Sunday, 25 September 2011

Celebrating 25 Years of Marriage - Perry's

Hello friends,

What a great morning we had at church today!

We had the wonderful pleasure of Julian & Lena Perry celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary with the church family.

They had invited many guests and a special church lunch was arranged to follow on from the morning meeting.

The public testimony of how God has been with them, protected them and kept them close and united for so many years was an awesome witness to the love and power of God at work in their lives.

I love them as a couple, to see the way they are with one another, the Godly leading and deference that they so happily have worked out, yet all the time wishing to serve and empower one another is such a provoking and life giving model of how God feels about His church and is a great encouragement to us younger folks to see and follow their Godly example when sadly all around us marriages fail and falter.

Unashamedly we celebrate marriage, it is good, a gift from God, yet are so aware of the many challenges and struggles that we are faced with as we try to promote it in an age where it is seen as nothing more than an institution of convenience.

I pray to God that in 19 years time both myself and Natalie have the deep joy that was evident between Julian & Lena as we come to our 25 year anniversary! - It may seem a long way off now but I'm sure it will be upon us in a flash.

And I trust and hope that both Julian & Lena will be much closer to celebrating their 50th anniversary and will once again testify to the next generation that marriage is good, it is healthy and it gives life - Just as God intended!

Be encouraged!


Monday, 12 September 2011

Video Interview with Mike Betts & Goff Hope - Relational Mission

On Thursday, 8th September we held a Family Meeting at Medway Family Church.
These family meeting's are something that we normally try and do around 2 to 3 times a year, normally after the extended summer and winter breaks.

We see these meetings as a way of communicating family business, giving updates to ongoing situations, communicating key things to be aware of as we move into a new season and also an opportunity to relay any important governmental or trust/charity issues or changes that the family members really should be made aware of.

Earlier on that same day, Adam Voke, Julian Perry, Bernard Bentall & myself had all been together at the Relational Mission Prayer & Vision Day hosted by Hope Church, Ipswich.

The end of the last Newfrontiers Brighton Leaders Conference (2011) signalled the beginning of many changes right across Newfrontiers as a family of churches.
The moving away from a centralised organisational structure into what has been called by some as 'autonomous, inter-dependent apostolic spheres' (try saying that three times in a row!) has seen us in Medway start to explore apostolic partnership with Mike Betts & the RM team in Norfolk.

(If you have any questions regarding apostolic ministry then I'd recommend you read this excellent book on the subject - Fathering Leaders, Motivating Mission by David Devenish).

Whilst at the RM Prayer & Vision day we had opportunity to interview Mike Betts & Goff Hope as a means of introducing Medway Family Church to both of them as part of our Family Meeting.  (Adam Voke's doing the interviewing!)

Goff Hope is part of Mike's team and is in process of handing over the leadership of Kings Church, NorwichThis church has been grown, by the grace of God into a healthy, vibrant and engaging centre for worshipping God and serving the local/extended community.

Goff also heads up the Newfrontiers training base in Norwich - This will be where I'll be undertaking the next 2 years of leadership training, starting in October.  I'm excited to be staying with Goff & Angie and to be meeting the rest of the guys that are going to be on the course.

Mike Betts is one of the apostolic figures that was publicly acknowledged and released at the Newfrontiers Leaders Conference.  Mike has been leading Lowestoft Community Church up until recently but has now handed over the leadership of the church to Ben Parish (I met Ben at the Prayer & Vision day, we'll be doing training together!).

Mike has an apostolic ministry working with churches both in the UK and internationally, especially in Northern Europe.

As a strategic move looking to the future I really am expectant for all that God might do through these new relationships as we get to know each other and work together on developing the church in Medway and also get caught up in apostolic ministry across the nations with friends!

It's an exciting new day - Be encouraged!

