20 September 2017

A Centre Of Hope

Kirkstyle Baptist Church, Carluke

God’s Vision for this Time and this Place

 A new minister, a new chapter in the life of Kirkstyle Baptist Church and the question on all our hearts and minds was this, “What is God’s vision for this church at this time?”

At the same time, our local health centre was on the move to brand new premises built on the opposite side of the road from the church.

Two things kept recurring concerning our vision. One was, a connection to the health centre. The other was HOPE. Every day, as people were coming to and going from the health centre with all kinds of troubles, we felt God was clearly saying, ‘I want My church to be a Centre of Hope’.

So the vision for Carluke Centre of Hope was born.

  To provide an accessible, approachable, understanding, Spiritual Centre for those who feel hopeless, helpless, in need, within our community.

  A place where practical and spiritual help is available and accessible, that is relevant to our present culture. It has been exciting to see how God has been at work putting in place all the resources needed to make His vision become a reality.

Partnership with Others

We are a small church with limited resources, so God has brought others on board to work in partnership with us. The Basic Food Bank provides food parcels to those who find themselves in crisis; Kerith Counselling service will work in partnership with us to provide an excellent counselling service; and Teen Challenge have helped us to resource a Celebrating Recovery programme.

We have also been in contact with the local Alcohol and Drugs Service. They are very positive about what we are doing and see what we offer as complementing their work. We both share the same ethos, “to offer hope where there seems to be no hope”. They said, “A number of our clients already have a connection with the church and they speak very highly of the help and support given by the church.”

The Centre of Hope began on the 16th of April 2012 when the café opened its doors for the first time at 9.30am. Over these few weeks, we have experienced a diversity of people coming in. There have been people connected to the church, others from the wider community, and health workers taking this opportunity to meet up with clients over a tea or coffee.

Faith, Hope, Love

Our church vision is summed up in three words: Faith, Hope, Love. Jesus brought faith, true faith to abolish legalistic religion.

He brought hope to a world that was without hope.

He brought love, real love, selfless love, unconditional love to a world desperately craving true love.

Likewise, as His church, we must bring faith to a world faithless or else bound by cold religion.

We must bring hope to the hopeless. If the church is to be anything it must be the centre of hope in our community, and in our world.

We must share His love with a world desperately needing to experience the unconditional love of Christ displayed on the cross. In a world so full of need we are to be a Centre of Hope!

As a church, we are challenged by God as we embark on this journey. We are challenged:

  To accept all those He brings to us; to love people as they are.

  To share Jesus Christ with them and refrain from judging them.

  To be like Christ who said, “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” 1

We see this demonstrated in the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8. Jesus never uttered one word of condemnation to this woman clearly caught in sin. No, it was the crowd, the religious crowd that threw the stones. Jesus just loved her and bestowed upon her His forgiveness.

Far too often the church has acted as the crowd, throwing the stones rather than being Christ reaching out in love, acceptance and forgiveness. Isn’t it ironic that the only one there that day who was sinless was the only one who didn’t judge?

It has become our challenge to seek to be Christ, be His body, to a world caught in sin. It’s easy to join the crowd and throw the stones but what a difference when the church becomes Christ and reaches out without judgement but 1 Tyndale House Publishers (2007) Holy Bible : New Living Translation (3rd ed.) (John 3:16–17) Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.  with love, acceptance and forgiveness.

It has been a privilege to receive broken people into the church and share the love of Jesus Christ with them and hear their response:

“You know me I’m John I’m an alki, but this is my church, these people here, they love me, they accepted me. I know I misbehave some times. Sorry! These folks here, they are like family, I love you all.” (Since this article was first submitted, John has moved to Teen Challenge Rehabilitation Centre in Sunny Brae)

“What made the difference in my life was when I came to Alpha. They accepted me, loved me, listened to me and believed in me. Jesus has changed my life!” (Helen)

I conclude with a poem written by Margaret Smith, who recently attended our Alpha group.

Alpha

As I started my mission with the Alpha

Group

My life’s expectations took a closer look

I sat round the table, the dinner prepared

And listened as people their problems shared.

