What Happens at Gaines Manor in the Winter?!

Well quite a lot actually – even without many groups! Read on to find out what we’ve been up to here at Gaines Manor and how you can be praying. If you feel able to financially support me, you can do so here.

Verse for January

Job 38v4: “Where were you when I established the earth?”

This verse is so great because it reminds us that it is GOD who created everything we see; it humbles us to remember the Creator of the universe when we think we can o things in our own strength – God is so much bigger than we can imagine.

Day 351

conference

As a team, we enjoyed the chance to go away to the Growing Young Disciples Conference in Swanwick, Derbyshire along with around 200 other youth and children’s workers from across the country. We had some great teaching from Sam Allberry on identity, from Andy Prime on 2 Corinthians 5 & 6, as well as the doctrine of sin with Chris Stead in the Theology stream, and various seminars! So it was a pretty full-on time, but definitely helpful, challenging and encouraging.

It was also great to meet those from Yorkshire Camps (we visited them back in May – check it out here) and The Oakes, who are doing very similar gospel ministry in different parts of the country. And we even got to the opportunity to give those at the conference a chance to try out our newest activity: combat archery!

Day 359

washing

The boys have been busy clearing, prepping, cleaning and painting the new washing room, which is underneath the kitchen and will be great to start using over the coming season of groups.

Day 365

girls floor

They’ve also been renovating the Girls Floor – to open up the corridor; this has involved knocking down some walls and straightening them, before they’re re-plastered, repainted and re-carpeted. We’re looking forward to some beautiful fresh new rooms very soon!

I’ve been at Gaines for a whole year! While the boys have been getting dusty I’ve been busy doing lots of admin for the groups we have coming to us in the next few months, as well as doing some planning for our summer camps, and finding volunteers!

And our weekly visits to Birmingham for MMTC (Midlands Ministry Training Course) have also been continuing; recently we’ve been looking at Genesis, sex and sexuality, as well as continuing with 1 Thessalonians in our teaching practice groups.

Day 369

ae

It was great to be able to welcome the Students and Twenties group from Woodgreen for their weekend away. We had teaching on hope and holiness from Romans 5 and 6, which was really helpful, encouraging and challenging! There was also plenty of time for food, fellowship and fun, including a walk in the countryside.

Day 374

sgh

A couple of us took a road trip down to North Devon to see our friends at St George’s House (remember Neil and I visiting there in November? If not, see this blog post), as we’re running one of our summer camps: ‘The Beach’ there in the summer. And we also got to enjoy God’s creation at it’s best: the stunning Devon countryside and coastline in the sun.

Day 379

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Very excitingly, the coving (the bit that goes at the top of the wall between the wall and the ceiling) in Room 2 has started to go up. After that it should just be painting and carpeting before it’s a finished studio flat! Check back next time to see what it looks like.

wash up

I’m sure lots of our groups will be thrilled to know that we’ve now got an industrial dishwasher! But we just needed to have a wall knocked down first before the dishwasher and counter tops can be installed in the new wash up room. More photos to follow in my next blog.

Coming up…

Lots of maintenance: finishing the Girls Floor, installing the dishwasher and counter tops in the new wash up area, finishing off Room 2 all before our next group in 2 and a half weeks! And then we have another two groups in the following weeks in March.

A few of us are helping out with the mission week that the Christian Union at Worcester Uni are putting on; with the theme of ‘Satisfied?’ There are lunchbars most days with a talk on how Jesus brings true satisfaction to different areas of our lives, as well as evening events.

Please Pray!

  • Praise God for so many groups in the coming months, pray that we would have enough volunteers to be able to give every group a great time away enjoying God’s creation and His Word
  • For safety for the many maintenance projects we have going on, and that there wouldn’t be any hold ups to getting the work done before our next group comes
  • Worcester Uni’s mission week: that many students would hear how God brings them the satisfaction they long for
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Gaines Girl: A Year in the Life

The past year at Gaines has had many highlights and laughs, as well as lots of opportunities to grow in character and godliness though the various challenges I’ve faced. So here’s a round-up of my year:

February

HIGHLIGHT – starting at Gaines: the journey begins!

