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
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It’s all about the Camps

We’ve been in full-on summer camp mode here at Gaines and elsewhere (read on to find out where!) If you feel able you can support me here.

Camp XL (the overall charity that Gaines is part of) run three summer camps at Gaines: Escape, Breakout and Ignition – read on to find out how they went! You can also see more photos on Camp XL’s facebook and twitter, as I couldn’t put them all on here!

The summer camps are such a great opportunity to share our hope of God’s great gospel with children and young people from across the country – that’s why we spend so long planning and preparing for them!

Day 182

escape5

Escape was the first camp we ran and Cap’n Joe was leading the ship – although he seems to have lost his pirates in the above photo! Activities throughout the week included air rifle shooting, paracord keyrings, rafting, a trip to Drayton Manor, wide games, woodwork, combat archery, treasure chests, tie-dye t-shirts and pirate-themed baking among others!

bo7

The teaching on both Escape and Breakout was on Judges and Ruth: there were small group Bible studies in dorm groups in the mornings, and evening teaching meetings altogether with games, singing, interviews and a talk. It was such a privilege to delve into God’s word with the young people and help them understand it better.

escape2

‘Late Night’ was a big hit, which included lots of silly games: pop-up pirate extreme, a mass game of rock, paper, scissors (above), Davy Jones’ Locker, 100 metre mermaid, walk the plank, and lots of other food related games too!

Day 189

bo9

I was Cap’n Rachel for our second camp: Breakout. But you’ll be glad to know I didn’t wear those glasses all week!

bo3

Everything was pirate themed for every camp, and the campers were in dorm groups for each week: Blackbeards, Davy Jones’, Jolly Rogers and Long John Silvers. Above, the Long John Silvers are taking part in one of the games in Captain Hook’s Training Circuit! Other activities throughout the week included: tie-dye t-shirts, air rifle shooting, pirate-themed baking, combat archery, wide games in the woods, rafting, bushcraft, a pirate murder mystery, archery, graffiti, a trip to Drayton Manor and more!

bo4

There was lots of time to get alongside the young people, due to the small numbers, and even despite some illness going round! Small groups were again a great place to open up God’s Word with the young people, pray that God would bring fruit and we’d see them in glory.

Day 196

wr1

I got the opportunity to go on one of Camp XL’s other camps: Waverider, a surf Camp in (mostly) sunny Polzeath in Cornwall; although it did mean I missed being part of Ignition back at Gaines. But I love the sea and (almost) anything to do with water, so it was a great way to round off the summer!

wr3

Days were filled with surfing, coasteering, kayaking, Bible studies, BBQs, competition games, cake, evening teaching meetings and cream teas. Numbers are deliberately kept small on surf camp, which creates a real family feel. The teaching was a Bible overview, which was a really helpful way for the campers to better understand the Bible, the gospel and how that should affect the way they live their lives. They were all really open to talking about the Bible and had lots of questions, which was such an encouragement to witness.

ignition1

Meanwhile on Ignition… the re-enactment of King Eglon! There were nearly 30 kids aged 8 to 11 who enjoyed activities from air rifle shooting to team games, and rafting to combat archery. But most importantly they got to hear God’s Word from Joshua, Judges and Ruth.

Day 200

Wasn’t actually spent at Gaines, but was filled with kayaking, time on the beach and a walk with the campers to the cove on the last full day of Waverider!

Day 203

photo7

Time to say goodbye to Bethany and Sally who have been on the gap year: the time has flown by, but it’s been so great to have them here at Gaines, seeing them grow and develop in their faith and leadership has been a joy and a blessing to witness – they will definitely be missed! They’re both off to uni in September – wishing them the best of luck, but I’m sure they’ll be back before we know it!

Coming up…

Rest and time off! I also have my kayaking assessment on Monday, which if I pass will mean we can do kayaking on the lake with groups. Then I’m straight off to Forum (UCCF’s annual conference for CU leaders) after that, as part of my role as Associate Staff Worker with Worcester Christian Union. And we’re all back in the office in September, with several groups coming to us in October.

Please Pray!

  • For all the kids that heard God’s Word over the summer – pray that they wouldn’t just remember the activities they did on camp, but they’d remember something of God’s great gospel
  • Thank you for all the volunteers who have (often sacrificially) helped us over the summer at Gaines, particularly on the camps
  • For good rest as the Gaines team have some time off
  • For my kayaking assessment
  • To be encouraged and spurred on for the year ahead by the teaching at Forum

Summer Craziness!

On Sunday our first camp starts and I’ll have also been at Gaines for 6 months – time flies! Thank you so much for taking time reading this. If you feel able to support me, you can do so here. And don’t forget to check out Gaines on facebooktwitter and instagram!

