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British Pilgrimage of Hope

How God uses small groups of friends to change the world.

One Final Celebration

All of the laughs, jokes, dancing, tears, chats, walks, and musical harmonies came to a culmination tonight as the PBA team sat down with the missions department for our last debrief of the trip.

As I write, the Lord has directed my mind to Psalm 66, which is all about praising the Lord for His goodness.

The verse that speaks loudest is verse 16, which says, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul.”

It was a joy to reflect on the past month. We talked about our first week in Purley and then the pilgrimage as a whole; we shared what we learned about God, discussed the Short School of Mission, voiced some of our best moments (two of which included the Pilgrims’ Walk in Lindisfarne and Columba Bay!), and reminded one another that we can apply all that we’ve learned to our individual lives back in America.

One thing we all agreed on is that Iona was a life-changing place; the Lord spoke a beautiful word and encouragement to each of us. What is said about Iona being so close to Heaven is truth; our experiences all verified this!

We are overwhelmed and grateful for the prayers, support, love, and encouragement from the Fusion team! This trip will forever be etched on our hearts.

We miss the UK but can’t wait to see how God continues to use us in the mission fields in which He places us!

Blessings to you all,

the PBA 2015 team

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Celeste on Iona

Well, folks, the pilgrimage ended three days ago and I’m still at loss for words. It seriously was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

In an attempt to explain just how wonderful this journey has been, I’m going to rewind a week and tell you about our last two stops, Iona and Lindisfarne (Holy Island).

First lets go to Iona:

We spent three nights here this year instead of just two and had the wonderful opportunity of leisurely hiking around the island. After spending the first afternoon setting up camp, we spent the night as a team worshipping and resting from a full day of travel. The next day, we hiked to Columba Bay and took some time soaking in God’s presence. The PBA team talked for days about how precious their encounters with the Father were.

Day three was spent traveling to Martyr’s Bay and Iona Abbey. The Abbey was an incredible experience; to think of Columba and his twelve inhabiting the island and creating the site so many years prior, and we were given the sheer joy of walking where he did. That night the team walked back to the Abbey to attend a service and see more of the building. We even sang as a group after the rest of the congregation left, a brilliant moment spent praising the Lord.

At day four we packed up bright and early and headed back to Glasgow. The team slept on the coach while the marvelous Jenny Woods took care of the catering. We couldn’t have been more grateful!

 

Looking back over 18 days of Pilgrimage

On being a pilgrim – Christine

Being pilgrims has finally come to an end, wow!! What a journey it has been! We’ve traveled a fair bit and traced back the foot steps of inspiring saints. But nevertheless we have learned incredible things not only about ourselves but about the love of God for each and everyone of us, followed with the gracious ways he reveals himself to us. This experience will be treasured as one by one we return home with the love of Christ, and his grace and peace. We will carry back some of the things we have learned along our way. Its a journey which will be different to the person standing on our left but a journey through faith that we got to experience together. We all have a unique story and have taken different paths along our journey but coming together to share that moment as a group of friends has been something remarkable.

Thank you Roy!

Anika: I really appreciated Roy’s knowledge about the history of the Christian faith, knowledge that brings life. Seeing the impact that these men and women had then and also how it is being applied now.

Skye: I appreciate the way he spoke into the life of the pilgrims, making the things we were exploring relevant for our times. It was inspiring to hear Roy speak about the need for a new revival; that God wants to use us again – it’s not just a nice idea but it NEEDS to happen.

Claire: Yes, Roy painted a vivid picture of the mission field that is the North of England – what once was the cradle of Christianity, now needing to receive the light and life of the gospel afresh. I was impacted by the need for Christians to pray and go and love this part of our nation.

 

Roy Searle is one of the founders of the Northumbrian Community; we were privileged to have him come and spend the day with us on Holy Island as part of our Pilgrimage.