I watched in earnest the DVD

It said God had given His life for me

He’d specially chosen me – no conditions!

I found myself losing my inhibitions

You see, I found it difficult as I watched and prayed

Other people, their problems, were so dismayed

I couldn’t reach out. I had OCD!

But to my surprise, they reached out to me!

My life has changed. I’m filling the void

I notice I’m not just so easily annoyed

My friends notice too. The fear factor’s gone

They could tell by my face as my inner self shone

For the first time in years, I have found inner peace

And I know my God’s love will never cease

So if you’re feeling down with the tedium and strife

I recommend Alpha – The Meaning of Life!

Trevor Wilson

Minister Kirkstyle Baptist Church, Scotland

Lesley’s Story…

I’m Accepted!

One of the great challenges for the church is knowing how to deal with people who have ‘messed up’? Lesley tells her story of how she found hope and love when she attended an Alpha Course at Kirkstyle Baptist Church.

I was brought up in a loving home. I attended the Brethren Sunday School until I rebelled about 11-12 years old. There were some damaging things happened in my childhood that were hidden and not understood. Then, at the age of 14, I was raped. I was oblivious as to what rape was and what had happened to me. It was a shameful secret that I had to hide. It changed my behaviour dramatically. I became reclusive and depressed which came across as teenage rebellion. I drew back from my best friend and became a loner, seeking comfort and love in many relationships that, ultimately, caused further pain, as I was being used and abused. These damaging relationships brought a sense of love initially; then I’d feel dirty and used. When I was 17 years old, I felt suicidal and very low.

I remembered someone from a local church calling at the door inviting us to attend the church. God placed in my heart a desire to go there. I went along and I ‘got saved’. A hunger and enthusiasm surged in me with urgency to reach out, and witness for the Lord.

I was musical, and one day someone prayed with me to receive the gift of composition of song. I was very sceptical but from then on, my life became engulfed in song, writing from real experiences in my life or others around me – my life in song.

During this time I met my husband. He was a Christian and a good man but we both had issues that were unresolved. I lost my love for him. We received no help or counselling. We went ahead and were married. As I felt no love for my husband, I sought love in relationships outside the marriage. This ate me up inside, causing further depression and pain. I confessed these sins but I had no assurance of salvation. I had some proof of the reality of God in my life by the fact that He kept giving me songs and I sensed His reality in my life and heart.

I had my first hospital admission to a psychiatric ward when I was 22. This began a real battle, which affected my life greatly. I was on high doses of medication. I started self-harming, in order to transfer the pain, by punishing myself. Although I was a Christian, I had never had real peace and knowledge that I was secure in God or had assurance of my salvation. I went on to have two beautiful children but, even through counselling and prayer to feel love for my husband, it never came. I was unfaithful again. I eventually confessed this. We stayed together but we were both very unhappy. I eventually left my husband after 17 years of marriage. My children were badly affected by the knowledge of my sin. I ended up having no access to my children.

Many, many times during my illness, which still affects me to this day, I have felt suicidal and really wanted to die. I have called out to God to take me, to get me away from this life. In one of my lowest points, I went to a friend’s grave. She had taken her life by throwing herself in front of a train. I lay on her grave and spoke to her as if she was able to answer, as I felt she was the only one who could understand how badly I felt.

I had some bad experiences of ‘church’ putting me out as they couldn’t cope with my sin. I was put out of three churches.

However, in August 2010 my GP, who is a Christian, invited me to an Alpha Course at the Baptist Church in Carluke. I went, seeking the reality of God. It caused me great fear that I had never had assurance of my salvation. I had also been hurt by ‘churches’ and was scared of opening my heart to further hurt. At this time, I had a partner who was an alcoholic but he had stopped drinking and life with him seemed good until he began drinking again. This led to many forms of abuse, lots of police intervention, and we eventually split up.

My dad, who was a Christian, became ill with cancer from which he subsequently died. What struck me was he had a peace about dying. I would have been terrified.

I had stayed away from attending church but the group I’d met at the Alpha Course became my best friends and prayer partners – giving me both prayer and practical support. Also the Pastor visited and prayed for me. He had concern for me.

