3Generate review by Megan Thomas


Methodist Youth Conference.
Methodist Youth Assembly. 
3Generate.
Any one of these, or all three, may ring a bell with you. And with good reason - 3Generate is the latest initiative to take forward the Methodist Church’s recognition of its children and youth section. 

For those of you who don’t already know the purpose of 3Generate, let me fill you in. 3Generate, previously known as Methodist Youth Assembly, and prior to that known as Methodist Youth Conference, is part of the Youth Participation Strategy.  It takes place annually over the third weekend in November and is held in various locations all over the country. The event is for young people connected to the Methodist Church from all over the Connexion and is somewhere where they can come together to worship, discuss and be with God. 
 
The introduction of different age streams (8-13, 14-17 and 18-23) meant that our weekend consisted of various activities: logins, workshops, worship and sofa chats.  The topics chosen for discussion in logIns and sofa sessions are carefully selected each year from the views and recommendations from young people around the Connexion, enabling the discussion of subjects relevant to a wide range of young people. This year we spoke about subjects that can be seen as taboo in Church, which included the societal pressures of drink, drugs and sex along with relationships, cohabitation, sustainable living and poverty in the UK.  3Generate allows the discussion of such subjects within a “safe space”.  The aim is to talk about things that affect us and how we, as Christians and as Methodists, feel about these topics. These discussions are a vital part of 3Generate as they form the basis of resolutions that may be passed forward to Conference. The discussions may also inspire thoughts for new logins for the next 3Generate.


Activities over the weekend took advantage of the facilities available – we enjoyed archery, fencing, the zip-wire, pamper sessions and even an inflatable obstacle course, which spurred on a bit of healthy competition between the young people and staff alike.  Believe it or not, in amongst all this there was still time to fit in communal worship, free time to relax as well as time to eat and some of us even made time to sleep!

 
By the time we arrived to Sunday morning, as I’m sure you can imagine, we were all pretty tired to say the least, yet somehow we always manage to raise the roof with our lively worship. This year Mark Wakelin (President of Conference) led a unique communion service which was both thought provoking and uplifting.  Sunday morning is also the time we elect our Youth President for 2013/14 (the person who represents us). This year Tamara Wray was elected, so keep an ear out for her  next year! We also vote to elect youth representatives for various other roles, such as ecumenical representatives and representatives to the Methodist Council and Conference.

None of this would be possible without the fantastic Children and Youth Team and everyone working on the peripheral. They really are an outstanding group of people who are dedicated and passionate about getting the voice of the young people heard.  Without them, 3Generate would simply not be possible. 
 
I’m a young person in the Methodist Church, 19 now, but I have had the privilege to watch these events evolve from Methodist Youth Conference to Methodist Youth Assembly to the now brilliant, fantastic, enthusiastic weekend that is 3Generate.  In my opinion 3Generate is one of the best things to have come out of the Methodist Church and I believe that it is a massive asset.

The discipleship that takes place at 3Generate does not limit itself to just one weekend a year.  It is so much more than that and is a constant reminder to those that attend that they are not alone in their faith.  I know certainly on my faith journey it has always been something on which I have reflected and that it is something that has given me strength. Sometimes, as youth, we need reminding that our opinions matter. Our faith matters, and most importantly that we matter. 3Generate is essential in the growth and involvement of the youth in the Methodist Church and I can truly not promote it enough. If you don’t want to take my word for it then please go, find a young person who has attended 3Generate and ask them about it.  I’m completely confident that they will give you the positive and enthusiastic response it deserves. 

Prayer for 3Generate

Hello!

This weekend, 16th - 18th November, is 3Generate! 3Generate is the annual Methodist Church Children and Youth assembly. This year over 250 children and young people aged 8-23 will be gathering at Whitemoor Lakes in Staffordshire to think, pray, worship, discuss and have fun. Topics include Big Questions, Bullying, Cohabitation, Mentoring, and Responsible Living.

We would really appreciate it if people across the Methodist Church and beyond could be praying for 3Generate. If you would like  to do this, here are some prayer points to guide you:

1) Travel
Pray for safe and traffic-free travels for all the delegates, staff and volunteers, plus their chaufffeurs! Most will be travelling to arrive between 6 and 10 on Friday, although some will arrive later and we have some Saturday day delegates


2) Settling in
Pray that the delegates would settle in well and feel welcome, safe and comfortable, in particular the younger ones or anyone who is less confident or has not been away from home before

 
3) The team
Give thanks for all of the staff and volunteers who have worked very hard in the run up to the event and will have a busy weekend. Pray for energy and enthusiasm for each volunteer and staff member and that the team would be filled with the Holy Spirit and lead with a great love for the children and young people.

 
4) Youth President Candidates
Pray for the 5 Youth President candidates (Anna, Hattie, Paul, Sian and Tamara), during what might be a stressful, scary, exhausting weekend for them. Pray for them especially in the wake of the elections at 9am on Sunday morning - that those who haven't got the position would know the peace of God and know that He is proud of them and has good plans for them.

 
5) Meeting with God
Pray for every single child and young person to experience something of God over the weekend. Pray that their hearts would be opened to him, wherever they are at in their lives. Pray for the transforming love of God to be known deep down in the heart of each person at 3Generate. Pray that God's presence is with us and that He enjoys the weekend!

 
6) Voting
Pray for the election of reps and the voting on the resolutions on Sunday morning. Pray that the voices of the children and young people are heard and recorded fairly and effectively, and that in the future this will have a significant impact in the Methodist Church and beyond

 
7) Logistics and technology
Pray for the logistics of the event coordinated by volunteer logistic-super-genius Reuben and the technology coordinated by the volunteer tech-super-whizz Pete. Pray that it would all go smoothly with no stressful issues.

 
8) Safety
Please pray for safety and wellness for the whole weekend. That there would be no accident, injuries, illness or emotional or physical hurt. Pray that everyone would get along well. There are some adventurous activities on Saturday afternoon so pray particularly for safety and fun during these.