Journey to Holy Island

Iona in Pictures

Journey to Iona

An afternoon and evening in Glasgow

We spent the afternoon with Ish Lennox seeing and learning some of Glasgow’s rich history. We started  the day at the afternoon service at St George’s Tronn on Mandela Square where we met Pastor Alistair who shared the amazing vision that Gods given them for the ministry in that place. After a meal at weatherspoons, we ended the day piling into the boys room to watch part two of ‘how the celts saved Britain’.

In the morning we start the trek to Iona…

A Gallery of Glasgow..

Destination Glasgow

Five pilgrims visited Oxford today!

On our day off I showed some of our American pilgrims around my home away from home, the historical university city of Oxford. Here we are at the C.S. Lewis Nature Reserve and the Eagle and Child Pub, where  the Inklings used to meet!

Skye

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Birthday Lunch

My free day was spent celebrating my birthday with my gorgeous younger brother Chris & his beautiful wife  Naz – treat!!

lots of lovely messages and prezzies from family,  old friends & new!

Feeling the love!

Claire

Team Witham Galery

Balham in Pictures

Reporting from Team Witham

Hi, we are reporting live from West Croydon as we just got back from our placement. Sorry for the lack of updates as we were extremely busy, but I wanted to give an update on our time in Essex.

Thursday we split into two groups. Emily, Ashley and Marty headed to the Hub where they did arts and crafts + videos games with kids all day. The Hub was open to all and it was free. In total there were about 14 children throughout the day it was a wonderful time of ministry. Joe, Jenny , Keith and Renee headed to a local park where we set up a sports centre and invited the children to come and play games where the boys kept coming all day. The only game we played was football and they kids crushed all of the adults. This went on for the majority of the day.

Friday was the same exact day, except that the two teams switched and went to the other area. The turnout was about the same, and it was a wonderful time to engage families and encounter children. It was a small way to connect but each of us had conversations throughout the day whether it was with parents or the children themselves.

Saturday was packed! We started the day at 8 AM and headed to where the football centre was set up. We met tons of volunteers and set up for the Open Crowd Festival. Our teams goal was to really pour into the centre games and to try to get the community involved. As the day started, we went around and try to grab some children to play the games. Everyone was a little hesitant at first, but by the end of the day, we had almost everyone participating in the tug-o-war and the hockey cokey!

One of the best moments was hearing Trey’s mum say that they were only coming to see what the festival was for 15 minutes and ended up staying the whole time. Overall, it was a wonderful day full of activity. We really engaged each person and I think the sense of community was felt and the locals felt encouraged that we could partner with them.

Renee

Celebrating Balham

After breakfast tomorrow we will leave Balham and return to West Croydon Baptist to reconnect with the rest of our band of pilgrims who have been on mission in Witham. Tonight, however Des and Sue treated the team to a wonderful Indian meal in Tooting, a last chance to hang out and be blessed even more by these present day world changers! This group of pilgrims have gone to bed content, tired, refreshed and encouraged.

Celeste reflects on the day: Today was the conclusion of holiday club with a finale of Messy Church. As I reflect on the last four days, I’m humbled to have had the opportunity to take part in God’s work in Balham. He reminded me that as His people are expectant He truly does wonderful things. I have never seen children so hungry for God’s love and Word as the ones we worked with! They blessed and encouraged my heart in numerous ways. The hospitality of church members and their openness to host us in their homes for dinners blessed me beyond words. I praise and thank God for Balham and the beautiful people He has placed here. To Him be all the glory!

From Matt: Balham Community Church is such a great beacon of light and hope to this place. During the previous four days, with the BCC crew we have presented God in such an authentic way to the community of Balham through Holiday clubs and today; we saw an important part of what God is doing here. Today it was so wonderful seeing people of all ages take part in diving deeper into bible stories and building relationships for the sake of building God’s kingdom on earth during Messy Church.

