2017 - 2018
ACW were delighted to welcome the Refresh! Team to lead this special day at the beginning of Advent 2018.
The purpose of the Day was to set aside time before Christmas to think, to relax, to be encouraged and to be transformed in the presence of God.
The conference room at the Holiday Inn North Ashford had been decorated for Christmas, but the Refresh! Team also prepared the room with special areas for prayer and meditation - "Oases of Refreshment" - and creative activities, all with the purpose of enabling us to connect more closely with God in a personal way.
Ruthie Gilbert led the day, encouraging us and inspiring us to consider "What are we waiting for?"
What is it that we are waiting for?
Why do we wait? How do we wait?
Maisie Tozer & Nathan Heyes led us in inspiring times of sung worship together, and other members of the Refresh! team shared personal testimonies of how God has ministered to them and led them at different times in their lives.
After lunch, a period of quiet was set aside for us to spend time, as we chose, in the "Oases" and allow the Lord to speak and minister to us, or simply to rest and be refreshed.
There were 5 Oases of Refreshment to visit:
"Waiting" - an area to rest, be still and let God speak
"Reflect" - The Cross - a reminder that we have been saved by the sacrifice of Jesus and His resurrection
"Reflect" - The Robe - where we remembered that Jesus encounters us in our daily lives in many different ways and that we are being saved
"Reflect" - The Bride - we are waiting for that glorious day when we will be the Bride of Christ as He welcomes us into His glorious presence - we will be saved
"Create" - Firstly an opportunity to express something that had been a blessing during the day, or to allow God to speak through art - colouring or drawing
Or we could make a Kintsugi bowl - a broken clay pot that has been mended with gold - thereby making it more precious. This can remind us of how the Lord beautifully refreshes, heals and restores us, and that we are the work of His hands.
ACW and Refresh! would like to particularly thank the management and staff at Holiday Inn Ashford North for their kind support in welcoming us to the Hotel for this day.
Having prayed for the leaders and everyone, that we would encounter God, I found it to be a very powerful day. God spoke to me through the testimonies, talks and the afternoon session. Thankyou to the creative and prophetic approach to the day enabling such a meaningful response
I thought the whole event was very well organised with excellent speakers. Thoroughly enjoyed the day and went home refreshed!
This has been such a good day I feel exhausted from being so refreshed and could happily have a long sleep! I feel I have had a complete spiritual makeover
A wonderful very emotional day for me, there was a real sense of God's Presence. Deep and refreshing. Loved the worship
What I have taken away from Refresh ! is the need to have 5 minute 'heaven holidays' and to spend more time again in the Presence of the Lord again. I was able to do that today for the first time in 6 years
One of the Team prayed for me as I waited at the foot of the cross , it was amazing . I am usually the one who cares and prays for other people but at Refresh I felt deeply healed after such a long time
I am booking again for next year! The Oasis that deeply affected me was the soaking quiet area, having someone pray for me there was wonderful and put me together again
This wasn't my normal comfort zone but it's been a very good day. Thank-you
It was wonderful to take time out and be in His Presence so completely. Thank you for the encouraging and challenging ministry to me today
Overall it was a great day, with fabulous speaker and I would like to thank everyone who put the day together
with Sola Ifekoya
“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”
It was very good to welcome Sola Ifekoya again as speaker at our Breakfast in October 2018.
Before Sola even received our invitation, the Lord had already been giving her a message for us, and I (Sara – ACW Lead) believe it is an important one for us to hear in these days.
During a holiday in Europe a few months earlier, Sola had the opportunity to experience seeing mountains for the first time in her life, and she was “in complete awe of God’s creation”. She was reminded of the verse in Psalm 125 of how the Lord surrounds Jerusalem with mountains of protection, and in the same way He surrounds His people with His protection – she said “when He defends us, it is by an insurmountable defence.”
Sola spoke about the ‘mountain top’ experiences in our lives – and summarised the purposes of God for us in those experiences:
To instruct us
To reveal something to us
To protect us – particularly in our minds
To prepare us for times of difficulty and challenge in the future
As Moses came down from the mountain having met with God, his face was radiant – he came down from his experience with something to give to others, and he was required to be accountable to God for what he had received on the mountain top.
