Holland Road Baptist Church

Lena Parle

One Transforming Year

By Lena Parle

Transform for me was a time of spiritual growth, learning, and character development. When I began my year, it wasn’t exactly what I expected. When I applied I thought the most important thing would be serving, but I gradually found out it was more about my own spiritual and character growth.

When I look back to my Transform highlights, there are just so many. Those that immediately stand out are training with New Frontiers, and the Wales and Ethiopia mission trips. But what also really stayed with me was the stuff we did everyday, getting to work with so many different people who are on the staff or volunteers, and seeing what the different missional communities do here at Holland Road. I had the privilege to be part of both the Minnows and Tadpoles play groups, meeting the volunteers and all the parents. It was so great to just be part of the team, to serve people, and to get to know them all.

Being part of Alpha and the follow on Foundations group was fantastic. It was amazing to see people’s journeys, to see people coming to know Jesus, and it was an honour to be a part of this. Working at the United cafe was also brilliant, and I met loads of really great people from all over the world. And I was lucky enough to work with such great teams of volunteers within all these communities.

To finish, I want to mention a few special thank-you’s – to Jonny and Katie for guiding and teaching me through the whole process, and to all the ministry leaders and helpers who welcomed me and included me. And a big thank-you to Terry, Lee and Ally Avard, for giving up their time to clean and set up. Everything you did was amazing.

I have made so many friends this year who I won’t forget. Thank you Holland Road for a fantastic year.

Topics: Transform
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Lena Parle

Recently Lucy and I went to Center Parcs for five days of biblical training. While we were there God spoke to me about fear, and how I was letting it rule my life. I haven’t had a fearful life. I have good parents and a good education, yet I had let the fear of what other people thought of me creep in. This made it difficult for me as I struggled with talking to people about Jesus, freely worshipping and asking for prayer.

God started speaking to me about this a little bit before the Center Parcs training, when David shared a diagram that had fear and love opposing each other. I had already seen this diagram but had not really concentrated on it. I realised that God was telling me that I needed to understand that I was living in fear, not love, and that the reason we were seeing this diagram again was so I could understand this. It was one of those ‘I’m not as clever as I think’ moments. I realised that fear was running my life, not love, and this just wasn’t right.

Center Parcs was an amazing time of listening, learning and drawing near to God, praising God and listening to Him more. I learnt about so many things, including cross-cultural mission and spiritual gifts.

On our second day of training at Center Parcs we were taught about spiritual blockages, one of which is fear. We talked about different fears that affect us, including the fear of rejection, fear of what people will think about you and how they will treat you, fear of failure, of stepping out in faith and failing, and financial fear, especially when changing our life in order to obey God.

For me, I realised that the fear of what others thought of me was holding me back in worshipping God. But I also realised that, although I still have those feelings, God is really working in me to change that.

Topics: Transform
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Lena Parle

United International Café

By Lena Parle

United is our community for international people, based around café on a Wednesday evening. This is usually visited by around thirty students from the many language colleges within the city, but it’s open to all international people living and working in Brighton and Hove. We have students from all over the world, covering a broad age range, though the majority of students are under thirty.

The countries most strongly represented are Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Brazil, although we’re also joined by many students from Asia and other parts of Europe. It’s great to have such a diverse group and everyone gets to experience lots of different cultures and people!

The café is somewhere where we can connect with students who are only here for a short time, letting us bless them by giving them a safe place to come and spend the evening. It’s a relaxed place where people can practice English with us and each other. We also have games, such as table tennis and pool.

Every few weeks we have a themed evening. In November we had a ‘Brighton night’, learning all about Brighton; a ‘fireworks night’ with sparklers; and an ‘international pudding night’ where we all got to eat some wonderful desserts!

United is a place where people can make friends and, if they want to, find out about how to get more involved in church. One woman who has just gone back to Spain got really involved in the youth work. She said she was so grateful for how United introduced her to church and made her feel welcome.

For some people who come it is the first time they have been inside a church building and we are the first Christians they have ever met! It is amazing when we often see these people’s views of Christianity change for the better as a result of our service and love towards them.

We meet at 7:30pm on Wednesday evenings in the church hall and anyone passionate about serving international people can come along and join us!

Topics: Communities
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Lena Parle

A Transforming Journey

By Lena Parle

Hi, I’m Lena and I’d like to share what I’m doing as part of the Transform team, and what God is speaking to me about.

This year I have been really lucky to be able to do lots of children’s work. It is so great to see kids learning about God and bringing their friends to The Hub. This really spoke to me. They are not ashamed of Jesus and neither should we be – whatever the world thinks of us. Helping at Minnows has shown me how much we can also bless parents, and that’s fantastic to see.

I have also been really privileged to be part of Alpha this year. Alpha is an amazing ministry that changes people’s lives – to see people choosing to begin to follow Jesus is the best thing ever. This is such a great environment in which to discuss important issues and form friendships. God has really shown me through Alpha how He wants to touch all of our lives.

Being part of United has also been amazing, and it is so good to meet people and try and bless them for the short time they are in Brighton. Some of these people have never been inside a church before and it is a blessing to see the perceptions of so many change over the time they spend with us. I feel that God has been saying that planting even the smallest seed can make a big difference in someone’s life.

Finally, the training that I have received through Transform has given me more knowledge of the Bible than I have ever had, and it has been so useful to learn and understand more about the Word of God, Church history, the Trinity and both the Old and New Testaments.

It really has been a blessing to wrestle with Scripture and to gain a deeper understanding of God’s Word and works has been amazing.

I look forward to learning more and doing more with Transform!

Topics: Transform
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Lena Parle

Transform is our internship programme which runs every year and is made up of people who are giving a year of their time to serve full time at the church in mission, ministry and through training. You can read about our other team member for 2013/14, Lucy, here.

Who are you?

Lena Parle

How long have you been at Holland Road?

16 years, since I was two.

Why did you apply for Transform?

I really wanted to dedicate some time to serving God and the church, and this coming year will be my first out of full time education, before hopefully heading off to university, so for me it seemed the right time to apply for Transform and use this year to serve God.

What are you most looking forward to?

I am most looking forward to travelling abroad on mission trips and seeing what God is doing in other countries, meeting others and telling people about Christ and love of God.

What can you see yourself contributing to the Transform Team?

I hope to be hard working and willing to do whatever is needed. I will aim to do my best and be a useful active member of the team.

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

I very much hope to be an active part of the life of the church and would like to contribute in any way I can, although I don’t yet know exactly what I will be doing!

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

I knew God wanted me do this for a while and having known previous team members I knew what the process was about and what would be expected of me. Although I was kind of nervous I knew I had to take this leap and everyone around me was very supportive. Those involved in the application process were really helpful and let me know really quickly that they thought I was right to be part of Transform. I was very glad as I had delayed university to do this and I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity!

What can we pray about for you?

I would love prayer for moving out of home for the first time. Please pray that I will be able to adapt well in new situations and that my confidence would grow so I will be able to give my full potential to everything. Also pray that God will really use this year to further his purposes in my life.

Topics: Transform
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