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.

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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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

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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!

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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!

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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

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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!

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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

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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

Grace

Considering the title of this blog, I think it’s high time I posted about grace…!

Having had the opportunity to go surfing a few times over the past weeks, it’s struck me that the sea is pretty big! And I’ve often thought of God’s grace being a bit like an ocean: there’s sooo much of it, and it’s wider and deeper than we can ever imagine. And no matter how much grace we need, we can never empty the ocean.

When you’re surfing, the waves can be pretty powerful; we can’t underestimate the power of God’s grace poured out on us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Grace is a game changer, a life changer – for it is by grace that you have been saved through faith (Ephesians 2v8).

A verse that’s been on my heart for several years now is 2 Corinthians 12v9:
“But he said to me ‘my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

I think the reason it’s been on my heart is because God’s grace never gets old or boring; it’s new and fresh and exciting EVERY day. And it’s never ending. Grace is incredible, we’re totally undeserving of it but God pours it out on us anyway; it’s mind blowing stuff!

Sufficiency means God’s grace meets our every need. Whatever you’re struggling with right now – God’s grace is bigger. Whatever you’re enjoying right now – God’s grace is bigger. That person (or people) you’re annoyed/frustrated/angry with – God’s grace is bigger. If you’re not quite sure what the next step on your journey is – God’s grace is bigger.

And just when we thought there couldn’t possibly be more grace because the ocean is full, the heavens open and his grace rains down on us – “But he gives us more grace” (James 4v6). God ABUNDANTLY gives us his grace, every day, every hour, every minute, every second. Of EVERY day. Not just Sundays. Now that’s the kind of God I want to know and serve.

Grace reminds us that it’s NOT about us, it’s all about Jesus. He’s the one our lives should be pointing to, he’s the one who sets us free from sin and brings us into right relationship with our heavenly dad because of Jesus’ death and resurrection