Sola encouraged us to take time out to spend with God – what does He want to say to you at this time? She also told us that it was important to remember what God has already shown us in the past – What specific encouragements? What experiences? What revelations? We are special to God and these encouragements do not come to us by chance but by God’s plan. No time of encounter with God is wasted, and as we come out of these encounters with radiance and revelation from God, we are blessed ourselves but we also are a blessing to others.
Sola shared that she believed God was saying that in the coming weeks, months & years there will be challenges for us to face and we will need the assurance of God’s protection – especially the protection of our minds from doubts, from deception and even from falling away from our faith in God.
We may come across other believers who have got to the “end of the road” in their faith and who will need us to share with them our own story and our experiences so that they will be encouraged to persevere.
We will need to remember the things we have received in the past – maybe they have been left “gathering dust” for a while. We will need to revisit them and reflect on them before God, so that we have all that we need for the battles ahead.
As David used the stones that he already had in his bag to defeat Goliath, we will need to keep our stones, our “golden nuggets” from God, in our bags so that we are ready at all times. We will need to be accountable for what we have received from God, as Moses was.
What manner of Christian women will we need to be in the times ahead?
Be spiritually aware and more sensitive to what is going on wherever we are – listen for the specific instructions of God in our daily lives
We will need the instruction of the Holy Spirit who Jesus promised to send “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” John 14:26
We will need to remember what God has already shown us
Whatever it takes, cultivate your relationship with the Holy Spirit, with your relationship with God
Don’t give up, don’t turn away
Be confident of God’s divine protection
Sola ended with this exhortation to us:
“In the coming days, let us stand in the place of complete trust and faith in God”
“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore”
Further verses quoted by Sola include:
John 14:15-17, 26
2 Timothy 1:14
2 Thessalonians 2:15-17
1 Timothy 1:18
Colossians 2:2 – 3:4
Really inspiring speaker - just what I needed to hear - thank you
Thank you so much for organising these wonderful events - very much appreciated to listen to other people's Christian testimonies as well as sharing our own Christian experiences
Yet another excellent morning! Thank you so much!
Another fantastic meeting - thank you. It is so lovely to have time to spend with other ladies and God. Look forward to the next one!
The quality of the speakers is always excellent and so inspiring & encouraging
Wonderful to share in these events!
with Susie Flashman Jarvis
“This room is full of stories”
The Elwick Club meeting room was packed as we listened expectantly to Susie Flashman Jarvis sharing her story with us.
Susie began by asking questions:
Do you have a dream?
Do you live as though you have the same value as others? Many women do not believe they have worth and this belief is based on comparison with others.
Do you let things spoken over you or things done to you limit your life? Limited expectations mean limited dreams and therefore limited results of our expectations and dreams.
Our perceived failures are sometimes about beauty. If we can share our ‘scars’ with others we can relate to each other.
Then Susie began to tell us her own story of low self-worth, failures and scars, which became a story of being a successful model, but with increasing promiscuity and drug addiction, until she asked the Lord for help. He immediately began to heal her and to turn her life around.
Some healing was instant, some took time – all came from the Lord – as Susie began to confess her sins, to trust the Lord for forgiveness and for His help in her life.
Susie’s life changed from one of promiscuity and addiction, to one of faithfulness and freedom. She has now been married for 31 years, has 4 children and a grandson.
She has been a member of her local Baptist church for over 30 years. She is no longer a girl of shame but now leads worship. She was once kept captive in drug addiction, but now runs a Christian Recovery Group.
Susie is also an Accredited Counsellor and an Executive Coach - see her website
Susie Flashman Jarvis
Susie has learned that the grace of God and the forgiveness of God is free.
“There is nothing you can do to earn the lavish grace He wants to pour on you. It does not matter how broken or bad you have been. He wants to give you a new identity, a new seal. God loves to spend time with you. He really loves you. If we knew that – we would live life differently.”
