Posts Tagged 'discipleship'

LFS Introduces… Angela De Souza from D7 Church in Gloucester, England

I’m Angela De Souza, I live in Cheltenham, England. My husband and I pastor D7 Church in Gloucester, England. We also play in the band and we are currently recording our very first CD, which is extremely exciting.

We have loved the journey of church planting. It’s incredibly to be a part of God’s work and seeing how he saved and changes life. No matter how difficult it gets it is always worth it when you see someone break through from darkness into light, from addictions into freedom, from hopelessness into hope!

It was never our intention to plant a church; no not in our wildest dreams did we ever see ourselves doing this. Our daughter started it all, we had moved from London to Cheltenham and she stared at a new school. She was 14 at the time. It was tough for her and she complained that she couldn’t make any friends that shared the same values as her. After some time of struggle she decided to see school as her mission field. If she couldn’t find friends that shared her values then she would win people to Jesus and help them to become the friends that she needed. She of course didn’t say it quite like that, this is me paraphrasing.

Soon she insisted that we start a youth group at our home so that we can get to know the young people, so we did. Within months they were getting saved! We started to present the gospel and as they got saved we realised that we had a discipleship problem, we needed to get these baby Christians disciple and our church was over and hour’s drive away, we couldn’t get them all to church. At a meeting with our pastor about this problem we asked permission to start a discipleship group for these young people and when we walked out of the meeting we were given permission to start a church! Still today we don’t know how this happened. How did it go from asking to start a discipleship group to being released to plant a church. We had NEVER preached before, never don’t anything at all like this – why us!!!

Anyway, the short story is, we did and here we are LOVING the journey!

The best part of the journey has been life change and not only in the lost that come to know Jesus but in our team. I have the honour of working with the most amazing leadership team. They consist of our daughter who is now 18, her boyfriend who is one of the very first young people to be saved at the youth group, another young person who was our very first convert as a new church and a trainee whom he lead to Jesus. Along with this amazing bunch of young people is my husband, myself and one other “grown up” ha ha. Many people laugh when they hear about our team and often refer to them as our “leadership team” as if it is not a real team.

They may be young but they are the most reliable people I have ever worked with. Never have I come across such amazing people who are passionate about the cause of Christ and will do whatever it takes to build this church. Adult Christians have come and gone, added their two pennies worth, not got their own way, complained about how we did things, threw in some Bible verses to justify what they say, stir up a mess in Church and then leave. This has happened several times. Through it all the very ones that they look down at have remained faithful and have simply got on with the work. No theological debates, no longs emails with complaints or loads of unnecessary questions. They get what it’s about, the simple message of the gospel, and they get on with it. I could it a huge privilege and honour to work with this awesome leadership team.

Here are some links where you can keep up with what God is doing at D7 Church.

Our website: www.d7church.co.uk

Our community: www.d7community.co.uk

Thank you Angela for sharing the journey your family has been on to plant a church!

You can also follow Angela’s blog King’s Daughters at http://kingsdaughters21.blogspot.com and you can also purchase her book: Hope’s Journey on Amazon.

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LFS Introduces…The Bowyer Family & Soul Action South Africa

Please introduce yourself, and tell us about what you do with Soul Action South Africa.

Phil and Rachel Bowyer are co-founders of Soul Action South Africa, they live in Durban with their 9 year old son Zachary. Prior to moving to South Africa, Phil worked for Tearfund, He was a key member of Tearfund’s Innovation Team and before that co-ordinated their Youthwork across the UK and Ireland.

Rachel is a qualified teacher with a degree in Music and Mathematics.  Before launching Soul Action in Durban she spent 11 years as a primary school teacher and Special Educational Needs Coordinator in one of the UK’s Urban Priority Areas.

Soul Action South Africa has been working in Durban, in the province of KwaZulu Natal, for over two and a half years. As a result of the research we have gathered by meeting with Christians from across Durban, and a greater awareness of the situation with regards to the extent of HIV and Aids in KwaZulu Natal, we have felt led to establish a network where Christians who are serving the poor can come together, share good practice and begin to learn from one another.  It is a place where individuals can share their difficulties, a place where they can receive from one another, and most of all a place where they feel supported and encouraged to keep on serving.

