Africa Impact Class of 2018… ready to GO!

We have been so encouraged by our wonderful group of staff and students on this year’s Africa Impact Discipleship Training School we have been leading here in Blantyre, Malawi. We never get bored of seeing God take hold of an individual’s life – in all of their brokenness, fear, rejection, weakness and failings – and utterly transform them by His awesome grace and power. And yet we know He never just changes a life for the good of that individual only, but so that He can work through them to bless and reach out to the world around them. This year during lecture phase we have seen God particularly working in the area of fear – stripping away fear of finances, fear of man and fear of the future – and perfecting us, staff and students alike, in His limitless Fatherly love. We saw the Lord use our team in amazing ways during our weekend outreach in a rural village, with hundreds of people receiving salvation, healing and hope as we stepped out in faith. We are excited for what is to come now as our students head out for their outreach phase in a little over a week where they will spend two months travelling to the hopeless and broken ones of Malawi and nearby Zimbabwe – ministering to them in the power of the Holy Spirit and sharing with them the life and joy we have found in Jesus.

Leading a DTS school in this region of the world means that we always need a big breakthrough in finances to see students and staff be able to go out. We know that God is faithful and He will provide – but that He so often uses His people to be the answer He supplies. If you want to partner with us in releasing these missionaries in training please do consider sending us a one off gift here.

The cost for a Malawian to go out for 2 months of ministry on one of our teams is as follows: Zimbabwe Team: US$300 (£230) Malawi Team: US$200 (£155)

Thank you friends we love and value you so much!!!

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Home to Visit

IMG_20170815_121318706We’ve been having an amazing time back in the UK enjoying reconnecting with so many people we love and getting to know many new friends as well! We are overwhelmed as always by God’s goodness as He is so present with us during this special time. If you want to catch up with us while we’re back do get in touch! Here’s some of the places we’re going to be in the next weeks-

10th September – Christ Church, Exmouth

24th September – St Edyths, Bristol

1st October – St Andrews, Walsall

8th October – St Aplhege/Y, Whitstable

Simplicity

“Don’t make it so complicated Sarah. All I am inviting you into is relationship with me.”

These were the beautiful words of  revelation Father whispered to me last Thursday during one of our community worship times.

“Don’t make it so complicated”

In all honesty, I didn’t know that I had. I didn’t see how subtly feelings of inadequacy, of servitude and of pressure to perform had been given room to grow in my heart. How quickly I had turned God into boss and allowed these feelings to create a standard by which my daily activity should be judged by. My idea of what a ‘missionary’ should be and should do, had clouded my relationship with the One who had called me. Making it into a relationship where suddenly guilt was present. Where I didn’t feel I was good enough, driven by this constant need to do more and perform right.

And then suddenly the whisper, shattering lies and dispelling guilt. The gentleness of Abba pointing out the complicated mess I’d got myself in and reminding me of the invitation He first gave me.

“All I am inviting you into is relationship with me.”

So simple and yet so profound. The creator of the universe, who hung stars and planets in their place, who made elephants and grasshoppers. Who could not bear to be separated from us, and though it was me who chose that separation, gave it all that He might invite me into relationship with Him.

A relationship characterised by love, grace, joy and peace. That marks an end to striving and performance, and where feelings of inadequacy meet the face of true love.  A relationship that invites intimacy and expects openness. Where the journey of each moment of every day is shared, enjoyed and expressed.

The simple truth that so easily gets embellished, twisted, distorted even. Because the truth of the gospel seems too good, and we feel we don’t deserve it. But it’s us that make it complicated, not Him.

So, a week later, I stand grateful, humbled and loved. So grateful that Abba would point out my mess and lead me back to dance once again with Him.

“I will rejoice in the simple gospel,
I will rejoice in you Lord”
Simple Gospel – United Pursuit.

Love Sarah x

Standing on the Edge

We have had the most amazing two weeks of rest, refreshment and relaxation after a busy six months completing our YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS). And we are now under 12 hours away from starting the adventure we’ve been building up to for many years now.

And I feel completely unprepared.

I mean, we’re packed and we’ve done our DTS. We’ve got all that we need, and yet there is a nagging sense of feeling not ready,uncertain, unprepared.

But as I spent time with God this afternoon, in His infinite goodness, faithfulness and patience, He showed me how He has been preparing us for this moment for a long time. In our childhood, the Father planted in both of us a seed of a heart for the nations, watered in our teenage years through various adventures and then fertilized it when we fell in love  five years ago and saw how Jesus was bringing us together that we might share and walk in a love for the nations to be reached and discipled.  Holy Spirit has taught us, moulded us, shaped us for this moment. And now it has arrived.

Maybe not as unprepared as I might think or feel then.

It blows my mind to think of how this is both a culmination of what’s gone before; the finished product of a season of training and refinement. And also the start of a new chapter which will lead to other new chapters that are yet to be revealed and written. It’s both an end and a beginning.

