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Four/Five/Six Strings & The Truth

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A random act of kindness idea.

Do with this whatever you like, it’s just an idea

We often see homeless people in and around the streets of our town, and pretty much anywhere we go in the country.  We’re always reluctant to give them money when we don’t know the back story and there isn’t always time to get to know them, but we like to help them out with some food when possible, so that at least for that day they have had something to eat.

Recently we were in a well known bakery chain, buying a coffee and snack for a guy for breakfast. We noticed that this particular bakery chain sells plastic gift cards that you can preload with some money.

*light bulb moment*

Bought one for a fiver, gave it to the bloke, now he’s fed for the day.

We’re not naive enough to believe that this solved all his problems and we are involved in other ways of helping the homeless, such as a local night shelter. But for this one bloke, on this one day, for an affordable amount, we made a small difference.

So…

I went back to the well known bakery chain and bought four of them. We’ve now got two each in  our wallet/purse. Prepared for the next such occassion. In fact I gave another one away today.

We’re only writing this to suggest it as an idea, not for any praise (or criticism), it’s not a perfect idea by any means, just a random act of kindness.

Matthew 25:40

Christian Aid Week 2016

Once again this year our home church, St Julians Baptist in Newport, took part in Christian Aid week. I’ve been the Christian Aid Rep for quite a few years now and every year we run a series of events for people in the church and in the local community.

This year we ran some old favourites and tried a couple of new things too. As always we had a team quiz, accompanied by tea and cake (pretty much everything is accompanied by tea and cake). Other events included a plant sale, a sponsored walk across the old Severn Bridge and a Handbell recital at a local garden centre.

My favourite event this year was the Scalextric Rally, four fantastic practice circuits and a digital timed track with prizes for the best times.

Christian Aid Week actually lasts about six weeks for us usually by the time we get all our events in and this year we raised over £1200.

I’ve included a few action shots from the Scalextric. Looking forward to next year

IMG_0985 scalextric - 1 (2) scalextric - 1 scalextric - 1 (1)

 

 

Scalextric Challenge for Christian Aid Week

CA-RED-RGBEvery year at our church we host a series of events for Christian Aid Week. We’ve had quizzes, sponsored walks, games, plant sales, cake sales, and loads of other stuff too.

This year we’ve got what is potentially my favourite ever event for Christian Aid Week.

Our HUGE Scalextric Challenge.

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On June 11th at the church we are hosting an afternoon of fun and competition with a MASSIVE Scalextric challenge.

We’re going to build a replica of Brands Hatch. There will be a separate practice circuit and the official track will be digitally timed with prizes for the overall winner.

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Full details at the official Scalextric Challenge site. Please come along and support it, the more the merrier.

 

The Red Bucket – A story of how a small church became inspired by Christian Aid

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St Julians Baptist Church in Newport has a long-standing relationship with Christian Aid. For many years members of the church have been supporting campaigns, following the charity’s work across the globe and, of course, getting involved in Christian Aid week.church

When I rejoined my childhood church around 2005 they were still running the traditional door-to-door collections and holding a special offering on Christian Aid Sunday. It was a regular annual event, but I could see that it had become something of a chore and really needed a radical shake-up.

In that first year, acting as the church’s justice, aid & mission representative, I decided that we would not be doing a door-to-door collection, at the time this was a controversial decision, but I could see that it was a lot of work for quite a small return. It had become difficult to coordinate, we are based on quite a large housing estate and manpower was short. Instead I opted to promote a series of events organized by groups within the church. Each group could choose their own event and invite the community along.

red bucketThat year we ran our first Quiz-Aid, something that we have repeated every year since and which has become the highlight of Christian Aid Week. Additionally we had a sponsored walk, a car wash, a concert and the usual coffee mornings and cake sales. The end of the week saw us running a special Sunday Service dedicated to Christian Aid Week. We prayed at the prayer stations, we watched the films, we heard the message and a small red plastic bucket filled up with donation envelopes and the proceeds from our events.

In previous years the Christian Aid week donations sent off had averaged around £200. In that first event-led year the red bucket was filled with £1200. This radical change was working, Christian Aid Week was inspiring people to get involved, share in the stories and find new and exciting fundraising activities.

