It has been another interesting month. After months of waiting and a month of preparation, we we’re able to re-start several physical gatherings. Our “Family Service” has been a particular joy. Under normal conditions, our church has services, probably quite similar to yours, but now with Covid restrictions we are not able to: be close, sing, move around, or shout — and this makes it a very difficult scenario for a family with kids. Recognising this need, I volunteered to take on the task of organising a “Family service.” It has been great to see families and children in the church again! Some of them for their first time since March. We have also restarted our local Youth Club: Shuffle and Shake. It has been an exhausting process of getting everything in line with regulations, but last week it all paid off with a great first night back!
But I’m afraid things aren’t quite smooth sailing yet. In fact, it looks as if we’re in for a bumpy winter in terms of Covid restrictions. In fact, just this week we went into “Local Lockdown”— that is an increased limitation on travel, restricting us to stay in our county and not meet with others indoors. Fortunately, church events have been granted exemption as long as they keep to the regulations. So, yes things have been interesting, stressful, if I’m completely honest. We want so badly to restart gatherings again “as normal,” but there is much confusion over the constantly changing regulations, and some folks honestly don’t feel safe coming along to any gatherings yet. But God has given us grace and shown us ways that we can minister in meaningful ways whilst abiding by the restrictions.
For example, you may remember from last month that I started an online youth ministry project called Minecraft Sunday School (a YouTube Channel with Sunday school-like lessons taught through Minecraft). This week will be the completion of my first series on the 7 “I Am” statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John. Please feel free to check it out and share it with others. (Just search “Minecraft Sunday School” on YouTube.) I’m now hoping to start collaborating with youth by getting them to help me build the Minecraft worlds and make the YouTube videos.
You may remember that about two years ago, I tore the ACL in my right knee. Since then I’ve been on a waiting list for reconstructive surgery. This has meant that for the last two years, I’ve not been able to play sports like basketball or football (soccer). So, I was encouraged this month by a letter from the hospital requesting to see me for a pre-op assessment. I’ve been to that appointment and it’s very much up in the air as to whether or not the surgery will go forward with the apparent resurgence of Covid. They told me if we don’t go back into “Full lockdown” then the surgery will go ahead in about a month’s time. This was a bit of a shock for me, as having the surgery will mean a major pause in ministry for several weeks or months. To put it into perspective, the average recovery time is 6 months before you can return to sports like basketball. So, yes this would require me to stop ministry for several weeks and then slowly start back up again, but I really believe it is worth it, as there is a huge potential in Colwyn Bay for Sport-based youth ministry.
Update on Skatepark Ministry
In fact, you might recall we’ve recently been spending more time at the local skatepark. Feeling that God was leading me to start some kind of ministry there, I contacted the Local Council (government) about “Adopting the Skatepark”. I thought my request had fallen on deaf ears, but to my surprise, about a month later, I was replied to with a request to meet in person. I had this meeting with the director of the county leisure spaces and he told me that he thought it would be a good thing to have a group adopt the skatepark, and that he would get to work on finding out what needed to be done to make it happen. I was very encouraged by this. In fact, I later met up with a local church leader from Colwyn Bay. In this meeting, I mentioned the idea and news about the skatepark, and he was excited and eager to be a part of it. Granted, It is still very much in the ideas stage as far as an “official ministry,” but in the meantime we still find ourselves regularly at the skatepark and as such have started to develop relationships with the children and youth there.
Indefinite Leave to Remain
We’ve now been in the UK for 7 years! As such, I’m now eligible to apply for “Indefinite Leave to Remain,” which is similar to the “green card” in the States. This would mean that I would be a permanent resident in the U.K. and no longer subject to the limitations of visas and immigrant status. For the first time, we would be able to approach a bank and discuss options regarding a mortgage. This is huge for us as we are desperate to move into a “better” house. Please don’t misunderstand me…we are very thankful for where we live and we aren’t looking for a mansion or even a “posh house”, it’s just that all 4 of us seem to be allergic to something in our current rented house. We find ourselves using antihistamines on a daily basic to keep the sneezing at bay and have recently had to invest in an air purifier. We speculate it is mould spores and dust mites (common in older houses), but we don’t want to complain to the landlord as they’ve expressed that they would need to sell the house before they could do any major repairs on it, and we don’t want to be out of place to live!
So, we’ve been biding our time and saving every penny in hope. Realistically speaking, we probably don’t have enough money saved up for a deposit or “make enough money” to convince a bank to give us a mortgage towards a house that is in better condition than our current situation….so please pray…pray for grace from the bank(s) towards us, for the supply of a house on the market in the immediate area, and for the funds to pay for it all. We just want to be healthy and well established here to carry out God’s will…this ministry to Colwyn Bay and the youth of North Wales. God Bless!