CHALLENGE – feeling a bit overwhelmed with new responsibilities

FUNNY MOMENT – when some sheep escaped from one of the neighbouring farms onto our land!

SPIRITUAL STANDOUT – such a joy to open up the book of Proverbs during Bible studies on my first weekend

March

HIGHLIGHT – team walks during time off

CHALLENGE – doing my first ever Bible talk

FUNNY MOMENT – Joe on the push along child’s ice skating dolphin when we went with one of the groups! (yes there is photo evidence)

SPIRITUAL STANDOUT – Woodgreen Youth weekend away: seeing young people excited to be living for Jesus

April

HIGHLIGHT – getting combat archery and kayaks (yay for new activities!)

CHALLENGE – team dynamics

FUNNY MOMENT – Bethany attempting to put up a massive net on her own, to make the house pirate-themed for camps

SPIRITUAL STANDOUT – Being encouraged in the work we’re doing by local Ministers

May

HIGHLIGHT – visiting Yorkshire Camps and being encouraged by their gospel work

CHALLENGE – finding my place in the team

FUNNY MOMENT – Bethany getting a whole bowl of flour over her

SPIRITUAL STANDOUT – UCCF Midlands Team day looking at Creation and how that affects our evangelism

June

HIGHLIGHT – walk up the Malverns to see the sunset with one of the groups. Beautiful hot weather!

CHALLENGE – getting everything sorted for my kayaking qualification

FUNNY MOMENT – rafting on the lake: capsizes, going round in circles and people falling in!

SPIRITUAL STANDOUT – a girl from a weekend who said she wanted to read her Bible more

July

HIGHLIGHT – lots of volunteers helping on camps. LMS glow stick disco. Finishing painting and putting up shelves for the new activity store

CHALLENGE – being really tired from all the groups and camps

FUNNY MOMENT – canoe training when Cam and Sally jumped in!

SPIRITUAL STANDOUT – unchurched girls from a school in London engaging with God’s Word in small groups – so exciting!

 

August

HIGHLIGHT – surfing camp. Passing my kayaking qualification!

CHALLENGE – Bethany and Sally leaving

FUNNY MOMENT – Sally singing karaoke on Breakout camp – don’t think we’ve ever laughed so much!!

SPIRITUAL STANDOUT – great small group Bible study group on Escape camp looking at Judges and Ruth

September

HIGHLIGHT – team trip to the South coast

CHALLENGE – adjusting to living on my own

FUNNY MOMENT – the constant question of “where’s Neil?!” when we were on our team trip!

SPIRITUAL STANDOUT – starting MMTC (Midlands Ministry Training Course)

October

HIGHLIGHT – feeling more settled, especially at church. Not poisoning anyone when I ran the kitchen for a group of 50!

CHALLENGE – no girls!

FUNNY MOMENT – one of the groups getting really into character for the murder mystery, complete with (slightly questionable) accents!

SPIRITUAL STANDOUT – provision of a lady at church to read the Bible with each week

November

HIGHLIGHT – Going to St George’s House to meet up with other Christian outdoor centres

CHALLENGE – not having any groups

FUNNY MOMENT – Joe and Thomas throwing some of the old mattresses and beds out of the window

SPIRITUAL STANDOUT – MMTC Book in a Day on James

December

HIGHLIGHT – onsite team community. Team outing to London

CHALLENGE – being far away from people at church, making it hard to meet up

FUNNY MOMENT – one of our volunteers getting their car stuck in the snow!

SPIRITUAL STANDOUT – meeting up with a student to read the Bible

January

HIGHLIGHT – moving into the flat. Lots of groups coming in the next few months

CHALLENGE – keeping focussed on Jesus when there are no groups

FUNNY MOMENT – Thomas loosing at exploding kittens (a card game) 3 times in a row!

SPIRITUAL STANDOUT – Growing Young Disciples conference, especially the teaching from Sam Allberry

So here’s to another year of Gospel ministry!

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LMS glowstick disco throwback!

 

 

 

 

Did Someone Say New Year?!

Just in case you’d missed it, we’re into 2018! Which for us at Gaines Manor has meant our annual New Year House Party, maintenance, admin and more – read on to see.