We have continued this event led programme ever since. Every year the events are different, but we always have a quiz. We’ve had musical events ranging from choral concerts to open mic nights, One of our members grows and sells plants from seeds so all of our gardens are looking gorgeous. We’ve had line dancing, a tea dance, some crazy youth events and there is always cake, oh, so much cake!

Christian Aid Week has retained its momentum, it continues to inspire people in so many ways, and it’s wonderful to see the positive change that Christian Aid brings around the globe. I kept that red bucket and I use it every year, it reminds me how simple ideas can challenge us to reach new heights.

As we approached this year’s run of events I began, as I do every year, to panic a bit, would there be enough things happening this year to raise a good sum of money? Would people still be inspired and enthused? Then, on April 25 2015, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 struck Nepal and we were horrified at the resulting devastation.

Like most churches we operate a distress fund in order to be able to send funds quickly in times of disaster, but people in the church were already gearing up for Christian Aid Week. Would they want to give to Nepal when they were already supporting Ethiopia?

My wife, Jackie, had already decided to organise one of the events this year, it was to be a short sponsored walk along the banks of the local canal at Goytre Wharf. We decided that it was appropriate to dedicate the funds raised from this walk to Christian Aid’s Nepal appeal, rather than to the Christian Aid Week appeal. This approach would mean that people could choose how to direct their giving, a sensible and straightforward idea to address both needs.

P1020058A small group of people put their names down to take part in the walk and sponsor forms went home with them. Something special started to happen. It seemed that this small group of people walking a short distance had moved people somehow and the sponsorship started to roll in. The school where Jackie works soon filled up one of the forms and each of the participants found sponsors in their own homes or workplaces. We had expected to raise maybe £200; in fact we cleared £700, a fantastic result.

Coincidentally, in the week following the walk, the children in Jackie’s school were having a ‘Sporting Heroes’ day. They were allowed to come to school dressed as their sporting hero and could tell the story of their hero’s achievements. Two little girls said they wanted to come dressed as Mrs. Long; she was their sporting hero because she walked for Nepal.

It’s a privilege to be a part of the relief effort in Nepal, but surely this approach would have an effect on the giving for Christian Aid Week’s efforts in Ethiopia? We were asking people to decide where there money should go, would they direct it all to Nepal or Ethiopia or would they split it? I expected that the funds raised for Christian Aid Week itself would be less than in previous years.

Wrong! On Sunday May 17th we held our Christian Aid Service. We prayed at the prayer stations, we watched the films, we heard the message, I preached! (It takes some grace to listen to that!). And once again a small red plastic bucket filled up with donation envelopes and monies raised by the different events.

This year our Christian Aid Week fundraising currently stands at just over £1150, with a little more still to come in. That stands aside from the £700 raised for Nepal. A record-breaking year for St Julians Baptist Church. Well done people. What shall we do next year?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nepal Earthquake and Christian Aid Week

We are raising money for Christian Aid and Nepal. Read the story below, but please support our Just Giving Page if you can.

Nepal-partners-distributing-aid-ABOD_tcm15-83251For many years now I have been involved with the charity Christian Aid.  At the church I attend, St Julians Baptist in Newport, we run a series of event around this time each year to raise funds for Christian Aid Week. We have a lot of fun and generally raise around £1,000 which goes towards Christian Aid’s featured projects in any given year.

This year we are looking forward to taking part as usual. But just last week the world was shocked by the news of the huge earthquake that has hit Nepal. as I write the death toll is over 7,000, with 14,000 injured and millions affected through destruction of their homes and communities.

 

Like most churches we operate a distress fund which we will open in the event of a crisis like this. However because this has happened so close to our fundraising for Christian Aid week we have decided to approach it in a different way. So one of our organised events for Christian Aid Week this year will be specifically for their Nepal Earthquake appeal. The funds raised will be collected separately and sent directly to this appeal rather than to the Christian Aid Week fund. Hopefully this makes it easier for the people of the church to choose where to target their giving.

So…Our sponsored walk on Saturday 16th May will be for the Christian Aid Nepal appeal. If you would like to help us out with a donation I have created a Just Giving Page here where you can give as small (or as large) an amount as you like. We hope to raise a few hundred pounds here.