As Soul Action South Africa, our aim is to facilitate opportunities for Christians who are passionate about integral mission to network, train and work together, in order that the poor and marginalised may be served in a more sustainable way.

What is 2010 shaping up to look like for your work with Soul Action South Africa?

During this year we will continue to work through the Network we have established – at present we are working with 60 partners churches and projects that serve the poor and marginalized across our municipality.  These range from an individual whose own experience of dealing with HIV led her to establish a community HIV support group, to projects that are enabling hundreds of children to go to school. Soul Action South Africa currently facilitates three network gatherings each year, with the specific aim of bringing together all the projects we are working with in order that they may share with, learn from and give support to one another.

In addition to this, we have been able to start two new initiatives which have the potential to benefit the whole Network: A network for Young and Emerging leaders and our Literacy Project.*

*Phil and Rachel have given us more details on these projects which are posted here for any of you that are interested!

What is your favourite thing about the work you are doing?

We particularly enjoy connecting with the different people across the city, learning about what God has called them to and from this gaining a bigger picture of what God is doing in the city of Durban.  From these conversations we are able to ensure the network is appropriate to the needs of the people it serves.  There is so much potential and seeing and being a part of empowering local people is such a privilege.

What is the most challenging thing about the work you are doing?

I would say the most challenging element of what we are doing is the pace at which it moves.  We are very aware that what might be a good idea to us may not be appropriate so we ensure we work with projects and churches where they are at and at their pace.  The work we are involved in is long term, we are encouraging and supporting communities to analyse their own situations and to take steps to work together to make changes for the better.

Who do you have supporting you? How do they support you?

Our church, family and friends in the UK pray for us on a regular basis and support us in that way.  Delegates attending the Soul Survivor UK summer festivals raised some funds last year, these have enabled us to start the two initiatives with young people and children this year.

Do you partner with any other organisations?

Soul Action South Africa relates to Soul Action UK.  Soul Action UK is a partnership between Soul Survivor and Tearfund.  Over the past ten years Soul Survivor has resourced and equipped literally thousand of Christian young people to live lives of integrity and worship to God.  Tearfund works in about 70 countries across the world by supporting local Christian partners and working directly in emergency situations.  By bringing together the best of Soul Survivor and Tearfund the hope of Soul Action is to raise up a generation of Christians who are whole hearted about whole life discipleship and mission to the whole world.

What piece of advice would you give to anyone that are thinking about doing something similar to what you are doing?

I think there are three main things to do:  PRAY, TEST IT OUT, GO FOR IT!

Doing what God wants you to do has to be first prize, no matter what the challenges being in that place is it always brings with it great rewards.  So if God is asking you to do something, no matter how big or small then take the first step and let God lead you.

How can others engage with you and support you in the work you are doing with Soul Action South Africa?

Soul Action South Africa can only remain effective if Christians who are just as passionate about integral mission as we are continue to get behind it.  There are many ways that people can add value to our ongoing work with the last, the least and the lost:

  • Prayer – committing to pray for our work on a regular basis
  • Volunteering – come and serve our projects, from two weeks to 6 months
  • Financiallywww.soulaction.co.za/support has details of the different ways our work can be supported

If people would like to pray for you, what would you have them talk to God about on your behalf?

For the two initiatives that Soul Action South Africa has been able to start this year:

The Young and Emerging Leaders Network – for each young person that is a part of this that God would continue to show them his plan for their lives

The Literacy Project – for the two local people that are working in school on a daily basis, that as well as teaching the children they would be able to show God’s love.

Our current funding runs out in September this year, and at the moment we are praying and looking into different ways of securing funding so this work can continue.  Please pray we would make wise decisions in who we apply to funding for.

Thank you so much to the Bowyer Family for sharing about Soul Action South Africa with us. It was such a pleasure and privilege to go out to South Africa as part of Soul in the City Durban last summer – so I have seen the amazing stuff God is doing through the Network and more!

For more information on Soul Action South Africa you can check out their website www.soulaction.co.za & if you have any questions you can e-mail Rachel by clicking here

LFS Introduces…Jay, a DNAer

Please introduce yourself, and give us a brief summary about what you are doing just now?

