Estelle brought a message at the beginning of July about how seasons naturally change and move on. There is a definite sense that the season is changing at Pathways Church. Here is an encouragement on this subject from Jenny using the illustration of her cat!
Seven lessons I learned from my cat
By Jenny Needham
Our cat as a prophetic sign
We have been under a kind of extra 'lock-down' in our family. Three weeks ago our cat, Bilbo, came home with very badly injured back legs. We rushed him to the vet who stitched him up, bandaged him, and prescribed complete rest. Since then we have been supporting his recovery! A few days ago he was allowed to go outside again for the first time, as shown in the above picture. The Holy Spirit has been impressing upon me that this is a timely prophetic sign for Pathways, that we are indeed to prepare for the next season.
In the UK we have been in lock-down for nearly four months now, and there is a sense that things are slowly easing. Some people have really struggled with the isolation aspect and missed the social times and the hugs. Some people have actually enjoyed having permission to ‘just be at home’. But however we have found the experience, the Holy Spirit is nudging us to look ahead and to get ready to more on: Not to go back to the way we were before or return to an old season, but to embrace a NEW season.
There is an appointed time for everything
Lesson 1. We can pretend everything is OK when it isn't
When Bilbo was first injured he crept in and sat near to where I was working. He was so quiet that I didn’t realise anything was wrong for about half an hour or so. The way he was sitting masked the fact that he was injured, so it was only when he started dragging himself across the kitchen that I realised that something had happened.
We are also very good at pretending that nothing is wrong. We can present a good face to the world and even persuade ourselves that we are fine. Sometimes I think that God allows us to come to the end of ourselves, for our own sake. I don't believe that God sent the virus, but I do think He has worked it into His plan and is bringing good out of it. I think that maybe some of us needed a wake-up call.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Lesson 2. God is with us
While I was waiting at the veterinary surgery to hear whether we could save Bilbo, I was praying, and I saw a 'picture' in my mind of an angel with two swords guarding him. I felt God whisper the words, ‘no bones will be broken.’ From the severity of his wounds, the vet was convinced that he would have some broken bones, but when they x-rayed him not one single bone was broken, not even in his feet! The vet was totally amazed, and kept repeating, “I can’t believe it!”.
In the same way, we know that we have angels watching over us. However, that doesn’t mean we can always avoid facing difficult situation, but it does give us strength to face the processes that we need to walk through.
For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.
Lesson 3. If we won’t rest then sometimes it is enforced upon us
To start with Bilbo had to go in a cage to stop him walking around. The vet was worried that some muscles and tendons had been torn, and said they time needed time to heal properly. Bilbo hated being in the cage, and he actually made his face and forelegs raw trying to get out (see pictures below).
There is a sense with this virus of the world not being allowed to just carry on with ‘business as usual’. Maybe some of us have experienced this personally in the sense of God intervening and telling us to stop and rest. Moreover, for many of us, having had more space to reflect and spend time with God will have helped us to hear His heart for the new season. Maybe as individuals we have been able to reconnect with our destiny.
If we resist God’s purpose through this time and just try and get back in with our lives as before, we may just end up damaging ourselves like Bilbo did. Things will go much better if we are at peace, and embrace the process.
Lesson 4. Times like this can drive us into God’s arms
Bilbo hated his cage and resisted his restrictions, so in the end I mostly carried him with me wherever I went. This reminds me of the well known 'footprints' poem, with the lovely line at the end, “It was there that I carried you.”
I believe that God has been very close during this season, and that it has been a time for pressing in to God. So let us use any free time we still have now to do just that; and let us also maintain that and not let things push out our time with God as we move on.
Lesson 5. We tend to keep going back to old thoughts and ways
After a couple of weeks the vet took his bandages off, and that's where the real trouble started. Bilbo was so desperate to lick his wounds that he made himself bleed again. There was a certain sore patch that he kept going back to, so we had to watch him continuously, and in the end we took shifts to be with him though the night. This actually turned out to be the hardest phase of his recovery.
As we start to move out of lock-down and transition into the new season, this is a potentially dangerous time, so let's be vigilant and not allow the enemy to steal the things God has done in our lives.
Bilbo's injured back legs could also be seen as symbolic of wounds of the past. We have been set free from the past in various ways, but we can keep reopening those wounds by going back to them, and act as if we’re not healed.
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
Lesson 6. Are we ready to move on?
A few days ago, exactly three weeks after his accident, the vet took Bilbo’s stitches out and pronounced that he was well enough to go out. We knew that this was a potential danger time. Would he go straight back and do the same thing again that got him injured in the first place?