9) 3Generate non-attendees
 Pray for those unable to come to 3Generate this year, who may be feeling disappointed. That they would have a good weekend wherever they are and connect with God in a different way, and that they would be able to come to 3Generate or one of the other options in the future

 
10) Going home
Pray that the children and young people would go home full of excitement and be able to have a great influence on their families, churches and communities. That what they have experienced over the weekend would have a lasting effect on their lives, and that it would spread out from them like ripples. Give thanks that God is continuing to be present in their lives. Pray that they would continue to grow and walk with Him.
 
 
Thank you so much to every single person who prays for us - your love and support is truly appreciated. Please do let me know if you are praying for us - it would be great to be able to let the children and  young people know of the support our church family is giving us.
 
Love
Hayley

Visit to Auschwitz

Last Wednesday I went on a trip to Auschwitz run by the Holocaust Education Trust, which aims to educate young people from every background about the Holocaust and the important lessons to be learned for today. You can find out more about the Holocaust Education Trust here http://www.het.org.uk/index.php.

We visited a local village called Oświęcim, then went to Auschwitz I and Auschwitz Birkenau. Our day finished with a moving memorial service led by Rabbi Barry.

It was an long and surreal day and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to go.

This is a poem that I wrote reflecting my experience of Auschwitz, particularly the inspired by the stone stairs in the Auschwitz I buildings.

Steps.

Steps
Where I tread my feet
Walking the prints of murderers and murdered
Of vanquishers and victimes.

Evil is not often a leap
But steps
A system obeyed
Eyes turned blind
A phone call for a reward
A crowd followed
Priorites chosen

Steps taken
Conscience seared
Humanity eroded.
 
 
I very rarely write poetry but it sometimes seems to express some things in a way that prose can't. I hope it goes some way to communicate my thoughts. It could continue and talk about steps to hope and goodness - I may write that verse one day - or maybe you could continue it for yourself.
 
What steps have you taken today - and where have they been leading?

Trains


In the summer I reread a childhood classic; The Railway Children by E.Nesbit. I have become somewhat of a Railway Child myself in the last 2 months as I have been travelling by train all over the place attending meetings and visiting people and projects. Sometimes I feel like a train, rushing through beautiful countryside.

I've had the joy of meeting some truly lovely people, and the sadness of not being able to spend much time with most of them.

When I first thought of this train analogy it was in a fairly negative way. As I reflected on the whirlwind of the last 2 months of my life, I questioned the lasting influence that a train has on its surroundings. Must be almost nothing. The birds resettle.

As I remember this book, I'm reconsidering the influence of trains.

In The Railway Children, the trains have a huge influence. The children in the book love the trains. As they watch the train steam past they imagine where it's going and ask it to take their love to their father, who is far away and whom they miss terribly. The trains connect them to the rest of the world. They remind them that there is light at the end of their tunnel. That their father is somewhere. The train can't hold their hand when they cry, or play games with them or make them cookies, but the small thing it can do is very significant to them.

At Youth Assembly 2011 when I was a Youth President candidate, I spoke again and again to the children and young people about our potential to be light - the light of the world. Our capacity for influence is incomprehensible, in a world where people full of emotion bump into each other again and again day after day. Our small things have big effects. Careless words, or lives lived with intention. We are like trains going in and out of people's lives - some trains are slower and some are quicker, but all come and go, and all have influence.

We all have a small part to play in a very big countryside.
Our small part will have influence.

I think my part at this time is to notice people, to listen to them, and to hopefully encourage them.

What is your part?
What is your countryside?
What is your influence?

"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made the plant grow"
1 Corinthians 3.6
"You can do no great things, only small things with great love"
Mother Teresa (debatably)
"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden ... let your light shine before others"
Matthew 5.14+16

PS the pictures show you a glimpse of my October - a meeting at the houses of parliament - an OPP weekend, the highlight of which was a very fun pillow fight - a banner of encouragement made by Methodist Independent Schools students at a World AIMS weekend for an MRDF project in Nepal - some student at the World AIMS weekend in a cave! Some small but significant moments, I hope.

The Cupboard of Unwanted Gifts

I love the satisfaction on ticking things off a list. It makes me feel extremely content, and a little bit self righteous. I have fought a battle against myself, and won! I have beaten my own criteria for doing well that day! I am victorious!

However, this week, my lists have not satisfied me. Because I have been avoiding something.

Leaving the icky thing til last taints all of the other things on the list and makes them feel less satisfying because I know that’s not what I should have been doing, really.

I have had one particular item on my to-do list for the last 5 days; evidence indeed of my proficiency in procrastination. Well today I have finally run out of things that I would prefer to do and cannot stand my constant sense of guilt any longer. I am reduced to doing the thing that I needed to do the most in the first place.

This blog.

Now this may surprise you given the content of this blog so far, but I really, really love writing. I love it because I’m good at it. I spend time every day doing things that I’m not very good at, like The Tube, and getting up in the morning, and trying to be kind to people who make me cross. These things need doing but we should play to our strengths too; it’s really good to do something that you’re good at, that you can do really well, that is one of the pieces of jigsaw that God put together when he made you.

I know when I start writing, and get into the swing of it, I’ll enjoy it and I’ll usually be able to do a good job. I’ll feel like I’ve stretched my wings. I’ll feel like I’ve been properly alive. I’ll feel like my brain and heart and eyes and hands are awake. I’ll also feel frustrated, and lost, and uncomfortable along the way.

I believe that God has given me a gift and I know that we should use the gifts that he gives us, even if they’re not easy to use.

 At home we have a ‘Cupboard of Unwanted Gifts’. Really, a whole, large cupboard. We got married a year ago and I confess, some of the gifts that we received will probably live a long and unfulfilled life in that cupboard. We appreciated the kindness and generosity of our friends and family but sometimes we simply didn’t need or want or like whatever it was we had been given.

William Morris said:
 ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’

Sometimes you get given presents that aren’t useful or beautiful. And I think it’s ok to put them in a cupboard, or if you’re really brave, Ebay them.
 
It's not ok to not use good gifts just because you're lazy, or scared.