“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” Jonah 2:8
When someone told Susie that they had found photos of her on a pornographic website she was covered in shame.
Then she decided that “you can lie under the shame or you can do something about it”. So she offered it all up to God, the good and the bad, as a living sacrifice, and she wrote her own story in a book “Potholes and Belly-flops”.
Susie wanted people to know that God can take you from the worst place to the best place.
We all have a story of hope to share. Authenticity – being real – is important.
Susie finished by challenging us to listen to God and to be obedient to what He asks you to do.
“Give God your imagination and He will speak”.
“Whatever God has called you to do and to be, do it for His glory”.
It was truly inspirational to listen to Susie as she shared so much of her life story with us.
I would definitely recommend her book "Potholes and Belly-Flops".
Susie has written another book "At Therapy's End" about finding healing following an abusive childhood.
Details about these books can be found:
Thank you, Susie, for your honesty, openness, telling your amazing story. It really touched me how at each stage the Lord has rescued you from so much, and is now using you to help, inspire others
Excellent time. Thank you
Very inspiring. Great to meet with many other Christian ladies
Couldn't think of a better start to a Saturday morning meeting other Christians
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Amazing speaker & wonderful morning just like the last one! Can't wait for the next one!
Very welcoming - easy to chat & get to know others. Thank you to the team for organising & hosting the event
Good venue. Excellent food. Speaker amazing. Thank you!
Excellent speaker - everything very good & inspiring
The speaker today is exceptionally good. This event is one of the best I attended and I am always looking forward to attend many more.
Food was really good. Felt really welcomed. Great organisation. The contents of the talk was very encouraging. I was particularly blessed by the verse from Jonah! Thank you to Susie for being so authentic & sharing her life so sincerely
Inspiring. Raw & truthful
Really inspiring morning - thank you all so much
A 40 minute drive this morning was definitely worth it. Lovely atmosphere & lovely welcome. Fantastic, honest speaker who shared beautifully about her life which was a great encouragement to follow God's gentle promptings. Definitely recommend ACW and would like to come again
Excellent morning, very friendly atmosphere
Thank you for a really refreshing & encouraging time
Very inspirational, thank you very much
Absolutely excellent! What a fun and encouraging choice for a speaker
Thank you for organising such a wonderful event. Susie was an amazing speaker, very down to earth and a wonderful advocate for our Lord. Thank you
Received a warm welcome, met lovely people, was brought by a Christian friend & the speaker was so powerful & extremely thought provoking
Really inspirational speaker who is able to connect with everyone
"one step at a time"
After a week of freezing temperatures and lots of snow, the sun shone on us as we met for Breakfast at the Elwick Club in Ashford at the first ACW Event of 2018. It was lovely to welcome several “first-timers” to an ACW gathering, as we settled down to enjoy one another’s company over a cooked breakfast.
Our speaker for the event was Sara Horn, ACW Team Leader, and she spoke in two sessions, leaving plenty of time for discussion around the tables in between.
Sara introduced herself with a short testimony – having attended church occasionally as a child & teenager, she encountered Jesus in a personal way at Nottingham University, where she made the decision to follow Him. Having said “Yes” to Jesus, she completed her medical training, married Nick, a fellow doctor, and then stopped her medical work when they had their first child.
In 1995 they moved to Ashford, where Sara began part-time GP training and then worked for several years at Pilgrims Hospice as a Hospice Doctor. For many years she attended Willesborough Baptist Church with her family.
Sara admits that she has tended to tackle life with too much energy, in her own strength, and eventually sensed that God was telling her that He was going to “slow her down”. In 2006 she had to stop work, having a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME), and was given Ill Health Retirement the following year.
There followed a difficult few years of life seemingly being “stripped away” – losing physical & mental health, letting go of career, and later leaving the church family that had been such a major part of her life for many years. It was very much like the Matt Redman song: “When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come…”
This was a period of questioning faith and purpose, more questions than answers, and sometimes the only prayer that could be prayed was “Don’t let me go, Lord!”
