meeting where you’re at

busy boot fair_edited-1The last two Sunday mornings have been a real highlight and a blessing to me personally as a small team of amazing people have continued to run the stall at the boot fair. Over the two weeks we have done around 70 Ruach cards readings, Jesus Deck readings and prayed for healing or life situations with people who have just popped down to the boot fair to buy some stuff. They came looking for things to buy and left with some amazing encounter for free.

As well as card readings, the team connected through prayer beads and hair braiding … and it has been a real joy for me to see team members have ideas that when we put into action simply connect with people. It is key that that stall continues to try new things so that we do not become stale in our approach.

I guess I should not be surprised … but I have been truly amazed at how open people have been with us this year … and how God seems to use a pack of cards to really engage with people in incredibly significant ways. Over these last two weeks people have been amazed as they have connected in some way with the Divine Creator God. They have left in tears of joy, or been inspired to some action or simply pleased to be able to grasp that God approves of who they are and loves them.

There are so many stories to tell of how Ruach has really blessed both the people having a ready and members of the team as they have been involved. The stories ahve been raw, bare, amazing and wonderful. I could write for hours, but you would not be happy to read so much … but one thing in particular inspired and amazed me yesterday. I read and prayed with loads of men.

In the past at such events most people to respond have been women. I am not sure why this is … but yesterday I gave card readings and prayed with loads of men … and to me it seemed a pretty significant and vulnerable time for those concerned. I am now starting a process of thinking through why men in particular were responding yesterday … did we do something in out set up which helped, or was this just a case of God bringing us people to spend time with? I’m mulling that one over.

Yesterday I was struck by the story of a young man who was searching since the unexpected death of a parent. He was looking for some way of connecting with God and each of the cards he drew spoke to him powerfully.
I also remember a young woman who had a reading about new beginnings and a new chapter with a ‘promise’ that God would support and guide her … she then shared that she had just emigrated from South Africa for a new job.
Yesterday an older woman  shared with me that she was looking for calm …. and then she chose the peace card from Ruach which says …. “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind & heart and the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14 : 27)  After seeing the card she tearfully said ‘that is amazing …. that’s just what I said … it’s just what I was asking for!’

There are many stories like these which are incredibly exciting and humbling to be a part of. Sadly the boot fair stops for a while after next week to restart in September …. Sunday mornings are going to feel strange for a while …. I will miss meeting these people where they are at, I will miss working with such an amazingly talented and open team … i wish to send a big heartfelt thank you to all the team who have taken part … without you this would not have worked.

I guess a good use of the time off could be to think more about our name …. we cant stay the stall with no name …. even tho every other stall is!

an amazing experience

hannah bootThe Boot fair happened again on Sunday.
The amazing team managed to drag themselves out of bed at 5.xx am and made their way to Greenfields field for 6am.
It was already warm at 6am, we knew the day was going to be hot, and last weeks boot fair was cancelled due to the weather. So … we expected to be busy.

The day started quite slow, as it normally did, before picking up quite majorly. We were ‘hit’ quite early on by an older guy who sat in a chair and asked ‘who is God?’ There is nothing like a bit of a theological discussion before 7am in the morning!

From that point on the team were pretty much immersed in discussion or prayer bead making. The Ruach cards were again the overwhelming hit …. we did over 20 card readings and, again, at points during the morning we had people forming a queue.

People seemed very amazed when the cards linked with aspects of their lives. ‘That’s weirdly accurate’ or ‘that’s so me’ were the type of comments I heard from people throughout the morning. It seems that God … the Creator … really does use these cards to speak powerfully to people so that they leave feeling blessed and in some way touched by The Divine.

Without breaking confidences … some of the stories we heard …
one person’s reading was all apart caring and a new start and to have courage – this person shared after the reading that they were a carer, had just been promoted and was unsure whether she could do the job
another person’s reading centred around remembrance and thanksgiving – this person then shared they were learning to cope with bereavement
another person returned from last week and has three times received the same card … which talks of love and acceptance which is what I believe this person needs to accept for themselves

This three snapshots are just a little indication of the wonder and awe that people seem to go away with after having a reading.

For me, a particular highlight is always seeing the team grow in confidence. I want to put a bit of a spotlight on an amazing young person of 15 who has joined the team – you can see her in the picture using the Ruach cards. It was amazing to see her engaging powerfully with people in conversation while making prayer beads as well as through Ruach. Even more exciting are her plans for development … so soon … very soon … I think we will be offering prayer braids as a different way to engage with people.