When I don’t write, it’s like I’m putting this precious gift which God has given me in my Cupboard of Unwanted Gifts. Which is wrong, because it’s a gift that I'll enjoy. A gift that will not run out but only get better as I use it. A gift that is both beautiful and useful. It must be, because God gave it to me. God doesn’t give his children rubbish presents. The gifts he gives us may not be easy, but they are always useful and beautiful. 


What are your gifts?

What can you give the world that will be useful and/or beautiful?

How often do you tell other people of the gifts that you see in them, and encourage them to use them?

Name

I am
Hayley
Twenty three
Married
Can't really see
Usually
Happy
Size 8 feet
Drinker of tea
Thinky
Live near the sea
Dr Who geek
Faith in He
Trying to be
Shiny

My name is Hayley Moss. And as of 2 weeks ago, my name is also Youth President of the Methodist Church in Great Britain.

Youth President - a new name - a new role - a new experience - a new person to be.

Some people have asked me what my vision and focus for the year is. Because I am interested in and passionate about loads of things, I find it really difficult to answer that question. This job is interesting, and exciting, and very very variable!

What do I want to do this year?

Filling someone else's shoes is hard. That is part of the territory with this job as the person changes on a yearly basis. I get emails and answerphone messages inviting Sam to various events and have to break the news that they're gonna get me instead! Sam did a phenomenal job as Youth President and I feel like I will always be compared to him - and Christy - and Pete - and Sarah etc etc. This may or may not be true of most people but it will be true of me - no one will ever put more pressure on me than myself.

During my first 2 weeks I have read Joshua 1 a few times. One particular verse has stood out to me

"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will never leave you or forsake you".

God is with me.
Me.
(And you)

So now the question I am asking myself is not what do I want to do this year
but
who
am I?

I am Hayley Moss. I am a Christian. I am the Youth President. I am a wife. I am a Dr Who fan. I am a Southerner. Each of these names carries meaning, and assumptions, and responsibility.

What I am learning is that most of all, I am God's. God is with me.

My name is His.


What is your name?
Have you ever felt compared to other people?
What is your identity in?
 
Who are you?




ps my job is awesome, and if you'd like to do it, the closing date for applications for Youth President 2013/14 is this Monday, 17th - more info about the job and how to apply here. I so recommend!)

Goodbye and thank you :)

So, today is my last day as Youth President. I think I was in denial that this was going to happen, but here we are!

This year has been amazing. I feel very humbled by the nice things people have said about me, and I hope I've said nice things back.

I feel very proud and very privileged when I look back...

I feel very proud of myself. I think this is the hardest I've worked at anything, ever. Its the type of job that is all consuming, and I've tried to throw every part of me at it. I feel very proud that I managed to win an award (:D) and I also feel very proud to be a part of a church that managed to win an award for participation too!

I do feel really proud to be a part of this church. I'm not saying its perfect yet, but then again there will always be more to strive for. The Methodist Children & Youth Team are amazing, a real pleasure to work with and a real asset to our church. We should be doing all we can to keep them!

I have to give credit to the OPPs too. They were a credit to themselves and the church at Greenbelt lats week, and have been for the whole year.

And, of course, all of you are brilliat! Its you children & young people that really make this church what it is. At 3Generate and when I've visited groups & churches all across the country I've been so inspired by your energy and drive to want to make a difference to our church and our world. Never, ever lose that! Everyone else has a lot to learn from you :)

I think that's all I want to say. I feel very sad to be leaving today, but I know Hayley will do an amazing job. I hope you welcome and encourage her, as you welcomed and encouraged me.

Thank you so much, I don't think I'll every be able to say that enough.

God bless you all :)

Time for a rest...

Ok, so I discovered that I haven't blogged since May. So much has happened, so I thought I might just fill you in :)

I seem to have spent a lot of the time travelling; up Shetland, Cornwall, and quite a few palces in between.

Methodist Conference has probably been the biggest thing, I was amazed at how positive and encouraging people were about both the 3Generate and YPS reports. I hope and pray that same attitude is present when people are taking things back to synods, circuits and local churches!

You can watch the debate here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qgPt_XD7zQ&feature=player_embedded

I've had to opportunity to speak all over the palce, and shar with some amazing young people over the past couple of months.

Its a strange time of year, putting together really exciting plans for 3Generate, and knowing that by the time it comes around you'll be out of a job. But I think it's time for a rest!

I've got three weeks off from Friday, including a week with my young peopel at Soul Survivor, then I'll be back ready and raring to go for our exciting Greenbelt plans, and then to hand over to Hayley.

I hope all you busy people are planning a break over the summer and I hope you make the most of it.

Enjoy the weater while it lasts! :)

Giving

On Sunday I preached about giving. I believe God calls us to give, not with a stingy heart, but to give generously.

As I’ve had the massive privilege of travelling to some amazing places, and meeting the most amazing people, I’ve been really struck by the generosity of people.

When me and the family did Live Below the Line, so many people offered to have us round for dinner, or bring us food. Going to the Palestinian family’s home and receiving their generous hospitality was another wonderful experience.

I’ve also been amazed, and really humbled, by the number of people who so generously offer their time in prayer and support for me. It’s amazing the effect being generous has on people, I wonder how easily we miss the generosity of God in his giving to us.

God gives extravagantly to us...

‘Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.’  (Ephesians 5:2)

Take some time this week, to recognise how generously God is pouring out love and grace on you this week, and think about God’s call for us to give in the same way.

Holy Land Visit - trying to make some sense!!

At the start of the week, I started writing this as a diary. It got to Sunday, and I really struggled to articulate what I wanted to say – I wasn’t even sure if what I thought I wanted to say was what I really wanted to say!


If you want to know all of what we got up to, then can I point you in the direction of my ginger ninja of a friend, Matt Collins and his brilliantly open and honest blog about the experiences from his point of view from last week! (http://ramblingthoughtsofaginger.blogspot.co.uk/)

Maybe over the next few weeks, my thoughts will become clearer, and I’ll be able to work out what I think and feel about the whole situation.

At this stage, unfortunately this is the best I can offer...

As much as this whole conflict is about land and politics, and who should be where, and who should do what – it’s so much more about people.