A significant Bible verse for her at that time was Psalm 27:8:
“My heart has heard you say ‘Come and talk with me’,
And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming’”
She realised that she needed to get to know Jesus better personally – her relationship with Him being the most important thing.
Lesson 1 – Sometimes God needs to strip things away before He can rebuild us and reshape us and change us; sometimes we need to remember the foundations – the most important thing – JESUS
Sara’s overall health gradually improved over time, but another health issue meant that she needed to include more exercise in her life. Never having been particularly “sporty” and having found that attending the gym had a negative effect on her ME symptoms, she initially faltered in her attempts to begin the NHS “Couch to 5K” running programme, but she persevered, with no expectation of ever completing the course, but simply celebrating each small success along the way – “one step at a time”!
Lesson 2 – don’t aim too high, but celebrate each success, however small, along the way – then you won’t get discouraged and give up
Lesson 3 – persevere in the small things that you are given to do, and don’t worry about things that you have no control over – leave those with God
Gradually, Sara managed to slowly increase her running distances until, nearly a year later, she succeeded in running 5K for the first time! In the past year, she has even managed to run 10K on two occasions, totally exceeding any of her own expectations.
Lesson 4 – God knows better than we do what we are capable of – just trust Him day by day, one step at a time
Sara spoke next about the vision for ACW and how it came about. She highlighted the strapline “Connecting – Encouraging – Inspiring” as the three major aims of the group.
Connecting – we were reminded that we were created for relationship, with God and with each other. We need each other as individuals, and as local church fellowships we need each other too. It is important for us all to remember that we are part of something bigger – we are “the Church Together in Ashford” and God has a plan for His Church. How we respond to His call has implications for the present but also for future generations, locally, nationally and even for the world.
What does God see when He looks at the church in Ashford? What is His heart’s desire for us?
As different church fellowships, our style of worship may be different, but we all worship the same Lord, and Jesus is the most important person in each of our lives. This brings unity.
Encouraging – we all have a story to tell and we were encouraged, over breakfast, to share something of what God has been saying to us, so that we could encourage one another.
Inspiring – Sara returned to God’s Big Picture – the Bible story from beginning to end is made up of many steps and individual stories, but it is important to read it all. Remembering the Big Picture helps us to keep the challenges of daily life in perspective.
Our nation has a long Christian heritage over many centuries, including many martyrs who suffered in the cause of bringing us freedom to worship and to read the Bible. Our laws and government are based on Christian principles. What difference can we as individuals make? We can take one step at a time – we can share with friends and neighbours, we can pray, vote, sign petitions, write to MPs – as we take opportunities step by step we influence those around us. And we trust God to weave it all together in His Big Plan.
Lesson 5 - It is God who is in charge of weaving the Big Picture. Remember that we are part of that Big Picture, part of the Church in Ashford and take it one step at a time
Finally, this verse encapsulates the vision for ACW:
“I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love.
I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.
In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”
For a recording of Sara's talk go to :
My first time, but will try to come again.
I'm so pleased I came!
Very much enjoyed this event - will be back!
Great having moved to Ashford last summer - to get to meet fellow Christians in this area. So important to share/encourage each other
A very enjoyable, relaxing morning and uplifting to listen to other peoples' stories & testimonies
Wonderful morning. Thank you so much!
Really good morning. Thank you for arranging it.
The ACW's Breakfast events have become better and better. I would like to carry on attending for as long as I can make it
So real, so Jesus-centred and such a privilege to be here
One step at a time - very apt. Thanks :)
So looked forward to today. Wasn't disappointed - Thank you for a really enjoyable morning with you all
Thank you - what a wonderful event! I'll look forward to the next one!
Really enjoyed the morning, everyone very welcoming. God is good. All the time.
Thank you so much for this vision & for the welcome I received today.
Very encouraging & lovely morning. ACW - Be encouraged!
We gathered at the Elwick Club in Ashford for our Autumn Evening Event. The evening began with a welcome glass of wine or fruit juice and a delicious selection of freshly-made canapes.
