One lady came to the Lord today in the Coffee Shop. The Coffee Shop was fairly quiet, so I suggested two of the volunteers go out with some of the outreach meal vouchers and talk with the people on the street. They did, gave out some vouchers, talked with a few people, brought one lady back, talked and prayed with her, and she prayed a prayer at the back of the booklet.
In the evening, after team supper, I visited Rob Davis in the hospital. He had hoped to be out by now, but they are keeping him in because of his calcium level, or lack of it. He was in good spirits, and showing off the scars to a reasonably gory commentary about what each one was for. The best bit was the tube draining the puss from his brain...
A postcard arrived from Philip today: having a wonderful time, not missing you at all. There's a relief. It's strange how much quiter the house has been with only two boys in it.
Ian and his friend Tyrone won a Young Engineers' competition at their school, and went in for the local heat at Portway Community School today. They came third, which was good enough to get them into the regional finals next month.
As part of the prize, Ian went to British Aerospace and saw parts of the new Airbus being made, and a Spitfire. He came back terribly impressed and excited, and wants to work for BAe when he leaves school. They are given good lunches!
Rob's operation today. I may have some of the details wrong, but 22 tumours removed in an operation lasting around 12 hours, one of his jugular veins removed, his thyroid and one of the nerves to his vocal chords. But the surgeon was reasonably upbeat and thought they had found and removed all the cancer. We continue to pray.
In the morning, I took Philip into school and waited to wave him goodbye - he is off on the school camp all week.
After church we take Philip and Ian to a country park, and have a great time looking round. Ian is very excited about the election, and wants to know if it is too late to form a new political party and get people elected to Westminster. We explain that is against the rules at this stage, and he wonders if he could get people elected against the rules, and then they could change the rules to make it okay. He wants a Kid's party - the adults have several of their own already. He's now working on ways to raise the money for the deposits at the next election.
Guest service at Woodlands tonight. Philip Jinadu is in good form, and after the service I pray with a lady called Anne who wants to commit her life to Jesus.
Take Philip and Ian to the St Paul's Community Festival this afternoon. We are a little late, and all the free food is gone, much to their disappointment, but I get to talk with a few interesting people who are working on regeneration in the area.
This morning, Sue and I see the boys out of the door and off to school, and go to the car only to discover that someone has tried to break in. The driver's lock is completely wrecked, and as the car is double-locked, we can't get in the other door.
Sue goes and catches the bus. I phone the AA, who turn up in half an hour. The AA man opens the door with a screwdriver in seconds, and is baffled as to why they did not get in.
While the AA man is here, the Postman comes. We chat, and he tells me of the lady in a posh car who drove up recently while he was delivering the post. She asked if this was Abbeywood. He said it was, and pointed out the name over the gate. It turned out that she wanted the other Abbeywood - the MOD site in Filton - and had been directed to us by her in-car GPS direction finding system. Her car did not know about any other Abbeywood in Bristol. What it is to be famous...
As I'm about to leave, Olivia - our neighbour on Avon Way - phoned to say she had heard a noise about 1 a.m. last night, and had shouted at a man trying to get into our car. She was delighted to hear that she had been just in time. Not sure if this is an answer to prayer for protection or not.
It's a funny world. Sue worked late, then called in at the Crisis Centre to wait for me at the start of Bridgehead Church. As she left to go home and have some tea, Kim Wybrow mentioned to her husband Dave that she recognised Sue. Dave and I chatted, and discovered that we had been involved in many of the same events and services 15 years ago in Guildford. They had gone to Millmead, GCC and Normandy, and had even been at Normandy before the Telephone Exchange was bought. Kim had been healed, like me, at a meeting with Michael Fenton-Jones in Westborough...
I miss Philip Jinadu at Housegroup tonight because I've been invited to speak about the Crisis Centre at one of the Woodlands Pastorate groups. It is exhausting, but very worthwhile - a 20 minute slot to describe the work and then get people praying, then repeat the whole thing for another bunch of people. Four 20 minute sessions in a row, very encouraging response from each.
Given some food at the end, so take that in to City Road. Leave to go home just before 11pm.
When we wake up, the red car on the grass opposite has one of the front doors bashed in, and the rear windscreen smashed.
Sue takes the day off to look after Philip and Ian, who have an Inset day, which allows me to ge into the Crisis Centre.
When I get home, there is a red car on the grass opposite our house, crashed into a small copse of young trees. It had been driven there by a couple of 13 year-olds who had 'borrowed' it from their mum, and who wanted Sue to push them off the grass so they could drive home before she found out. No chance!
