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3 entries from November 2012

A Week of Thanksgiving

We've been a bit bogged down with illness recently, hence the lack of a blog last week. Then this week-end the whole house-hold managed to be afflicted by some sort of stomach bug, so we're still trying to fight it off. However, in the midst of the sickness and frustration we have had lots to give thanks to God for. 

One exciting event was a visit from a couple who are hoping to move to Mexico in the near future (the husband, Phil, is American, the wife, Paula, is Mexican). They will be working in Mexico with Ambassadors In Sport and are interested in partnering with MEFI in some way. Of course football is always something that will appeal to the street-boys and we had a special tournament for the street-kids (and MEFI workers) on the day he visited. It was a really fun time and Phil, who is a football coach, shared his testimony with the kids. 

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We also were excited to see one of the street boys 'J' preaching at the street-kid's church on Friday morning. He has only been coming along to the drop-in centre for a little while, but he has a great hunger to study God's word and preached on the story of Nehemiah that he had heard in a rehab centre and which had made a big impact on him. He shared how God had challenged him to show the same faith and obedience as Nehemiah and he challenged the other street-kids to take steps of faith as well. 

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Then of course with last Thursday being Thanksgiving Day in the USA and with  us having a native with us (!) we had to join in with the celebrations. Nisha enjoyed helping with the preparations which included making 3 different types of pie, and making lots of 'hand turkeys' to decorate the house with. We had a few families round for dinner and had quite a feast to say the least, with enough to make the traditional left-over sandwiches - yum! Nisha also had a little celebration at her school where she and the other members of her class had to say a phrase in English - it was quite funny hearing her saying it with a strong Mexican accent - she had obviously learnt it from her Mexican teacher!

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Then on Friday, Nisha and Anya were invited to go to a Safari Park with the school. I went along for the ride and it was fun but exhausting trip. Nisha enjoyed feeding the giraffes, camels, lamas, zebras etc, but one of her favourite bits was feeding the cows! We got up close to lions and tigers as well, but of course Anya was much more interested in 'cuddling' (or torturing!) the bunny rabbits!

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What is 'church?

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People hold many stereotypes of what church is. For most people it is represented by a building; a place where we go, usually on Sundays. For others it represents an ancient out of date society where people still use the language of 'thees' and 'thous' and where old ladies keep turning round to say shh! Others may see a judgemental institution that can not even agree amongst themselves about what they really believe. 

Sadly, there are churches out there that would back up these stereotypes and it frustrates me that this is the case and that people's perceptions have been affected by these misinterpretations of church. However, my faith was restored in what church should really be this week as we gathered a group of homeless teenagers in the drop-in centre on Friday morning for a service. 

I'm not going to get in to a long theological argument outlining what church is and should be, but it suffices to say that this week I was reminded of one of the raw characteristics of the church that really should form the foundation of what it is - that is pure grace - in all it's craziness and absurdity, demonstrated amongst people who are in the world's eyes a complete mess. 

We are holding 'street-kids church' in the drop-in centre on Friday mornings. Already the fact that we're not meeting on Sunday mornings might break traditional preconceptions, and we are not in a traditional church building,  This is because the building really doesn't matter when it comes to being 'church'. Someone's front room, or even the side of a street can be a place to hold 'church' just as much as a cathedral, with all it's aesthetic qualities.

On Friday morning  17 teenagers met for 'church', all homeless and with the majority having suffered some sort of abuse in their lives. A lot have had a spell in prison, two of the young girls are pregnant, one of the girls (15) has recently had her second baby, but isn't interested and has abandoned them both. One of the guys was telling me the other day he's tried every drug except heroine, and he injects cocaine on a regular basis. One 19 year old is a transvestite and he (she) prostitutes him/herself. There are three other guys who are also confused about their sexuality. 

On the whole it's a group of pretty messed up young-people, but that's what so exciting. Jesus said he came to save the lost - not the people who think they have it all together.  The church is made up of people that have had and have issues in their lives. But it is also made up of people that have responded to the amazing news that Jesus died and was resurrected so that death might be defeated and that we might have abundant life - now and in eternity. Becoming a follower of Christ doesn't guarantee a perfect, pain and hassle free life, it means that we have someone who will walk with us in those hard times and never leave us. 

There are so many more exciting elements to the church, I'm only scraping the surface - but if you think you're beyond God's grace then you're wrong -  you only need to look at this group of 'rough diamonds' and see many of them respond with tears and joy as we shared a message of hope. The God we know is a loving and powerful God who can change even the most desperate of lives in the most desperate situations, He is not restricted to our limited view of what church is or should be like!


Young mum's life taken by AIDS

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This week has been a week of ups and downs. We continue to make progress in challenging the young people we work with to make the hard decisions and take the steps needed to leave the streets - there are three in particular that expressed a desire to go in to rehab last week  who I (Steve) will be speaking to in the next few days about where they will go and for how long.  Please pray for A, Je, and Ju.
However, as always, side by side with the encouragements, there are tragedies as well. There have been two deaths this week .  Firstly, Ja. in the picture above, girlfriend to LA, who we introduced you to in our last newsletter. She was also mum to two young kids who are now with their grandma. She and LA both had AIDS, and in fact she was LA's main carer as LA also has sarcoma and tuberculosis. So we had expected LA to go first and it was a shock to hear of Ja's death.  When we are faced with situations like these we are reminded of the urgency of the message of hope, love and reassurance that these young people need to hear. We are grateful that we had the opportunity to introduce LA and Ja to Jesus and that they both experienced the eternal security that knowing Jesus brings. 
Another life that was lost was an unborn baby to P at 7 months of pregnancy.  P lost another baby around the same time that Helen was pregnant with Anya and again she made it to about 7 months and then lost the baby. P's lifestyle, which involves drugs, homeless living and abuse are what have led to the sad loss both times. She went through rehab once just after the loss of her last baby, but unfortunately when she left she got sucked back in to the same life-style. She is now very poorly because of this last miscarriage and desperately needs your prayers. 
As a director of a project I am often looking at the big picture and thinking about how we can become more effective. I came home from the drop-in centre on Wednesday unable to see the big picture, but only able to reflect on the faces of those we've lost and those we could lose in the near future if action isn't taken. We are constantly  fighting a battle against the despair and seeming inevitability that many of these street kids and young people will not make it in to their late 20's and early 30's. However, we know that lives have been completely steered away from this path of destruction and given a new life and new song to sing, and this is what helps us to persevere and to believe in the miracles of transformation that can happen to each young person. 
For those who believe in the power of prayer please join us in praying for A., Je and Ju. Please also encourage those you know to join us in the fight we're facing and to find out more about what we are doing through the MEFI web-site. These young people need as much prayer and support as they can get!