Highlights from Christine, Skye and Anika in Balham

“My highlight of the day was being able to reflect and witness what God has been doing within the Balham community and church, as we sat down to praise and thank one another. It was amazing to be a part of the journey the children were on with God, as he planted his seeds of knowledge within them which will soon begin to blossom: these 4 days were just the start of something special. This was a precious experience to see the kingdom of god among the children as well as the community coming together to do the will of God.” Christine

“It has been so encouraging to serve alongside the team from BCC and our pilgrim team. its been another beautiful example of how God’s people no matter their origin or experience are united by his spirit and love.” Skye

“My highlight was seeing the young (teen) leaders rise to the challenge at the holiday club, then being celebrated by the rest of the team and really appreciated for the gift they brought.” Anika

Meanwhile, back in Whitley Wood…

This morning Skye, Kristy and Claire drove back to home base in Whitley where the St Paul’s Play Barn crew, St Pauls and friends were putting on their second Whitley Wood fun day. After helping with set up, we were joined by Indy in running ‘center games’ for the festival.

As things were getting started, I got to chat with Alfred a veteran in the RAF who used to live in the house opposite St Pauls and attend the school there. Alfred carries around pictures from his child hood and young adulthood in the back of his scooter, so we spent a happy few minutes chatting about the old days. ‘I love coming here, it brings back all the old memories!’ He told me that the last time he left home was for the South Reading Churches fun day at the end of June. ‘Its lovely to chat; i only get to see people maybe 2 or 3 times a week, so its nice to talk.’ What a lovely way to start the festival!

Before returning to Balham from the Whitley we spent an hour with Leon Colyer, Vicar of St Pauls, at the local pub. (We wanted Kristy to experience once of our regular haunts!). Leon shared his vision for the community and got us thinking how easily we could engage in with our own neighbourhoods.

The day was wrapped up nicely with dinner at Mamma Kate’s, a wonderful elderly Ghanaian woman who had spent the last two days cooking up a storm! There was enough food for about 10 people, so the three of us that visited her returned with left overs for tomorrow’s lunch! It was a humbling privilege to be able to pray with Mamma Kate before leaving; her joyful, sacrificial hospitality was a really special blessing at the end of a full and long day.

 

Friday evening: Balham

It’s Friday night and the Balham team are relaxing in the community room for a few minutes before heading off to our dinner hosts for the evening. We’ve been helping Balham Community Church run their summer holiday club. Twenty seven kids from the neighbourhood have been with us for the last two days. It’s been heaps of fun and hard work! The theme for the 4 days is ‘Superheroes’, complete with the Jesus superhero song done with actions.

Yesterday we saw how Jesus fed the five thousand, today we were amazed by how he calmed the storm on the sea.

So far we’ve been teaching them how to create dogs out of balloons, spin plates, juggle, do tricks with hoolahoops and paint faces. Tomorrow they will be learning beat boxing and the cup song as well as everything else.

Meanwhile it’s been a pilgrim experience sleeping on the church floor and heading to the local leisure centre for showers whilst enjoying the amazing hospitality of the Balham Community Church members for meals in the evening. Each night we head off to different households for a meal and the chance to get to know some of the locals and hear stories of what God is doing in their lives and neighbourhoods.

 

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Balham Placement preparing for the first day of Holiday Club

The highs and lows of Monday.

It’s Tuesday morning and the pilgrims are having their personal journaling and devotional time. The last 24 hours have been pretty special. We’ve been enjoying times of worship led by some of the PBA students. Last night we shared some of the highlights from the day: mixed Berry crumble by Jenny Woods, learning to line dance together, ‘finally spinning that plate on that stick!’, ‘I feel like I have learnt so much today, the teaching sessions were great’, ‘the conversations have been great today; it’s been nice just being here together after yesterday’s day out.’

At 9am this morning we said good bye to Renee for two days of debrief with Greater Europe Mission. She’ll be joining the Witham placement on Thursday and the rest of us will see her again on Monday when all return from placements.