The trip is fine. Rob drives us to the bus station, Steve picks up the tickets, the bus is only 10 minutes late. There are no arrangements at the far end, so we get a taxi from the airport. The taxi struggles to find the OM Centre in Zaventem, but we get there and then discover someone would have come out to pick us up. Ah well.
Dump our bags and have something to eat, then sit in on the last few minutes of David Wilson's new promotional video showing the owrk of Open Air Campaigners in various developing countries. Meet up with lots of guys and start to catch up on the news. Katka is there, but Elena could not make it - too much work to do at home.
Steve arranges alternative transport to Brussels - flying from Heathrow at 1720 on Saturday. Coach from Bristol to Heathrow.
Get home from the Crisis Centre all ready to pack and shoot off to Brussels in Rob's car first thing Friday morning, only to be told that we are not going. Rob had an appointment with a specialist at the hospital this afternoon, and he is worried enough about the lump on Rob's shoulder to tell him to cancel the trip to Belgium and be at the hospital Monday morning. They have taken a biopsy and should be able to say on Monday whether the lump is 'malignant' - whether Rob has cancer, or not. The lump is attached to his thryoid gland, which would explain some other problems.
In the evening is a meeting at the Conservative Association: Gary Streeter, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development is speaking about the consultation exercise the Tories have been conducting with the faith groups. Only Christians come - I wonder if other faith groups were invited?
I was quite impressed by what Gary said, although his reply to my question about world trade seemed very weak and inadequate. If we cannot permit ecology and ethics to influence trade agreements, how can we build a more just society?
Two meetings with Steve Chalke, on the 'Faithworks' tour. In the afternoon, a meeting for church leaders, with questions and answers afterwards. After the meeting, a chance to talk with Steve personally about some of the issues facing Christians engaged in social action projects. Challenging stuff. In the evening, he was joined by Fiona Castle. It was good to hear her, but there seemed to be much more presentation - music, video clips, and so on - and less content than when he just stood up and spoke to us.
Seem to be warmly received at Ivy Pentecostal - I like the church. It's a nice size, and very warm and friendly.
Three of Ian's friends join us at the Imax cinema for 'Cyberworld 3D'. One of them only just makes it, having gone to a completely different cinema first! The film is quite impressive, with some stunning sequences. We seem to be sitting at just the point in the auditorium where the monsters all reach out at us - very disconcerting.
In the evening, a prayer meeting at the Vicerage for Sea Mills. This seems like a really important time. Seven people from St Edyth's, three from Highgrove and one from the Methodists, which is pretty representative. God had been speaking to a number of us in recent weeks about the need for joint prayer for Sea Mills. This must continue! If possible, our next prayer meeting will be in the Community Centre, the centre of a great deal of local activity and difficulty.
Alan had an accident on his bike this afternoon. Quite badly shaken up - grazed shin, hole in trousers.
Just get him settled and have to dash out to the CCM prayer meeting. This goes really well - around 20 people come, and lots of enthusiastic prayer. "We must do this again!" is the general response.
The prayer time at the Crisis Centre this morning turns into an extended time of prayer and sharing about Bridgehead Church following the meeting last night, and extends for an hour. The reality is that what we are trying to do is always going to be messy - but the question remains of how much we try to plan for things to go smoothly.
On to clear up some paper work. The local Conservative Party have invited me to a meeting about consultation with 'leaders of all faiths'. It will be interesting to see how much they want to listen.
An extended team meeting this afternoon, from 1:30 to 4:30 - getting down to a lot of important, long-term questions as well as the immediate 'what do we do here' stuff. How do we make time to explore other properties, while running the ministry and improving the current facilities? It seems an impossible task at times.
When I get home, Ian goes to bed with a headache, and Alan comes back to pick up the second half of his papers for his paper round, and he is looking dreadful and complaining of a headache. He has already taken a painkiller. I take him out in the car to do the second half of his round.
When we get back, Sue is home. She has found out how the Intermediate Maths Challenge went - Alan has another Gold Certificate this year. Even so, he thinks it wasn't a very good result because someone else in his school got a much higher score.
Out in the evening to a meeting with the other Mission Reps - a very productive time. Providing some decent support for the Woodlands missionaries is looking like a very achievable target. Have to pray it actually works out as planned.
Staff meeting at CCM all morning - from 9:30 to 11:45. A good time, mixing practical arrangements with deeper questions. Then the EA Leaders' Lunch at Pip'n'Jay - some more faces start to be familiar, talking to one lady about Bridgehead church in some detail.
Back to CCM, and pop in on Anne White to welcome her on her first day. Have just asked how she is when a man comes up to us. "You're Christians, aren't you?" he asks, "You talk to me about God" (we hadn't, yet...) "but my mother died at 40. It destroyed my life - I'd be better off dead. And you tell me there is a God."