Day 159

beacon

Our fourth weekend group in a row was a new group to us from a church in Stafford, and it was great to have them with us! The teaching was from Colossians – The Greatest Ever King; looking at Jesus is always encouraging and challenging – no matter how many times we hear it! Activities included the usual Friday night bonfire with marshmallows, rafting (it got competitive with boys vs girls!), air rifles (which became equally competitive), murder mystery evening, mug decorating in the sun, and combat archery (pictured above).

Day 162

joe slide

39 girls and their teachers from Lady Margaret School in London enjoyed a full on pirate-themed week. It kicked off with an afternoon of inflatables, which were a lot of fun – and yes Joe did dress like that for the whole week!

The teaching took a slightly different form to normal: we had small groups in the mornings with a mixture of upfront and discussion time, looking at ‘The World We All Want’ – how the world is not as it should be, why that is, that Jesus came to fix it, and by trusting in what Jesus has done we can look forward to being in the New Creation with Him as King. It was incredible to see how open the girls were to God’s word.

the end

We did lots of activities with the girls, including rafting, tie dye t-shirts, combat archery, graffiti, air rifles, a trip to Drayton Manor and much more! It was also great to have a couple of last year’s gap team back to help out.

It was a tiring week (as you can see from the team photo above!) but it was so amazing to be able to share the gospel with mostly un-churched girls.

Day 170

canoeing

Bethany and Sally enjoyed the two canoeing sessions we did on a lake the other side of Worcester. I’ve now finished all of my canoeing and kayaking sessions – so I’m now almost ready to go for assessment!

Day 174

st georges

St George’s, another new group to us, enjoyed a Bible and activity-filled few days with us. We did an extended teaching programme in Ephesians, looking at God’s big plan to unite all things under Christ, as well as Paul’s 2 prayers. It was great to see the kids in my small group engaging with and thinking about what the Bible says, which produced lots of questions towards the end of their time with us! There was lots of time to do activities with them as well, which included: wide games, graffiti, rafting, mug decorating, combat archery, film night, ultimate Frisbee, team games, combat archery and more!

In our spare (?!) moments between groups we’ve been doing the very final preparations for summer camps: decorations are up, programmes are finished, Bible talks are written, all we need now are the kids!

Coming up…

Summer camps! Escape starts on Sunday, Breakout the following Sunday, and Ignition the Sunday after that!

Please Pray!

  • For all the kids coming on summer camps, that they would engage with God’s Word (we’re looking at Judges and Ruth), be challenged and transformed by it
  • That all of the leaders: Gaines team and those coming to help over the summer, would model the gospel to the kids on camps. Pray for us to be gracious, loving and patient towards each other and the kids
  • For all of the those who have heard the gospel at Gaines over the past month or so, that God’s word would be continuing to impact, challenge and change their lives

Summer is in Swing

We’ve been busy! The sun’s been shining here at Gaines and we’ve welcomed several groups since my last update, as well as a new team member! We’ve also been finishing off some maintenance projects and doing final preparations for summer camps. And you can support me here.

Day 138

malverns

We welcomed St John’s Knutsford – the first of four weekend groups in a row. The teaching was on Colossians, and it was so encouraging to be able to open up the Bible with some of the girls and them wanting to do the same when they got home. Other highlights included: the hottest weekend so far; water games; toasting marshmallows on the bonfire while enjoying a beautiful sunset; rafting on the lake (only most people fell in…); and enjoying God’s creation from the top of the Malverns.

Day 144

up high.JPG

More painting! Up on the scaffold to paint the top half of the the PA room and the ceiling.

Day 145

A regular occurrence in our calendar is the youth group from St Botolphs, Barton Seagrave. I was mostly helping out in the kitchen, but another weekend of warm weather was enjoyed – rafting on the lake was a definite highlight, as was the murder mystery. The teaching was on Proverbs: seeing how God’s wisdom written through Solomon 3000 years ago is still relevant to us today. And combat archery was a great way to finish off their time with us!

Day 149

finished

My labour of love: now all painted and ready for the shelves to go in!

Day 151

kayak

I’ve been busy working on my kayaking qualification (Level 2) so we can get kayaking up and running on the lake with groups. Part of it includes doing some coaching sessions – Bethany and Sally have been my participants, and we even had an audience for the second session in the rain!

Day 152

dads & lads

A slightly different weekend to normal as we welcomed 8 fathers with their sons for our very first Dads & Lads weekend! Activities included archery, smores round the bonfire, sport, air rifles, combat archery and bushcraft in the woods (more fires); which enabled the dads to spend time with their lads doing things that boys like to do! The teaching was on father and son relationships in the Bible: Solomon, Abraham and Noah, as well as looking at the Biblical roles of fathers and sons from Ephesians 6. Small groups were the dads reading the Bible together with their lads – pray that this has continued after the weekend. We were also blessed to have some lovely volunteers come and run the kitchen for us for the weekend!