One day, by my dad’s grave, I called out to God from the bottom of my heart. I cried to the Lord with a hunger and urgency I’d never felt before. That day, I experienced an amazing peace and the close presence of God. I felt as if scales had been taken from my eyes and I knew the assuring presence of the Lord. After 23 years of fear and no assurance of faith – for the first time I actually felt safe, saved and “born again!” It was amazing!

The Baptist Church embraced my music ministry and I had the privilege of singing in church to the Glory of God with confident assurance. I also felt a part of the church; that I belonged. I am coming into membership of the church. I have become part of the Worship team – in service to God.

I am now in the process of recording a CD, which I hope will minister to other people’s lives. I am also going to be singing in a coffee shop in Carluke on an evening where people can come, relax, have coffee and be prayerfully ministered to. If the night is successful, I’ve had the offer to have a musical Praise Night on a monthly basis!

I look upon life differently now. I feel content and happy and have realised that, even in the midst of adversity, we can have a joy deep in our hearts.

Life isn’t all rosy. I still don’t have access to my children. I love them with all my heart. But they have been hurt and my prayer continually is that God will heal our relationship. Since God has done a work in my heart a friendship has developed with my ex-husband and I see him and my children once a week. We meet on a Saturday and these few precious hours with my girls mean the world to me. My heart aches and breaks, longing to be back in their lives again.

There are other difficult issues concerning my ex-partner. I pray for him also, that God will rescue him from alcohol, set him free and save him in the way He has done for me.

My dad’s death, as sore and raw as it still is, has brought about immense healing to my life. I often visit his grave to pray and give thanks to God for all He has done and is doing in my life – My Blessing Place where I met with the Lord!

The most beautiful thing I know is that God has a firm hold of my hand, my life, my all. It is the most precious gift I’ve ever received.

My relationship with one of the churches that put me out has also been healed. I asked their forgiveness as the Lord asks us to do. Whether it’s our sin or theirs, God can heal all things if we humble ourselves and let Him work His plan out for our lives.

I am amazed at all God has done and is doing in my life. If God can do ALL THIS for a sinner such as me – He can do it for anyone who calls on His name and seeks His face, will and ways. I pray my testimony brings hope to other hurting people who have ‘messed up’ or have been abused. God is still in the business of healing and changing lives. He is alive and real. Reach out to Him and let Him touch your life.

Mark 2 v 15-17

That night Levi invited Jesus and His disciples to be his dinner guests along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. (There were many people of this kind among the crowds that followed Jesus.) But when some of the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw Him eating with people like that, they said to His disciples “Why does He eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, He told them “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.”

The Basics Food Bank (Lanarkshire) project aims to provide non-perishable food parcels (2 wks), hygiene pack (1 wk) and Christian literature (1 wk) to people in the community who are experiencing a time of crisis. All recipients will have been referred by a statutory agency and the support can be up to a maximum of two weeks.

Kerith Counselling was established in 2001 by a group of people with a vision for meeting a need in their local community. We are available to everyone aged 18 years and over, irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, religion, or ethnic background. We aim to deliver the best service possible to our clients. Our priority is to value each client’s unique individuality, and with skill, care and compassion enable them to find a way forward towards wholeness and restoration, reduced confusion, and a return to making decisions; as well as an ability to look to the future in an attitude of hope.

Our clients are assured of:-

Confidentiality

Counselling regardless of gender, race, religion, age and sexual orientation.

A professional service at an affordable cost.

Assisted places are available for those who are unable to make the full financial contribution. http://www.kerith.org.uk/

Celebrate Recovery is a Christ centred, Bible based recovery programme designed to help people address a variety of hurts, habits and hang-ups.

We meet together weekly in a safe and confidential setting. We work through a 12-step recovery programme which, together with the 8 principles, enables us to develop and deepen a relationship with Jesus. We have meaningful and challenging teachings. Each participant is encouraged to work through each step using weekly sheets or workbooks at their own pace in their own time.

In our next issue, Jeff Lucas will discuss what the Bible has to teach us about people who make a mess of their lives, and the challenge this presents to churches, as we interview him about his latest book on the life of Samson, ‘There Are No Strong People.’