in his own image, designing humanity so He could have a relationship with them. It was good and God was pleased.

There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible and this perfect relationship lasted for a grand total of 2 chapters.

In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve defy God. The relationship that God had with Adam and Eve was broken and they are kicked out of the garden of Eden. They chose to ignore God’s perfect plan and sin entered the world. This begins a rapid downward spiral of events and in Genesis 11, things look very bad. There appears to be no hope.

But God wanted to restore this relationship and from Genesis 12 onwards, the whole of the Old Testament starts to point toward Jesus. Unfortunately this doesn’t mean that it was plain sailing all the way to the New Testament! In the Old Testament we see slavery of God’s people, adultery, murder, and even the exiling of God’s people. Something more was still needed for the salvation of the world.

Around 640BC Israel was crushed by the Babylonians and the people scattered. They began to wonder how the prophecy of a saviour was going to be fulfilled. However prophets kept on talking about a promised king. The prophet Isaiah predicted: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6). This was hundreds of years before Jesus was even born! This sort of prophecy continued throughout the Old Testament.

God can sometimes work in ways we can never understand. The people who were waiting for Jesus were expecting a mighty king to crush the Roman Empire and free them from government oppression; God did this, just not in the way they were expecting.

Jesus was actually born around what we now call 5BC. By this point much of the world had been conquered by the Romans. Jesus was raised as a carpenter and didn’t start his biblical ministry until around the age of 30. Throughout his years of ministry he taught about love, forgiveness, hypocrisy, prayer and so much more. During this time, people had to pray to God through a priest in the temple, and only certain priests could enter the presence of God at certain times. Jesus turned this convention on its head. In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me”.

God sent Jesus to save the world. To take our place in death. Through Jesus the relationship that was broken is restored. That is why He is necessary.

Topics: Transform
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Debbie Varney

Amazing Alpha?

By Debbie Varney

I’m Debbie and I serve as part of our Alpha team, maybe you’ve heard of it? Naturally, I think Alpha is truly amazing for a whole load of reasons…

Is it the Alpha team, who give up their time week after week to discuss their love of Jesus with others and try to help the guests wrestle with life’s difficult questions? Possibly. Is it the fantastic food served up by the lovely kitchen team? That is definitely a bonus. Is it the informative talk given after dinner that makes people think and causes them to question? It surely plays a part. Or the prayer team who are dedicated to offering up prayers of thanks, hope and need? Alpha certainly needs prayer desperately.

Yes, Alpha is amazing because of all these things, but what makes it really amazing is the constant presence of the Holy Spirit, who causes our wonderful guests to transform when they open their hearts and minds. I have witnessed it first hand in my son’s life, my husband’s life, and my own life, which has been completely transformed. I personally came to Alpha with a pre-conceived opinion both of Alpha itself and of religion in general. Basically, I thought Alpha would be “preachy” and a bit scary, full of people who would spout stuff at me that I wouldn’t understand. How wrong I was. Jesus broke into my life through Alpha and I have seen it happen to many other people since.

So, how can we convince people that Alpha is amazing and that it is a fantastic way to encounter God, either for the first time or as a renewal of a faith which has become cold? We tell them about it. We share our experiences. We point them to people whose lives have been touched by their own Alpha experience. We tell them to look on the internet and see what they can find out about it. We tell them that it isn’t “preachy” and boring – it is fun and a great way to meet other people. We also tell them there is great food involved!

Alpha couldn’t exist without the presence of the Holy Spirit, as it would be fruitless. Jesus said “No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4) Please pray that God continues to bless Alpha and make it as fruitful and amazing as it can possibly be!  Visit our alpha page for more information on our next course.

Topics: Transform
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Jeri-Lee Kenny

On October 25th 2014 a team from Holland Road set out on a mission trip to Romania; with bags packed full of craft materials, toys, toiletries and food as gifts for our work, and warm clothes for the predicted cold weather. The team consisted of Jonny Holman, Sam Dracott, Debbie Varney, Jeri-Lee Kenny, Philip Deuk, Matt Lovell, Margie Fforde, Helen Wheeler and Pam Bebb.

We arrived in Bucharest during a snow storm and we spontaneously applauded the pilot upon the landing. Our team still had a further flight to catch, though, and it was no surprise that it was delayed. They found another plane, quite small with large visual propellers on the side, and we took off once again in the howling snow storm. Everyone was nervous!

