Holland Road Baptist Church

Menu
admin

The Season of Thanksgiving

By admin

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
Leave a comment / Permalink

admin

Volunteering in Bolivia

By admin

I spent my summer volunteering in Bolivia with ICS Tearfund, and now have a journal jam-packed with ten weeks’ worth of ramblings, anecdotes, thoughts and reflections. If you were to read this notebook, you would know all about a project in Cochabamba called Oeser, you’d be introduced to a team of incredible Bolivian and UK volunteers, and you’d hear about my experiences of living with a South American family, teaching English and learning how to sell a cereal bar in Spanish! I could probably write a whole book about my time in Bolivia, but to keep it brief I’m going to skip most of the details and just take this opportunity to share something that is particularly important to me. However, if you’d like to hear more about the ins and outs, you can either read a blog my good friend Ruth wrote, (https://tenweekswithtearfundoeser.wordpress.com) or ask me face-to-face!

The project Oeser provides grants for 15 children to leave the San Sebastian prison in the south of Cochabamba and come to a nursery in the Villa Candelaria each day. In Bolivia, if a mother is imprisoned for a crime, her child will stay with her in prison until the age of 6. I had no idea how to feel about this system. I still don’t claim to be able to judge what is best for these children; however, I do know without a doubt that it is important that they have the opportunity to go to the Nursery. As volunteers we rotated each week to pick up the children, entertain them on the long bus journey, and take them back again at the end of the day. They would bundle into the Trufi covered in snot, munching away on sweets, and normally shouting, crying or fighting. They were a lively bunch and if anything they were the ones entertaining me! I often felt unsure of what to do, due to both a lack of fluent Spanish, and a sense of hopelessness at the children’s exceptional situation. Each morning on the drive to collect the children I would pray for them, and God encouraged me that all He required of me in this situation, and beyond, was to love the people put in front of me.

I remember one of these mornings in particular because I was really questioning the importance of our role in this part of the project. Psyching myself up to be child-friendly at such an early hour was proving difficult already… then I was handed a screaming child. Thankfully, she calmed down over the course of the Trufi journey and she started to talk and play with me. Until we arrived at the nursery and she burst into tears all over again, pulling hard at my hand to go with her. I couldn’t stay, but the image of her face absolutely filled with fear stayed with me all day. I repeatedly felt stirred to pray for her. On the journey home she sat on my lap again, and this time there was a noticeable difference in her as she told me happy stories about her day.

I found out later that this was her first day at nursery. The first day she’d ever left the prison.

Sometimes God places people before us and simply asks us to love them. God loves this child immeasurably and unconditionally so I felt privileged that, despite my very apparent weakness and inability to change her situation, God could use me to show her His love that day. I feel honoured to have held her and taken her to the gates for her very first day of school, but it still breaks my heart that her mother couldn’t have taken my place, and that she had missed so much school already.

As a team we have plenty of other stories like this where we realised the extent to which these children are deprived a normal childhood as well as some of their basic rights.

Nearing the end of our time at Oeser, the UK girls went for a meeting with the director of the project. We were informed that a key donor had withdrawn funding so the charity would have to cut certain aspects of their work. Sadly, the grants for the children from the prison are the main cause for concern at the moment. We were actually shocked by the amount of money that is necessary to run this scheme for just one year. I’d never considered the cost of education before; I’d never really had to. Even though our target for one year is upwards of £13,000 I do believe that God can work miracles and there is no reason not to try to raise at least some of this money.

Before, I had been upset that the children were forced to go back to the prison every day, but then the reality hit that they might not be able to leave at all. On paper, the financial breakdown of the grant shows that Oeser offers these children:  education, travel, healthcare, and food. But I have seen that Oeser gives the children so much more than this: they are loved by caring teachers that are dedicated to teaching them good values, and they have the opportunity to make friends and play in a playground. A chance to just be a child.

I want these children to have the opportunity to know freedom and not be confined to a prison for a crime they didn’t commit.

Thank you for reading this and thank you to everyone who donated to my fundraising for Tearfund or prayed for me while I was away. If anything in this article has impacted you in any way and you’d like to support the project, then there are several ways that you can respond:

-Pray! Prayer can connect us across the world and I believe there is power when we call upon the name of Jesus and cry out against injustice. Please pray for the ongoing work of Oeser, and specifically for wisdom and strength for the Director in this difficult season.

-Come along to our fundraising event and invite friends! There will be a quiz, music, cakes, and a short presentation about the project. This will be held in the hall at Holland Road Baptist Church on 20th November, 7pm-9pm. Each ticket costs £3 and teams can have a maximum of 6 members.

Topics: World Mission
Leave a comment / Permalink

admin

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
Leave a comment / Permalink

admin

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
Leave a comment / Permalink

admin

I have been involved with youth work at Holland Road for 4 years now; the time has flown by and the journey to where I am now, leading Youth Thursdays, has been awesome and full of surprises. Often it is said that the young people are the future of the church; they are not. Christ is the future of the church, but what are young people are, is the future church. So young people are deeply important, in that they are the future missionaries, leaders, pastors, doctors, teachers, bin men (no joke here, we all remember what it was like when the bin men went on strike) of the church.