We came together to celebrate the gift of creativity in its broadest sense, and our Guest Speaker, Menekse Stewart, inspired us to consider more fully how creativity can be a means of drawing people to Jesus.
Menekse is a creative thinker and entrepreneur, and is the Founder and Creative Director of the Christian marketplace, “Cheerfully Given”. In her delightfully natural and honest way, she began by sharing from her own life-journey so far (she is still only 27!), including the challenges of teenage years, the hard knocks of theological college, and how she finally came to realise how much the Lord Jesus loves and values women – as He clearly demonstrated in choosing to show Himself as risen Lord firstly to Mary.
Through the witness of her husband, Andrew, and the teaching of her spiritual mentor, Paul Blackham (Vicar of St Crispin’s Church, Highbury Fields and author of the “Book by Book” series), she grew to understand that meeting Christ makes you want to follow Him and to be generous with all that you have, and she has certainly put her faith into action in many ways.
Menekse married Andrew in 2011 and they moved to Nottingham where Andrew is now a curate in an Anglican Church. Menekse worked initially for a Christian publishing company where she trained as an accountant, which gave her valuable business skills, but also the realisation that accountancy was not for her! In January 2015, whilst working as a project manager, she woke in the night with the idea for “Cheerfully Given”, which she describes as “Notonthehighstreet.com” for Christian designers and makers. She had wanted to find ways to provide quality Christian art to as many people as possible, whilst supporting Christian artists and designers, and in June 2016 “Cheerfully Given” was launched with 36 Christian designers and makers on board.
A great deal of research and preparation went into the setting up of the new business. Menekse described regularly asking God “am I nuts?” and telling Him she could not do it when obstacles came her way, at which He would encourage her “that is not a problem, keep going!”.
The new business rapidly outgrew its first website which could not cope with the increasing demand. The next step would be a new, better and very expensive website which initially seemed financially impossible. But through the Lord’s amazing provision of skilled people and “kickstarter” crowd-funding, the new website went live in July 2017. There are now at least 100 designers on the site.
The vision for “Cheerfully Given” is to be a marketplace for designware products that reflect the life of Jesus. This vision grew out of understanding how important creation and creativity is in preaching the gospel of Jesus.
Psalm 19: 1-4
“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world”
The creative arts have been at the centre of worship since the Tabernacle was constructed, when God called Bezalel who was a master craftsman and filled with the Spirit of God (Exodus 31:1-5). Since the Reformation and the removal of all that was considered idolatrous from churches, creativity is not commonly focused on in our churches today, and we need to recognise anew that it is possible to share the message of Jesus through the visual arts without resorting to idolatry.
1 Peter 4:10 “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another”.
As part of the body of Christ we each have gifts that we can use to serve those around us and further the kingdom of God. We are called to encourage each other in our gifts, and to feel confident in our own calling, not feeling that what we do is less important than what others do.
It’s all for Jesus.
Romans 11:36 “For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever!”. See also Colossians 1:15-17, Habbukuk 2:14
Creation’s intended purpose is to point to Jesus. Such is the potential for creative expression!
Menekse encouraged us, as churches and as individuals, to value creative people more highly and to be prepared to pay them adequately for both their service and their products, recognising the large amount of time and commitment that has been spent in developing the necessary practical skills, as well as the time needed to produce the artworks and other products themselves.
The “Cheerfully Given” marketplace can be found at:
Excellent evening of Creative worship
Meneske was an excellent speaker - very encouraged - thank you
Really great evening. Really great speaker. A totally enjoyable evening. Thank you
Refreshing to step out & hear such inspiration
Thank you for a super evening. New thoughts about creativity!! Also the value & support to the creator...
Lots to think about
What a great evening - a wonderful inspirational speaker. Thank you once again for a wonderful evening at the end of a very busy week!!
Very interesting lady
What an amazing, Godly young lady - such an inspiration
Just brilliant! Thank you for booking such an interesting and inspiring speaker
Our first half-day event was held at the Elwick Club in Ashford, and what a wonderful morning!