You can find out what we get up to day-to-day by following us on facebooktwitter or instagram.

Thank you so much to those of you who support me in various ways, from reading these updates, to praying, and giving to me financially. If you would like to financially support me, you can do so here.

Verse for December

Matthew 1v21: “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save the people from their sins.”

This is probably my favourite Christmas verse, as it sums up the true reason for the season – Jesus came to save us from our sin. It’s completely mind-blowing that the creator of the entire universe would choose to humble himself to such an extent that he would become a vulnerable baby, dependent on his mother. But it’s not just a verse for Christmas, as it points to Jesus’ mission of coming to earth: saving people from their sins – something of eternal significance to be forever grateful for.

Day 316

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December brought loads of snow here at Gaines Manor and therefore the perfect opportunity for our annual Christmas card shoot, to wish our supporters a Merry Christmas.

Day 317

Being snowed in gave plenty of time to work on our newsletter, which went out in December: you can it view here (and if you’d like to receive the next one straight to your inbox, you can sign up here!)

Day 323

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Room 2 is almost finished: the ceiling and walls have been painted, window frames have been painted, kitchen is all fitted, and Thomas and Joe are very pleased with their tiling!

Day 325

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Just before we all had some time off over Christmas, the Gaines team went on tour to London to see a show; as well as showing Thomas, our German gap year, the sites of London – we even saw Prince Harry!

Day 335

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We had nearly 20 young people come and welcome in the New Year in style with us for our New Year House Party. We enjoyed a posh New Year’s Eve dinner, an afternoon of board games, a New Year’s Day walk, make-your-own mocktail with Joe as the barman, an all-star murder mystery, a film night (with popcorn), plenty of tea and cake, party cannons to launch 2018 with a bang, and of course lots of dancing! The teaching was on how Jesus makes all things new, even when we live in a broken and sinful world; it was so encouraging to hear the young people get excited about the new creation.

Day 344

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Moving Day! I’m still onsite, but now in a Rachel-sized place. I’m all settled in and enjoying calling it ‘home’.

Day 347

MMTC has started back again after a break over Christmas; in the next few weeks we’ll be looking at Genesis, sex and sexuality, men and women’s ministry, and leading Bible studies, as well as continuing to get to grips with 1 Thessalonians in our teaching practice groups.

The New Year has brought with it a fresh round of admin for me (which I actually quite enjoy!). Making sure we’re organised for the upcoming youth group weekends, as well as the various Gaines-run weekends we’re hosting in the coming months: Dads & Lads, Dads & Daughters, World Cup Fever and Supersize (check them out under ‘Camps & Events’ on our website).

Coming up…

We’re all heading off to the Growing Young Disciples Conference next week, along with around 200 other youth and children’s workers from across the country. After that, the boys will be continuing work on the new laundry room, and I’ll be making sure we’re organised for the coming year!

Please Pray!

  • That the conference would encourage, equip and challenge us for the coming year of Gospel ministry here at Gaines Manor
  • That as a team, we would be pointing each other to Jesus, when that’s easy and difficult
  • Thanks that Room 2 is almost finished
  • Thanks for a packed 2018 calendar of groups coming

Let it Snow!

It’s been snowing a lot here at Gaines, which means Winter is officially here! There’s still been quite a bit going on, even without any groups here – read on to find out what we’ve been up to! Thank you so much to those of you who support me; if you feel able, you can financially support me here.

snow

Verse for November

Romans 3v23-24: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

We’re studying Romans in home groups at Church at the moment, and this verse has stuck with me a lot recently. On the one hand because it’s so HUMBLING. Paul (who wrote Romans) has just spent the whole of his letter up to this point explaining why everyone is totally undeserving of God’s grace and we all fall so far short of God’s standard because He is a holy God and we are sinful people. And secondly because it gives such HOPE. God sent Jesus to die on the cross to show his amazing grace, so we could be redeemed and brought back into perfect relationship with our Father for all eternity.

Day 285

matresses

Team bonding a few weeks ago was throwing out some of our old beds and mattresses from Little Gaines… which was actually a lot of fun!