A moment of significance, a moment of joy, apprehension, reflection, remembrance and expectation. A moment not walked alone. But with the God who has been true and faithful in each and every season, and will continue to be true and faithful in the seasons to come.

And so I feel ready, standing on the edge and ready to jump in head first – not doubting, not fearing, embracing uncertainty and letting His love and strength guide and sustain.

Malawi – we’re ready for you!

Love Sarah x

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Life With God

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Sarah and I on top of Table Mountain, Cape Town

As we approach the end of the lecture phase of our DTS here in Muizenberg, Cape Town, I’m reflecting on the lessons that Father has been teaching us and the ways He has been speaking to us in this time. Really He has surpassed all our expectations and ideas of what He would do in this time in our hearts. Together we have laughed, cried, prayed, worshipped, struggled, rejoiced and grown. He has been doing a deep work of healing and purifying in our hearts, and has been breaking off the hidden places of shame and fear and unbelief. Father God has spoken to us about our future calling in ministry, but more than that, He has spoken to us again and again about the core calling of our lives – to know Him, to love Him, to obey Him, to enjoy Him all of our days.

A few of our speakers have quoted the Christian writer Skye Jethani, who talks about the five different postures we as Christians can have in relating to God: Life UNDER God, Life OVER God, Life FROM God, Life FOR God or Life WITH God. Skye Jethani says

“life with God is different [to the other postures toward God] because it’s goal is not to use God; it’s goal is God. He ceases to be a device we employ or a commodity we consume. Instead God himself becomes the focus of our desire. But before we can really desire God we must have a clear understanding of who he is and what he is like ” – With: Reimaging the Way you Relate to God, 2011, Jethani

During one of the times of worship at New Wine conference this last summer, I remember offering up a short prayer to the Lord – ‘I will go wherever You want, I will do whatever You want, just give me Jesus’. As we prepare to leave for our DTS Outreach to Nepal in a few days times, and after that head to Malawi to begin our ministry there, we are very aware of the danger of living our lives FOR God, but missing the joy and delight of simply loving Him and being loved as sons and daughters. Our prayer as we enter this next stage of our journey is that all that we do, all that we say, all that we give, all that we pray, would come from that place of intimate communion with the Father. That we wouldn’t serve God to make Him love us, but that we would work with Him knowing that He already loves us beyond comprehension!

Enjoying a Braai with our wonderful Nepal Team
Enjoying a Braai with our wonderful Nepal Team
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Our DTS family here in Muizenberg
Exploring the beauty of God's creation
Exploring the beauty of God’s creation

One month in – iron sharpens iron.

We’ve now been in South Africa for just over a month and we are starting to find our feet here! What was confusing, uncomfortable and uncertain, is now more clear, comfortable and normal. However living in a multi-cultural community with over 140 people – I think you probably develop a new kind of normal.

Like…

– listening to happy european dance music at 7am in the morning
– serving people bread, ham, cheese and peanut butter all together on one plate for breakfast
– prayer times being led in 20 different languages
– having to repeat yourself several times when you ask a simple question, because it’s loud and the person your talking to has english as their 3rd language
– storing a bike in one corner of the room, hanging our washing across the other corner and sleeping on our bed in the middle of the room
– eating ostrich stew for dinner

It’s a beautiful mix of colour, vibrancy, passions, noise and culture. It’s life at it’s fullest and we are learning so much more about God and how the nations display His image and glory.

Our only sadness is that there are no Malawians on our DTS school. However being on African soil means we are closer to the beautiful nation of Malawi and we are feeling God stirring up a greater love for this nation and the continent of Africa within us.

Proverbs 27:17 says:

“As iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another.”

As I (sarah) reflect on this first month I feel as though it has been a time of sharpening, where God has been making dull edges sharper and drawing me back to the main things that seemed to have got mixed in with lots of other less important things. Through worship times, corporate intercession, teaching, quiet times alone with Him and living in community with so many beautiful people from so many nations – iron is sharpening iron.

As our school reaches the half way point of lecture phase,  heart is expectant of  what more God is going to do among our community! And what He’ll then do in and through us as we go to Nepal in December for our Outreach phase!

lots of love, Tom and Sarah x

Saying Goodbye… Saying Hello.

The last two weeks we have slept in five different beds and travelled over 500 miles spending time with our wonderful family!

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First in beautiful Cornwall with Tom’s family enjoying good walks, food and a stunning beach day for Tom’s birthday. Ending with a Haig family wedding in Southampton and a visit to Grandma and Grandad.

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We then travelled to Bristol for a fun filled four days at Center Parcs with Sarah’s family. Where we went on several bike rides, enjoyed the swimming pool and Sarah even did the high ropes course (while Tom watched in the rain!).

And then all of a sudden Friday 18th came round and we found ourselves still frantically trying to get rid of yet more stuff to get our suitcases to under 23kg, enjoying one last meal and then jumping in the car to go to the airport.

