St Saviours link: Rich and Lissie Gerke set up the charity in 2007, having both gone out separately for GAP years and met each other in Iringa. Focus of ministry: Meeting the needs of street children in Tanzania. What & where is FISCH? In response to the needs of children Rich and Lissie met on the street, they felt led set up FISCH with the help local Tanzanian people that they met out there and knew shared the same heart for these children. Iringa is situated in the southern highlands of Tanzania, with a population of about 250,000. FISCH seeks to provide a holistic response to the needs of street children. This means not just physical (food/shelter), but social, educational and spiritual too. They try to support children back to living with relatives, and into education to equip them with the skills to become self-sufficient, to give them a hope for a future, all within the context of sharing and demonstrating the love of Jesus. What is the need and opportunity? In Tanzania, life in the villages is becoming harder and harder. The old pattern of marriage and family is disintegrating. Husbands and wives are leaving home to try and find work in towns. In Tanzania 18% of children (0-18) are either orphans or vulnerable children. In Iringa, this number is higher than other regions at 24% (that’s almost 1 in 4). FISCH try and meet some of these needs by providing a number of different programmes from their main site – Breakfast club, Saturday feeding Project, Sewing training, Counselling, Short-term accommodation, Food parcels, FISCH Church, FISCH Football club and much much more. Some of the difference FISCH makes each week:
Focus of ministry: Bringing healing and discipleship across East and Southern Africa through the power of Christ (Isaiah 61:1-3 and Luke 4:18). What & where has God called you to? Ronel felt called to leave Guildford and St Saviours Church in 2006, moving to South Africa (SA) to work with Ellel Ministries. Ronel is based at the HQ in SA, where she is responsible for the Training and Equipping programmes. In her other role, as the Regional Deputy-Director of Ellel Africa, she regularly travels around East and Southern Africa overseeing Ellel’s work. Much of her time is spent in Rwanda and Kenya supporting local teams with running Healing retreats and training programmes (healing, discipleship and restoration). Ronel is also involved in trying to establish the same kind of work in Zimbabwe and Zambia. What is the need and opportunity? The continent of Africa is hurting, many of its people are broken and in need of God’s love and restoration now, on a daily basis. The Church in so many places is a traumatised church trying to heal a traumatised nation. So, Ellel Ministries is focussed on bringing healing and equipping in discipleship. Many Africans have experienced significant trauma (through war, rape, ethnic conflict, family breakdown, rejection, abuse…), often resulting in physical, mental and spiritual problems (hatred, unmet needs, suicide, bitterness, bloodshed, immorality, witchcraft, deception, paralysing fear…). Ellel work to try and restore Kingdom order, as the power of Christ brings healing and in the process allows them to equip believers. At the heart of this discipleship is Luke 9:11: ‘Jesus welcomed the people, taught them about the Kingdom of God and healed the sick’. This is what Ronel feels she is privileged to be involved in. For more info, you can speak to Norman Patterson (Ronel’s St Saviour’s Champion) or check out: www.ellel.org.za
What is the focus of your ministry? We have been with Elam Ministries for over 25 years and been privileged to see the organisation thrive. Mojdeh has been involved in translating the Bible; editing a Christian magazine, and for the last ten years leading Elam’s women’s ministry. Tom has had different roles, but one constant has been Bible teaching.
What and where has God called you to? God has called us to serve Iran’s church. There is much to be encouraged about. Back in the 1980s when we first began ministry to Iranians in Karachi, Pakistan, we sensed there was openness to the Gospel. That has kept on increasing. Secular academic research in 2020 showed there were about half a million Iranians from a Muslim background who have turned to Christ. Hundreds of thousands of new Iranian Christians are keen for Bible teaching. It is our joy, with the team at Elam, to play a part in providing this teaching. In this Mojdeh has a very special role ministering to women. Within Elam she has a team that hosts regular conferences (this year on zoom) for ladies. Mojdeh is keen to see that Iran’s new Christians have a default attitude of respect for women as equals – in the church and mission. Tom is involved with Elam’s work among men and whenever he travels tries to hold meetings where the men have an opportunity to talk about their struggles with sexual temptation.
The ‘where’ is Iran, but it is not wise for us to live there. So we live in Farncombe, and before Covid we used to travel a lot to neighbouring countries to minister to Iranians.
