Hazelden Family News
Serving with Europe Now in Bristol
PO Box 168, Bristol, BS9 2YE
A brief recap...
somewhere over 500
million people in Europe - depending on exactly where you place the borders - and most
of them do not know that God loves them. In much of Southern Europe, less than one
person in 100 is an evangelical Christian, and the churches are small
and divided. If they are to reach this generation, they need help
from places like Britain, where the church is comparatively strong.
In the last 50 years, many people have gone into Europe as
missionaries. As a result, churches have been planted, and
much other good work has been done. But the sad truth is
that the majority of these people do
not survive as missionaries. In Italy, only 10% of missionaries
return for a second term. The same is true of missionaries in France,
and even of
evangelists working in their own country - most do not continue in
this ministry beyond the first five years.
That is where Europe Now comes in. We have been supporting
missionaries in Europe for some years, and now we have started the
Snowball training programme to equip people for an evangelistic
Snowball provides training for evangelists.
Bible Colleges do a
wonderful job in training people to be pastors, but the ministry of
an evangelist requires very different skills from that of a pastor, for
whom many training programmes appear to be geared.
Snowball provides training for an evangelistic ministry. People
who are called into this work need to understand the Bible and
develop a godly character, but they also need to learn how to
exercise a ministry that will not burn out or blow up in five years.
They need to learn how to work in teams, how to work in partnership
with the local church, and how to encourage others to join them.
In order to get this programme up and running, in March last year
the trustees asked me to become Europe Now's UK Director.
Since then, almost every spare moment has been spent turning this vision into
a reality. It is hard work, but it has been worth it.
Working with Snowball
So what do I spend my time doing? It is hard to summarise the full
range of activities, but here are a few glimpses...
For the last few months, I have
been regularly meeting and praying with church leaders from
different denominations across Bristol. They are all enthusiastic
when they hear that we are not only training people in practical
evangelism, but also training these people to work in partnership
with local churches. We are exploring a number of possible ideas for
partnership - please pray that they can be organised to
fit in with all the existing commitments. And we would like to use
these contacts to help the 'ordinary' Christians in the churches to
discover how God can use them, too.
Along with Mark Howe and Rob Davis, I have been taking the students
to the Bristol Crisis Centre. This is a project, run by local
Christians, set up to reach the homeless, drug addicts and
alcoholics. It is based in the St Paul's district, near the city
centre. The people running the Centre have given us an
increasing amount of responsibility for some aspects of their work.
We talk to the people who come in to the Coffee Shop to eat and get
warm, we go out on the streets and invite people to come along, we
give out vouchers for free meals to the most needy, and we lead an
evangelistic event at the Centre each Thursday evening.
One evening in mid-December, a man about my age walked into the
Centre, and I started chatting with him. He was the brother of one
of the helpers on duty that evening, and several of the staff had
known him for years. Kev had been an alcoholic for a long time, but
he now wanted to go and stay with his sister and her husband - "I'm
really going to get off the bottle this time." We offered to
pray for him, and, to my surprise, he accepted, and we went downstairs
with two people he knew on the regular staff.
Perhaps because I hardly knew Kev, I was asked to pray. I
asked God to bless him, and he started to tremble. As I continued to
pray, it became clear that the Holy Spirit was doing a powerful work in
He was completely overwhelmed, tears
streaming down his face, with the joyful realisation that God loved
him and accepted him just as he was. As he put it, "I know that
God is in my life, now." We continued to talk and pray for a while...
I could fill this whole prayer letter describing that evening.
Over a month later, his sister says he is still going strong. One of
the staff members had been unsure about what had
actually happened - he had not prayed the traditional "sinner's
prayer" - but she was now convinced by the transformation in his
life. Please pray for Kev - he has a
number of major problems remaining, but at least he now has the
inner resources to face them.
Also before Christmas, I took the students out on the streets of
our own area several times, delivering Gospels and inviting people to
a joint Carol Service. We had some good conversations, and I made
contact with one lady - a Jehovah's Witness - which I have followed
up and she has invited us to come back and talk about what we
believe. Please pray for her, and for all the others we are
meeting each week, that they be open to the gospel, and that we
present it with sensitivity and clarity.