Gordon Watson :)

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

My Testimony from Alpha Conference 2011

Taken at HTB Alpha Conference 2011 - Interview

Q: When and where were you born ?
A: I was born in Dartford in 1979, into a non-Christian family. My dad left my mum when she was pregnant with me, so I never got to meet my dad. I didn’t find out till I was about 11 that he took his own life. It was obviously a big shock at the time, because I thought I might get to meet him. I had a step dad who was around pretty much from as early as I can remember. He was a great friend to me rather than a father.

Q: So did you have brothers and sisters?
A: I’ve got a half brother and half sister, 10 and 11 years older than myself.

Q: What was life like growing up?
A: I was quite a good kid, my mum really mollycoddled me and mothered me a lot, my brother and sister always felt I was the favourite one, being the youngest and always being spoilt. I wasn’t overly academic, but I was okay, sort of just average really at a lot of stuff. I never really knew what I wanted to do, never had any sense of direction in what I wanted to do. I went on to do A Levels, but I chose really difficult ones, with a lot of coursework and stuff. It just wasn’t me, so I ended up leaving to go and get a job against everyone’s advice thinking that would be the best way. At 17 I got a car and started being a bit more mobile. I’d always smoked right through my teens and ended up smoking cannabis and stuff like that, just socially with friends. We weren’t a bad crowd it was just where it went. Over the years, that started to up into different things, so then all of a sudden we were taking pills on nights out, Ecstasy and stuff like that just to have a good time. And then that went onto cocaine as well, I never got involved in anything really heavy like meth or heroine but my friends seemed to be able to manage that to a point where it never really encroached into their life, but for me it became a weekend thing, it then became an everyday thing and then I was smoking puff (cannabis) to help me go asleep.

Q: What job were you doing?
A: I had lots of different jobs, I never really stayed anywhere but then I got a job at a golf club. I was a barman, sleeping around with a lot of the waitresses and stuff like that, leading quite promiscuous lifestyle. I went to Thailand and slept with prostitutes there as well, which I’m not obviously proud of. I was gambling as well, on the fruit machines, I’d be putting loads of money in thinking I had a system, watching how many people played it and then putting money in. It never worked. I ended up getting sacked from my barman job because I borrowed some money from the till and didn’t put an IOU in, the next day I said, ‘Oh look, that was me that borrowed the money that’s why it’s short’ and they just said, ‘Oh no, well you can’t be doing that, you’re sacked’,

Q: When did this happen?
A: This was when I was about 22 in 2002. All of a sudden everything was taken away from me and I just really started questioning who I was. I fell into a hole really rapidly, was drinking like a fish. I just became really unreliable and started getting paranoid about things as well. I felt like I had no value and started to lose hope. I crashed a car that I had, I’d taken a loan out to get a BMW, it was a really nice car, crashed it, got paid out on the insurance, it wasn’t my fault the accident. I got about £5,000 but it just went within a few months on drugs and drink. And at the end of that, I just had a complete crash. I wasn’t too sure exactly who I was. I was catatonic I think, hearing things and stuff like that. My mum had come in one night and I’d made a noose from a guitar cord you plug into the amp, and I was going to kill myself. Mum came in and freaked out screaming ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ and I was like ‘I’ve had enough, I can’t go on like this anymore’. She called an ambulance and luckily I didn’t get sectioned, but they said, ‘You’ve got some problems, you’re going to need to see a doctor’. I never went to the appointment and they never followed me up, which is frightening really.

