My hope for the coming year
Happy New Year to you from all of us at BRF! We pray for God’s blessings for the year ahead for you and all those you love.
Someone recently asked me what my hope is for BRF for the coming year. Quite simply, it’s that we’ll be able to reach and connect with even more people during 2023. That’s not because we want to grow BRF just for the sake of it. Rather, it’s because we want to share even more widely the love of God, which we know changes lives, with its message of hope, encouragement and reassurance. We’ve seen the difference this makes to individuals and families across our ministries, and we want to see many more of those changes.
I think of the numerous letters and emails from readers of our books and daily Bible reading notes, often marvelling at the way that a particular reading, or series, spoke so powerfully to them and their circumstances today, even though it had been written a year previously. To pick out a small selection from the almost daily stream of messages:
My hope is that we’ll be able to reach and connect with even more people during 2023.
‘I am a daily reader of New Daylight and want to express my – daily! – thanks for such inspirational writers and content, which have been even more important and instrumental in survival during the difficulties of the last 16 months. As I have several friends who also take part and I know my thanks are on behalf of many people who have found the notes a source of strength and support during challenging times.’
‘Having had New Daylight readings for quite a few years now, it’s time for me to tell you how much they help me day to day.’
‘As Advent was approaching, I purchased Rachel Boulding’s book Companions on the Bethlehem Road so we could walk the road together on into the new year, when I shall be having or just have had more surgery. We are looking to Easter as my uprising and celebration of freedom from cancer and treatment to all walk the hills and moors again with our constant and invisible companion, Lord Jesus.’
Inspired by Messy Church at home and abroad
I’m inspired by the Messy Church leaders I met at our weekend conference back in May, as they shared stories of how they coped with the challenges of the pandemic and lockdowns and are now even more passionate about continuing with this ministry today. The conference brought together delegates from nine countries overseas, in addition to all those from across the UK.
Among our international friends were a group of 13 from Norway. They represented three different organisations and some of them had not actually met each other before our conference. But they all shared the same desire to see Messy Church become established in their country. Several months on from those discussions at the conference, a number of pilot Messy Churches are now planned to take place in different parts of Norway this spring as the next step.
A number of pilot Messy Churches are planned to take place in Norway this spring.
I also have an abiding memory of seeing Dylan, Cameron and Jonathan, the three teenage Messy Church leaders who were part of our conference organising team, fully immersed in the event, leading workshops and sharing their insights and experience of their own Messy Churches. They certainly made a lasting impression on us all.
Anna Chaplaincy: a growing network
I think of our network of Anna Chaplains – many of them retired, some in their 70s and even 80s themselves – who are ministering among older people in care homes and in their local communities, offering spiritual care, love and friendship to some of the most vulnerable in our society. We were excited to reach the milestone number of 260 Anna Chaplains in December.
Debbie Thrower, Anna Chaplaincy pioneer, spoke for us all when she said: ‘I am thrilled with what we are witnessing. The rate of growth is extraordinary. We’re seeing an exponential rise in the number of Anna Chaplains each year. We would love to have Anna Chaplaincy readily available everywhere – in all towns, cities and rural communities – right across the land. That’s a big vision, but why not? There seems to be no shortage now of people coming forward wanting our training.’
‘The rate of growth is extraordinary. We’re seeing an exponential rise in the number of Anna Chaplains each year.’
— Debbie Thrower
Nurturing faith in children and teens
And I think of the parents, carers, and children and family workers who have been encouraged by the Parenting for Faith team, not just for the role they play in nurturing the faith of their children, but also for their own faith journey. One young mum told us: ‘My son has started praying. At first, he wanted me to pray for him, then we prayed together and now he prays for me!’
And among many other appreciative comments, these two stand out for me:
‘Parenting for Faith has given me so much inspiration and support for helping me to lead my children into a relationship with God and find ways to support them on their journeys. I highly recommend the Parenting for Faith course to anyone who works with children or has children in their life who want to share the love of God with them.’
‘Parenting for Faith has had a real impact on me both as a parent and as a kids ministry leader. I cannot recommend Parenting for Faith more highly and would urge all parents and kids workers to engage with the course and all that Parenting for Faith has to offer. It will change the way you engage with the children in your life in such a positive way!’
Touching lives in so many ways
So many ways in which God is at work through BRF ministries and those involved with them. So many lives touched and blessed as a result. Why wouldn’t we hope to see even more of this in 2023? With your continued prayers, involvement in our work and your generous financial support, I believe we will.