I’m struck, from just the 2 weeks of this new season how people seem ‘hungry’ to connect with something outside of them. We do not push any of this … in fact a lot of the time we are sat down chatting and only respond to people who show interest. We are the only stall that is not selling anything for money and we extend that philosophy to not pushing in any way what we do upon people. So … we will not stand in the aisle and coerce people to the gazebo … we sit and we wait.

As we wait it seems people come … and God speaks ….and people connect … and that’s better than making any amount of money on earth. It’s amazing to experience.

I just want to say thanks team again for working so well … this is such an amazing opportunity. The privilege of seeing people connect with their creator, and the joy of working with such a great team makes this all such a great thing to be involved in.

The next boot fair we will hopefully be covering will be on June 1st … I say hopefully as I don’t have a full team yet … so if you fancy coming and having a try … please give me a shout!

the stall with no name yet returns ….

boot fair signToday we start the stall that was perviously called ‘dekhomai’ at the Gillingham Boot Fair.

The team has grown a little. As with last year we are offering prayer for healing, Psalm Readings, Jesus Deck readings, blessings and Ruach Insight readings. I addition to this we are simply a group of people that believe in God, and come from a Christian tradition, who wish to welcome and be good news for people that we meet.

As well as being excited, I think we are all a little nervous. We have taken on a big commitment to have a presence here for around 12 weeks. That is 12 weeks of getting up at 5am on a Sunday morning to set the stall up at 6am when the boot fair opens. We then work until 12 before going home.

This years stuff:
Jesus Deck readings … you can see these here. We ask people to choose a card, look at the story from one of the gospels together and see if that resonates with the person in any way. We then offer to pray for them.

Ruach insight readings … Liz and myself hd training in this only last week … but we think this will work well in the boot fair setting. We shall see and stepping out means trying new things to see how they work. We will be looking at cards, asking if anything resonates or clicks with the person. At the end we will offer to pray with them.

Psalm readings … we have short quotes from psalms printed and laminated on different coloured card the size of a credit card. Each of these is placed upside down on a table and weighed down by a different stone or piece of pottery. We ask people to choose a card or stone they like the look of …. and then we read the psalm together, and ask if anything strikes or resonates with them. Then we offer to pray for them.

Prayer Beads … a card explaining this can be seen here. Guess what …. when the person has made the prayer cord we ask them if they would like us to pray for them.

Blessings … we are using John O’Donahue’s book of blessings. I have bookmarked some blessings such as ‘for a mum to be’ or ‘a new job’ or ‘for courage’. We ask the person to chose a blessing they would like from the book and then we pray that for them, offering to anoint them with oil as well. That already includes prayer.

I think prayer for healing is quite self explanatory … and we will be offering to pray!

You may have picked up the pattern that we offer to pray … we are also the only stall there that is not there to make money … everything we offer is free. That’s quite an important concept to us, as anything we give os from God … and God doesn’t charge for that so how can we!

So … please … if you do pray … this morning please pray for this team venturing out to serve people. Better still, if you are nearby … please come say hello, see what we are doing, have a reading , buy us tea and bacon …. or whatever.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what God does today …

Ruach cards

wp0_wpa1aa95e3I had a great day yesterday at a Ruach Cards training  day with with one of my good friends, Andrea, from Sacred Space in Kingston.

The day was fun, informative, challenging, and engaging as we practiced giving and receiving ‘ruach  insight readings’.. and most of all, for me personally, very much needed as I am ever searching for new ways to engage effectively with people outside the church. The opportunity, as well, to spend a day with like minded people who work on the edge and outside of church is always refreshing and I hadn’t realised how much I have missed this.

The cards are beautiful and, I think, give more options to engage with people than the Jesus Deck does. The boot fair ministry stuff all kicks off next week … and I think having Ruach and Jesus Deck available will just help us to engage with more people. They seem to offer a greater spectrum of possible engagement.

I have just returned from a kind of training session with the team for this years boot fairs.wp1b645935 As well as looking at the stuff we used last year and explaining how we work to the new team members we all had a brief look at the Ruach cards before 4 of us then retired to a local cafe to practice Ruach readings. This turned out to be an amazing time and I felt we all experienced a special moment when the youngest member of the team, a teenager, practiced with the cards and it became rapidly cler to all of us that this young person has a particular gift in this area. Why is it that those special God moments always take me by surprise?