Day 286

cu we away

I went along to Worcester CU’s Weekend Away for the day on the Saturday. It was great to be able to spend time with the members of the Christian Union, and get excited with them about sharing the Gospel with their fellow students.

Day 289

SGH cropped

Neil and I went down to St George’s House (SGH), a Christian outdoor centre in North Devon, for a couple of days to meet up with the teams from SGH, Fellowship Afloat and CYE (all Christian outdoor centres). We enjoyed fellowship, teaching, sharing of ideas, and of course surfing! Although you won’t spot us in the photo, as we wanted to head back to be able to go to MMTC on the Thursday.

Day 296

conservatory

The boys have been hard at work clearing and tidying where the Conservatory was, as well as painting the new lean-to, and it’s looking great!

Day 302

frozen

It’s been pretty cold here recently, including ice on the lake! While the boys have been working on the various maintenance projects around the house and grounds, I’ve been busy in the office updating activity plans, as well as getting stuck into all things housekeeping (who knew there were so many different types of light bulbs?!)

Day 305

We all went up to Nottingham for the termly meet up of the ‘West’ and ‘East’ centres for MMTC, which was ‘Book in a Day’ on the letter of James in the New Testament taught by Rupert Standring. It was such a good, helpful and challenging day for us all.

Day 311

room 2

Good progress is being made in Room 2: painting, kitchen units being fitted and electrics being sorted have all been happening since my last update. We hope and pray that this self-contained flat will be finished very soon!

Day 313

crossteach

We headed up to Nottingham to help out with two of the ‘Christmas Experiences’ Crossteach are running at various schools across the city, to teach kids about the true meaning of Christmas. (You might remember we helped out with Crossteach’s ‘Easter Experience’ in March.) The kids had three interactive stations where they had to find out the identity of the baby, then advise ‘Joe’ whether he should stay with Mary, who was having a baby that wasn’t his; Joe certainly looked the part as King Herod! It was great to see these mostly un-churched kids engage with who the Bible says Jesus is.

Coming up…

Continuing work in Room 2, New Year House Party (including planning and decorating the house) and time off over the Christmas period.

Please Pray!

  • That we would all be keeping our eyes, hearts and minds fixed on the Gospel, especially as there are fewer groups and people around on site
  • Thanks for all the maintenance and admin work we’ve managed to get done; in order to improve the fabric of the building and the running of things, so that more young people can hear the Gospel
  • That the students at Worcester CU would be excited about sharing the Gospel with others and would actually go and do it!
  • Thanks for the 60-70 people who attended the CU Carol Service this week, pray that they would consider the true meaning of Christmas
  • For the young people who will come on New Year House Party; that they would have a good time, but more importantly hear and respond to God’s Word

25 things Living at Gaines Teaches you (and you now think are totally normal)

  1. Getting annoyed when a kid beats you at any game because you’re actually more competitive than they are
  2. At least one kid losing a shoe in the lake every time you do rafting
  3. Having a bonfire every Friday night is totally normal right?!
  4. There never being the right number of pillows and duvets in each bedroom at the end of a weekend (how does that even happen?!)
  5. Finding mugs in completely random places when you clean the main house
  6. Only realising your car is quite dirty when you go to the supermarket…
  7. Playing chase the delivery driver round the house EVERY time there’s a delivery
  8. Waiting for a pheasant to cross the road almost every time you drive anywhere
  9. Having to drive everywhere
  10. Being totally spoilt with acres of grounds
  11. Not being surprised when you get stuck behind a tractor
  12. Secretly really enjoying having Mondays off, knowing that almost everyone else is at work
  13. It being totally acceptable to not leave the house all day on a day off
  14. Trying to explain what you do to pretty much anyone and them not really getting it
  15. Not caring what you wear because let’s face it there’s no one to impress – you live in the middle of nowhere
  16. Jumping completely out of your skin when you see the cat (if you’ve worked at Gaines, you know which cat I’m referring to!)
  17. Feeling a little bit out of place when you go into town because you haven’t seen so many people in one place since… well the last time you were in town
  18. Having a stack of tesco crates higher than you outside the kitchen
  19. Wearing at least 100 layers in the office in winter
  20. Getting weirdly excited when you visit friends or family that there’s a supermarket less than a 15 minute drive away
  21. Playing pothole bingo on a regular basis
  22. Walking all round the house to find the one person you need to speak to
  23. The constant soundtrack of cows or reversing vehicles from the farm
  24. Having an equal love and hatred of the A44
  25. Chasing the geese…

Farewell Groups: Hello Winter!