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Saying goodbye was never going to be easy, and neither was adjusting to something completely new – something we haven’t done for a while now. But we are now here, and this is when the rubber really starts to hit the road.

After our first 24 hours here: we’ve said ‘Hello’ and introduced ourselves to what feels like 50+ people, and we haven’t met everyone yet, had a picnic lunch on Muizenburg beach (where there are a few more surfers than in Exmouth), bought pillows and a duvet from the flea market and a secret stash of chocolate for emergencies (very important!).

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We are incredibly fortunate to have our own room with an ensuite which is much bigger than our bedroom was in Exmouth. And we are gradually getting to know people. Tomorrow our course starts with a day of teaching from Jon Dawson (a big guy in YWAM) from 8.30am – 6pm!

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I think we’re both feeling a bit overwhelmed, excited, nervous and uncomfortable but have been reminded that this was exactly what we were wanting to feel when we felt God opening this opportunity for us back in Exmouth.

So we’re jumping in, hand in hand and let’s see where this adventure takes us!

Much love – Tom and Sarah x

Ode to Exmouth

Today we said goodbye to the beautiful town we’ve called home for the last 6 years…

Exmouth has been a special place to us in many ways, and will probably always have a special corner of our hearts.

It’s home to the train line on which we first met each other as we came down for our interviews to do youth work together. It’s the place where I (sarah) learnt to live away from home for the first time. It’s where we had the amazing privilege of journeying with young people at school, home and church. It’s sea was where we had our first, and last, double kayaking adventure (turns out it’s a lot harder than it looks). It’s setting for our love story; from shy and awkward beginnings, to deep friendship, love, engagement and the most amazing day of our lives – our beautiful wedding day! It’s where we’ve learnt to do life together and shared our first home.

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It’s the place where I (sarah) got my first paid jobs and Tom organised two mission trips to South Africa and Malawi.  It’s home to the wonderful church communities we’ve been part of and the many generous people who have opened their homes and lives to us. It’s the people we’ve dreamed, laughed, cried, prayed and hoped for more with. It’s the place where we’ve discovered more about our amazing Father and been encouraged to go on new adventures with Him.

It’s the setting for where God has shaped and trained and developed us for the journeys yet to come.

Exmouth – you’re a beautiful town and you are home to many beautiful, amazing talented and gifted people who have heart and passion. We’ll miss you, and the people who call you home. And as we move away and call a new town and city ‘home’ – we’ll always remember you for the many memories you have given us and the time we shared with you.

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We hope you’ll let us visit sometimes too, but for now, goodbye x

Closing doors, to open new ones

Today it is exactly 50 days until we fly to South Africa to begin our YWAM training.

Today is also the day that I (Sarah) have finished full time work in the UK for the foreseeable future.

I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities and lessons that full time work in two wonderful Christian charities who do amazing work for vulnerable people in our area, has taught me. And I am sure that I will draw on many of these things in all the adventures that are to come.

But yet…

I, we, are so ready for something new – a different way of doing life, a new season and a new adventure. And that is exactly the offer we felt God giving us almost a year ago in our last visit to the beautiful country of Malawi. An offer of a new adventure – the opportunity to do new exploits with Him, to be part of a community that was really hungering and seeking after God, the space to grow deeper in intimacy with our Saviour and to work alongside a people who know that the stakes are high.

An adventure, that would also mean leaving behind ministry in the UK that I have invested most of my adult life in so far, friends, church community, family. And as the 18th September gets ever closer, as we start to shut doors that were once wide open with opportunity, the reality of this new adventure starts to feel a bit more real.

People’s first question when we tell them that we will shortly be moving to Africa is, “So what will you be doing there?” This is a question we find quite hard to answer at the moment, because we’re not really sure! But what we are most grateful of is that our God who is calling us on this adventure does! The couple who lead the base in Blantyre, Malawi have told us to “dream big” and to expect to be leading new ministries – which is really exciting.

And kind of sums up why I am really thankful that I am able to have a break over the summer before we leave in 50 days time.

There’s lots of practical things to be done; getting rid of furniture, general stuff, getting new clothes (yay!), cancelling contracts, closing down accounts, cleaning, moving out of our flat – the list goes on…

But I am also aware that I need to make room in my heart for the new ministries that Jesus will be leading us to be part of and potentially lead.

Right now, I’m still passionate about young people in schools be given the pastoral care and support they desperately need! I still very much care about the internship program at YMCA Exeter and the amazing team of women that have signed up to be part of that in September. And maybe I always will hold a love and passion in my heart for the projects that I have been part in this season. But I am aware that my Father is calling us into a new season and that He is going to set before us new areas of work, new projects and people to be passionate about.

I am getting excited about Jesus doing a work in us over these next 50 days. Preparing our hearts for what’s to come – even if we don’t know the practicalities.

I’m excited about God closing old doors of opportunity, that He might open new doors of opportunity for a new adventure!

Thank you for journeying with us.

Love and prayers, Tom and Sarah x