Our heart at Youth Thursdays is to give every young person in Brighton and Hove the opportunity to serve Jesus. We do this on a Thursday by creating an environment where young people can know a real sense of belonging. This in turn opens up the possibility for them to be part of the wider Youth work at Holland Road, namely Youth Sundays, Encounter Extra, and Encounter. We want to help young people to belong, even before they believe. In reality, Youth Thursdays is part of the bigger family, namely Holland Road Youth, which is made up of amazing young people, awesome hard-working leaders, and is all driven by the belief that we are made to have and know a relationship with Jesus, to see His kingdom built on earth as it is in heaven.

I can hear your question coming: “that all sounds great, but how’s it going?” To answer that question, I’m reminded of how Jesus explained how the Kingdom of God grows. “How should we describe how the Kingdom of God grows”, asks Jesus, “well it’s like a seed, not just any seed, but the smallest of seeds, the mustard seed. And when it is sown it grows up to be bigger than any of the other plants (kingdoms). A seed only grows when it is sown; we are not to miss this important bit of the parable.”

At Holland Road Youth we do a lot of sowing, and what I’ve learnt over the last four years, is the Kingdom grows in the most unexpected, unexplainable ways. It just grows! Is that numerical growth? Yes and no; we don’t want to grow in size for the sake of size, but rather we want to make more disciples of Jesus. Often on a Thursday I get asked at the end of the night by another leader, “how many young people did we have today?” A valid question, but I now choose to answer it in this way: “I cannot believe that she or he was here tonight, we were praying that they would come tonight, or, isn’t it amazing to see her here tonight without her usual friends, she came because she wants to be here!”.

May you join us in giving young people the opportunity to serve Jesus in this city, why not come and help out on a Thursday night, or a Sunday morning or afternoon, in creating a place where they can belong before they believe, and when they do believe journeying with them.

If you would like more info about how you can help out then email me at nbryant1990@outlook.com

 

Topics: Magazine, Youth
Leave a comment / Permalink

admin

Finding Peace In The Storm

By admin

One of the things I love about living and working just 10 minutes away from Brighton beach is that I get to see the sea in all of its moods. There are days when I wander along the shoreline, dazzled by the sparkle of the sun’s rays on the mirror-smooth waters, and I’m overwhelmed by a sense of peace and well-being. On other days, when the waves are chewing up the pebbles and throwing them into the air and everything is greyness and noise, and I am confronted by the seemingly unstoppable force that is raw nature, it can be harder to find that sense of peace.

We often talk about ‘the storms of life’ – those difficult times when everything seems beyond our control and we feel in danger of sinking. It might be your health or the health of loved ones. It might be financial or job-related pressures, or it may be broken relationships which weigh heavily on our hearts. Anxieties and fears can bombard us from all directions in our success-driven culture.

These storms come in seasons, but whether or not you’re in one at the moment, there is a fundamental truth that will allow us to be overwhelmed by peace instead of overwhelmed by powerlessness in these times.

In her update of the great hymn ‘It Is Well’, Kristene DiMarco sings these words:

“Let go my soul and trust in Him

The waves and wind still know His name.”

You may be familiar with the story in Mark 4:35-41, where Jesus and His disciples are caught out on the lake in a terrible storm. It’s frightening enough watching the waves crash on Brighton beach from a safe distance, but actually being out on the water in such a storm is unimaginable. The danger would have been very real. Jesus, amazingly, is asleep, and the disciples wake Him up in a panic. I’m not sure what they were expecting Him to do, but it certainly wasn’t what He actually did, given their surprise.

Jesus ‘got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm’ (v39). The disciples are beside themselves, asking “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!” (v41)

Because the truth is, Jesus was in control the whole time. He wasn’t sleeping out of negligence. He was modelling something for us. He was showing us that even in those times in life when we feel overwhelmed and our natural response is to panic, we can actually find rest. We can rest because God is in control. It seems so counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Psalm 62:5-6 says “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” Jesus was demonstrating that soul-level-trust in God that allows us to find rest even when the storm is raging.

And then of course, He did what we can’t do. He stood up and commanded the storm to stop, and it obeyed. No wonder the disciples were so terrified. To see that overwhelming force of nature, so far beyond our own control, and see it quieted with just a word from this man. How much more powerful, how much more terrifying, how much more beyond our own control must this man be?

Of course, ultimately they would realise that this was not just any ordinary man. This was Jesus, fully man yet fully God, eternal and glorious, and come to defeat sin and death so that we could be restored to a relationship with God.

And so whatever season you’re in, remember that simple truth. Jesus is in your boat. He is with you. He is for you. There is rest to be found even in the stormiest of places, because Jesus is in control. And guess what? The waves and wind still know His name.

You can listen to Kristene DiMarco’s ‘It Is Well’ on the fantastic ‘You Make Me Brave’ album by Bethel Music, recorded at their annual women’s conference in 2014.