I think it will be a real shame if we pass by this opportunity to change. If everything goes back to how it was before lock-down, I think we will have missed something. I think that now is a good time to seek God about what he has for us in the next season, both individually and as a church
Lesson 7. We are so much more valuable!
In Matthew 10:31 we read how Jesus drew attention to some sparrows as an illustration of how well God looked after the birds. Then he reminded his listeners that they were each so much more valuable than any number of sparrows, so they could be confident that God would look after them!
The example of my cat carries a similar heart to this. As we reflect on how Dave and I devoted time and money to saving Bilbo, and how God looked after him too, I invite you to consider how much more valuable we are to God than that! We are so precious that God was prepared to give His own life to save us. He paid the highest possible price, the price of death on a cross. In the same way that we nursed Bilbo back to health, we can be absolutely sure that He will never leave our side.
We have an opportunity through the rest of July and August to take stock of where we are, both individually and as a church.
Video One: SEASONS by Estelle 5th July 2020
Video Two: 7 LESSONS I LEARNED FROM MY CAT by Jenny 19th July 2020
A couple of months ago if you had mentioned the word 'zoom' in church, the picture coming to mind would be of singing a children's song and pretending to be aeroplanes ('let's zoom around the room and praise the Lord!'). How things have changed in such a short space of time.
Zoom is now a common word in church circles. We have Zoom celebrations, Zoom cell groups, Zoom bible studies, Zoom leaders meetings and Zoom coffee meetings, to name but a few! It has certainly been a very steep learning curve for some, but once the initial shock died down, it was a challenge that we have risen to with great adaptivity.
One advantage that we have already discovered, is that people can join in who would otherwise struggle to come to a physical meeting. Some people have young children at home, making it hard to come out in the evenings. Others have been ill, but are still able to join in from their beds! Some people live further away, and we have even had a friend joining us from South Africa. It was strange to think that in one celebration we had people who live across the road from each other joining online with others who live the other side of the world. Technology makes distance inconsequential.
Another positive outcome is that we have all had to face our fears of using online forums, so as well as Zoom, we have used Whatsapp groups and video calls to create a sense of community, and to encourage each other. We have explored various potential options for streaming meetings online. We have watched what other churches are doing, partly to keep in touch and also to learn from them!
We have quickly had to learnt how to record and edit worship for sharing within our celebrations, and to record talks and teaching for our midweek groups. This has led to the advantage that those who were not available at the time of the meeting could catch up at their leisure. There is much to think about regarding how we can continue to use some of these new tools in the future, even after we can meet together physically again.
One does wonder occasionally on Zoom, whether people are more interested in viewing their latest haircuts (or lack of) and catching up with each other than they are interested in the subject of the meeting. I suspect they are, and that of course is exactly how it should be. People matter more than things. Social distancing and being under lockdown have certainly not hindered our sense of family. On the contrary, it has clarified what is really important, and if anything, the desire to keep in touch with each other has increased.
People matter more than things
Of course some do struggle to connect via technology, and it has been a challenge to help those people still feel part of the family through other ways. We do dearly miss being able to physically meet together. We have coined an expression called 'Holly-hugs', after the lovely lady of that same name. This is the gold standard of hugs at Pathways church, and is generally agreed to be what our people miss most about being together! Once we are able to meet again physically, I suspect that we will do a lot more eating meals together and just generally enjoying each other's company.
All are welcome to join with us at any of our celebrations and cell group meetings. Even if you just want to join in the background and watch quietly, that’s fine. If you would like us to send you the link, please email us at email@example.com
By Jenny Needham
I have often wondered what it would be like to be part of the Underground church in countries where the church is persecuted and seemingly invisible.
Well, we are about to experience something similar, obviously without persecution but certainly restricted from meeting!! The recent global events that started in the East has now moved West like a tsunami and we found ourselves engulfed by it in a manner that few of us could have imagined. However, the British people are no stranger to these kinds of circumstances and maybe we will get to experience a bit of the Blitz spirit ourselves. However, I am not trying to make light of the situation, I know it is serious.
We believe it is right and biblical to support the government in its strategy to limit the impact of the virus in it’s spread across this nation. We will therefore no longer be able to meet for Sunday celebrations, and we will not be meeting for weekly cells.
All of this will enable us to become creative in the ways that we maintain fellowship and close contact with one another. We are looking into other Apps that will enable us to hold online meetings together; we are hoping to launch this soon. Although we will not be together physically, we will make sure that we are all supporting one another in other ways. Please make sure you stay in contact with those that are vulnerable or in self-isolation, cell leaders will stay in contact with their groups regularly throughout this time. Let us keep up our quiet times in prayer and reading the bible.