One hour later we landed in Iasi. Not a drop of snow to be seen, but it was very cold. Pastor David and his son were patiently waiting. It was past midnight by now and we had been travelling since 9.00am. Pastor David’s son took us to the church hall, where we would be working and staying for the week. To our delight it was fully carpeted and toasty warm. There was a large bowl of fruit and plenty of bread, coffee and tea. The beds were all made up for us and everything was clean and comfortable. We soon settled down for a well needed sleep, because we had an early start the next day.

In the morning we took part in the Filadelfia Church service, in the city centre. Philip Deuk preached, while the team performed a song and did cardboard testimonies. Some also helped in the children’s service. Later in the evening we went to a rural church about 40 minutes out of town and repeated the process. But here the little children had no special service and they sat obediently for 2 hours on a rug at the front with little to amuse them except staring at us!

During the rest of the week, we were busy during the daylight with pastoral visits to families in the city and in the rural district. Some rural areas had no plumbed in water mains and used communal wells situated along the roadside. They had no inside toilets, but used holes in the ground in wooden sheds. The homes were mainly just two rooms, doubling up as bedrooms, kitchen, and lounge. They were warmed from the wood burning range used for cooking, which were set into separating walls built with similar bricks that we find in UK night storage heaters. This clever idea meant the walls kept the heat well and so acted as radiators.

The people were very welcoming. Occasionally there were tears from the rural people who were overwhelmed by their troubles and were experiencing real hardships brought on by health problems from a stroke, and a hospital accident which caused severe disabilities. I personally wept alongside them. There was genuine understanding and connection between us all despite the language barriers: God’s provision was working in us. It was a privilege to pray with these people and share the gospel with them.

For four continuous nights we ran a children’s club for up to 31 children aged between 4 and 14. We had Romanian ladies who worked hard translating for us. The children had a wonderful time, told their friends and family, and eagerly returned each night. We were all so blessed by their happy faces. Whatever we gave, we got back tenfold.

On the last day we held ladies’ events – one in the rural area in the morning and one in the city in the evening. Many ladies came forward for prayer. The evening was very emotional, full of joy and worship, but also there were testimonies, tears, confessions, and much healing. It was a time well spent in the presence of our Lord.

Please join with us in remembering the people of Romania through prayer. To find out more about what Holland Road does across the world see hrbc.org.uk/world

Topics: Transform, World Mission
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Debbie Varney

Who are you?
Debbie Varney.

How long have you been at Holland Road?
18 months.

Why did you apply for Transform?
I felt compelled to leave a comfortable job & follow where God led me. He led me to Transform.

What are you most looking forward to?
Bible teaching, and finding out where God wants me to serve.

What can you see yourself contributing to the Transform Team?
Enthusiasm, maturity, and a very supportive & encouraging attitude to others.

What can you see yourself contributing to the life of the church?
Having worked in a school for 18 years as a Teaching Assistant, I have good team skills and communication skills and would like to use these here.

Do you have a testimony of your journey on Transform so far?
It’s a very scary prospect, as it’s taking me out of my ”comfort zone“, but very exciting.

What can we pray about for you?
Courage! This is a huge change in my life. I need to link all the facets of my life together – Transform, home, family and a poorly Mother. Please ask the Lord to help it all run like clockwork.

Topics: Transform
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Sam Dracott

Who are you?
Sam Dracott.

How long have you been at Holland Road?
I have been coming to Holland road my whole life (about 18 years).

Why did you apply for Transform?
I applied for Transform because I wanted to give up this next year to God and gain experience in a vast amount of areas that I have not yet had the chance to try.

What are you most looking forward to?
I am most looking forward to getting completely immersed in church life and having the opportunity to serve. The mission trip to Romania is also an aspect of this year that I am looking forward to.

What can you see yourself contributing to the Transform Team?
I generally see myself as quite an energetic person and feel that I can bring encouragement and positivity to the team. I wish to work hard and be joyful in everything I do.

What can you see yourself contributing to the life of the church?
Currently I am serving in Youth and Kids work ministries, and I really look forward to having a more involved role in those. I also play regularly in the church worship band and will continue to serve in that ministry.

Do you have a testimony of your journey on Transform so far?
My journey on Transform has been going for the last couple of months. I originally was going to apply for university or higher education, but the more I thought about it the less excited I got. I then began to look into the possibility of Transform and, without telling anyone of this, a number of people asked if I had considered applying for Transform. I believe that these were all promptings from God to pursue this, and the peace I felt when I made the decision really confirmed that.

What can we pray about for you?
Over the next year I really long to be stretched, so that I can grow spiritually. Also, I aim to grow much closer to God this year, through serving the church and through the theological training which I will be attending. So prayer for all of that would be amazing. Thanks.

Topics: Transform
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