Magheragall 4-6th February 2011
The leaders of Magheragall Methodist Church invited a Lay Witness team to conduct a weekend mission in February 2011.
Nigel Woods, Carole and David Lambe led the team.
Nigel Woods, Carole and David Lambe led the team.
Weekend Reports and Photos
Ruth and Phil Clarke, first time team members, write….
Nigel Woods first approached us to be part of the Lay Witness Weekend in Magheragall back in July 2010. Neither of us had been on a team before and we were not quite sure what to expect on the weekend. In our own church our experience was working with youth and children. So we both felt a little out of our comfort zone.
Nigel Woods, and Carole and David Lambe led the team. We met together twice in the lead up to the weekend. The first meeting was before Christmas at David and Carole’s house to meet all the members of our team. The second time was in January at Magheragall church when we got the chance to meet members of the church organising committee.
Soon the weekend itself was upon us. We both arrived from a busy week teaching and were given a warm welcome at the door from the society steward Clem Gilbert. We made our way towards the team meeting room and the weekend was soon underway. We soon felt at ease among the team and the church family.
Throughout the weekend we had regular team meetings that allowed us time to worship together through praise songs, prayer for each other and a time to share God’s word for the weekend.
For us Friday evening was with the Youth. Through a few games, watching a few video clips, sharing some stories and then getting into some great discussions, we began to discover a little bit about each of these teenagers and their feelings about Magheragall church. They had a real love for their church, for God and were not ashamed to tell us about it. We ended our time together with a time of prayer giving thanks and asking God to help each of the young people.
Saturday passed in a blur firstly with the men’s breakfast, then very touching coffee mornings, with a focus on us all casting off our burdens, and finally the Saturday evening service. This was when Ruth gave her testimony. For her it was a nerve wrecking experience. If faced with a sea of children or young people she would have had no difficulties but this was completely different. But she knew she was surrounded with love and prayer and God gave her the words and strength to be open and honest.
Suddenly it was Sunday morning and Nigel led a very moving service. It was my turn to give my testimony. During an emotional testimony, I had been led to share a message from Isaiah 40 v28-31.
If asked about my lasting memory of the weekend it would be leading the youth on both Friday and Saturday evenings. The enthusiasm from these teenagers and their love of their church was amazing. I really enjoyed the discussions, games and fellowship we shared on both evenings together. It was refreshing to share and teach a youth group who felt confident in their identities as Christians.
For Ruth it was the warmth and love experienced within the team and from the people within Magheragall. God’s presence was felt throughout the entire weekend. We both experienced amazing hospitality and friendship from our hosts Elaine and Ken.
Our first experience of a lay witness weekend was a positive and enjoyable one.
Clem Gilbert, from Magheragall, writes….
The Focus Team at Magheragall Methodist was formed two to three years ago to endeavour to enhance the Mission side of the Church.
During some discussions it was suggested that the Church family have a Lay Witness Week-end. Whilst it was a close-knit congregation the weekend would be of benefit perhaps bring those closer to God, or maybe there would be those who might re-commit themselves or indeed ask the Lord into their lives for the first time.
We felt Prayer to be a very important aspect of the preparations and we put our Bible Study on hold for three weeks so that we could concentrate on Praying for those Team Members who will come, Praying for the Men’s Breakfast, the coffee mornings and specifically for each member of our congregation. Some of the ladies were burdened to have extra Prayer so a group was formed on a Wednesday morning in each other’s homes and after a cup of tea an hour was set aside to Pray for the Special Week-end. Those times of Prayer were very special and we felt the whole occasion was indeed the Lord’s Will.
Having met with the team a couple of weeks before the event, we got an insight into who everyone was and therefore it was easier to match up members with their hosts.
The Friday night commenced with a delicious meal ably prepared by the members of Magheragall Parish Church and after dinner and much chat the Leader of the Team, Nigel Woods, began by getting everyone to come up to the front and introduce themselves.