What is the need and opportunity? When Elam Ministries was founded in 1990 the heart-beat was to provide Bibles and training for Iran’s church. That is still the need. The internet has made a massive difference in terms of access to Scriptures, but still Christians need to have their own printed Bible. Thankfully there are ways of making this happen. New Christians need training: discipling and grounding in the Bible. The internet has made this possible, even in this Covid season. This has been a blessing. More people can come to conferences, from anywhere, however ‘closed’ the country. In the post Covid world we are looking forward to travel again to the region to be involved in residential training. There is also a tremendous need for counselling. People have messy lives and need to talk things through with older Christians. This happens best face to face, but still a lot can happen on Zoom.
Focus of ministry: serving in Plymouth as a church worker in the community What & where has God called you to? Ruth’s call has led her to serve God overseas and now most recently in Devonport, Plymouth, England. Her time is split across a number of initiatives. Ruth works in a multi-faith chaplaincy at City College. She also helps to run a work club, that helps around 20 people a week, who are unemployed. As chair of Governors at Riverside School, Ruth is helping the school face a number of challenges as student numbers are reduced. Alongside other churches they run seasonal events such as the recent ‘Hope for summer’ initiative where they were able to provide hot meals alongside a morning of fun and crafts. What is the need and opportunity? Devonport is the most deprived neighbourhood in Plymouth and amongst the bottom 1% in England, according to the 2016 Index of Multiple Deprivation published in January 2016. Consequently, there are many needs to serve and my work is to try and encourage the churches and work with them to meet some of these needs. Ruth has just received funding in conjunction with the Baptist Church for some kind of youth worker, and this is just one example of how she is trying to make a difference. For more info, you can speak to Norman Patterson (St Saviours Champion).
Focus of ministry: Our vision is simple: To love God. We want loving God to be at the heart of our church. To love people. We want to be a place where people not only have the opportunity to learn about God, but to encounter, and fall in love with him too. To make a difference. And we want this love to be contagious, so that it pours out of our doors to bless our neighbours – bringing hope and transformation to all who encounter it. After all, true love looks like something.
Our desire is to be a:
Spirit-Living. We want every member of our congregation to be open to, lead by and empowered with the Holy Spirit.
Gospel-Sharing. We want every member of our congregation, adults and children, to be trained and equipped to share their faith with those they encounter.
Risk-Taking. We want to encourage our congregation to step out in faith. In our culture we are encouraged to stay in our comfort zone, but it is hard to find a passage in the New Testament that does not involve the disciples stepping out in faith.
People-Loving. We want to make sure that everyone who steps into our building knows that they are welcome, wanted and loved. And, we want to create a culture where people intentionally encourage and affirm one another.
Creative Church. When funding gets cut, the arts are usually the first to feel the pinch. For creatives, this can be one of the most painful deprivations. Our God is the ultimate creator. We want our church to reflect this. We want to encourage artists, celebrate creativity, and support business entrepreneurs.
What and where has God called you to?
God has called us to Rochdale, a town of 218,000, located 10 miles North East of Manchester, and surrounded by the majestic South Pennines. It is very well situated; in fact, according to the Manchester Evening News; “if you were building a town from scratch, you’d probably put it where Rochdale is!” This former engine house of the Industrial Revolution, was once one of Britain’s wealthiest towns. In 18C it rose to prominence as a centre for the wool trade, and then in the 19C as a centre for textile manufacturing. As a result of this wealth, it boasts one of the finest town halls in the country. But perhaps its greatest claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of the worldwide Co-operative Movement… However, since then, it has been in steep decline. The borough of Rochdale is now ranked 15th most deprived in England. Its town centre contains 3 neighbourhoods in the most deprived 1% in England. 2 out of 3 shops are boarded up, 1 in 5 inhabitants is unemployed, and life expectancy for both males and females is lower than the national average. It also has the highest level of asylum seekers anywhere in England. Living with deprivation is never easy, but the thing that is probably causing the town more pain than any of these, is the discovery of a second child sex abuse ring. As there was no church available for our use in the centre of town, in 2020, the Diocese of Manchester purchased a large, disused building, for us to convert into a church. It is ideally located, in the middle of town, in a newly designated heritage zone earmarked for regeneration. It is a 2 min walk away from the £70 million shopping centre & multiplex cinema, due to re-open this summer, and the recently completed bus interchange and tram station.
What is the need and opportunity?
The town centre is now bereft of young people, and nobody between the ages of 18 and 40 is currently attending an Anglican Church in the whole of Rochdale.
The particular mission for our Resource Church is:
When we have visited Rochdale, several people have told us to our face that it’s a town with no hope, and we won’t be able to change that. But, as Christians we believe there is always hope in Christ, and our longing is to make that hope available to all. That is why we have chosen to use wings in our logo. These wings speak to us of Isaiah 40:31: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”