India visit Summer 2013

This summer has been a busy one for me and my family. I seem to have only slept in my bed for a couple of days in a row before going off again on another trip to somewhere exciting. One of the most exciting places I visited this summer was India. I, along with twelve others, went to Agra, North India to serve in Sharonsthan children’s home. As a group we’d prepared a rage of songs, dramas, words, testimonies, English lessons and workshops, but what we could never have prepared for was the way in which God touched our lives. This trip was my second time experiencing India and all of its cultural differences, and although I knew where I was going, geographically, I had little idea about the significance of where God was going to take me whilst on my travels.

The purpose of our trip was to serve in Sharonsthan children’s home, where they take in children who no longer have families or are from homes where parents and relatives cannot look after them anymore. Sharonsthan means refuge and a refuge it is. Surrounded by rubble, dirt, piles of rubbish, chaotic streets and open sewers, Sharonsthan is a walled haven of refuge. Children live in houses with around ten others, plus their house parents. They go to school, do their homework, get time to play outside, prepare meals, do chores, have times of worship and devotions and listen to bedtime stories. They are part of a family! Children at Sharonsthan are shown the love of God in all that they do. If they are naughty (and some of them are very cheeky) then they are told off, by loving parents, but most of the time the children at Sharonsthan enjoy living as part of a family with up to fifty brothers and sisters at a time.

Throughout the trip I was reminded of family and of its great importance. The children’s home is all about family. It is about regaining and creating family for those who may have never known the support of parents. When we met them the children at Sharonsthan were not downcast by their past, instead they seemed optimistic about the future. One girl, Puja, spoke of her father’s business as a shoe maker and of the little money her family had. She then went on to explain that she desired to be a nurse and that she would train to become one. This brought a tear to my eye, her passion and determination were inspiring. Puja, had aspirations, she, unlike many we had witnessed on the street, had a hope for the future. Ralph and Renuka Gloekner are to thank for Puja’s belief in herself and the hand of God on her life. They are the founders and overseers of Sharonsthan and the family created there.

Within the walls of Sharonsthan children are taught that Jesus is Lord and are brought up being encouraged to form a personal relationship with Him. Nearly all of the children we came into contact with spoke of their own living relationship with God. One boy talked about Jesus being his mother and Father and another girl mentioned wanting to give her life to becoming a worship leader so that she might see more people enter the kingdom of God. And, when talking about our apprehensions for the coming year, one child said – ‘Don’t worry, God is with you’.

The difference between inside the walls of Sharonsthan (where the grass is green and the atmosphere is one of peace) to outside the walls where chaos reigns, horns beep and foreign gods are worshipped, is striking. Those who work at Sharonsthan have created a culture of love and family that is refreshing. The atmosphere refreshed the team, even in our hardest moments; God reminded us that we were serving Him and His family.

Sharonsthan as a family; quickly took us under its wing to show us the ropes. We leant bits of Hindi, new worship songs, playground games, lots of children’s names, how to plant a row of hedges and much, much more. For me, I think the greatest lesson was in love and hope. When we are loved by the Father he equips us! Sharonsthan is a wonderful demonstration of the way a Father equips his children. It is a practical expression of the Father’s love.

Throughout our time working with the children and with the Church as a whole I was constantly inspired by God’s love and grace. In the two church meetings we took; thirty hands went up to accept Jesus as Lord. Amazing! As we gave our testimonies, spoke God’s word, danced and performed skits, God was using us. Hearts were being made whole again, spirits were being awakened to the one true God and life was being breathed into once sin-dead lives. I was continually humbled by the power of God moving through his people.

When at a local ladies home group, James Pettinger and I sat in a small room (10t x 10ft) with twelve women, which served as a bedroom, living room and dining room all in one. We began by singing in Hindi to a tambourine. Although James and I were making an effort to learn some Hindi, we weren’t quite fluent, so we hummed, clapped and sang in tongues. It was incredible to be in a room with so many passionate people. These women were brave – they were praising Jesus, loudly (I might add) in a village where most people were Hindu. They were praising Jesus in a small back room where children gathered outside, fascinated at the scene. These women were praising Jesus no matter what! James and I left feeling inspired and invigorated after sharing our stories and praying for the women. We were empowered by God and knew that we had to let him use us like this more often.

So here I am, back in the UK. God is moving, he is the same in me here as he was out there and I’m learning to let him use me wherever I am. He has taught me to trust through all circumstances and never give up hope. When we lack, he provides. What an amazing Father!

by Emily Rowe

Reflection on Focus 2013

Reflecting on Focus Summer Camp 2013

On the 17th-24th August this year, Quinta Hall (in Oswestry) was visited by the Focus family as we delved into what it means to be a History Maker! This year our Daddy God yet again proved himself faithful in showing us what he’s like, winning over our hearts, and filling us up more and more with his crazy love and power. We had a great time together experiencing the fun, faithfulness and family that our Daddy God is famous for.

There was never  a dull moment at Focus as we experienced the delights of drinking grape juice freshly squished by feet and squeezed through a dirty sock, spelling lessons with alphabetti spaghetti, home-made cookies the size of your face, Martin Rowe’s crazy and slightly disturbing chequered chef’s trousers, jumping through holes in walls, worship time on the staircase (Von Trapp styley), learning all about history makers - both big and small – and how they changed the world by dreaming with God, singing our hearts out to a rewritten One Direction song, hearing stories from a strange sounding welsh man, rope-walking our way through the deepest, darkest Owestrian jungle, and that’s not even the half of it!

We saw youngsters grasping for the first time what their Daddy God is actually like and making decisions, some for the first time, to follow him. We saw young and old being stirred inside with God’s spirit to step out and do things that they felt God showing them to do, even when it was really scary. We saw young and old praying together to encourage each other into our history-making destiny as children of God. We saw young and old experiencing the acceptance and love of the family of God and finding a place of belonging. We saw youngsters from around this nation building friendships with each other despite their differences, and we saw youngsters starting to dream about what God might be showing them to do now to start changing the world around them.

There was a lot of sweat, a lot of laughs, a lot of chanting and resulting croaky voices, a lot of dancing and jumping in celebration of who God is, and a whole lot of love.

The proof of the Focus pudding is really in the personal stories from each of the youngsters and their families about the difference God has made in their lives at, and through Focus. So if you get the chance, ask someone from your congregation that has been to tell you a little bit of what they experienced and see for yourselves that there’s something super special when we set aside time to celebrate God together.

As a leadership team it is such a privilege to take youngsters that God has entrusted to us and to show them both God’s love and his ways that will lead them through the biggest and baddest of life’s challenges. And each year it’s phenomenal to see how God shows us things, breathes life into our plans and goes far beyond us in touching hearts and sowing his seeds of eternity. He is such a faithful God.



As the Prophets said it would be:- 

N:Vision began on Friday evening with a great time of fellowship over a wonderful Hog Roast, sharing our diverse stories of life.

Peter Topliss encouraged us through many of the Old Testament prophets on Saturday, to continue to see and understand the immense calling we have been birthed into.    He continued, we are born to be a prophet people, like Elijah in the earth,  a corporate man, transforming and breathing God all over the world.   As we progressed through the day we considered what a restored community would look like in the here and now, taking time to pray and speak this into being.   We prayed for walls of division to come down across our world, walls of hatred in the nations, walls of sectarianism, theological and relational walls in the church.    Finally we prayed and spoke prophetically over a number of leaders working in our villages in the UK.   Everyone left feeling encouraged, and stirred and with a great sense of family connection.