5th January 2024
Jayne from River Church in Helensburgh shares with us some of the ways they loved their community this Christmas and the signs they are seeing of God’s light and hope breaking into people’s lives.
River Church meets in our local Community Hub which hosts multiple groups in the week and serves the community well. We wanted to do something missional and felt Christmas would be a great opportunity for that.
So on Sunday, 10 December, we made the Hub as inviting as possible – tables set with delicious food, warm non-alcoholic mulled wine and decorations.
Friends, family, neighbours had been invited and we were astounded at the response. We watched folk coming through the door until the Hub was filled to capacity with no spare seats!
Six of the neighbours on our street came, with 3 apologies given due to a winter virus or they would have been there. We started as neighbours in a new estate and then over the last 3 years something quite unusual has happened – we have all become friends.
A neighbour of one of the couples in our church family turned up after saying she wouldn’t be coming, leaving the couple so encouraged! Interestingly, they had been neighbours of this neighbour’s daughter and son-in law when living elsewhere. They had invited them to Alpha where the couple were saved and baptised and are still going strong.
Another member of our church family recently started her signing group called “Signs & Wonders” where she helps with a wee girl after school. This girl is as bright as a button but has been battling serious health issues. We have seen answers to prayer for her and so has the wee girl’s mum who isn’t a Christian yet. It was lovely to see her at only 6 years old confidently signing ‘Away in a Manger’ at our Christmas event.
Another one of our church family, with the help of a friend, did an amazing buffet for 50 and blessed us all with their generosity of time and effort. She has returned to church after many years, after time spent dabbling in the New Age movement. She remains faithful and joyful. God recently healed her foot by resetting the bone in her big toe so that no surgery was needed. Incredible!
Another lady present at the event has been coming to church for almost a year. She has had a very rough time of it. She put her trust in Jesus a month ago. It’s the first time we have seen someone come to faith in the middle of doing the washing up! She said she felt this wonderful heat going through her body as we prayed and she was filled with the Spirit. She recently gave praying a go and asked God for sunshine for a joint baptism gathering at Loch Lomond. The sun shone! Not only that, another church member got her to paddle board on the loch and she was freed from her childhood fear of water!
One of our younger members is in her final year at secondary school and heading to Uni after that. She took charge of the prayer tent. She decorated it beautifully with lights, candles, silver tinsel and pine cones. A small Christmas tree stood on a table with cardboard labels, pens and red heart baubles. Our neighbours wrote prayers on the cards for us to pray for them and gratefully took the heart baubles as a reminder that they are being held in prayer. It was so moving. Our wee ‘Away in a Manger’ signer even brought her mum to the prayer tent to receive prayer for her hip! We plan to make the prayer tent a feature from now on.
Mysteriously, our regular worship leader, Ben, had a problem with one of his fingers and couldn’t play the guitar for the event. It was an opportunity to invite another one of our younger church family to be involved by playing guitar while Ben lead on the keyboard. We really sense that this young man, who is in his late teens and studies music, has God’s hand on his life!
Scott gave a short talk on peace, joy and hope, drawing from Luke chapter 2.
Once home after the Christmas event, Scott and I had a visit from a local tradesman and his partner. During the time that he had been doing some work for us, his partner had been going through chemo for breast cancer. I had given him a hanky for her to represent our prayers for her. It was my dad’s old red silk hanky that he wore in his top pocket for special occasions. Mum had givne it to me when he passed away. I wondered if I was right using Dad’s hanky for this as it meant so much. But on this evening when we reminded them about the prayer, she opened her bag and said “look, the hanky – it’s in here”. It was very emotional. She is doing well health wise now. Praise God! We are praying that they come to know Jesus.
Later on that same evening, we got a Facebook message from someone who had come to one of our Alpha sessions over 5 years ago at the Cosy Cafe in Churchill, an area we have a particular heart and vision for to be planted in. This lady had left to go down south to marry and she said that she and her husband have had a difficult journey but that God has done amazing things. Her husband has come to faith and they both recently got baptised! They are moving back to Helensburgh and are looking for a church home. Wow!
It has not always been plain sailing since we planted here in Helensburgh – there have been various battles along the way. Helensburgh has seen a surge of dark spiritual practices, such as the shamanic drummer group who were using the Hub before we came in to set up for the Christmas event. The drummers are a small group of women, very friendly, and even offered to help us set up we invited them to stay for the lunch. One of them said, “don’t worry, we have cleansed the atmosphere, it should be lovely “. We are praying for the opportunity to connect again with these ladies as they are spiritually hungry. ( By the way, we did cleanse the atmosphere in the name of Jesus and He came wonderfully. ;-))
Immediately after being commissioned at the 24-7 Prayer Gathering in Vienna this past October, we received a prophecy from one of the American 24-7 Prayer team about God’s glory coming to River Church and flowing out of the building into the streets. Glory even going into the very ground where the Hub is. Another word given to us earlier in the week from a Dutch lady was about “the thick honey of heaven pouring out of our doors and windows” We are holding onto these words.
We were delighted to have River Church join the 24-7 Prayer Network this past October, making them the second 24-7 Prayer Church community in Scotland! Our first church community is Discovery Church Dunbar. If you would like to know more about how your community can become part of the 24-7 Prayer Network, you can find details here at the 24-7 Prayer International website.