Thirty-five people attended the day led by John and Gillian Ryeland from the Christian Healing Mission (CHM). The day was a mixture of hearing about ‘Encounter Prayer’, seeing it demonstrated, experiencing it for ourselves and practising it with each other. We learned that there are three aspects: resting on the Father’s love; finding the presence of Jesus, and inviting the presence of the Holy Spirit.
John demonstrated this on a volunteer, emphasising that when we come into the Father’s presence we stand on His love and not on guilt, condemnation and a sense of worthlessness (which is often our default mindset). After some moments of reminding the person how much God loves them, John asked ‘Where is Jesus for you right now?’ and, after their response, he continued with ‘What would you want to say to Him?’ He then invited the Holy Spirit to come and make real for them any revelation they had received.
Encounter Prayer is an approach that lets each person come to God and talk to Him themselves. Each person matters. We all carry something of the presence of God. God may do things in an unexpected way. Don’t be afraid of silence! Allow space to explore what is happening with the person who is being prayed for. If the answer to ‘Where is Jesus in this?’ is negative that is ok because God wants reality and we have to start from where we are. It is our ongoing relationship with God that brings the healing.
From the ‘buzz’ in the room at the end of the day it seemed that people were refreshed and encouraged by all that had happened.
For more info about CHM see https:/www.healingmission.org
Sandy (mum) and Grace (8) did an alternative Light Party in their front yard at Halloween. Here's their story ...
How did it come about?
Our Light Party was Grace’s idea. Beforehand I was not impressed at the thought of standing for two hours in the cold, but Grace was very excited she was actually going to act out her ideas.
What did you do?
We attracted children by having lights on, curtains open and tea lights in the front yard. We had two stations: apple bobbing, and bracelet making. Grace stood at the door, gave every child a glow stick and sang ‘My Lighthouse’ to them. I welcomed each group, explained we were Christians, that there is no darkness where there is light, God is light and we should follow him, not darkness.
How did people respond?
People were attracted and interested by the lit up house. Between eight and twelve children at a time stood waving glow sticks as I told them the true meaning of that night. Parents shared cultural traditions of their country and many adults were chatting and children playing. I had to laugh - most forgot the sweets we had to give! They left waving glow sticks, some singing ‘My Lighthouse’! I spoke to many families and they said such things as: ‘Food for thought!’, ‘We will do this next year!’, ‘WOW, amazing idea!’
How did you feel afterwards?
I wasn’t cold and my feet didn't touch the ground. Grace gave out sixty glow sticks and forty apples were dunked. We needed more hands to make bracelets (which were to show God is eternal). I didn't know two people could reach out and touch so many people's lives in 1¾ hours!
Last Sunday, one of our church shared this word:
2 Kings 4:1-7 tells the miracle of the widow and the clay jars. God miraculously filled as many jars as the woman could get hold of with oil to enable her to pay her debts.
I believe God longs to pour out the oil of his blessing, his healing, his abundant life on all of us.
We are those empty clay jars. God only filled the ones the widow was given.
If we choose to hold back, whether through fear or unbelief or lack of self worth, God can't fill us.
He wants to fill our clay jars with the gift of His Holy Spirit, corporately and individually.
We simply have to come and offer Him our emptiness. He loves us and longs to bless us.
"As I was coming home from the prayer gathering, I had a picture of a dry stone wall. I could see the ‘odd’ shapes of the stones and how they fitted perfectly together to make a strong wall to be able to face the fiercest of weather and be a protection for whatever was on the lee side of it. I also felt that if ‘my stone’ was not there, there would be a gap and the wall would be weakened. It could possibly collapse!! I don’t feel that is me being arrogant but in humility knowing with confidence I have a place in the wall.
"I felt that for St James’ by the Park it was a picture of us all being of great importance, all different shapes but fitting together to make something strong and beautiful, for dry stone walls are so much more beautiful than a ‘bland’ brick wall. They can a bit rough and ready - as individuals within the church, we are not perfect, but all together…. Who knows!
Many of you will remember us both, but to others we may have suddenly appeared, so Dan has asked us to fill in some gaps in our adventure over the past 14 years or so.
Jane and I came to faith in the early 90’s and grew with the nurture of so many friends at St James. Following a call to ordination we left in 2004 for my first post in Overton, followed by my role as Vicar on the west side of Basingstoke. Retirement from the position came in 2017. I was always going to have a short time in a full-time post given that I had retired from the police after 30 years’ service.
Like so many people God’s grace extends and enables gifts to be revealed. For Jane, her role within the diocese as a spiritual director has brought her and others many blessings as God is revealed in a very personal way to those seeking to deepen their faith. My roles have developed a teaching ministry as well as latterly a vocations adviser.
Moving back to Southampton to our family home presented many challenges as those of you in similar circumstances will know. We were received into a local fellowship and saw this as a period of adjustment to retirement. However, we both clearly heard God calling us back to St James, holding the psalmist’s words before us – ‘when I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me’. This has in fact brought us full circle to a fellowship where we both feel at home. Jane and I look forward to settling to this next stage of our adventure with God.
Kelvin and Jane Taylor