We’ve had our last weekend groups of 2017 (well it’s a bit cold for rafting now!), so we’re into a period of maintenance and development – read on to see what we’ve been up to. Thank you to those of you who support and partner with me – in prayer, relationally and financially – it’s hugely appreciated. If you feel able, you can financially support me here.

Verse for October

Hebrews 12v1b-2: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

When we fix our eyes on Jesus, running the race he has given us becomes so much easier; something it’s often easy to forget, and yet makes all the difference in ministry!

Day 250

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At the beginning of October, we welcomed the youth group from St Stephen’s church, Birmingham (the same church where we have MMTC). The teaching was on understanding the gospel and being equipped to share it with friends – practical and helpful for everyone! Highlights of the weekend included: the usual Friday night bonfire (complete with smores!), craft, combat archery, air rifles, a walk in the countryside and a murder mystery.

Day 253

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A few weeks ago, the drive looked like this…

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…but it now looks like this; nice and level and without any potholes: a smoother ride for those visiting Gaines!

Day 257

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Our final weekend group of 2017 was the youth from Kensington Baptist, Bristol; we enjoyed a packed out meeting room, with around 50 of them staying with us. It was a pretty full on weekend with so many people onsite (and to cook for!). But it was a joy, as always, to open up God’s Word with the young people, which was ancient wisdom from the book of Proverbs – still relevant to us today. We were thankful to be blessed with great weather, meaning we could spend time outside, and highlights included: combat archery, a bonfire, crocker, ice skating, lacrosse and a walk in the beautiful surrounding countryside!

Day 269

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Several of us from the Gaines team were involved in the Holiday Bible Club that Woodgreen Church ran over half term. If you can’t tell from the photo, the church was transformed to be ‘Under the Sea’! We were looking at the life of Jonah, and how we similarly run away from God and what he commands us to do, but thankfully Jesus came as the better Jonah to free us from our sin – and didn’t run away, but faithfully obeyed God.

Emily and Chris were our hosts (complete with wetsuits, swimming hats, life jackets and nose pegs!) and there was even a lobster costume involved as well! It was great to be involved in leading a small group and seeing the children better understand what Jesus has done for them.

Day 276

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The boys have been busy taking the conservatory down, so that the building can be better weather-proofed over the winter.

Meanwhile in the office I’ve been busy with lots of admin, including looking at several of the different aspects involved with the activities we run, as well as various housekeeping tasks and bookings for the coming year.

Day 280

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I’ve loved being involved at Woodgreen since I’ve arrived at Gaines, so have now become a Church member. Part of this involvement has been with After Eights: the students and 20s group, which has seen a lot of growth over the last year – so encouraging! You can see the excited bunch we are in the photo on the first session of term!

I’ve been settling into MMTC (Midlands Ministry Training Course) which has been continuing on Thursdays. We’ve now finished going through John’s gospel, and we’re just starting to put into practice some of the things we’ve been learning as we look at how to teach 1 Thessalonians to others.

Student work with the Christian Union at Worcester is also going well: they had their first session of the Alpha course this week, with many non-Christians attending – praise God! And pray He would be at work in their lives to bring them to Himself.

Day 282

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In my last update, the plaster board in Room 2 had gone up, and now it’s plastered! The boys have also been busy sanding, before it’s painted and the kitchen appliances go in.

Coming up…

Planning for New Year House Party, lots of maintenance around the house, and various admin tasks.

Please Pray!