Q: What happened then?
A: In that period, I was out of work, I’d been sacked and I didn’t believe in God but I just sort of prayed out to God, ‘If you’re there, please help me out, I can’t carry on like this’. Within about a month, I was just applying randomly for jobs in a newspaper, there was an advert for a car garage, I went along to that and the guy there during the interview said, ‘Oh we’re not nutcases but this is a Christian run garage, we don’t fiddle the books, we don’t charge people for things that aren’t wrong on their car’. And I got the job, did a trial and got the job and my first pay packet they put a track like ‘Do you know Jesus?’ I read it and I didn’t attach that back to the prayer that I prayed, and I wasn’t too sure what was going on, but I felt compelled to ask him what was all that about. He invited me along to a baptism service at the church that he went to in Wilmington, it’s like a free evangelical church. And I went along, and they did Alpha. I went to the baptism service and it was just really strange. I didn’t know quite what to make of it, but it was so appealing, people were friendly and just felt like a warm place.
Eventually my boss invited me on an Alpha course. I went along, I did half of that, wasn’t too sure, it was all a bit too much for me really. A guy called Dave Farrell who was a really good friend to me in the early days took me along to a worship service at Westminster Chapel. They did an alter call and I really didn’t want to respond, but it felt like there was a rope wrapped around my waist pulling me and I was sitting in the church trying not to move. I went up the front and just really met with God. I didn’t really know what that meant and it really freaked me and so for a couple of days I thought, this is great, but I didn’t really need it … so the shutters went back up, I went back into my old lifestyle and carried it on for a bit.
Then I did another Alpha course, which I did the back half of, ‘cause I hadn’t done the, sort of the back end of the first one, and again I wasn’t too sure –

Q: What was it like doing Alpha?
A: It was sort of a semi-traditional church, so it wasn’t stained glass windows and stuff like that, but it had a churchy feel to it and they had banners up and stuff like that. But it was great, I just went in there, people were really friendly, they didn’t judge me for who I was and they just genuinely wanted to know me. I felt like I could share my stuff and I remember being really uptight about sharing some stuff and then when I did, it was like, oh Wow, they still want to know me, which was amazing.

Q: So then what happened, what was the point where …
A: It’s really shameful, I actually haven’t shared this before, but I’d been going on the third Alpha and I knew I was going to make a commitment to God. And then I went on a holiday with with my mum and my step dad to Malta and I met a girl while I was there. I had like a one night stand with this girl and I just really remember thinking straight afterwards this is wrong, this is really wrong, whereas before that wouldn’t have meant a thing at all. I think it was the day after we got back, it was the Holy Spirit day and these two people, asked me to come into the separate room and the two of them just prayed for me. I didn’t have a powerful encounter, but I just knew that God was saying, ‘No, it’s alright, it’s alright, you know, don’t …’ some shame coming off and I just thought, this is it, this is the time and so since then, this life has changed completely, dramatically.

Q: How did you meet your wife?
A: I met my wife at church, they had one of those things, you know, they do in churches where it’s like get up and say hello to someone you don’t know. She made a beeline for me. She’d heard about this guy that had been going along to Alpha and they’d asked people to pray and so she came along just to say hello and we hit it off. We went out with each other for about six months. And then I ended up breaking up with her because it just wasn’t really working. I went away to a conference with Ken and with a couple of friends and I really felt like God had come upon me and said ‘You’ve got to ring her up and ask her back out,’ and I’d heard that another guy was sort of going to ask her out, so we got back together and about three or four months after that, I asked her to marry me. She said ‘Yes’ and we got married in 2006. Haven’t got any children yet, we’re trying and hopefully that’ll change soon. She’s from a Christian background, she went to church with her mum, but her dad’s not a Christian.
I asked Ken, my boss at the garage, if he’d be my best man because he was like a father to me, like spiritual father, he really persevered with me. But when I became a Christian, I think it was about two years before he died, Ken got cancer, he was diagnosed with Mesothelioma I think it is, it’s basically asbestosis, he got some asbestos from brake line in his lungs from the 60s or something and he passed away about a week before, or two weeks before my wedding.

Q: Was it hard to give up drugs after becoming a Christian?
A: It wasn’t that easy, some things went quite rapidly, but that was a bit of a struggle for a while. God didn’t break it overnight, but there was like a laying down of things. I just started to realise this isn’t right and it’s not doing me any good. Once I’d made my third commitment to God, everything was solid and strong and it was only sort of the socially acceptable things after that, like drinking that, you know, even now I’ve got to watch myself on.