The people I’ve met over the past week, I will never forget. All the memories I look back on are about the people, the conversations, how courageous and inspirational they all are – and I’m talking about both sides of the wall here.

These people are affected by the conflict every day of their lives, in some cases in incredibly challenging and very sad ways. But they still have hope, and it’s the hope which makes them so inspirational!

Everyone we talked to wanted peace, there must be a way for us to reach it. There just has to be. It’s the people we should be fighting for, not any land or any politics, but for the people, on both sides, so that they can live freely and live in peace.

God of justice, give us a clear vision of what peace & justice looks like for this land.

I want to also take this opportunity to thank the incredible group of people that I had the pleasure of joining on this trip.

To Nive, Kate, Alison, Meg, Anna, Becky, Sharon, Tim & Matt – thank you all so much for being the most amazing people to share the most amazing experience with.

Holy Land Visit - Day 4

There was one moment from today which epitomised the whole experience so far. We were sat in a tent in the centre of Ramallah, on a Ramallah, on a roundabout, that was there in support of Palestinian prisoners

It was a complete sensory overload! Music blasting out of a speaker, the tent stinking of cigarette smoke, trying to listen to a conversation on one side, someone also trying to engage me in conversation on the other. Whilst all this was going on, my brain was half trying to count everyone to make sure we hadn't lost anyone, and half trying to make some kind of sense from all that I'd heard earlier that day.

We started with non-violence training from the Holy Land Trust. It was really interesting to see how the trust is training the Palestinians, and all the principles behind it. We then drove onto Al-Walaja, to see the house Nive had build the previous year - thankfully it's still standing!!

From there, we went onto Ramallah - a compeltely different feel to Bethlehem. We met Amra Amra from the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, who gave us a really honest presentation which was great to hear. The we went onto my sensory overload situation!!

At the moment, I have no idea what to think or feel.

Lord, I pray for clarity and a clear vision of peace & justice in this place.

Holy Land VIit - Day 3

This morning, we spent in Jerusalem. Visiting the Holy Sites was azazing! We started on top of the Mount of Olives, top some pictures of the amazing view, and walked own the hill towards the garden of Gethsemane. It's incredible to think, that 2000 years ago, that placed played such a significant part in the story of our faith.

From there, we moved into the Old City, falafel was today's lunch, and then out towards the Damascus Gate to meet our driver. We met a lady from ICHAD, who took us on a tour round the outskirts of Jerusalem and round some of the settlements that lie around the city.

It was so interesting to hear from her, and her story, and how it's impacted on her life.

Tonight, we're going off to different families' houses for dinner. The food has been amazing so far, I expect tonight will be even better!!

Holy Land Visit - Day 2

Wow, a absolutely packed day - but incredible!!

We started the day with a visit to the offices of the Holy Land Trust, a wonderful new building with fantastic views over Bethlehem - a good photo opportunity to start the day!!

Then we went onto the Bethlehem Bible College. One of the professors, Alex Awad, gave us an hour presentation about the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and told us the story of his family. I think it's all beginning to make sense in my head (as much as it can make sense I guess!!).

Then lunch, of Shawarma, like a Doner kebab but really tasty :)

2 minutes up the hill was Bethlehem University, we had a tour of campus, saw the beautiful chapel and got to chat to two of the students. Their stories were amazing, and so good to hear from Palestinians about their experiences of living in Bethlehem. I'm so excited to share all these stories with children & young people back home!!

From there, we spent some time walking round the wall. Some of the artwork was amazing, and to walk round it was an incredible experience.

We met some more young people at the Wi'am centre. We ate with them, and got to make our own additions to the wall - again, an amazing experience!!

We ended the day at the Al-Harah theatre company. They are doing some amazing work with people of all ages in Palestine, and take their plays all over the world.

I think it will take a while to process all that's going on here, and all the information that we're getting.

I thank God for this amazing group of young people. Please pray that God would continue to speak to us, as we move onto Jerusalem tomorrow to walk where Jesus walked.

Holy Land Visit - Day 1

I can’t believe I’m here! This is just such an amazing place!!

The flight was great, the early morning not so great, but all made so worth it by the city of Bethlehem.

At dinner, we had our first experience of Palestinian food – I was in absolute heaven. Starters of olives, salads, humous, aubergines and courgettes; followed by amazing tasting lamb & fish with rice.

We met Sammy, a guy from the Holy Land Trust, who shared with us about his organisation and the work it’s doing. I’m so excited to see the programmes and activities they’re running, and how they are looking to engage young people in them.

We spent the evening wandering round (and getting lost in) Bethlehem, and just taking in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes. The group we’ve got are fantastic, we’re all having a laugh and getting on really well! It’s just such a privilege to  be here!

Tomorrow is looking like a pretty packed day, so I reckon a vaguely early night is in order! I can’t wait to share with you my experiences and encounters as the week unfolds.

I thank God, for the grace He has poured out on us to bring us here safely. Please pray for our continued safe travel, and that God would really speak to us as we encounter the place, the people and the injustice here.


Living Below the Line - Day 5

Today it's mum's turn ...

The final day!

Last night Bethan and I went to the supermarket with our final £1.33. We needed bread – for breakfast and for lunch. The cheapest we could find was 47p. That left us with 86p!! We went backwards and forwards down the aisles looking for something which we could share between all 4 of us and found the biscuits! We managed to get 2 packets – a cheap plain pack of digestives and a more exciting packet of crunch creams that were on offer. We weren’t sure which to get and in the end bought them both with 2p to spare! We were so excited that we had some ‘snacks’ for that evening and the following day! We did go to the fruit and vegetable section, but we couldn’t afford anything with our money!

That is what I have found difficult all week – the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables and the lack of choice. It was all too expensive – no onions or mushrooms to fry up with the pasta, no vegetables to have with the very fatty cheap sausages. The only fruit we managed was a cheap bag of apples which were pretty tasteless. There is no way you can have a healthy and nutritious diet on £1 a day!

