Grappling with the Gift of being Family
Our first Breakfast Event at Holiday Inn, Ashford North welcomed over 60 attenders. Following breakfast, Ruthie Gilbert introduced representatives from 3 generations of her family to lead our focus on the theme of being Family.
"I am connected to a family"
Ruthie emphasised how important it is for us to be reminded that we are connected together as part of the family of God. Family is a remarkable thing & it is important that we each know that we are daughters of the King & that we are loved
Ruthie's granddaughter, Feifei, shared a picture about Jesus' love - "it is like an onion" - we can keep peeling back the abundant layers of His love, but the layers never stop. We never come to the end of His love for us
In the book of Titus, the writer tells older women to "train" younger women, and in a family there is always more we can learn from one another, whether young or old. We may not have children & grandchildren in our human families, but we can have many spiritual children & grandchildren. What does it mean to be connected in that way?
Ruthie & her granddaughter, Feifei
Prilla shared from her experience of being dearly loved as an adopted daughter but also spoke of struggles with the pain of past rejection & feelings of worthlessness. She has learned that she has a choice of what to pass on to the next generation - the bad feelings of abandonment & hurt, or the greater blessings. "You can break a curse, but you cannot break a blessing - you can reject it but you can't break it"
Prilla encouraged us to meet together as women to pray, support & teach one another. She has learned to choose to pass on the good things that have been passed down to her - the unconditional love & acceptance of her heavenly Father
Prilla & her daughter Hadassah
As an adopted daughter, Prilla does not look like her adoptive parents, but she rejoices in having been made in the image of her heavenly Father. And we are all adopted by our heavenly Father!
Ephesians 1:5 "God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure"
Ruthie suggested that as members of God's family, we are "Sisters Through Love" & "Mothers Through Love" to one another. She explained how we can bless one another across the generations:
M - Mentor, not "Mummy" - tell the story, share testimony (Psalm 78:3,4). It is important to pass on memories to the next generation
T - Trust, not Trample - we are in a relationship of trust, don't trample one another's thoughts & opinions
L - Listen, not Lecture
We were blessed in a special time of contemplative worship led by Nathan & Maisie, and also we had opportunity to share our thoughts & prayers with our sisters around our tables
Finally, Shiyani encouraged us from Joshua 1: 6-8 to "be strong and courageous", to rise up and be bold, and share our stories of encouragement with one another
Psalm 96:3 "Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does"
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ACW 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 event.
It's good to have fellowship with other women. It's very encouraging
Really good message. Relationship with the Father! Love it.
Wonderful blessing!!! Can't wait for the next one!
The best ever. Let's have more!
Thank you so much for a wonderful morning - inspiring!
This was such an amazing time of fellowship and learning for me. Thank you so much for this blessing you have been to us all
Fantastic morning, so good to hear real moving stories and to be able to share with and meet new friends. Thank you for all the hard work behind it all
Inspiring and moving. Messages to grasp and act on
The atmosphere was very friendly. I noticed as it was the first event I have come to with ACW
It was a safe powerful moment in time that will cause blessings to flow. Thank you for the openness & vulnerability of all. Well timed and beautiful worship
I thank the Lord that he brought me there today
with Svenja Powell
For our first ACW Breakfast in 2019 we were delighted to welcome Svenja Powell as our Guest Speaker.
Following a career as a Social Worker in the Canterbury area, Svenja came to early retirement with expectancy and hope that God had something new in store for her. She found God to be full of surprises with plenty of challenges and even more blessings along the way!
Svenja and her husband, Chris, retired at the same time and felt that God was leading them to join with International Justice Mission in their work rescuing and protecting vulnerable people from the slave trade. But when their application was inexplicably lost, Svenja wondered whether she had heard God correctly.
An unexpected email came from Christians Together in Canterbury highlighting the need for someone to transport donations to refugees in Calais. Svenja and Chris felt they could respond to this need and so began regular journeys across the Channel, sometimes staying a few days volunteering in practical ways. Seeing the living conditions of the refugees had a huge impact on them.
When news reports from the war in Syria came to be shown on TV, Svenja was again impacted by the needs of the people but felt powerless to help.
Then she heard about the Refugee Community Sponsorship Programme created by the British Government in conjunction with the Home Office and the UN High Commission for Refugees, which enables community groups to sponsor a family from one of the refugee camps in the neighbouring areas close to Syria.
This seemed just a "good idea" at first, but "what can I do?" However, after further prayer Svenja felt that God was calling her to "go deeper" and to respond to this idea. And so, a group called "Canterbury Welcomes Refugees" was born.
The story of The Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37 highlights the call to "love our neighbour". Svenja reminded us that the men in the story who came across the wounded man were not searching for him but were on their way about their own business. The Samaritan also had his own plans for the day but he saw the need of the man, stopped and used what he had with him to help him. After settling him in the care of the inn keeper, the Samaritan carried on with the other tasks that he had to do. Who do we "come across" in our daily life that God might be calling us to love?
Canterbury Welcomes Refugees is now a charity and has applied to the Home Office to sponsor a family themselves. In the meanwhile, they are also supporting other refugee families that have been housed locally by the council. The support they provide includes helping with English language practice, showing them how to shop in local shops, where safe playground areas for their children - anything that can be called "being a good neighbour".
Ashford Borough Council has been pro-active in settling refugee families in the local area. There is a great need for community volunteering in the Ashford area.
Are we open to hearing from God when He is calling us to "go deeper"?
Who do we meet on our daily travels? What is "in your hands" to use?
Who do you care about?
Do you dare to ask God to speak to you about these people?
Do you dare to follow His lead to new adventures?
We were inspired by the courage and compassion of Svenja as she shared her story.
ACW hopes to keep you updated with news from Canterbury Welcomes Refugees, and also to highlight local opportunities to be a good neighbour to refugee families who need practical support.
For further information email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find a short film about UK sponsorship of refugee families here:
Excellent speaker that has inspired people to realise that from small beginnings, when obedient to God, great things can happen
I really enjoyed and appreciated Svenja's talk. It was good to hear feedback from the group, that others find the prospect of helping a refugee family daunting, but we don't have to take on the whole task ourselves. We can do little thinks to help. It was a really encouraging talk. Inspiring speaker!
Very nice to get together with Christian ladies in Ashford. Encouraging to hear about support for families
Very interesting talk. Thought provoking. Gateway church runs an English lesson course (ESOL) on Thursday mornings at 10.00 - 11.45am at Riverside Centre, Clockhouse, Ashford TN23 4YN. We used to have 2 Syrian refugees come a while ago but not now
Thank you for all your hard work which always pays off. Well done! I hope to attend to many more of these events
Very interesting speaker
1st visit to breakfast - Good fellowship & opportunity to meet with Christians from other churches. Challenging speaker!
A great way to meet up with like-minded people
Great morning, thank you!
A thought-provoking talk - leading to a determination to co-ordinate local activities & input for Syrian refugees!
A very encouraging and informative morning & delicious breakfast! Thank you
Enjoyed the talk & interaction with others
Very inspiring & helpful talk