Our team selfie shows that at least the girls are enjoying the bonfire…! And you can even spot Neil in the back left: he’s our newest full time member of staff!

Day 156

shelving

Our new activity storage is all finished and in use!

In between making shelves, painting, kayaking and welcoming groups onsite, we’ve been finishing up preparations for our summer camps: decorations, teaching programmes, wide games etc.

Days off have included relaxing at Droitwich Lido on the hottest day of the year, going to see the tennis at Wimbledon, seeing friends and catching up on sleep!

Coming up…

We’ve got a youth group coming this weekend, before 42 girls from a girls school in London come for the week on their school residential; then a youth group from London are coming for 4 days, before we’re into our 3 summer camps in a row: Escape, Breakout and Ignition!

Please Pray!

  • For us to remember we’re serving God and sharing HIS Gospel
  • For us to continue to grow in unity as a team as we share the gospel with well over 150 kids in the next six weeks
  • For us not to get caught up in the business of preparation and groups, but to fix our eyes on what is ahead: eternity spent with the King – as we’ve been reminded of as a team by studying Philippians together in devotions
  • Thank you for the team God has provided us over the summer, with lots of volunteers coming to help on camps
  • Energy!

Ready, Steady, Paint!

We’re into June now and it’s starting to get busy here at Gaines – please continue to pray for us. Thank you for your ongoing support, it really is appreciated! You can support me here. And don’t forget you can also follow Gaines on facebook and twitter!

Day 116

pa room cupboards out

The last few weeks have been filled with lots of maintenance, so that we can better serve the groups that come to us, enabling more people to hear the Gospel. One of the big projects we’ve been focusing on has been the PA room – the cupboards are out (thanks to Nunns guns) and it’s nearly ready to paint.

Day 120

I had a productive and quiet week while most of the team were enjoying some well earned time off over half term; involving the likes of tidying the linen cupboard, preparing wide games for the summer camps, restocking our archery supplies and finding new homes for some of the furniture we don’t need any more.

Day 125

3rr

Not Gaines related, but I got to take part in the Three Rivers Race: a 24 hour sailing race, covering nearly 50 miles, on the Norfolk Broads. We had amazing weather and overall, came 10th out of about 90 other boats!

Day 129

From sailing to kayaking… there seems to be a theme! I passed my kayak assessment – 3 star touring kayak. Which means we’re one step closer to getting kayaking up and running on the lake with groups.

Day 132

Sally’s back! She started her gap year at Gaines in September, then went off on a mission trip to Kenya, but now she’s back with us for the summer.

Day 135

pa room prep

Back in the PA room: the partition is down and the walls are prepped and ready to be painted by Sally and I… you can even spot Sally mixing some paint!

painted pa room

First coat is on! Nearly ready to be our new and improved activity storage. Check back next time to see what it looks like.

Day 136

As part of my Associate Staff Worker role, I met with the committee of Worcester Christian Union to help them think through their vision and to do some planning for the year ahead. It was so encouraging to see their passion for the gospel and their plans for sharing it with their fellow students!

room3

And more painting has been happening… Alice, Bethany and Sally have been painting Room 3, ready for new staff starting.

Coming up…

Groups, groups, groups! The calendar is pretty full (praise God!) from now until the end of the summer. Which includes our normal weekend groups, Dads & Lads weekend, a school group, as well as our summer camps! Check back next time to hear how they’ve gone.

Please Pray!

  • For many of the young people who come to Gaines to know God’s grace for themselves by having saving faith in what Jesus has done for them – this is what we’re all about!
  • Thank you that God graciously uses our ministry (even with all its flaws and sinful people!) for Him to save souls
  • Thank you for the students from City Church Birmingham who have come over the last 2 weeks to use Gaines for their retreats; pray that it was a spiritually beneficial time for them
  • Energy for the coming months!

May at Gaines!

Thank you so much for partnering with me in this gospel ministry at Gaines; even if just reading this blog, it’s hugely appreciated! I feel extremely blessed and humbled by the support I’ve received over the past few weeks, so thank you. If you feel at all able you can support me here.

Day 100

gaines road

I can’t quite believe I’ve been at Gaines for 100 days already! What better way to enjoy the beautiful evening sunshine than with a walk to the postbox?!

In between enjoying the sun, summer camp prep is well under way; decorations are starting to go up, programmes are being sorted, costumes are being sourced, teaching programmes are being finalised, and wide games are being planned among other things!