If you find yourself feeling anxious about the situation, get in touch. I will always keep my phone on, but if you can’t get through, leave me a message and I will call you back as soon as I am able. Do let us know if you need anything, and as in Acts 2:24, we will try to keep open hearts and be generous in spirit towards one another, sharing what we have. Please be assured of our love and commitment towards all of you and we will come through this much stronger in faith, and I may even become more IT literate!
I will send more information as we have it or, if the situation changes, I will update you accordingly.
Lots of love
On behalf of the elders at Pathways
These prayers were sent through from St Mary’s Church in Lenham, please be praying for their vicar, John, as he has to self-isolate for 3 months.
Prayers about the outbreak
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to love our neighbour,
and to care for those in need
as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength
to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick,
and to assure the isolated
of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake.
God of compassion,
be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation;
in their anxiety, be their hope;
in their darkness, be their light;
through him who suffered alone on the cross,
but reigns with you in glory,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
For those who are ill
we entrust to your tender care
those who are ill or in pain,
knowing that whenever danger threatens
your everlasting arms are there to hold them safe.
Comfort and heal them,
and restore them to health and strength;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
For hospital staff and medical researchers
give skill, sympathy and resilience
to all who are caring for the sick,
and your wisdom to those searching for a cure.
Strengthen them with your Spirit,
that through their work many will be restored to health;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
From one who is ill or isolated
help me to trust you,
help me to know that you are with me,
help me to believe that nothing can separate me
from your love
revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.
For the Christian community
We are not people of fear:
we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety:
we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed:
we are people of generosity.
We are your people God,
giving and loving,
wherever we are,
whatever it costs
For as long as it takes
wherever you call us.
It was with great excitement that we welcomed the School of the word team to Lenham on Saturday, to lead us in a morning learning about the bible and the inductive study method.
Emma kicked off the morning by talking about 'what is the bible?' We learned how the bible is written by many authors from all different walks of life, but with one message, that the radical love of God for humanity never ends. The bible mainly follows the story of one nation, who received the promise of a redeemer, how that redeemer came, and how the good news of that redeemer was spread.
Tony talked about some of the different approaches that can be used to study the bible, and Mel finished off the introduction by explaining why we use the inductive study method and what that looks like in practice.
We had a lot of fun in groups trying to piece together the timeline of the bible, and working out where all the different books fit into the overall story. There were varying attempts, with varying degrees of accuracy, but thankfully we were all given the correct timeline at the end by Tony! By now we were looking forward to using the coloured pencils in our welcome packs and diving into reading our bibles!
After a break, we embarked on the second half of the morning, where we actually used the inductive method to look at the letter of Philemon together. This was the highlight of the day. Mel gave us plenty of opportunities to make our own observations, using the coloured pencils to help us focus on the words. We were encouraged to share the things we noticed, and draw out important themes. By the end of the morning there was a sense of hush, as everyone realised that God was speaking to them through the book, and showing them things that they had never seen before. The little book of Philemon had come alive! We finished with some quiet prayer and reflection.
Tony, Mel and Emma did a fantastic job of leading us through the inductive study method, and we extend our heartfelt thanks to them. We got so much out of our time together. We would thoroughly recommend this to anyone wondering about hosting a day at their church.
By Jenny Needham
During February, Estelle and I travelled to Reading to be part of the OneVoice prophetic conference.
I have always been interested in the prophetic, so I was delighted to see that a number of people that I regularly follow were going to be at this conference in Reading, hosted by Yinka Oyekan. Yinka is the driving force behind The Turning, which we were also involved in last year while Walking the Way The purpose of this conference was to bring together prophetic people from around the UK, and to facilitate a unified voice to hear God's heart for our nation. Estelle and I were representing our Prayer Watch - UK intercessors group.
We started with worship, spending quite a lot of time listening to God and enjoying His presence. Then we went into smaller groups and prayed for different areas of our nation (government, education, health etc) and asked God for prophetic words for those areas.
Some prophetic words were shared by Betty King, Emma Stark and Veronika West. Veronika shared how an angel sat next to her on the plane (!) while flying here from Northern Ireland, who showed her false altars (idols) being torn down across our nation, and the building of new altars. She also saw wells of revival opening. The full version can be found here).
After lunch Dr Mark Birch-Machin shared a vision based on the concept of nerves in the human body. Nerves receive information from the skin, feed into the central nervous system and then messages are sent back out to the body in order to take appropriate action. In the same way, he proposed that prophetic voices all across the nation could feed into a central hub, which would gather this information, look for trends and confirmations, and then pass on important information back out to the body of Christ.