Two of the members shared their testimonies with us and we discovered they were just everyday people who had asked the Lord to be their Saviour and wanted to share this Good News with others. They were very down to earth and their stories challenged us.
Twenty two men met for breakfast at Vic-Ryn on the Saturday morning at 8.30 and Nigel and David shared with them their testimonies and again many of the men were touched by what they had heard and again could relate to having similar problems in their lives.
Three church homes hosted coffee mornings and the ladies of the congregation were given an invitation to attend. This again proved to be very delightful and after tea/coffee/scones/tray bakes and CUPCAKES, we were then presented with a discussion about unwanted baggage in our lives and how we should be laying the burden on the Lord and leaving it with Him. We found this to be very challenging and a lot of people entered into the discussions.
After lunch in the Church Hall, some members visited those people who were ill at home or in Residential Homes again leaving with them an encouraging message.
The Saturday evening tea was prepared by members of Broomhedge Methodist Church and after a delightful tea of sausage rolls and a large variety of sandwiches, all those who attended enjoyed apple tart and cream, and sponge cake. We were to hear more life changing stories by two members of the team that again left us challenging our own souls.
Not wanting to leave the younger members out of the weekend they met in the vestry and CHILLED OUT with a KFC carry-out not to mention coca cola and crisps and then watched a suitable DVD and had some very interesting discussions with the younger team members. This proved to be very worthwhile and the young ones didn’t want the weekend to finish.
Sunday morning service was to see the conclusion of the Lay Witness Weekend. The Sunday School Children were presented with a wonderful thought by Jacqui who enjoyed eating lots of chocolate sweets and tempting the children with a peep into her bag and letting them smell the chocolate without sharing any. Eventually her heart softened and she gave them to the children to share around the congregation and then have some themselves, thus teaching them the meaning of sharing their things but more importantly sharing the Good News that Jesus loves them.
After more testimonies Nigel gave us a message from God’s Word and left us in no doubt of the need to put our Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Sunday morning concluded with a Soup Lunch in the Church Hall for everyone. We said our goodbyes to the wonderful team and thanked them sincerely for giving up their precious weekend to Share God’s Love and His Wonderful Saving Grace with us. We had a Reflection Service on the Sunday evening that was attended by about forty of the congregation. Seven of those shared with us of how they were blest by the weekend.
· Would love to hear preaching like that every Sunday
· The people who spoke on Sunday morning spoke with great passion
· One man who attended the breakfast really enjoyed the life stores-as he doesn’t attend
· Church on a regular basis
· Some else at the Breakfast admired David’s story of standing up to the paramilitaries
· One young member said he didn’t want the weekend to end
· The Team Members really gelled well together
· The Lord’s Name was exalted
· TO GOD BE THE GLORY GREAT THINGS HE HAS DONE
Ruth Drury (18), first time team member, writes….
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Sometimes as a passionate and enthusiastic Christian the tendency is to pray and ask for God to open doors of opportunity to seek and to serve him more, to quench an ever present thirst to learn more about Him and simply to step out in faith and share the peace and the joy He has brought to our lives with others who have not heard or who do not yet believe. To be given such an opportunity, to step above and beyond my comfortable Christian walk was my exact prayer to God with all kinds of idea’s and plans of my own about the mission I was going to set upon for God but it was through the Lay Witness Movement, that I came to realise that, as equally important as it is, I don’t have to fly to the other side of the world to share my love for Jesus.
After much prayer and consideration I agreed to go on a Lay Witness Weekend destined for Magheragall Methodist Church, just outside of Lisburn. Being totally honest I felt completely out of my depth as a young girl on a team of what I initially in each of our team meetings I saw as a more mature and adequately equipped group of people to fulfil the plans which the Lord had for this Lay Witness Weekend but we hadn’t arrived in Magheragall on Friday 4th February half an hour that I came to realise that where the Lord has great plans, Satan will always try to pull us down, strike us out and make us feel worthless for the tasks God has put before us. My Lay Witness experience simply would not have been the same had it not been for the encouragement and compassion within the team itself, a team chosen by God, each with their own talent and gift which played a part in the ministry on our weekend.