All this work, and a lot more I do not have space to tell you
about, is tremendously exciting in itself, but the key thing is that
it is being done as part of the training programme for the students.
The other aspects of the programme are designed to help them grow as
Christians, to develop an effective and sustainable ministry, and to
develop a firm grasp of Biblical truth. Without these areas
underpinning the excitement of the work being done, any benefits for
the students would only be short term.
In some of my modules, I have been able to use (almost
without change) material I have prepared in the past. This
has included teaching on creation,
evolution and science, the problem of pain, and understanding the
Old and New Testaments. Other modules - such as the
ones on CH Spurgeon and William Booth, and Saint Paul's
understanding of humanity - have required a good deal of
before the most useful and relevant details for the students could
be pulled out from the mass of material available.
Other aspects of the course are more devotional. We can cover
the theology of being in Christ - we can cover it from all the
different angles - but we also want that truth to become more
real in the lives of the students.
The rest of the work
We knew beforehand that running the course would involve a lot
of work, but I don't think we appreciated just how much needs to
go on behind the scenes in order to make the scheduled times with
the students useful - things like staff meetings, getting together
with the people who are taking other parts of the course, and
setting up opportunities for the students to help other churches
and gain a good experience of a wide range of evangelistic
And, as UK Director, I am responsible for seeing that the
previous work of Europe Now does not stop just because Snowball
has started. We still need to prepare for the missions, answer
the many enquiries we receive, and support our missionaries.
The move from Guildford to Bristol was far more difficult than
we believed possible: the film rights should shortly become
available, if anyone wants to make us an offer! We really
appreciated all the people who supported, encouraged and prayed
for us during this time. Westborough gave us a really great
send-off, and people in Bristol welcomed us with open arms. Hard
though it was to leave a church family we have loved for so long,
it was incredible how quickly we felt settled at Highgrove. And,
at the end of this long journey, we are now living in an
absolutely wonderful house with a view over the River Trym. God
We are thrilled to be living with other people again. Many of
you will know this is something we have wanted to do for a long
time. Steve is coping remarkably well with living with us, and he
often collects Philip and Ian from school when Paul is busy with
Snowball or in Gloucester - we could not juggle all our
commitments without him. Sue is handling her new, high-powered job
well, and Alan takes commuting on the bus to school in Bristol in
his stride. If you would like to know more about our
family's activities last year,
please ask for a copy of our 'Christmas letter', where you will
hear all about our encounter with the eclipse and other
We are hoping to spend a week in Guildford as a family at the
end of February. The next week, Paul and Rob are planning to be
in Liverpool to become qualified as Evangelism Explosion
trainers. As part of Snowball, we shall be running missions
in Cardiff and Manchester, and the first year ends in June with a
week of outreach in Vienna.
A number of people have already expressed interest in being a
part of Snowball from September 2000. If you know anyone who
may be interested (or if you may be!), do let us know.
One practical detail is that I resigned from the eXchange in
the Autumn in order to work for Europe Now. The eXchange asked me to
continue with them on a part-time basis for a while, which I am now
doing to help us keep going financially while I raise
some more support. I am currently working one day a week for them
in Gloucester until mid-March. Mark & Sue Howe are returning
to France, so I cannot continue in Gloucester beyond that date. Please
pray with us that the necessary support will be found by March.
Another area we need to sort out as soon as possible is the
basis on which I am doing this work. We are still
working on the precise details of how Europe Now can employ me,
but the latest estimate
suggests I need to raise an additional £700 each
month to cover the cost to Europe Now of employing me full
time. If you would like to know where this figure
comes from, or any other details of the finances, I would be
happy to answer your questions.
And, finally, we cannot continue this work without your prayers -
for us as a family, for the students, for the people we work
alongside, and for the people we meet each week who need to know the
love of God in their lives. If you do not already receive our prayer
letter, please contact us at the address above, and join us in
reaching the people of Europe with the gospel. Thank you.