So …. next week …. if you near the boot fair in Gillingham next week pay us a visit …. or of you want to get involved on the team … it’s still not too late … get in touch!

excited … daunted …

It’s been an incredibly busy and interesting weekend. We celebrated the 25 years of marriage of my brother in law Andrew and fave sis in law Sarah. That was a great party and a wonderful time of reflection over the past few decades. It was exciting to look back and see how we’ve changed … but then it was daunting as well as we realised how quickly 25 years has passed!

That rolled into Sunday which was a day of endings and beginnings.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREWe held our stall at the last boot fair of the season. To be honest I was a little disappointed as it was very quiet. A combination of fewer people and a pitch which was a bit out on a limb meant that we chatted amongst ourselves for a lot of time. We did have some conversations, and we did pray with some people after Psalm or Jesus Deck readings. It was a good time of team story sharing and I was able to watch and see how members of the team had grown massively in confidence. The pilot has definitely shown that this is a worthy ministry and we will be looking at recruiting a bigger team for next year …. so watch this space … or why not just get in touch if these stories have grabbed you! I’m excited by what can develop next year while I acknowledge bigger and better needs more planning, resources and people.

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image from here

On Sunday afternoon the gathering got together for a BBQ and Eucharist as our first get together since our aspirations day at West Malling. There was a great atmosphere as we caught up, we missed those that could not be there, and we shared bread and wine together as we contemplated the task of writing our rhythm of life that now lies ahead of us. Others have found out about us and 5 new people wanted to come yesterday but could not make the date, but hope to be with us in October.

I’m excited by where we are as the gathering. I am also scared and daunted because, I guess, it is actually starting to work. People are taking the reigns and that means I have to let go of stuff that I have held dearly for so long. Leadership in the gathering is collaborative and inclusive and i think now, possibly for the first time, we as a community are collaboratively leading this thing. None of us know where it is going and none of us can influence that direction. It really feels like we are at the mercy of this great wave or wind called God …. which is both exciting …. and daunting all at the same time.

So … two words that pretty much sum up the weekend …. feelings of excitement and being daunted!

just a field and a few shattered people

shatteredI have been wondering what I love so much about the boot fair and the ministry that we are developing there week by week. Is it the way we engage with people? Is it the excitement and anticipation of who we will talk with and what God will do? Is it something about the way I can see the team developing and growing in confidence as they allow God to work through them? Is it because we actually have to depend on God and ask God to intervene as it is difficult to plan for who will come and what they will come with?

Well I think it is possibly part of all of those and maybe more. But a friend summed it up in a short inspired sentence: ‘I like the fact that God is there with absolutely no religion to ‘help him out’..if you get me – just a field, and a few shattered people.

That says it all. The team are shattered after 6 hours of being ‘on duty’, but i think some of us arrive shattered after waking up at 5am! But …. the real exciting thing here is that God is simply there and waiting to meet with people. Ok we are using ‘tools’ to help us, but there is no dressing up or a drawing message. The one thing that unites all of the people we have engaged with is that God has been drawing them, speaking to them, connecting with them is some way that they have not really recognised or been aware of until they have stumbled upon us in an open field.

Yesterday we were busy …. we engaged with 4 people before 645am which felt manic as I think the week before it took nearly 2 hours before we spoke to anyone. I lost count yesterday of how many people we prayed with or listened to or answered questions from.

One particular story from yesterday was a man in his mid 20’s who chose a Psalm Reading (explained in last weeks report). He said he was looking for guidance and randomly chose Psalm 27:1:
The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?
With a smile on his face mixed with a little confusion he remarked ‘this is for me; this is what I have been looking for!’
One of the team then prayed with that young man. 

Stories like that amaze me.
How can God use a scrappy bit of a card in the middle of a hot field with some shattered but willing people?
I don’t know … and I know that I feel inadequate at the start of each Sunday morning, but God seems to take that inadequacy in all of the team and transform it into something that he can use.

So …. just a field and a few shattered people …. why not come see what we do at the boot fair in two weeks … we are net there on Sunday 28th July from 6am until 12 noon.