WEBA Regional Minister, Alisdair Longwill, is seconded one day each week to focus on engaging in God’s mission in his local community, Bussage, on the outskirts of Stroud. Along with a small core group he tries to encourage and equip a group of Christian neighbours to show and share God’s grace and truth more effectively within their local community.
The ‘gathered’ aspect for this group of neighbours is expressed in two ways: Connect – a fortnightly small group gathering whose aim is to connect with God, with each other and with neighbours in the local community, and as Thrive – an informal monthly worship gathering followed by a shared lunch.
Most recently Connect have been reflecting on the Upside-down kingdom of Jesus – looking at the Beatitudes in Luke’s gospel. They have been reminded of how Jesus’ values are often the opposite of the prevailing values of our day. This community of neighbours are praying that in 2019 they might move beyond merely recognising this to beginning to work this out within their local community. Some in Connect have signed up for a new Neighbourhood Befriending Scheme, with the prayer that some ‘who weep now’ (Luke 6:21) might experience the joy of Jesus.
The aim of Connect is to enrich and bless their local community; to share with them the grace, mercy and truth of Jesus, and to help neighbours on their spiritual journey to explore Jesus for themselves.
Since the summer of 2018 Connect have adopted the local Phone Box and seek to use this as an opportunity to create a different space in the community; one that encourages reflection in a busy culture (the Phone Box is used to mirror and share the values of the local primary school with the wider community – see photo). It is also used as a place to advertise community events, some of which Connect themselves organise. Recently these have included the Big Quiz Night (a national Tear Fund initiative), Community & School Carols (led by Alisdair in the local primary school), the Community Café Christmas Party (hosted by Connect), and Community Carol singing outside the Phone Box (followed by mulled wine and mince pies in the adjacent Village Hall). Last year, for the first time, Connect offered to host a Christmas Day Community Lunch. Although appreciated, the numerical response to this was fairly modest, and so in the end, the small number who responded enjoyed Christmas lunch with one of our Connect families.
Alisdair says ‘It is a privilege to serve our local community and to become friends with our neighbours. It’s also central to our calling as disciples of Jesus – to follow him; to be his ‘sent out ones; and to live as ambassadors of Jesus and as ministers of God’s reconciling love.’
Thank you for your giving to Home Mission, which helps to make this possible. Please do pray for Alisdair and for Connect Bussage as they seek to follow Jesus into their local community.
To find out more about Home Mission click here.