For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11.
This was the verse which was sent to me from a trusted Christian friend just before I made the bold decision to step out of my comfort zone and work as a Community Development Worker for Jacob’s Well (my missional/pioneering community where I am a member). Not long after I started this new adventure it was suggested that I might attend Forge Missional Training.
Through meeting others with a missional heart and being mentored, as well as listening to the community where I was working, several ideas were stirring. I started to explore the idea of a toddler group; two local mums who had joined the Jacob’s Well journey helped me set up the group. This encouraged me to start thinking about local leadership and asking questions such as what can they contribute? What are their gifts? How to use them and develop them, letting go of control, being guided by the spirit, being open to receiving, (not always about giving!) and listening to others, have all been themes which I have had greater awareness of since venturing into this experience.
Looking back, I have found that God has gone before me and I am seeking to join in with what he is already doing. He is already working in peoples’ lives (even if they don’t know it) and I am joining him in his work with people and situations. I don’t particularly find this easy and there have been many times where I have wondered what I’m doing in this situation. Where is God in this ? How do I handle it? What questions do I ask now to be most useful? What difference am I making in peoples’ lives?
Another idea I had been pondering for a while was starting a group during the day to explore life/Christian teachings etc. With prayer, patience and perseverance, and after some time, this is now happening weekly with another member of Jacob’s Well and two mums. We are exploring some material by ‘Care for the Family’, hopefully followed by ‘An Ordinary Day with Jesus’ (which had a dramatic effect on me after doing it in the early days of Jacob’s Well). As a result of this, friendships have developed and it has become a space where we can travel together through the ups and downs of life.
I have been truly overwhelmed by the generosity of God’s provision and blessings in my journey over the last few years: from the very practical things like receiving bags of clothes for families, and a bed for a family, the mum who found a job in two weeks after being made redundant and being able to attend the toddler group due to her new business allowing her to have the morning with her children, receiving supermarket vouchers at Christmas for families travelling with us, a Christmas present for a little boy which was “just what he wanted!”, an anonymous donation for someone in need. To the reunion of a mother and daughter after a few years of being separated, me being invited for dinner by a woman I am journeying with, the answers to prayers in the last few years, and seeds as small as mustard seeds, which are now beginning to grow. I’m grateful too for the local councillor who recognised that we are working “with” not “doing to” the people of Abbotswood, which is part of the Jacob’s Well Mission Statement!
For more information about Forge Missional Training, have a look at our dedicated Forge page.