We are all looking forward to tomorrow not necessarily to be able to stuff our faces with whatever we want but so we can have some salad, some nice fruit, a bowl of cereal with milk or a glass of fruit juice rather than water! (I was allowed mint tea bags so I can’t complain too much about the water!)

We are so fortunate to be able to buy fresh produce and have it on a daily basis. I know from now on I will think more carefully about what I am spending and what I am buying and be very mindful of those who have so little choice in what they buy and eat! We had some choice yesterday – and chose the unhealthy option because of the high cost of the healthy option!

If you want to get involved in the Live Below the Line project, go to www.livebelowtheline.com

As well as raising awareness, we're also trying to raise some money. If you feel able to give, then please go to www.livebelowtheline.com/me/youthpresident - it's appreciated by so many. Thank you.

Live Below the Line - Day 4

Today, Bethan talks about how she's found it...

It's been an interesting week. I thought it was going to be awful, but it actually hasn't been that bad!

It's actually surprising how much you can buy with £20 for the week - me & Mum just bought 2 packs of biscuits with the last of the money, and that's a lot of biscuits if you've been living on £1 a day!

I think the most difficult thing has been all the temptations - like my friends going out to buy lunch from Greggs, and coming back with sausage rolls and cakes.

But it has been good, it's amazing how little people actually have to live on - I don't think I'd ever thought about it that much before.

It has been a really good experience and I recommend it!

If you want to get involved in the Live Below the Line project, go to www.livebelowtheline.com

As well as raising awareness, we're also trying to raise some money. If you feel able to give, then please go to www.livebelowtheline.com/me/youthpresident - it's appreciated by so many. Thank you.

Living Below the Line - Day 3

Today's contribution from my Dad...

My body seems to be getting used to this new diet and the initial reaction to a lack of caffeine (no tea or coffee this week!) and overloading on carbs (bread and potatoes) seems to have worn off! I’m often hungry but I don’t think that’s because I’m not getting enough food but more because I’m used to eating more that I really need!

However, this week has made me far more aware of food, not only the smells coming from cafes and restaurants (and other people’s lunches!) but also the cost ... when you have £1 a day to spend it really focuses the mind! I have also seen a wonderful generosity in others who have wanted to give us food and drink and, although we decided to say no because we wanted to experience this challenge for ourselves, it has been quite humbling.


One of the challenges of this week has been the choices we have been forced to make ... one was not to drink tea or coffee because this would take up too much of the budget. Today it is what do we do with our remaining £1.33?

We need some more bread (we have eaten more bread in the last three days that we have in the last month!) but what do we do with the rest? Our choice is apples (the only fruit we are eating) or chocolate biscuits (our one treat) ... insignificant in many ways but for us (sadly) quite challenging!

So where do we go from here? Only two days to go and then we can go back to our normal diet ... is that the right response to this challenge? A tweet in the Metro yesterday said it’s ok for the middle class to live this way for a week but for many people this is how we live our lives ... I found that really challenging. Is this just another thing to tick off on the list of ‘things we have done’ or will it make us different people?

I’m not sure what the answer will be because the challenges it raises are much bigger than the four of us living on £1 a day ... in one way they are about poverty, fairness, wealth, consumerism, greed, etc. and in another they are about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ in 2012, who is far less concerned about the patterns and structure of the church and more about being a disciple.



Live Below the Line - Day 2

I'm pretty much hungry all the time, not being able to snack and having pretty small portion sizes means I am definitely hungry ALL THE TIME!

It's been pretty tough today, surrounded by food in the office! But I think that's actually made me think about what I'm doing, and why I'm doing it.

If you know me, you'll know that I'm quite a grumpy person - I quite easily find things to moan about! In the grand scheme of things, I really don't have anythign to moan about! I'm so lucky, I have more than enough to survive on, I have a great job, a great family. There are so many people both here, and across the world, that aren't any where near as lucky. The experience so far, has been a real challenge to appreciate what I have.

There are 1.4 billion people in the UK and around the world, that live like this all the time - they have £1 a day every day of their life. To donate to help support these people, please go to www.livebelowtheline.com/me/youthpresident. Thank you :)

Living Below the Line - Day 1

So today was the first day of our Live Below the Line challenge! Me and my wonderful family are living for £1 per day, each, for 5 days. To try and raise money and to raise awareness of the 1.4 billion people across the globe who live below the poverty line.

Yesterday was the major shopping trip, my parents were trusted with the £20 and, for once, they did pretty well! Most meals catered for and a pack of digestives! How exciting!!

They both said it was a completely different shopping experience to the one their used to - and really made them think about how for some, this is what they have to do every week; not a decision on quality, but on what they can afford.

So breakfast today was two slices of toast, lunch a sandwich some rationed out crisps and one digestive biscuit, then dinner some not so bad sweet & sour sauce with chicken and cous cous!

I think we've done pretty well, but I wouldn't say I've found it easy.

Normally, I'd just go to the fridge when I was feeling hungry, or I'd pop out and buy a pack of sweets, or a cup of coffee. But, that just isn't an option. Our drinks in Costa on Sunday after church, ost half of our whole budget for the 5 days! We would just spend that without thinking, but having to do this challenge has really made us think about it.

What made today even more difficult was being surrounded by tea, coffee & cake at today's coffee morning. I'd have probably eaten a decent sized plateful normally - but today that wasn't an option!

I can't wait to see how the rest of the week pans out, and how the rest of my family cope!!

We would all so appreciate it, if you felt able to donate. As I said before, 1.4 billion people around the world live below the poverty line - whatever you can give would really help. Thanks!

https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/youthpresident

Ghana

Day 1

So today brought my first long haul flight, my first foray into Africa, and a whole load of other brand new experiences – which brought on a whole range of emotions.

We arrived in Accra about half an hour late, and as soon as we got off the plane there was a blast of humidity! How can it be 28° at 10 o’clock in the evening?!

I couldn’t stop staring out the window as we drove through Accra – so much going on, and so many contrasting images to try and take in.

We arrived at the guest house a while later, had a bite to eat, and settled down for the night. The overriding feeling was one of nervousness as I looked ahead to the days to come – I have no idea what to expect!

