"Some of the best moments of my life have been in the Good News Club" | Anthony's story
Feeling uninspired after months of lockdown? This September we’re sharing some stories of CEM resources in action, collected pre-pandemic. As we tentatively start to make plans for the new academic year, we hope these stories will spark some ideas for your evangelism this season. This is Anthony's story.
I’m Anthony, from a place called Speke - a poor estate on the south side of Liverpool.
My wife Elaine and I attend a family-sized church of around 70 people made up of all ages. We probably look very unimpressive on the outside, but we love loving the Lord together and are a close church family who are trying to find creative ways of reaching out to the 15,000 people who live in Speke.
Getting to know our neighbours
When we moved here six years ago, we came with a strong conviction that where we live is not an accident and that we have a responsibility for evangelising in our local area. So we decided to set aside time each week to intentionally invest in ways to love our semi-detached neighbours, George and his sons Lee, Phil, Ryan, Adam and Jack.
We started off by making an effort to stop and talk to them, we’d sometimes bake for them, and we kept praying for good opportunities with them. Before long, we got a chance to go out for a meal with George. On the way home, I asked him if I could tell him about Jesus one day. He said yes and that was the door in.
Sadly soon after that he got poorly and deteriorated in health very quickly. I was able to share the good news of Jesus with him before he died.
Introducing the 'Good News Club'
His boys wanted to know what I had said to him, so I told them about the hope we can have in Jesus in the face of death.
They wanted to find out more and so I set up what we called the ‘Good News Club’, which would be round at our house on a Wednesday night for around an hour and a half.
We started off by using the SOUL
films (without the handbooks, which felt too formal) and discussing them. A young guy from church who lived on the estate came to my house to do this with me as he was their sort of age.
There were many times I felt like giving up. Often they just didn’t turn up, or they would be late - it would just be really hard to get them together. Elaine would make some cakes and take them over anyway, and we’d try again the following week.
When we did meet up, we found we needed to watch the films over and over again to really get to grips with the content.
My top tip would be to take it slow and not to get too hung up on following the material exactly as it is, have an idea of the key ideas and just try and provide what people can cope with.
We initially planned to do the course in eight weeks but it took us a year!
After a particularly difficult period, we took a break. A few months later there was a renewed interest from the guys themselves and they asked if we could start it up again, but round at their house (one of the lads was released from prison with a tag and couldn’t be out of the house after 7pm).
Since we reinstated the Good New Club, we’ve finished SOUL
and looked at Lee McMunn’s Essentials series and Pete Woodcock’s The King and I. Most recently we have just been sitting down and working through the gospel of Mark together without any accompanying materials.
It has been a joy and a privilege to see God at work in these lads’ lives. In the last few years the guys have signed up for a seven-week online urban ministry course. They came and visited me in hospital when I had a stroke. We had a joint garden party for the World Cup and they insisted we started with something from the Bible. They tell me they have conversations with their friends about their faith.
Some of the best moments of my life have been in the Good News Club. There have been really special moments, like hearing them really praying from their hearts, or talking about when they first really believed the gospel (for Ryan it was when he was in the bath one day!).
It has increased my confidence that even if people look like they’re unlikely to be saved, God is the God of miracles.
I've been shielding during lockdown, with mixed health, but life outside is starting to open up a bit now.
Unfortunately, the lads haven't shown much enthusiasm for the Good News over this period. However, this is very much the slow and steady pattern of things, so I'm disappointed but not disillusioned.
In the last few weeks I have suggested Zoom with the guys, but as none of them are regular users we've had a few false starts as we get to grips with the app!
We also used the time to make contacts with more neighbours. We are now on good texting terms with four new households - having baked some loaves of bread during lockdown and taken them round to neighbours who said they'd like one. That's four new households to draw closer to hopefully over the next 12 months.
So, please pray for things to continue with the lads next door in one form or another. And for opportunities to love others in our neighbourhood well.
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