Day 102

asw

EXCITING NEWS! I’m now the Associate Staff Worker with UCCF (who work with University Christian Unions across the country) in Worcester. I’ll be doing this alongside my work at Gaines. I joined with the Midlands team for one of their team days; we were looking at the Doctrine of Creation and how that should affect our ministry to students. I’m really looking forward to being able to support particularly the committee of the CU as they share the gospel with students at Worcester Uni.

Day 106

clear out

Time for a clear out! I’ve been finding new homes for some of our unwanted items around the main house.

Day 108

yorkshire

Those of us who well enough headed up to Yorkshire Camps – they run a very similar ministry to Gaines, just in a different part of the country – so it was great to be able to encourage, support and share with the team there. As well as being shown around their amazing site, we got stuck in with helping out with a Year 3 school group they had in, which of course involved having a go on their ‘Adventure Trail’ – their newest activity. It was great to be in the teaching meetings too, which were based on the unique birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Day 113

pa

Bethany and I finished emptying the PA room; it involved moving a (very heavy) piano, as well as a wardrobe, which proved to be somewhat comedic when it came to getting it up our stairs! Watch this space for what’s coming next!

Day 114

room two

Yesterday we all got VERY dusty! We were taking (smashing) down the walls and ceiling in one of the rooms, so that it can be renovated.

Coming up…

Maintenance projects mentioned above, finishing off preparation for the summer camps, and groups are back in June!

Please Pray!

  • Thanks for 1 John and the encouragement it has been to study together in morning devotions as a team – having fellowship with one another because of our fellowship with God
  • Safety for the various maintenance projects happening
  • Wisdom in how best to support the Christian Union at Worcester
  • To clearly communicate the gospel to the groups that come to us in June

Time Flies!

Sorry for the long silence… life has been busy! Find out what’s been happening below, and you can support me here. You can also follow us on facebook and twitter!

Day 62

cruise

Not Gaines related… but I headed off on a Christian sailing camp I’ve led on for many years on the Norfolk Broads, along with about 100 other young people and leaders. Days involved sailing on the rivers and broads along with the 15 other yachts, with evenings involving the infamous ‘Logs and Shanties’, our evening meeting. It included lots of competitions, silly songs (shanties), stories from the day (logs), along with the teaching slot, which this year was on Luke: ‘#followme’ in the mornings and ‘Convinced about Jesus’ in the evenings. It was a great week: good God, good weather, good people.

Day 69

wa heroes

I headed straight from my camp to Word Alive (yes I know I’m crazy) to be on the Heroes team: three hundred 8 to 11 year olds for the week! We did team challenges, Bible talks on Galatians, gunging, songs, crazy games, quizzes, small group Bible studies, team chants, dramas, memory verses and much more!

We were also able to go to the later evening meeting: it was great to be fed on some really good Bible teaching on the Suffering Servant from Isaiah 41 to 55, as well as learning more about the Reformation.

Day 81

kayaks

The day to head down to Carroty Wood: Rock UK’s centre in Kent to pick up some kayaks they have very kindly donated to us. Hopefully they’ll be on the lake soon – watch this space!

Day 88

mgp set up

Time to set up for MGP Junior camp… Bethany had a fight with the massive net in the Dive! And it’s safe to say the house became very pirate-y: palm trees, treasure maps, treasure chests and parrots!

Day 89

mgp

The Midlands Gospel Partnership run a junior camp for about thirty 8s to 11s at Gaines each year, the theme this year was ‘Treasure Hunters’, so of course Joe was dressed as a pirate captain all weekend! The teaching was done by Birmingham City Mission, and was on Jesus as the greatest treasure. The above photo shows Ben and Joe dropping the egg contraptions from the roof, as part of team challenges one evening! Other parts of the weekend included: making fires as part of bushcraft, pirate clothing, a (really competitive) game of 40/40 in up in the woods, film night, small groups looking at Jesus as the greatest treasure from Matthew, tankard design (mug decorating for the non-pirates out there), testimonies, graffiti, bonfire with hot dogs and marshmallows, archery tag, Bible talks, (lots of) food, dramas, and some questionable pirate accents! So it turns out 8 to 11 year olds are pretty exhausting… but you’ll be glad to know this week has been a bit quieter!

Coming Up…

Preparation for our summer camps, and various maintenance projects around the site.

Please Pray!

  • For the seeds planted on my sailing camp, at Word Alive and on MGP Junior camp to bear fruit for the Gospel
  • For good rest and preparation as we have a quieter period this month – to be a strong united team so that we can effectively share the gospel together
  • For strength and endurance to do the Gospel work God has given us to do here at Gaines