Day 2

The heat, plus lack of agreement between myself and the food from last night led to not much sleep at all. On the plus side, at least it meant I was up on time!

7am for devotions, an hour later we left the guest house headed for the Conference Office o the Methodist Church Ghana. We met with the Administrative Bishop (equivalent to our General Secretary), amongst others, sharing with each other about what we are doing, as well as presenting them with two new computers for their office, plus some money donated by Methodists in the UK.

We then drove out to the Methodist Rakiki Satellite Village, where about 60 orphans live. We met the director, two Americans who have been working there for around a year setting up a
sponsorship programme (www.rafikifoundation.org), as well as the orphans living there. This is fantastic work, exactly what the church should be doing in society – if it wasn’t for the church doing this work then all of these 60 children would not have stood a chance. We presented them
with food and some cash donations from Methodist from the London District.

Another long coach journey took us to Cape Coast, the site of the first Methodist Church established in Ghana. We ate in the church hall, before sharing in worship in Wesley’s Cathedral. It was a really enriching night, seeing some many young people fired up for God is always a fantastic sight.

They were so welcoming, and so pleased to see us; it was great to share in worship with that community of young people.

We’re staying in the University Guest House this evening, hoping
for a better night’s sleep and another exciting day tomorrow!

Day 3

What an incredibly packed day. Again, we left early in time for breakfast back at the church hall, we popped into the school on the way. A class of 6-9 year olds were introduced to us, and sang for us. They all looked so happy to be there, and so pleased to see us. One of the things I’ve been
completely amazed by, is how appreciative everyone is of us being there, and how welcoming everyone is!

After breakfast, we headed to Cape Coast Castle, turned from a fort into a castle by the British a few hundred years ago. It was a place used to hold slaves for the three months before they were shipped off to Europe, the Americas & the Caribbean.

We were shown the chambers that the slaves were held in, the tunnel the slaves had to walk through to the door of no return, where they would finally be shipped off to their final destination. I was completely shocked that the was once a church built on top of one of the chambers –while people were praising God upstairs, people were living knee-deep in their mess
below. It’s shocking to think that humanity once behaved this way.

After lunch, we moved from the Cape Coast Diocese, to the Sekondi Diocese. We ate in the hotel before heading out to church. Again, we were made to feel incredibly welcome, and saw so many people worshipping so passionately, and with massive smiles on their faces.

It’s such a privilege to be here, and to be sharing in these experiences. I feel so blessed that God has brought me here.

Day 4

Well today, more than anything, has made me appreciate the unbelievable blessings God has given to me throughout my life.

We visited the Nzulezu village, about a 2 and a half hour drive from out hotel in Takoradi. The Nzulezu village is a village on stilts, one of the most remote places I have ever been to. Because of the mud, the coach could only take us so far. We crammed into the boot of the pick up, then had to walk across a long bridge, then walked through the shallow part of the lake to a
boat that took about 15 minutes to the village itself.

We arrived to a small boy running around, waving at us, excited to see us all (bear in mind, the village is made of pretty shaky wooden planks, with a fair gap in between each one – the children had no fear!). As we walked through, I was amazed at how these people live; so cut off from everywhere, but so contented. The man who owned the bar in the village, said he’d been to
London, but couldn’t wait to get back to Nzulezu. This is their home, it’s part of their identity and it’s where they love to live.

A group of ministers had donated some money to build a new Methodist Church in the village. It will be a great space for the village to use, it will be used for some school lessons as well as church activities. At present, there is no clinic on the island – women giving birth, people who are ill, have a long and hard journey before they are anywhere near help, so there has also
been some money given to help set up a clinic in the village.

It was by far the best day so far, I was so touched with how these people live, and it really puts into perspectives what I would class as struggles in life!

Another early start to come tomorrow, a long drive ahead to Kumasi and another new diocese to visit!

Day 5

Having filled up with my Immodium tablets, I was ready to start the day (even though they were the Boots own version :D)!

En route to Kumasi, we stopped off at the Sekondi Diocese Youth & Student Assembly, a gathering that happens every two years, and we were lucky enough to be a part of the official opening. We witnessed the Boys & Girls parades, and then inspected them all. We then were introduced to the group, and a few of us addressed everyone.

After that, it was off to Kumasi – a massive journey. We left the school around half 10, and eventually checked into the hotel about 6. There was not enough room for us in the hotel in the centre of Kumasi, so for some of us the journey was extended even further to find the other hotel.

Once we arrived there, they hadn’t prepared the rooms for us, so then it was on the coach again
to a third hotel, where we were finally able to check in! All a bit of a drama, but I guess that’s Ghana for you!

We eventually reached the Youth Service we had come to attend in a Methodist Church in Kumasi. As with the other nights, what a pleasure it is to share in worship with such committed and passionate young people.

Day 6

We managed to persuade the powers that be to give us all a lie in this morning, so breakfast wasn’t till 8! We were shipped off for breakfast at the hotel where the others were staying, then went off to the Mahayen Palace Museum for a tour.

It was a beautiful building, where the King of the Asante people lives. It was built by the British to give to the Asante people, in return for sending their King into exile. The Asantes refused this offer, and didn’t move in until they had raised enough money to buy the palace themselves.

We returned to the hotel for lunch, then around 2.15 we left to head back to Accra. 7 hours later, just after 9pm we arrived back at the hotel in Accra. Sat on the seat with the least amount of leg room, with about an hour and a half of the journey on roads with no tarmac, it was not fun! I will never ever moan about a pothole in the UK again!

Day 7

Our last full day in Ghana; we left the hotel at just before 7.30am for the morning service at Good Shepherd Methodist Chuch in Accra. After the service, we all crammed into the vestry for tea, coffee and biscuits (just like being at home!), then off we went to the Diocesan Office, to meet with the Diocese Youth Organiser, and all of the Circuit Youth Organisers. It was really
good to meet with them all, and for them to show us a bit of the work they are doing.