I’m Jay, and this year I am really excited to be doing a gap year (even though I’m older than the average person doing one!) I am really pleased to be working alongside and with some wonderful people who are passionate about God and His plans for the world.  The organisation that is providing me with training is called DNA and through them I am on placement for the year with Oldmachar Church in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Can you tell us more about DNA as an organisation?

This is what DNA says about itself “DNA is unique! We will provide you with a life-altering “hot house” year through which you will be radically discipled in the context of church for a life of service to Jesus and being an agent for His kingdom.” It has been existence for about 20 years and is all about helping people maximise their potential in God, in their service but primarily in becoming as much like God wants us to be as we possibly can.

What does your year with DNA look like?

Busy!  In practical terms I have a lot to do this year, I have lots of jobs around Oldmachar, my placement church, I do their admin for them, that is something I have been doing for some time now and I love but I also help with a music group for toddlers, a community outreach coffee shop, visiting older people in the local nursing him, providing meals for homeless people through the Bethany Trust’s Haven project and other things too.  Also, 2 days a week I study various theological topics, I really enjoy this part, I have read so many interesting books since the year began and the work I have to do on them makes sure I get the most out of it all.  My favourite piece of work so far was a worksheet I did on “Apologetics”.  On top of that I have weekly meetings with my discipler who helps me work through anything God is doing in my life at that point and helps me get the most out of my study time etc, these have been a huge blessing to me, the year wouldn’t be nearly so effective if these meetings didn’t happen

Has it been everything you expected?

Yes, and no!  I have known a few people who have done DNA years in the past and so I had a pretty good idea what I was letting myself in for but at the same time God has taken me to places in terms of my character and heart that I didn’t think He would, as the year goes on my calling in God’s Kingdom is becoming much more obvious and it is not what I was expecting at all!! I love this year, the chance to be this focused on God and all He is and does is proving to be an amazing privilege and I can’t wait to find out what work God is going to do in me each day!

What has been your favourite thing about your year so far?

My favourite thing has been realising just how much God loves me and that it is not because of anything I do but just because He wants to.  Quite often in DNA teaching blocks we hear the words “Nothing you can do will make God love you more, nothing you can do will make God love you less” and I love that, I love that His love is that unconditional!  This is one of those concepts that I would always have said was true but now I not only know it but I feel it in my heart, in my gut, in my soul!

And what has the most challenging thing been so far?

One of the most challenging things for me has been that before my DNA year began I had been out of work with illhealth for a long time, several years, and so the change of pace has taken quite some getting used to, especially when the year began I ended up with lots of colds and bugs and it really took its toll on me, I am pretty good at diary management but all of a sudden it became a necessity rather than a luxury, I feel like I haven’t spent nearly as much time with my friends since the year began and I miss them, I found that really tough.

Who do you have supporting you? How do they support you?

I have many people supporting me, some of my family and my friends in particular.  The support me in prayer, this year is tough and because it has so much potential to have amazing results for God it is open to all sorts of attack, prayer is essential when doing this and so when people agree to do that for me it is appreciated greatly, I really can’t emphasise how much it means to me.  The other way that people support me is with finances, the year will cost me about £2700 in fees and I have had to buy some books for my studies too, many people have blessed me hugely by allowing God to use them to send some money my way, when I started this year I had none of the money, and so far I have paid 2 of the 3 installments of my fees in full and on time, God is great and so are the people who are sensitive to Him when He guides their giving!

What piece of advice would you give to anyone thinking of taking a year to do DNA (or something similar)?

Be prepared to do anything, let go of yourself and just go with whatever happens, let God do what he needs to within you and don’t be afraid!  Be ready for it to be hard, very hard, but exciting and rejuvenating and a huge blessing and a foundation for the rest of your life!

If people wanted to find out more about DNA how could they do that?

The first port of call would be the DNA website – www.dna-uk.org – it has loads of articles from past and current DNA trainees about what the year is about and also some pieces from people on the leadership team of DNA talking about it and information on placement churches and all that.  If people then decided they wanted to know more there are free DNA open days, some in Aberdeen in Scotland and others in Bromley just outside London, where you get to come along to one of our teaching days and find out exactly what it is all about, I went to one of these and it answered any doubts I had about the course and the people who run it!