Topics: Magazine, Other
Leave a comment / Permalink

admin

Study Leave

By admin

I am very excited about going on study leave from 1st January until 2nd March. The purpose of this time will be to look at mercy/compassion projects and learn from them. Some of the things I will be doing include:

  • Looking at alternative gatherings – the church meeting ‘out’ on Sundays rather than in the building.
  • Looking at extended family on mission with a mercy focus.
  • Seeking to develop our partnerships across the city – what’s going on and how we can join the dots.
  • Investigating a new ‘God project’ here at Holland Road that impacts the community.
  • Visiting CAP Bradford to look at release groups (similar to the 12 step programme).
  • Visiting and learning from some of the work we do with the poorest of the poor in India.
  • Studying, reading and writing on the “Who are the poor”?

I would really appreciate your prayers both for and during this time; there are a number of specific things you can pray for:

  • Clarity as to next steps and follow through on what God is saying.
  • That I would encounter God in a deep, intimate way and have very special times of prayer.
  • That God would help me to get studying and to learn.
  • Finally, that I would come back with a fresh zeal for serving the in next season.

Thank you for your love and support.

Topics: Other
3 Comments / Permalink

admin

Why Was Jesus Necessary?

By admin

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
Leave a comment / Permalink

admin

Encountering Joy

By admin

One Saturday evening in October, just over two years ago, we held a worship event for our young people at Holland Road. We turned the music up and the lights down and set the young people free to worship in their own way. It was a great success, and the beginning of an exciting journey.

That one-off event became Encounter, our twice-a-month Sunday night event where our heart is for young people, as well as anyone else who wants to join us to encounter God for themselves. It gets bigger and better every time, and we recently acquired a haze machine! But most importantly, over the past months there’s been an amazing sense of freedom – of meeting with God, of celebrating, of looking at the Bible together, and even doing a conga line.

One of the things we’ve been talking about a lot at Encounter is joy. As we approach Christmas, ‘joy’ is a word we hear all over the place. In fact, there’s so much pressure to have a ‘merry’ Christmas, that we actually end up more stressed than joyful!

As we’ve explored this theme of joy, we’ve found that our struggle is often because we’re looking for joy in the wrong places. This is particularly hard at Christmas, when it’s all about stuff, people’s expectations, and doing it right. So we pour everything into those things, picturing that perfect Christmas from the John Lewis advert, trusting that that will bring us joy. But trouble comes when the turkey gets burnt or you don’t get the present you really wanted…  Anxiety begins to creep in, and anxiety is like anti-joy.

So what can we do? Well, at Encounter we’ve been learning that the only place we can find true, lasting joy is through God. He never changes or lets us down. He created us to enjoy Him! And so we looked at this wonderful verse: “In Your presence there is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11). We discovered that actually, Jesus coming to earth as a baby, which we celebrate at Christmas, was so we could have a relationship with God – so we could be in His presence and find joy, and hope. Another name for Jesus is ‘Emmanuel’, which means ‘God with us’.

This is why we love to spend time worshipping God at Encounter. In fact, it’s why we’re called Encounter in the first place! Our deepest desire is to spend time really focussing on Him – who He is, what He’s done for us, who we are in Him – and experiencing that joy in His presence. We believe He wants to meet with us; He made that clear the very first Christmas!

So this Christmas, amidst the busyness and the pressure, take some time out to encounter God. You might just find real, lasting joy.

Encounter is on the second and fourth Sunday of every month, 6.15-8.00pm, starting again on January 11th. You can listen to previous Encounter talks at hrbc.org.uk/media/talks.

Topics: Youth
Leave a comment / Permalink

admin

Night Shelter

By admin

Every year, in the winter months, people die on the streets of our city because of a lack of shelter. Once again, this year we are partnering with thirteen other churches across Brighton & Hove to provide a Night Shelter and make a difference this winter.

So, for nine Sunday evenings, starting on Sunday 21st January, Holland Road will be hosting the Night Shelter in the church hall. The Night Shelter will provide food and accommodation for several men and women who would otherwise be sleeping rough.

As well as seeking to meet their immediate needs (i.e. shelter and food) we ensure that our friendly team are also there to listen to and chat with the guests, pray with them if they want to, and be able to direct them onto other professional services; to help get them started in the search for permanent accommodation or access professional support in the areas of tackling addictions or mental health problems.

Last year, over 20 of the 50 guests on the programme were found accommodation, some found work and one started university. Three of last year’s guests will actually be helping at this year’s night shelter!

The shelter isn’t a drop-in where anyone can turn up, rather we take referrals from professional agencies across the city who meet and assess each of the guests before sending them onto us.

Every Sunday evening the shelter runs three shifts; evening, night and morning. The evening team help set the shelter up, welcome the guests, cook and serve dinner. The night team oversee the safety and security of the guests whilst they sleep, and the morning team cook and serve breakfast, clear up and help the guests get ready for the day.

The shelter is supported entirely by the generous and sacrificial giving, both of time and money, of the churches across the city. I am hugely grateful to God, who has given us so much, for those who by giving towards this are remembering the words of Jesus when He said:

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Topics: Other
1 Comment / Permalink