In the afternoon, we attempted the beach, then went to William’s in-laws for lunch, then attempted the beach. I touwl have been beautiful to sit on the sand for a few hours, unfortunately the car park was full so we headed for the slightly cooler Accra mall. It was nice to have an hour relaxing on the last day, to reflect a bit on what has been an amazing trip!

Day 8

Almost all the people from the UK left this morning, only Lia, Edward & I remain, as well as the two people from the Ghanaian Methodist Church in Hamburg. This morning, Edward (London District Youth Development Officer) met with the DYO of the Accra Diocese. It was an interesting meeting, and hopefully the partnership will continue to be built.

A brief stop of at the craft market, and I’m now sat at the airport. Check-in doesn’t open for another hour (clearly they wanted rid of Lia & I!!), so I’m sat writing this in a cafe, while Lia is snoring in the chair across the table!

It really has been an amazing trip. The places we’ve been to will remain with me forever, and even the sights we’ve seen out of the coach window will remain with me too.

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank all those who organised the trip, Revd William Davis, Theresa, Marcia and the rest, all those who were on it and made it a fantastic experience, and also the Methodist Church Ghana. It’s so exciting to see the church here growing, doing fantastic work, and who are really open to letting God do His work.

I hope and pray that the partnership with the Methodist Church Ghana continues to grow, we have so much to learn from each other. This is a trip I will remember forever!

Where is God...oh...there He is!!

Wow...I haven’t been on here in a while!

It’s been the most manic few weeks! A few days away in Swanage, a visit to Number 10, winning an award(!), Council, Reference Group...the list goes on!

For some reason, I’ve been really struggling with my faith over the past few weeks. It seems really strange saying that, after listing all those incredible things that God is doing in my life, not to mention the week in Ghana coming up next!!

So, I’ve been challenging myself to see God in everything...and, unsurprisingly, that wasn’t difficult at all!

Walking along the coast in Swanage, feeling privileged to represent the church at Downing Street, winning the BYC award are all things that I’m so thankful for.

But it’s not only those outstanding things that I’m seeing God in again...taking cell groups out for pizza and having such a laugh with them, spending time with my family, the blossom I can see ou the window as I write this blog...

God is everywhere, as far away as He might feel sometimes, He never ever is.

At the start of the book of Jeremiah, God condemns Israel for not recognising that God is there and working in and around them.

How often are we guilt of doing exactly that?

I challenge you, to try and see God in everything around you, and in everything you do.

I mentioned my trip to Ghana next week. Wi-fi permitting I’ll be tweeting and blogging every day. If not, then I’ll be posting when I get back. Your prayers for the whole group and myself as we travel and experience a wonderful culture would be greatly received.

Do you love me?

Still in the middle of a really packed week!

Started off with a presentation for an award we've been nominated for!! (more details of this to come soon! :D)

Spent Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday at Connecting Disciples. It was such a tiring, enriching, inspiring and refreshing week - if you can have all those feelings rolled into one!

Tuesday night I was on the question time panel, there were some really challenging questions and some downright stupid questions (David Jewitt can claim all the credit for the latter!), and I hope I managed to offer some helpful answers.

Penny, Meg & I led a bible study on Wednesday morning. We managed to make the whole of High Leigh stink of fish, encounter God, and have a load of fun all at the same time! We spent time looking at spiritual rhythms - how we spend our time, and how we can encounter God through every beat of our rhythm.

Jo Cox and I led the closing worship yesterday. We reflected on the reading at the very end of John where Jesus asks Peter three times, 'Do you love me?' This is a really powerful question - and impacts on all our relationships especially, for me, in my relationship with God.

I think a lot of us struggle with confidence and if we're good enough for people, especially good enough for God.

I've come to the conclusion that God doesn't love me for being any good at stuff, he just loves me for being me! All the stuff I do, is Him doing it through me! I love this verse from 2 Corinthians - it precisely sums this up...

'Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.'
2 Corinthians 3:5
Thanks to all those who were at Connecting Disciples - it was a fantastic weekend! Check out the Methodist Recorder next week for a write up fo the whole Conference.
This weekend, I'm off to St Katherines with the guys coming on the Israel & Palestine visit. Please keep us all in your prayers. :)

Inspire6 - Who is Jesus?

As some of you will know from my seemingly endless tweeting on Saturday night (it was a very long journey home!!), I spent Saturday in Leyland at the Lancashire District event, called Inspire.

I was working with about 30 young peopel in the youth stream, along with Carl Dodd, Rach Coates & Ruth East - all guys working with young peopel in the Lancashire District and across the North West.

It was a really good day, filled with Ultimate Sandwiches and what is apparently a musical of the Feedin go the 5000 (couldn't really see much music though!!). We were talking about Adoration, and why we adore Jesus. We spent some time looking at different images and stories of Jesus, some of the characteristics we worship Him for.

These are all the things we came up with, just from a group of about 25 young people...

Wordle: Who is Jesus?

We all have completely different images of who Jesus is, and we all view Him slightly differently...

Which of those characteristics really resonate with you?
Are there any you disagree with?
What kind of Jesus are you portraying with how you live your life?

Lent and stuff :)

I had the privilege, last Friday, of working with some of my young people on a writing workshop. Meg came up and we worked on producing some content for a new blog, o be launched in the next couple of weeks.

We started with some Bible study, and some of the insights they had were incredible (bare in mind these are the same young people who are constantly complaining and never listen!!!) – I was so impressed!

They were then allowed to express their thoughts on the passage, some produced a video, some wrote a testimony, some did artwork. The amount of creativity on display was a real delight to see. I’d like to think this is the kind of worship God’s after...being free and being creative.

We made it clear to the people there on Friday that there is no wrong answer, and that had such a good impact. It allowed them to be free with sharing what they thought, and be really creative in sharing that.

In John’s gospel, it talks about worshipping in ‘spirit and truth’, and I think this is what it means to do that – be really free and really creative. God loves it when we use the gifts He’s given us in worship, and I think too often we’re too scared of coming out of the routine, or doing worship ‘wrong’.

Worship can never be wrong, and it can never be too free or too creative.

As Lent is beginning, I’d really encourage you to take up exploring how we can truly worship in ‘spirit and truth’; how we can be free and creative in our worship.