Beyond that the church will be running a series of events for Christian Aid Week, which will include a quiz, a sale of plants, a sale of car stickers, a collection of poems, coffee mornings, youth projects and all the usual churchy type stuff.

I’ll write a report of how the fundraising goes in a couple of weeks time. Meanwhile you can find out about what Christian Aid are doing in Nepal Here

 

Walking for Cancer Research

Just a quick post to say that I’ve entered a team into the Cancer Research Sponsored Walk in Chepstow on March 29.

The team name is ‘Friction Blisters’

It’s only an 8k walk so we should be able to manage it (hopefully).

I’ve set a target of £200 for the team, a modest amount which we would love to demolish, so if you can give a pound or two (or more) please do so at our Just Giving Page

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The Crisis in South Sudan

 You may have caught one or two news reports in recent weeks covering the current problems that are facing the world’s youngest country, South Sudan.

The Disasters Emergency Committee have sounded an alarm, stating that they currently have less than half the money they need to help prevent the growing food crisis in South Sudan turning into a catastrophe.

South Sudan came into existence as an independent state in 2011. As a country they face crippling poverty and a fragile harvests. The current food insecurity stems from the conflicts that have been ongoing since last December between factions of the ruling party. The resulting violence and bloodshed has displaced many farmers, making planting and harvesting impossible. Over one and a half million people have been displaced and a high percentage of these have fled to neighbouring countries.

International food crisis experts working together as IPC Partners have said that if the conflict in South Sudan continues, and more aid cannot be delivered, then by August it is likely that some localised areas of South Sudan will slip into famine.

Up to four million people could face emergency food shortages unless there is a dramatic increase in international assistance.

The D.E.C. is co-ordinating a major relief effort from the U.K. and all of it’s thirteen member agencies are involved, these include Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International, Concern, Oxfam and Save the Children.

At St. Julians Baptist Church we decided that we wanted to be a part of this relief effort, so we recently held a special collection to send to the D.E.C. member agencies. We may only raise a small amount, but small gifts mount up.

If you want some more information, or want to give something yourself, you can go to the D.E.C. blog page, here. The Guardian recently published this report.

Below is a youtube report from the area, showing some of the work that World Vision (one of the D.E.C. member agencies) are carrying out in the area.

 

Christian Aid Week 2014

calogoEvery year at the little church I go to here in Newport we take part in Christian Aid Week. About eight years ago I took on the role of co-ordinating and managing the week and every year I am stunned by the passion and enthusiasm which people show for the work that Christian Aid does around the world.

Christian Aid is our favourite charity.  If you are not familiar with their work here’s an excellent page that breaks down their core values and aims. 

We are happy to be one of the 20,000 churches around the UK and Ireland that helped to raise around £12-13 million each year, a vital chunk of Christian Aid’s budget which goes directly towards development, relief, sanitation, water supply and many other vital worldwide projects.

We’re just a small church and I’m not writing this to be in any way boastful about what we did, but I want to say a personal thanks to those who organised the events or raised funds this year, so:

THANKS! 

Thanks Peter, for organising a concert with your music students.resized_jesus-says-meme-generator-jesus-says-you-rock-1d9c29

Thanks Nick for growing and selling plants from seed.

Thanks James for helping me to organise the quiz.

Thanks Debbie for the gorgeous cakes.

Thanks Anne, for organising the little ones to do a sponsored toddle (genius!) and a sponsored silence (miraculous!)

Thanks Carol for holding a raffle at your pub

Thanks knitters, for knitting and selling blankets

Thanks everyone for your generous gifts.

This year, 2014, we have managed to raise almost £1200.

Well done St Julians Baptist Church, you make me proud, even if you drive me bonkers for most of the rest of the year!

 

Mel’s Zip slide for Cancer Charity.

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Today we went along to watch my friend (and line manager) Mel Ruiz zip slide from the top of Newport’s famous transporter bridge. She did this to raise funds for St David’s Foundation and has so far raised over £250.

The donations page is still open at Just Giving so if you feel like chipping in a couple of quid that would be very gratefully received.

Meanwhile here is the evidence. Fingers in ears…

Mel’s video

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