Jennymount 20-22nd November 2009
The leaders of Jennymount Methodist Church have invited a Lay Witness team to conduct a weekend mission in November 2009.
Tom Wilson and Cheryl Patterson led the team.
Tom Wilson and Cheryl Patterson led the team.
Weekend Reports and Photos
After morning worship, the team and the steering group enjoyed lunch together after which, just prior to the team preparing to leave we had a time of prayer together and during that time a picture was given to a member of the team of a desert where everything was dry and barren and nothing grew. Suddenly a small plant burst forth becoming a strong tree upon which beautiful pink buds began to blossom giving off a fragrant aroma. We thank God and take great encouragement from this sign that he will indeed create rivers in the wasteland and refresh his chosen people.
On Sunday evening we had a very open and relaxed service where many people shared their experiences of the weekend. The picture that was given earlier was shared. One of the greatest blessings of the weekend was the coffee fellowships. Some shared that they discovered that there were people coming to church that they didn’t really know, and that the coffee fellowship helped form new friendships among people from within the church. Others felt that we should do this again i.e. coffee fellowship, and share together in a meal and that there is a need for each of us to open up and tell our stories as the team had done. There was general consensus that God is indeed doing a ‘new thing’ among us.
In December the leaders sat down together to review the weekend and plan how we go forward in the wake of the Lay Witness Weekend. Members expressed their huge encouragement by all that took place and particularly by the results of the questionnaire which was given out on the Friday evening of the weekend showing that the overwhelming majority of our people want to grow closer to Christ and to each other and do not want the church to remain as it is. Leaders were greatly enthused and proposed a number of new initiatives to build a more cohesive community fellowship. We move forward to face the challenges this brings, but anticipating the blessings as we grow in God together.
We are so very grateful to God for raising up an organisation like the Lay Witness Movement. We are grateful to the eleven wonderful people who gave of their time and shared their hearts and made their home among us. They came as strangers, but left as friends.
Amy Barry, team member, writes….
What a wonderful weekend was had at Jennymount Methodist Church in November 20th-27th, 2009 from the time we arrived on Friday evening to the time we left on Sunday afternoon. I came from Dublin, being the only Southerner and on my journey I experienced a mixture of feelings and emotions. Fear, because I am not someone who likes speaking in public and at some stage would have to share my testimony; and excitement as to what the Lord had in store for us over the coming few days.
The team, led by Tom Wilson & Cheryl Patterson, had met two times over the previous months to get to know one another but it was amazing over the weekend how the Lord drew us even closer together. It was also wonderful to have the Newtownabbey TOM Team to help with the Youth programme and they quickly became part of the Lay Witness Team. Our times of Team meetings over the weekend were very special. During these moments together we took time out to worship the Lord with praise songs, sharing God’s word and praying for one another, especially those who were going to lead the meetings and give their testimonies.
The first time we met in September, Tom led us in a reading from Luke and gave us words of encouragement. The Lord sent his disciples out and instructed them to bring nothing else with them. So we were to bring nothing with us but He was sending us to where He was about to go! This became very real over the weekend.
My first impression on the Friday evening, walking in the door where everyone was seated was a real sense of apprehension that hung in the air. Who are these people coming to our church? Are they something special? It’s the unknown. The same possibly could have been said of us but in a different way. I can only speak for myself, of course. I am nothing special! I have my ups and downs in life and why should my testimony make any difference? Why should I have been invited? I can think of a number of others who could have gone instead of me. I remember when Tom asked me to join the team. He said, “Take some time to think and pray about it”. I searched for a way out, not to go to Jennymount, but I had no excuse. The Lord’s way is always perfect.
The hospitality was wonderful. Each of the team spoke very highly of their hosts and the welcome they received. The meetings, the men’s breakfast, the fellowship coffee/tea groups, were all very special and it never ceased to amaze me that the testimonies were very real for the people who came and sometimes for certain people in particular. As we study Scripture, the Lord always used those who were just ordinary folk, equipping them for the task. The fellowship groups on Saturday morning were something I will always remember. Alan Conly and I went to the Fold. The weather was not very nice but what a lovely group of people who came. After some refreshments we read through a meditiation, ‘Lay it down’, which looks at all the baggage and burdens we carry about with us, but God wants to take these and carry them for us. We had a good discussion where many spoke openly about hurts, sorrows and burdens we carry about with us, giving them to God, but then taking them back. We ended with a time of prayer for one another and for others. How special that time spent together was.
All the meetings had something different that stood out but most of all, knowing that the Lord was doing a special work in the lives of the family that is Jennymount church. It was a weekend that had been steeped in prayer and Lord’s presence was very real. It was sad to part and go our separate ways on Sunday afternoon but praying the Lord’s continued presence on each member of the Team and Jennymount Churc