It turns out his mother was a Christian. "God took her." She might be with God, but that doesn't mean that He killed her or wanted her to die. After a while, he told me that he prays to God every night. Please pray for Tim, as he sleeps out in the cold. He says the only person who can get him off the drink is himself, which is in itself a healthy attitude, but there is no response to the offer of help and encouragement. He doesn't want to choose, yet.
In the evening, good news and bad news. Suzanne Sandell rings up and offers us their house for Half Term. So we have somewhere to stay in Guildford, but we don't get to see the Sandells yet again.
This morning, on the answering machine at the Crisis Centre, was a message from a chap in Edinburgh. All he wanted us to do was give him a spade, and he would dig and dig and save people's lives. Goodness only knows how he got our telephone number - he clearly thought we were some kind of international relief agency, sending people out to help rescue people after the earthquake in India. It was incredibly moving, hearing him plead for the opportunity to save people's lives. There's a sermon in there, somewhere.
After the morning service at Highgrove, Sue is talking to a number of the mums and they all think a prayer group for the local infant and junior schools is a good idea. It would be one concrete way we can make contact with and bless people in the local community.
Woodlands evening service - at long last, I'm allowed to pray with people at the end of the service as part of the official 'ministry team'! I don't like the idea that only a few special people are allowed to pray, but this is one of the areas where you simply have to submit to the church leadership until you can persuade them to change the system.
Over lunch, someone mentions Log Tables, so we spend the meal getting the boys doing mental arithmetic to demonstrate how logs work. They didn't do badly, and it was wonderfully entertaining to see them catching on.
The long-awaited trip to Moorlands! It was a dreadful journey: set off at 0915 for a 1200 meeting, and only just arrived in time - in time, actually, to meet Paul Thaxter in the car park as he was leaving. All the way down, I was following the rain, so the roads were wet, I was driving into the sun, so there was both the glare and the reflection off the wet road. The spray covered the windscreen in grime every ten minutes or so...
On the other hand, it was a very encouraging meeting, and well worth the journey. It looks like we have a real hope of establishing what the Snowball programme is worth to our students in terms recognised by Moorlands Bible College and other places. Steve Brady and Colin Bennett were both encouraging about the prospects and realistic about the timescale.
Unfortunately, this meeting clashed with Dik's last day at the Missing Peace, so I did not get a chance to say goodbye and thanks to him in person.
Philip is back safe and sound. He says he was not cold, but when they hung the tent up to dry in the hut afterwards, someone scraped enough ice off it to make a snowball...
Philip is off camping with the Scouts for the first time tonight. There's a bit of cloud, so it's not a cold as it has been, but it is still a lot colder than any time we have taken him camping. Sue is concerned his trousers aren't thick enough...
Very encouraging BCAN meeting - the Bristol Christian Action Network. Dave Jeal spoke briefly, and sparked off a tremendous time of sharing and discussion. The big question is: will the interest go - take us - anywhere?
Spoke about the Crisis Centre at Bethesda, Clifton. Only given ten minutes, but they did pray for us very powerfully afterwards, and a number of good conversations with people after the service.
One elderly chap remembered Highgrove before it was built - his father was one of the leaders at Bethesda, and moved to the new congregation at Highgrove when it was first established. It is good to hear about those historic links.
Played the guitar with Paul Price and also led the main part of the HG meeting tonight. Looking at what people could thank God for over the past year. There were a good number present, and all of them contributed incredibly well - a very encouraging start to the HG in the new year.
Alan was attacked again tonight. The main lad was the same as last time, and the place was the same. I phoned Sue and asked her to come home, phoned the police when I had settled him, and then went and completed the round for him.
Interviews for the post of Coffee Shop Manager. One of the biggest decisions we need to make this year.
It was very difficult, but in the end we decided to appoint Anne White. We offered Dik, who has been running the Coffee Shop since October, the opportunity to stay in post for another month or two while he sorted out what to do next, but he decided to leave as agreed at the end of January.
In the evening, Sue and I got together with Paul and Jenny Price to pray and plan some meetings for the Housegroup. It's difficult with Philip Jinadu coming and taking over the HG meetings, but not knowing exactly when to expect him.
Philip and Ian back to school today. Hooray!
Crisis Centre Management meeting in the evening. Steve kindly agreed to take Philip and Ian to Cubs. I hoped to be back in time to collect them, but we had to phone and ask him to do that as well. It was an excellent meeting. The members of the management were really getting their teeth into the issues I raised in my report. We still need a vast amount of prayer, and there are many details about the future which are still very unclear, but a future direction and vision seems to be forming.