Q: Who was Jesus to you before Alpha, and who is He to you now?
A: I always believed in a God. I had sort of been along to church as a young lad, just with friends who were part of Boys Brigade. I went along because they wanted someone to play in their football team, I was quite good at sport. Jesus to me was just this guy with long hair, a bit like John Lennon that talked to everyone about peace. I thought he was a person, maybe a mythical character, someone from a story, not a real person, certainly not God. But I didn’t have anything against him, I just thought he was like Ghandi or someone, you know, a good guy that went around saying good things. Now, it sounds cheesy to say it, and I’d have thought you were crazy if you’d have said I’d ever say this, but He is Lord of my life, He has completely transformed my life really. He’s God, and my best friend, He’s just awesome.

Q: Did you pray before Alpha and do you pray now?
A: The only prayer I prayed before Alpha was ‘God help me out’ now I do pray regularly. I worship regularly, I love spending time with God, reading his Word, it builds me up, it gives me life. God has answered my prayers in so many ways, I’d applied to work for the prison and got offered a job and then I turned it down for the fact that I couldn’t share my faith in a prison. Now I’m going into the very same prison that I got offered a job at, doing the Alpha course. So that’s just crazy. And we do some stuff like healing on the streets, it’s called Prayer on the Square, and we did treasure hunts for a bit, I don’t know if you know, but, and there’s been a couple of things, times where I’ve prayed for people on the streets and just like one person’s had their shoulder healed.

Q: Did you read the Bible before Alpha and do you read the Bible now?
A: Never read it before, well I might have, you know, maybe Christmas, maybe going to a carol service or something, so that was the only encounter really. Now I’m someone that reads the Bible, I have to preach and teach on a Sunday, so I have to read the Bible for that, otherwise it’ll be terrible!

Q: How did you get from the garage to working at the church?
A: My wife and I moved from Dartford to Strood, when we got married because we couldn’t afford a house where we were staying. We tried going to the church we were going to, which was about half an hour drive but it just didn’t work. So we ended up deciding to look for a church locally. The first church we went to, we just really felt a sense of like we’d come home. The guy that used to lead it, was sort of semi-employed ‘cause he’d handed it onto his son-in-law. But he knew a lot of the same people that we did, we were just like ‘This is freaky’ and me and my wife both felt the presence of God there so I ended up going there. I changed jobs as a result of that and then changed job again, I decided I wanted to work for the police, but I got so far with the application process, then they did my background checks and my brother had been put inside for drug trafficking, he got six years and I had a caution with the police for possession of cannabis from when I was about 18 I think, and they just said, ‘Look, there’s too much, we’re not going to be able to employ you’. And I’d been studying with the Open University to get a degree in Criminology and Psychology, so I’d done one year just so that would support my application. So I thought, well there’s no point in studying this if I can’t be a police officer.

So I went to my lead elder with a course that they were doing at the local university, a Theology course and just said, ‘Do you think this will be any good?’ and he was like ‘Oh you’ve always talked about working for the police, we never thought you’d be interested in doing this, we’ve actually got a space coming up on the staff’ ‘cause John the guy that used to lead … was going up to Birmingham and to be involved in work there, so there was now a space on the ministry team. So they said, ‘Would you like to come on?’ So I thought, ‘Yeah great’. I’d always wanted to go to Bible college, I’d looked at going at Kingdom Faith in Horsham and just couldn’t afford it when me and my wife were looking at getting married, it was either get married or go away. So that happened in October 2008, I was on a real fraction of what I’d been earning before and since then God’s just really made a way. I’m doing Alpha now a couple of times a year in our church and we do it in a local young offenders’ institute and stuff and in the prison. And we’ve linked up with Caring for Ex-Offenders now as well, we just had our first guy come along two weeks ago.