For me Lay Witness was all about building new relationships not only within our team but within the congregation with whom we were sharing in fellowship for the weekend and coming together to bring glory to God. Lay Witness has the team stay each with different members of the church congregation for the duration of the weekend as part of our ministry and I had the true privilege of staying with a wonderful young family who truly blessed me simply through their welcome and hospitality and only added to what was for me an inspiring and humbling experience.
Through many of the weekend’s activities, ranging from coffee mornings and Bible study to services of testimony and praise, not only as a team but as an individual I was given opportunities to minister both to the younger and older generations, to meet so many wonderful and kind hearted people, but also to be blessed through hearing many challenging and encouraging testimonies of how God has touched the lives of so many people; and we were only one team, visiting one Methodist Church of all the many across Ireland. Lay Witness helped me to gain a greater understanding that the challenges and heart aches I’ve faced in my own Christian walk, although are unique in how they have developed me as a young Christian, I am not alone in facing temptations and struggles as a child of God and in all things, my Heavenly Father has plan for my life, greater than anything I could achieve by my own strength.
Peter Mercer, minister in Magheragall, writes….
The weekend of February 4th – 6th was one that was looked forward to by the people of Magheragall Methodist with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. It was to be our church family weekend led by the Lay Witness Movement. Would anyone turn up? Was the church ready for such an event? What about our young people?
The weekend was a long time in the planning. A Focus Team had been set up some years before to concentrate minds on improving the fellowship within the church family with the eventual aim of an event such as a Lay Witness Weekend. Several events at Christmas and Easter took place over a couple of years and were well attended and appreciated. Finally in Autumn 2009, the decision was taken by the Focus Team to ask the Lay Witness Movement to send a team to Magheragall, a request to which they happily agreed.
Although outline planning started as soon as we knew a Lay Witness team was coming, it was in Autumn 2010 that detailed planning began. A name had to be agreed upon for the weekend and finally, with a lot of discussion, it was called “One More Step”. Then there were meetings with Lay Witness leaders, and various groups were set up to plan the individual aspects of the weekend – accommodation for team members, venues for coffee mornings and the men’s breakfast, catering for the shared meals on the Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday lunchtime, visits to housebound members by the team and above all – prayer. The Tuesday night Bible Study was replaced by a Prayer time for the weekend and the church was left open for a day of prayer on a Saturday two weeks before the event.
Prayers were answered – the majority of people in the church attended one or more of the events and many hearts were moved by the stories of the Lay Witness members. There was uplifting worship led by the exuberant Nigel Woods and there was much sharing in the evening sessions, coffee mornings, and the men’s breakfast and in the houses of those hosting Lay Witness members. It was certainly not “early to bed” for many of them.
One particularly positive thing to come out of the weekend was the emphasis on our young people. There was a special youth programme for them and we were encouraged by their Lay Witness leaders to really appreciate them, as they are very special. Accordingly, we plan to try to integrate them much more into church life.
Although Lay Witness is traditionally an event for adults, the fact that some in the church wanted a strong emphasis on family meant that special provision had to be made for families of young children. This, at the time, proved quite difficult as help had to be found from outside the church so that all members of the Magheragall church could attend the events. However, in the end the neighbouring churches came up trumps and we were very appreciative of assistance from Seymour St. and Trinity Methodist Churches as well as Magheragall Church of Ireland. Through this aspect of the weekend new avenues have opened up to be explored in our youth work. Help was also needed from outside the church for catering and we are grateful for the services of Magheragall Church of Ireland, Broomhedge Methodist and the Vic Ryn café.
A special service of quiet reflection and sharing brought the weekend to a close on the Sunday evening and as one of the members of the congregation said afterwards, “If people in the church didn’t realise through the weekend, the power of Jesus Christ to save, there was something wrong!”