  • To remember that the Gospel is great news and fix our eyes on Jesus, even when we have fewer groups coming through the doors
  • Praise God for gap years already interested for September 2018 (and some girls!)
  • Praise God for the provision of a woman at church to do a one to one Bible study with
  • To use the time we have over this winter period well: for maintenance projects and planning for the year ahead (bookings, activities and Bible teaching)
  • Praise God for over 100 children hearing about Jesus during Holiday Bible Club at church
  • For God to be at work in the lives of those who have attended the Alpha course run by the CU

New Year – Same God

Sorry for the long silence – never quite managed to find the time to sit down and write this until now! As we start a new academic year at Gaines, with changes in team and where my time is focused, I’m so thankful to be serving the God that doesn’t change; he’s always the same, he’s always faithful: “You are the same, and your years have no end” Psalm 102v27

We’re back into the swing of things after the summer, with several groups coming to us in the next few weeks, read on to see what we’ve been up to! Thank you for your support; if you feel able to you can support me financially here.

Verse for September:

A new slot… for a verse (or two) I’ve found particularly helpful over the past month.

1 Thessalonians 2v19-20: “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.”

Why? Our treasure in heaven is seeing those we’ve had the privilege of sharing the gospel with in glory – how exciting and incredible is that?!

Day 204

After all the craziness of camps over the summer, we all enjoyed some well deserved time off and rest; which included holidays, seeing family and visiting friends.

Day 211

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I passed my Level 2 assessment! Which means we can now offer kayaking on our lake at Gaines! On assessment day we were blessed with beautiful  sunshine and lots of willing participants to be coached – you can see me in action during the kayaking session I had to be observed coaching.

Day 212

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Forum (UCCF’s annual conference for CU leaders) was a great way to kick start the year as an Associate Staff Worker in Worcester with UCCF: four days of camping in the rolling Shropshire countryside with fantastic Bible teaching and being equipped alongside the CU leaders from across the country. You can see me and Sophie (Staff Worker for Worcester) looking so excited for the year ahead for what God is going to do at Worcester uni, but a little worse for wear after four days of camping!

Day 218

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Back to work! Which for me has mostly involved lots of admin (which I actually really enjoy…). Work has also been progressing on Room 2 – have a look back at May at Gaines! to see what it looked like a few months ago; although I can’t take any of the credit – that’s mostly been Joe. There’s now a ceiling and the walls are insulated and plaster boarded – ready to be plastered, then painted – more photos to follow in my next update!

Day 230

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Wedding time! It was a joy to be bridesmaid for my friend, and be involved in their special day.

Day 232

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As a full-time team we went away for a few days together in September; it was nice to spend time with each other away from all things Gaines-related. We then dropped Zoe (who’s been helping out at Gaines over the summer) off at Cardiff uni on the way back – it was sad to see her go, but I’m sure she’ll have a great time and be back before we know it!

Day 235

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Thursday 21st of September marked the long-awaited first day of MMTC (Midlands Ministry Training Course). Three of the other guys at Gaines are also doing the course this year, so it’s good to be able to go together. Each week we travel up to Birmingham and receive Bible teaching on books of the Bible, doctrine and other topics relevant to Christian ministry. It’s exciting to be able to join with others from across the region to be equipped to better understand and teach the Bible.

Day 239

Thomas arrived from Germany to join us for his gap year; we hope and pray he learns and grows in his Christian faith as he serves God here at Gaines over the coming year.

Day 243

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We had our first of a run of four groups in at the weekend: St John’s, Lindow from near Manchester. The teaching was from Proverbs, seeing how 3000 year old wisdom is still relevant today; as ever it was a joy to be able to open up God’s Word with the young people. Other highlights from the weekend included: combat archery (the girls were pretty happy about beating the boys!), graffiti, an afternoon of very competitive games, air rifles, and a murder mystery in which they all very much got into character! Pray for what they heard from the Bible to sink into their minds and hearts as they return home.

 

Coming up…

Three more groups over the next few weekends; and various maintenance projects, particularly Room 2.

Please Pray!

  • For us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and his great gospel, and not to forget that the reason we run Gaines is for God’s glory
  • For us to faithfully teach God’s Word to the groups that come
  • Thanks for MMTC: it’s such a blessing to be able to receive faithful Bible teaching each week and to meet people of a similar age who also want to learn and grow in their walk with God
  • Safety for all the maintenance work taking place