If people wanted to pray for you, what would you like them to talk to God about on your behalf?

I would love if they would pray for God to keep on working in my life, for health, as I mentioned I have been plagued by colds and bugs and they just get in the way and for the remaining part of my fees to become available.  Most of all I would love them to thank God, on my behalf, for being faithful to me and for being with me and for using me in His Kingdom!

Thank you so much for sharing with us Jay! We will be praying for God to protect your from germs and keep you in good health and provide for all your needs as you continue in your discipleship year with DNA.

LFS Introduces…Jenni Catron from CultivateHer

Please introduce yourself and give us a brief summary of what Cultivate Her is all about

My name is Jenni Catron.  I serve as the Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN where I lead a staff of 30 at three campuses.  I love a fabulous cup of tea, great books, learning the game of tennis and hanging out with my husband and border collie.  I’m passionate about leadership and equipping others to lead well.

For years I’ve dreamed of creating an environment where women can connect, grow and be encouraged in their leadership development.  So after years of dreaming about it I finally stepped out last fall to launch “Cultivate Her.”

Cultivate Her is a leadership environment where women are inspired, challenged and encouraged in their leadership growth.  No matter what your leadership influence looks like, your gifts will be cultivated to encourage you to embrace our motto “wherever you lead, lead well!”

Cultivate Her monthly events include breakfast; time to connect with other women leaders, and challenging and inspiring teaching/discussion on leadership issues.

How did you get involved with/what inspired you to start Cultivate Her?

Through my journey as a woman leader, I have often found myself very isolated and longing for more connectivity with other women leaders.  In many seasons I have felt like the other women leaders around me, especially those a few steps ahead of me, were too busy to or disinterested in giving me some encouragement or direction.  Cultivate Her was started out of a passion to create a place for leadership-minded women to connect and encourage one another.  I believe the more we equip and encourage each other, the greater our confidence will be and the greater the opportunities we’ll have to lead.

What do you would like people to gain from Cultivate Her?

My hope is that women will be inspired to uncover their dreams and giftedness and grow more confident in leading wherever God has placed them.

What is 2010 shaping up to look like for Cultivate Her?

This year we’ll continue to hold our monthly events in Nashville.  We’re also praying about quarterly events and taking Cultivate Her to other cities.

Who do you have supporting you?  How do they support you?

There are 8 amazing women who make up the Cultivate Her leadership team. These women are some of my dearest friends and amazing leaders.  Each of them has personally invested a lot of time and financial resources to make this a reality.  We’re a non-profit organization so we are also supported by the donations of those who attend the events.

Do you partner with anyone else?

Cross Point Church (where I work) has been a great support by allowing us to use the facility for our events.

We’ve been placed with donations from several organizations.

Lori Wilhite and Brandi Wilson from the blog “Leading and Loving It” have been a great support

What piece of advice would you give to anyone with a dream they’re thinking of starting up?

To use our word… You have to cultivate that dream.  Journal about it, pray about it, share it with people you love and trust and get their feedback, keep praying about it and when you feel God nudging you – GO FOR IT!  You will never have it all figured out.  You’ll never be completely ready, but if it is a God-given dream, just be obedient to His calling and hang on for the ride!

How can others engage with you and others at Cultivate Her?

We just launched our blog at cultivateher.com.  We hope this will be a great resource to connect women leaders.  All of our team members blogs are listed there and of course I love to continue the leadership discussions at my blog “Leading in Shades of Grey”.

If people would like to pray for you, what would you have them talk to God about on your behalf?

Wisdom.  Pray that we use our influence wisely and steward the responsibility of leadership well.  Pray that women who are feeling discouraged, alone or directionless would engage with other women through the events or blog.

Thank you so much for sharing with us Jenni! As a woman leader, I’m really excited and so encouraged to see organisations like CultivateHer emerging. Hoping the CultivateHer team make it to Scotland one day soon…!

You can follow the CultivateHer blog at http://www.cultivateher.com and you can also follow Jenni’s own blog, Leading In Shades of Grey at http://www.jennicatron.tv


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