We spoke with Derrick yesterday lunch time and are all pretty sad because it looks like he and Thando wont be making it after all. The sponsorship arrangement fell through at the last ditch. Its been a long journey and we have been preparing ourselves to welcome them amongst us, so we are living with the disappointment of that…. the pilgrim journey includes highs and lows, both of which bring treasures when we travel with our hearts open to what God is saying and doing.

Today’s thought for the day was brought by Anika. She shared a bit of her story and reminded us to take time to see the people that God brings to us (including our fellow pilgrims), not judging them by appearance or behaviour but being willing to be with them.

then some of the Pilgrims wanted to share a song

London Gallery

Day two – A day in London with the Reformers

We are tired!! We left the church at 9 and headed into central London. The rain tried to threaten us but we didn’t let it win. Instead we sat in Caffe Nero where, Dan, met us and we talked about Reformation in more detail. From there we went to John Wesley’s Chapel for church and took a tour of his home after. The whole group was full of inspiration. The tour was definitely a highlight because this is where Methodists started.

It was an amazing experience and made the past very real. After that we headed over to Piccadilly Circus followed by Trafalgar Square. We discussed so many historical people and explored how their effort changed history. We finished at Holy Trinity Church on Clapham Common where the abolitionists worshipped and did community together. We even got to go inside while the praise band practised.

After we traveled back to West Croydon, we watched Amazing Grace and discussed the abolitionist movement in more detail. The theme we’re all seeing is finding our passions and plugging ourselves into community. It’s been an amazing second day. We’re tired but spiritually renewed. Now we wait to see what tomorrow brings and hopefully it’s some South Africa.ns

Thank you Dan!

It was so good to have Dan join us for the day in London as we explored some of the social reformers of the 17 and 18 hundreds.  We miss having him around every day, so it was a treat to reconnect.

I really appreciated how Dan helped us connect with the heart of the people we were studying, which was deepened by his understanding of what society was like at the time. Skye.

It was a great way to start the Pilgrimage, Dan was able to give flesh to what we were exploring – bringing to life the physical evidence of their lives the buildings and monuments; he helped us see how today we still live with what these world changers did and brought about. Anika

 

Dan Evenhuis is the former National Coordinator for Fusion Y&C UK. He continues to help lead the local work in Wheatley, Oxfordshire – a Fusion Associate Centre.

On our way home!

On the number 50 bus home from our London reformers tour 🙂

Day 1 … and so we begin.

The Americans are here! We welcomed them in at 2 PM and everyone settled quickly as we all needed a moment to catch our thoughts. After registration, the girls set up camp and the boys settled in the man cave. Skye led a few icebreaker  where we learned whose the tallest, the shortest and who stands in between. After playing a game of “Have You Ever?” the mood became comfortable. Post rest time we had dinner and chatted a bit about who we are, what we study and some culturally differences.

Our first official session was later this evening as a few of the pilgrims led worship. Skye discussed the World Changers Journal and Marty went over “Enterin g a Group For The First Time.” Overall the mood was calm but full of excitement as everything is starting. We’re still waiting to hear back from Thando and Derrick about flights and it is our prayer they will fly out tomorrow! The weather is looking like it’s suppose to rain tomorrow and that’s when we’re due to do our walking tour, so we are obviously praying against that! Today was a great first day and we build this group of community and learn more about God and what He has in store.

Getting ready to Start!

The Reading crew are putting final touches to the kit, visiting the storage unit and getting ready to load up the car. The Croydon crew are celebrating after a week of mission in Purley with Pastor Nick from Old Lodge Lane Baptist. The South Africans are heading off to pick up Thando’s visa and then booking themselves on to a flight… (nothing like a bit of last minute adrenalin!). By this time tomorrow we will be transforming West Croydon Baptist church into our home for the Short School of Mission, and things will be getting underway.

Can’t wait for another week of laughter, learning and journeying together! #Pilgrimageofhope

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