“In Christ we are one body. And each part of the body belongs to all the other parts.” Romans 12:5 (NIrV)

A fact

Human beings have an inbuilt need to belong. Whether it’s family, a football club, community choir or church, belonging gives a feeling of worth and wellbeing. Whilst many like to retreat into their space at times, few would choose the perpetual solitude of a hermit over the companionship of community.

A problem

In this age of instant communication we can have hundreds of “friends” on social media sites such as Facebook and WhatsApp but, nevertheless, loneliness is one of the biggest problems of 21st century UK life. Whatever the reason, loneliness can lead to low levels of emotional, mental and even physical health. People with learning disabilities are no less affected by loneliness than anyone else and that is where the church has a role to play.

A solution

Many churches are not only welcoming and accessible to all who come in but also go into the ‘highways and byways’ to share the love of Jesus in practical ways with people who may never attend a church meeting or service. Some churches have the desire to reach out but lack the knowledge and experience to do so. The church is the body of Christ and each part needs the others.

Without all the parts the body is disabled. The church is not simply an organisation, it is a living organism. People need to be in relationship not just with Christ, the head of the Body, but with each other for fellowship and friendship. We need one another. Is your church disabled?

An opportunity

As we begin our journey as Count Everyone In we have an opportunity to re-think our approach to training. We are aware of the need for greater flexibility and depth so that we address the training and development needs of experienced people as well as novices. Please pray for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as we set out to write new modules so that there is something for everyone.

Highlights of July

Worthing:
We enjoyed Helen Philip’s hospitality for a sunny weekend by the sea, using the opportunity too to catch up with Helen and Phillip Coleman and Helen’s mum Gwen, friends who used to be in our old church in St Albans.

We had the thrill on Sunday morning of seeing Sarah Holden being enrolled as a soldier in the Salvation Army. She conquered her fears and stood to testify to her faith in Jesus before a crowded church. It has been a privilege to have been with Sarah on her journey of faith for more than 10 years. Sarah has joined the leadership team of the Shine group for people with learning disabilities that meets at Worthing Baptist Church.
After lunch with Sarah’s family we were invited to speak at the Sonshine group’s summer barbecue in Climping, West Sussex. We recognised a young lady there who had been on a training day with us last year and was now off to Bible college in the USA. She told us of how the training had changed the way she did children’s work – how strange, we don’t do training for that!

Church
How good it is, after such a long time, to belong to a home group again! The first meeting was a ‘bring a pudding’ and ‘get to know you’ session. The next week followed on from the subject of Sunday morning, focusing on death as seen in Psalm 90 – quite a contrast!
St Nic’s Big Picnic was an enjoyable event for the whole church family and it was great for people of all ages to get together. Some of us watched the Wimbledon Men’s Final on a large screen whilst others relaxed outdoors.

Biblica
Pete’s role as an ambassador for the New International Readers Version (NIrV) – accessible edition is taking off and Biblica report more interest in this edition of the New Testament than in any other that they can remember. There are stories of people being able to read the Bible unaided for the first time in their lives. For Pete’s interview on Premier Radio’s breakfast show (it was about 8:10am) and his blog is available here. Find out more at on the Biblica website and if you decide to buy a copy online, please enter PW in the discount box – it won’t help you but it will benefit Count Everyone In.

Family
We shall enjoy helping with childcare for our grandchildren at various times over the summer holidays and also spending time with Christine’s dad. Sadly Dad’s clarity of mind is deteriorating and his body becoming increasingly frail but he does have a sense of God’s presence with him. Please pray for us all in this difficult situation. Our times are in God’s hands and we trust Him for this.

Christian festivals
We are delighted to have Bovey Tracey Baptist Church worship group with us again at Westpoint, the Commission event (New Frontiers). Pray for them and for other team members Angie, David, Rosemary and Sue, as well as the guests. Our theme is Power for Life, based on some action packed incidents in the book of Acts.

For 2018 we have agreed to run the learning disability track at Word Alive (7-12 April) and the holiday week for Spring Harvest Holidays in France (4-11 June). Additionally, we are delighted to have been invited to run the week at Keswick (28 July – 3 August). These opportunities are not only effective in making events accessible to people with learning disabilities but they also act as shop windows for the rest of the church. Our prayer is that more will be inspired and envisioned to make a difference in their own churches and localities.

August

  • Weds 2, Thurs 3, Thurs 10, Mon 14, Mon 21: we are expecting visits from friends who have been involved in, or are supporting, ministry amongst people with learning disabilities. It is a privilege to know that they and you are praying for us, and maybe giving too, so that Count Everyone In can be effective in equipping the church to reach people who so often are forgotten.

Here are some other diary dates:

  • Thurs 24 Travel to Exeter and set up for Westpoint Festival; 3:30pm team meeting
  • Fri 25 9:30 – 10:45 Celebration 1
  • Sat 26 9:30 – 10:45 Celebration 2
  • Sun 30 9:45 – 12:00 Celebration 3
  • Travel home

With our thanks for your prayers and praying for God’s blessing upon you over the coming month.

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