What are you giving/taking up for Lent this year?

Sports Consultation & BYC

I spent yesterday at our sports conslutation, and today with some faith organisations and the British Youth Council...

Both of these things get me really excited!

How the church links with the rest of society is so important - we should be at the forefront of all of this. I'm so excited by the work we're doing in sport, it links with our heritage, and is so exciting going forward!

The British Youth Council, is an organisation we're getting more and more involved in. This gives us a platform to discuss and share the issues concerning all of you, as children & young people in our church., in our wider society.

The church should be right at the forefront of society; my prayer is that the work we're doing with sport, the BYC and a whole load of other stuff puts us back there. I hope that's your prayer too.

Exciting Stuff!!

The past few weeks have been completely manic! It just seems to be one exciting thing after another! Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving all the awesome stuff that’s going on – just bit of a break between each one would be appreciated!! (:P)

So, I think I’d better share with you some of this awesome stuff!

Think Talk Be is an online space we’re trying to create to enable children & young people to think as disciples, talk as disciples and to be disciples. We’re getting children & young people to write the content, and can’t wait to get it started! Watch this space for more information!

We have finally booked all the places on the Israel & Palestine visit. We’re really excited about the programme for the trip, and the group of young people we’ve got going. Again, watch this space to find out more about them and what they’re up to!

'Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track.' Proverbs 3:5-6

Please keep the whole Chidlren & Youth Team in your prayers - pray that we are able to trust & rely on God so that we can keep on track in the work we do for you and for the kingdom.

Schools Visits

I’ve been completely blown away this week. A matter of months ago, I had no idea we even had a Methodist school, but now I’m completely blown away by the work they do.
This week I’ve visited four Methodist schools:

· Hippings, Oswaldtwistle
· Westleigh, Leigh
· St Andrew’s, Salford
· Rosehill, Ashton-under-Lyne

All four of these schools have a lot in common; they all have good or outstanding Ofsted reports, all have enthusiastic, well-behaved kids, all have a strong Christian ethos, and all are meeting a need in their community.

All of them are placed in the vicinity of deprived estates, therefore a lot of their kids come from these less advantaged backgrounds. The schools are a place of support and advice for the parents and all of the family, and in some cases are the first port of call whenever there is a problem.

I guess this is where we should be as a church. I spoke to one head, who saw her school as ‘the church’s mission’. What these schools are doing is what we should be doing as churches! These schools are going out to those who are in need, are meeting a need in their communities – what a lesson we, as a church, could learn from that.

I talked to a lot of kids and asked them what they thought of church – most answers were that church is dull and boring, they don’t know when to stand up or sit down, or they have no interest in it (there were some positive ones thrown in too!); then when I asked them what they thought of their morning worship in school, it was completely different! They were able to participate, they sang good songs, they were allowed to have a bit of a laugh...again, what a lesson we can learn as a church. How much of our worship is fun and engaging without being patronising to these kids who are actually very capable of a mature spirituality!

I’ve had my eyes widely opened this week, to what an asset we have in our Methodist schools.

Let’s pray for them, and the continuing part they have to play in our church.

OPPs & Schools visits

It's an exciting, but very busy time at the moment! With meetings about Greenbelt, Bible Project, Connecting Disciples, Interfaith Organisations, JPIT, YPS Reference Group, a week of schools visits, Methodist Council and the small matter of a National Methodist Student Conference; there are a few busy weeks coming up!

I feel very proud, as should you, to be a part of a church that does so many exciting things! We should be celebrating more and more of that.

As you know, our OPPs are currently in Tajikisthan - they especially need your prayers! It seems strange to think that we're already thinking about next years intake of One Programme Participants. If you know of any projects that you think will make good OPP placements, either get in touch with your local PPM or with me and we can start the application process!

Next week, I'm visiting four North West schools in the North West region. I've never claimed to be a children's worker, and schools work is something that lies way outside of my comfort zone!!

However...I've definitely got used to being thrown in at the deep end, and I actually think that doing some work in the Methodist schools is crucial to our work as a church. In our 65 schools, most are not from church backgrounds, and often they are from families that aren't quite so well off as others.

These are the children and young people that we need to be working with! These are the children and young people that we should be trying to share the word of God with, in as creative a way as possible.

I'm feeling very nervous about next week, but I can see that it is realy valuable work - your prayers would be very much appreciated :)

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Some people seem to think that the fact its a new year changes everything...it doesn’t. I arrived at the first cell group of 2012, and yes they were still annoying and rowdy and messy as all good youth groups are!

The spend most of their time moaning that I’m never there! I would like to take this opportunity to say that this is not the case, and I never miss it on purpose. I, in fact, love leading my cell group. Its probably one of the most infuriating yet at the same time rewarding things I do with my week!

I want to share with you what I did with my Cell Group yesterday, and want to challenge you to do it yourself as we head into the new year...

Take some time to think about what it is you’re hoping for this year. What do you want to be proud of by the time 2013 comes around? What changes do you want to have made to your lifestyle? What resolutions do you want to have kept?

Think about some of the big decisions that might be coming up... Which job to go for? Which Uni to go for? Which sixth form to go to? Which church to go to?

Make list of a few of the hopes and dreams you have for 2012, and write them on a piece of paper and seal them in an envelope.

As you seal the envelope, take some time to reflect on this verse from scripture...


I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.


Jeremiah 29:10-11 (The Message)

Think about what this verse means for you as you go into this new year. Think about the incredible promise that God has made us, the part we have to play in his place.

In the lead up to Christmas, I’m sure we’ll all have read about the extraordinary thing that God called Mary to, let’s all be excited NOW for the extraordinary things that God has in store for us as individuals, for us as Methodists, for us as part of a global Christian movement.

I pray that you are richly blessed in 2012, and maybe that you’ll consider some of these things in your prayers this year...

· OPPs trip to Tajikistan
· Think. Talk. Be (an exciting new project you’ll be hearing lots more about very soon!)
· Connecting Disciples Conference
· Methodist Israel & Palestine Visit
· YPS Review

Amen.