Two great speakers, and plenty of time to connect with friends, old and new.
Sola Ifekoya, illustrated her inspiring talk with personal examples of God’s faithful presence and guidance in her life-journey so far, including the circumstances of her move from Nigeria to the UK. She described how she has learned to trust God’s voice through the peace that He gives her, even in the difficult times, and she “guards that peace jealously”. Confusion is a sign to stop and check.
We can learn much from our past, but Sola’s main focus was to encourage us to look at our “now” and “forever”. She reminded us of the promises of God in Hebrews 13:8 and 13:5, that He is always the same and has promised to never leave us.
She taught us that we should be women of purpose, women of obedience and battle-ready women:
Women of purpose - like the wise virgins in the parable (Matthew 25:1-13) we need to understand our purpose and be prepared for what we have been called to do. God wants us to make the most of all that He has given us.
Women of obedience – God gives us direction and we need to listen. Like a satnav on a motorway journey the directions do not come very often, we just need to continue on that route. When we are approaching the junction where we need to turn off, the satnav directions come more frequently, and they come very frequently indeed on minor roads. It is the same with God – we need to listen carefully or we might miss His direction in our lives; we need to travel light and not be distracted.
As we slow down, we have opportunity to sow seeds in our encounters from the fruit of the Spirit in us. We must guard and use our talents through obedience.
Women who are battle-ready – we should not be ignorant of the devices of the enemy. Life is not always smooth sailing. There will be scars, hurts and losses. Remember God is our friend, learn to recover and forgive quickly, travel light and leave the baggage behind.
See also: Proverbs 3:5,6; Philippians 4:8; Ephesians 1:18,19; Hebrews 12:1
Annet Lukkien, led an excellent practical session, following on and complementing what we had heard earlier. She also described aspects of her life-journey, how God has led her and her husband to live, work & serve in different countries with different roles, up to her present job working with the challenges of disability in people’s lives.
Annet reminded us that we are made in God’s image, that we are here to bear fruit and live bountifully. She encouraged us to remember that the people mentioned in Hebrews 11 were described as people of faith despite sometimes getting things wrong. God created us; He knows all about us from before we were born. Do we believe that God has plans for us? She took examples from her own life to illustrate how our life experiences help to shape us into the people that we are.
During our practical session we were encouraged to spend time thinking about our own life experiences and influences, and how this helps us to understand who we are.
Annet brought our morning to a close with an ancient blessing:
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received,
and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom
to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.
Attributed to St Teresa of Avila
For a recording of Sola's talk go to :
Thank you for an oasis in an otherwise chaotic week. I love the way God blended 2 very different women together. Keep going. God is in this. Thank you.
Friendly environment and atmosphere.
Feeling totally blessed after the meeting. Really looking forward to the next meeting. Many thanks.
I met a new friend in Christ. I look forward to our friendship blossoming.
Thank you for a most enlightening & happy morning. Looking forward to the next meeting very much.
Excellent morning spent in the presence of the Lord and meeting women of Christ.
Very much enjoyed meeting other Christian women, making friends and sharing experiences.
Thank you for putting on this event. What a blessing.
It was a great morning, thank you!
This was our first event. We were delighted to welcome 52 women from across the Ashford area to Singleton Environment Centre for breakfast, followed by an inspiring and practical talk by Nic Kimmance, from Ashford Vineyard, on the theme of "Knowing Jesus".
In our subsequent discussions we were encouraged to think about the needs and challenges that we see around us - and in particular how we can use, in a small way, the gifts that we have been given to make a difference to those needs and challenges.
It was great to spend this time together with friends, and to make new connections too.
"It has truly been a refreshing and challenging morning"
"Great to get together with old friends and new faces and to feel so inspired!"
" I totally loved it and can't wait for the next ACW event"
"Lovely to get together with other women who love Jesus. So encouraging yet challenging"
"It was great to be able to build links with other churches in Ashford"
"More events please!"
"Challenging speaker. Lovely to meet and network with women from all Ashford churches"
"Life changing stuff. Absolutely brilliant!"