Emma Stark then shared a prophetic word for the UK for 2020. Some highlights that resonated with us were: This is a very strategic year. It is a new day, the year of turnaround. God is calling this 'the uncomfortable revival'. It will be gloriously uncomfortable. It is the year for moving house, changing jobs and passing on batons. Change will be the new normal. She shared on the importance of remaining flexible. God is working new wine-skins. She said that angels of awakening, harvest and deliverance are being released. A new level in worship is coming as we worship with intent. God says 'I want your attention in worship whether you like the song or not'. There will be a deliverance anointing on worship. More information from the British Isles Council of Prophets can be found here.
More details of the conference materials and prophetic words given can also be found on Richard's Watch. Richard provided us with comprehensive information prior to the conference, on the status of the prophetic in the UK. On his website he has also collected together a useful record of many prophecies for the UK. This is a helpful resource for the church in UK.
All of this gave us much to pray over and reflect upon, as we consider which parts of these words are for us to pursue as individuals and at Pathways. Much of it confirmed what we were already feeling; that we are stepping into a new day, and that there are exciting times, and times of change ahead. Our theme for 2020 is 'STEP INTO A NEW DAY!'
A very special moment happened at the end of August, as Rev John Huggins met to celebrate communion with Dave Cape and leaders from Pathways church at the Lenham chalk cross.
We have written in previous posts about how at Pathways Church, we have been involved in walking and praying with Dave Cape as he walks the Pilgrims Way between Winchester, Ramsgate, Canterbury and London. This is happening between 25th August - 29th September.
On the afternoon of 29th August, Dave and team reached the portion of the Pilgrims Way that passes along the North Downs above Lenham village.
As the team of walkers drew near to the cross, a heart-warming sight greeted them. A group of people could be seen walking up from Lenham Village to meet them on the way, the people spread out like ants in a line across the field as they walked up the hill. Among them were friends from Pathways, Jubilee church, and Rev John Huggins from the Len Valley benefice. The timing was perfect, as all converged at the cross at the same time.
The main purpose of gathering was to celebrate communion together, to remember Jesus and His love for everyone. We did this. Rev Huggins led us in a prayer, and we shared in the bread and wine. Afterwards Dave Cape knelt and washed the feet of both Dave Needham (from Pathways Church) and Rev John Huggins together in his bowl. They each placed one foot in the bowl. Then the act was reciprocated as they washed Dave Cape's feet. Washing feet like this reminds us of the servant love of Jesus Christ, and how we can serve one another.
In centuries past, relations between the different church denominations in the community have sometimes been strained, and even hostile at times. However in recent years, churches in the Len Valley (including Pathways and the Anglican churches) have developed good relations, and often help each other out, working together for the benefit of the community.
On the Saturday of the August bank holiday weekend, a group from Pathways joined with other churches from our Cluster at St Augustine's cross near Ramsgate. This marked the official celebration of the start of Walking the Way as written about in our previous post.
As a church we are supporting Dave Cape as he walks the entire Pilgrims way between Ramsgate, Canterbury, Winchester and London, carrying his Cross and Bowl. The Pilgrims Way passes right by our village of Lenham, so it carries a special significance for us.
St Augustine's cross can be found at Cliffsend near Ramsgate, and marks the point which is traditionally thought to be the site of St Augustine's landing on the shores of England in AD 597. A plaque by the cross read that Augustine "preached his first sermon to our countrymen thus he happily planted the Christian faith which marvellously spread throughout the whole of England".
We started our service with some worship, then Dave Cape shared a few words. Neil from Jubilee Church Maidstone told us a bit about the history of the site. We read some bible verses and prayed, before sharing communion together. We also buried a peg with some bible verses written on it in the ground. It was a special time and felt significant.
"Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in."
"Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
Over the next few weeks we will be following Dave's progress, and walking and praying with him at times, so watch this space for more updates!
Here at Pathways we are involved in an exciting initiative along the Pilgrims Way this summer. Dave Cape, an evangelist, who has washed the feet of the powerful and the poor in more than 30 countries, is coming to Kent as part of a 280km walk along The Pilgrims Way.
A few years ago some of us drew Dave’s attention to the chalk cross at Lenham, and encouraged him to consider carrying his Cross and Bowl along the ancient pathway. Since then this has become a reality, and we have been involved with some of the planning, and scouting out the route.
Having carried his Cross and Bowl throughout Africa and around the world for over 30 years, Dave will be arriving in Ramsgate on August 23rd and walking St Augustine’s Way to Canterbury. From there he will proceed along the Pilgrims Way, washing the feet of passers-by and stopping at towns and villages over a five week period until he arrives in Westminster on September 21.
