We are on the move!
I will rewind a little… since before Alex and I got married last summer, we have been talking and dreaming about starting a missional community house for ex-offenders, pulling together our combined interests and experiences. Conversations about this accelerated in early June, when we met with a contact of Alex’s, Mark Berry, with whom we have several shared interests – notably pioneer mission, new monasticism, and working with ex-offenders. This led us to discovering the ex-offender ministry, Yellow Ribbon (YR), where Mark is a chaplain, and the rather appealing house prices in the West Midlands, where they are based. After a few visits there, conversations with the CEO of YR, prayer, and a growing sense that it could be time to move on from Northolt, we have taken the plunge and are in the process of buying a house there.
We have had an offer accepted on a 5-bedroom house in Shrewsbury, where we hope to house 5 men either directly from prison or ex-offenders in need of support. The plan is that we will rent somewhere for ourselves to live within walking/cycling distance from the house, so that we can develop a real sense of family and community with them, for example, around shared meals and times of fellowship. We will be partnering with YR, who will be renting the 5-bed house from us, for support and accountability. We are putting together a programme for the men which will include bible study, worship and prayer, therapeutic groups, local mission and service, mentoring and key-working, and employability and life skills workshops (provided by YR). We hope to move at the end of September to make this all a reality!
Thank you so much to so many of you who support or have supported me/us financially up to this point. Alex and I will continue to be living off my part-time salary (YR have offered me some part-time employment, which will replace my Yeldall Manor work) and financial support from individuals and churches in a mission partner capacity.
We anticipate an increase in our outgoings, with the responsibilities of owning a house and funding the programme we will run for the house members, as well as one-off expenses such as furnishing the house. We would be so grateful if you would consider increasing or starting monthly giving or contributing a one-off donation to help with this. If you would like to do this, please follow this link to give for the first time or log-in if you have given through the site before. Thank you!
Other ministry updates
Alex and I continue on the leadership team of our new monastic community, the Young Franciscans. We enjoyed hosting a BBQ for the community in June, where we met some of the members in person for the first time. It has been a privilege to befriend a new young member in recent weeks who is in the late stages of terminal cancer. She is so brave and has been so open with and appreciative of the group at this difficult time.
As part of the eco-church team at our church, I gave a talk at our recent Climate Sunday service which was a good challenge and not something I often do. As I prepared for this, it was a good reminder of our responsibility as Christians to love others, in part, by loving creation. By this, I mean that to love our neighbours across the world who are devastatingly affected by climate change, we must play our part to fight against it.
I am two thirds of my way through my CMS Pioneer Mission Leadership course (I will be spreading my final BA level year over the next two academic years to make the workload more manageable). Having had a break from modules earlier in the year, I had several deadlines in June, which I met by timetabling study days on every free day I had over the course of a few weeks – good job I’m organised and like to plan! One of my assignments involved creating a practical project to contextualise the Bible for a particular people group. For this, I held a session for residents at Yeldall Manor – some with a faith background and others not – where I got them to identify with a particular characteristic, for example, rebellious, fearful, ashamed or outsider. Each of these characteristics linked to a particular Bible character, who we spent some time exploring. This led to a discussion about how God loves and uses ordinary and flawed people like ourselves. I was encouraged by how well residents participated and engaged with this activity.
A further highlight from this course was a 5-day placement I did in May at Langworthy Community Church, Salford, about which I’d read in the church leader’s inspiring book, ‘Ordinary Miracles’. I loved my time there and witnessed how engaged church members were missionally in their local community, which had a high level of poverty and deprivation. I appreciated how generously hospitable and down to earth they were, as well as food-oriented in their church life and ministries! While I was with them, I helped at a breakfast club; did some prayer walking; attended a community tea and early morning prayer meeting with breakfast; participated in some children’s doorstep visits with activities; and joined a running club for women, led by a church member as a low-key outreach initiative.
Since last writing, Alex has made a full recovery from his time in hospital, and is stable on his medication now. Thank you so much for your support and prayers for him. In other news, we have acquired a gorgeous puppy called Rosie! She is a cockerdor (labrador x cocker spaniel) and is lots of work as well as lots of fun! We had a wonderful holiday recently in the Lake District and feel very blessed and refreshed after such a great time in God’s beautiful creation.
- For our house purchase to go through smoothly
- For the right house for us to rent and live in nearby (we are on the shortlist to view one property that has 21 people expressing interest in it, so this could prove a challenge!)
- For a productive few weeks as we firm up plans and start to look for suitable house members
- For our finances
- To end well at my work place, Yeldall Manor, and with our church in Northolt
- Thanks and praise for Alex’s recovery
Thank you so much for your support in different ways – we really appreciate having you behind us. Do sign up to follow this blog if you haven’t already and would like updates every 2-3 months or so.
Love and blessings,
Rachel and Alex