Please do look out for Dave at the end of August, and encourage him if you see him, as he passes through Lenham with his Cross and Bowl.
If you would like to be involved or have any further questions in relation to this event please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow the journey on Facebook.
An article by Karen Brook-Child.
As we come to the end of our most recent Freedom In Christ course, I think back and realise how much the Lord can show us in 10 short weeks.
We have looked at the truth of the word, how our heavenly Father really sees us, what are godly goals, how to handle our emotions well, forgiving others and much more. Each week is packed full of nuggets of truth delivered in simple language without any frills or fancy, making it accessible to all.
Dave and I facilitate this course because we know that all God needs is us to willingly to give up a little time and be prepared to see to the practical things like, booking the hall, buying the tea and coffee and being bold enough to pray and lead worship. He does the rest, He talks to people, He sets people free and He loves them, completely.
Every time we go through this process, I pick up something timely for me. Nothing massive, yet each time it gets deep down in my very being, making me feel like I have been given a gift so precious it is priceless. This time it was a word that I felt was not just for me, but for the young people and staff that I work with.
Those of you that know me, know that I work with young people with communication and interaction difficulties, and many of them battle with anxiety. In the course, we are told to take every thought captive. Sounds easy? Not always, but think about it like this, it was explained that we are like air traffic controllers. Thoughts fly into our mind and we have the authority to either allow them to stop and 'land' or send them away. I was chatting with our pastoral manager about this and she also said sometimes we need to park thoughts on the side to process later when we are ready either to accept them or send them away. What a great way to take a thought captive, it may help me to not just dismiss things because I don't want to/can't process them immediately.
2 Corinthians 10:5 Amplified Bible
We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ
I thank Jesus that He gives me the truth in the word and them places people around me to help me understand. I can't wait for the next course!
We all met together on Thursday evening to re-focus our minds ready for 2019, and to share together the direction that we feel God is taking us in for this year
We briefly reviewed 2018 which was themed 'YEAR OF ACCELERATION' alongside all of our Church of the Nations family churches. For us it certainly was an intense year in many ways. We ran Freedom in Christ and the Grace course which were both very challenging for many of our members. We also stepped up our level of serving the community with our 'Len Valley Ranch' burger stall at the Lenham Festival, and increased our collaboration with our Anglican friends in the Len Valley Benefice. We also undertook a 'ring of fire' prayer walk around our area, as well as our usual cell groups and Sunday celebrations.
Following on from that, at Pathways we have chosen the phrase 'ON THE WAY' to be our theme for 2019, as it captures the sense of moving forward into everything God has called us to do; both old and new things. Johnny shared that he has felt God impressing upon him that we should 'do something new' this year, and that God would bless us as we step out into new things.
One NEW thing planned is a potential trip to THE HAGUE to visit friends This looks most likely to be during the October half term (Thursday to Sunday), so keep those dates free just in case!
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
One of our strengths is that we have a very clear and simple vision statement that God gave us when we launched the church, and that we have stayed within the boundaries of that and managed to achieve it in many ways. Therefore we have organised our plans and dreams for 2019 around the headings of our vision statement.
Being a Loving Family
Cells and Celebrations will continue in the same pattern and format that we started in September. We also hope to visit some other churches in our Church of the Nations Cluster and organise some preaching swaps! Of course we will, as usual, also have some social events during the year where we can just chill out and have fun together.
Jenny shared our exciting NEW teaching theme for 2019 which is the gospel of Mark (from January leading up to Easter), then the book of Acts after Easter leading up to the summer. We will be looking at these book in both the cells and the Sunday celebrations.
Keeping Christ at the centre
Estelle shared what God has placed on her heart regarding walking and praying along the ancient pathways of the UK. With that in mind we will arrange some regular Saturday family walks around the area, where we can socialise, but also pray and proclaim God's word as we do so.
Another exciting NEW development for this year is that Dave Cape, who heads up Acts Life Cluster, is planning to walk the Pilgrim's Way on mission during August and September. We are situated right on the Pilgrim's Way so this is a great opportunity for us.
Serving our community
We will continue to be involved in the Lenham Family Festival, and Jenny and Gail are both on the committee this year. We will also help in some way at the Christmas Lights day
"ALTHOUGH YOU ARE SMALL, YOU ARE MIGHTY!"
Estelle closed by sharing the above phrase that God gave her for us:
We are being encouraged to believe what God says about us, not what it looks like in the natural. Although it feels like we are doing small things, the impact will be far greater than we imagine, for we serve a Mighty God!