NEWS 07 Jan 05

Dear Friends,     


This New Year has begun with the most unprecedented suffering, grief and terror.  The December 26 south-east Asian earthquakes and tsunamis buried cities and villages in 13 countries – killing hundreds of thousands and leaving millions homeless.  Add to this the chaos, terrorism and wars in Iraq and Sudan – and troubles around the globe.  One has said that “the present feels like the end of the world!”    


Around the world, families and communities are grieving.  Many in Europe have been devastated.  No doubt, many of you have been impacted by this tragedy.  Some family members of very close friends of Judy and mine were caught up in this tragedy while on their honeymoon.  Although injured, they are alive – for which we are very thankful.  I pray that you, your family and friends have been spared loss.      


We are witnessing an enormous outpouring of generosity and support for those who have suffered.  Billions of euro/pounds/dollars have been given – much from individuals, small groups and churches.  Volunteers have travelled to the devastated areas to help in any and every way.  Local groups have established support systems for grieving families – who are waiting for news of missing children, parents or spouses – or for those who have lost their loved ones.    


This is not a time for pronouncements on why God has allowed this tragedy.  This is the time for action and service – to support those who are suffering.  In this NEWS we share some possibilities for church planting teams.  Please share any further ideas and suggestions.     I pray that your church planting team will make a difference in your community.  You are the ‘body of Jesus’ in your community – his tears to show his compassion, his arms to hold and comfort, and his hands to serve! 


Christian regards

Peter Roennfeldt 




In this NEWS …

Ø      TSUNAMI TRAGEDY – What Can We Do?  

Ø      BANJA LUKA CHURCH PLANTING TEAM – Sees God’s Smiling Eyes!

Ø      HOPE COMMUNITY CHURCH – ‘Soul Symphony’ Success in Beckenham Music Festival




TSUNAMI TRAGEDY – What Can We Do?       Many church planting teams will already be involved in providing aid and support to victims – both those in devastated countries and in our local communities for families left grieving, devastated or waiting for news.  Here are a few suggestions for individuals and teams from your church plant –

Ø      Join existing community fund raising events.  Put on your T-shirts (Uni&K, Remix, Korinta, WATTS up? etc) and get involved in raising funds, food and clothes in your local communities.

Ø      Organise opportunities for people to pray, reflect, remember and grieve.  Open your café church, homes or meeting places as a place for reflection.  Establish a memorial with candles, photos, etc – and invite people to come to reflect.

Ø      Plan a special remembrance worship service – and invite people from your community to read scriptures, share stories of local people affected, provide music in honour of those lost, share times for silence and respect.

Ø      Participate in services organised by others in community or civic centres and churches.

Ø      Organise a community concert or sporting event – and involve community personalities to perform – to raise funds for an aid organisation.

Ø      In some countries volunteers are being organised – people who will travel to the devastated areas in the coming months and years to use their expertise.  You could support an individual or team from your plant to be involved as volunteers.  If the government is not already organising this in your area – contact an aid organisation to see if something similar is being organised or establish such an organisation yourself.

Ø      Give to ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) or another aid agency.  An ADRA crisis command centre has been established in Bangkok (Thailand).  ADRA responded immediately providing shelter, blankets, drinking water, water containers, rice etc in Indonesia, Thailand, India, and Sri Lanka.  Country ADRA offices are organising fund raising – and in some cases special offerings are being collected. 

Ø      Organise a friend evening in your café or meeting place – or in the community.  Have a party, screen a movie – and, raise funds for tsunami victims. 

Ø      Organise a REACH OUT TO ASIA event.  Meet with representatives from the countries impacted – and invite them to meet your church planting team.  Provide them with a meal, assure them of your love and find ways to support them and their loved ones.

Ø      Plan to sponsor a child or children – as a church plant.

Ø      Take food to and do practical things for families in your communities who you know have suffered in this tragedy.

Ø      Involve your children in fund raising events that they can relate to in a meaningful way.  


BANJA LUKA CHURCH PLANTING TEAM – Sees God’s Smiling Eyes!     “Last week we collected scarves, gloves and caps for socially vulnerable children in Baja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina,” reports church planting team member Dragana Krnetic.  “And one of the Bosnian newspapers gave almost a whole page with a big title and our picture – reporting this service!  People were glad to help us and provide facilities during the project.  We are now planning a special dinner for the homeless on Thursday evening – the Orthodox Christmas Eve.  It will really be something!”     Dragana says, “I can see God’s eyes smiling at all the citizens of Banja Luka!”  It is true that we see and experience God as we serve in our communities – and we are bringing goodnews! 


HOPE COMMUNITY CHURCH – ‘Soul Symphony’ Success in Beckenham Music Festival     The Hope Community Church choir of mostly unchurched teenagers called Soul Symphony received the coveted W. W. Bell Baton award for their winning performance in the Beckenham Festival 2004.  The choir of 15 was formed in August 2004 following a series of Pop Idol style auditions.  “With the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the musical direction of Chris Brookes, Soul Symphony has gone from strength to strength,” reports Jenniffer Bailey – Director of Contact Ministries at Hope Community Church.  “It is now very much a part of Hope Community, a Beckenham based church plant headed by Pastor Bobby Bovell.”    

Following the winning performance on 27 November, Jenniffer Bailey commented, “The months have flown by since our first audition session.  Each member of Soul Symphony has grown in confidence, musical ability and understanding of God.  Talent, youth and the Holy Spirit are a powerful combination.  It’s my hope that this group of talented teenagers continue to develop and mature as individuals, a group and children of God.”  Held annually, the Beckenham Festival is one of the largest, competitive performing arts festivals in the South-East of England.    


SERVICE & FRIENDSHIP LEADS TO SPIRITUAL DIALOGUE     One planter lives and works among people of other major world religions in London.  When she felt called to this life almost 2 years ago she could not imagine a time when almost ALL her close friends would be from that community.  However, this has happened.  Relating through gym and health activities – friendship have been built, trust developed and life shared.  “One week ago, I received funding to train 2 ladies as fitness instructors,” she reports.  “They are now signed up and ready to begin.”    

Spiritual discussions are developing.  “Last Sunday after a fitness training session, one husband talked with me for over 1 hour about his faith. I couldn’t stop him nor get a word in.  I see a man extremely devoted to his beliefs.  He plans to take his entire family on Hajj in Dec 2005.  And it all began when I shared with him the fact that I watched a movie on the story of Islam and how much I was moved by what I saw.  It was all he needed.”      

Meals are shared.  Family events celebrated.  Women and children are taken to swimming sessions.  Health advice is sought.  “Women continue to ask for nutrition plans.  One Somali woman’s husband met me at the school and said ‘my wife wants you to do a plan for her’.  She has just had a baby and really wants to get eating well.  Its amazing how many want to get fit, eat well and feel good.  We are planning another healthy eating week soon.  Not with me doing the cooking though!” 


WATCHING MONKEYS WITH UNCHURCHED FRIENDS    You will recall that the WATT church planting team won tickets from a community radio talk show to take unchurched friends to the local zoo.  “We did have a great time at the zoo,” writes planter Anja Belder.  “God blessed us with a sunny day.  And it’s amazing what good talks you can have with your unchurched friends when you sit on a bench watching monkeys!” 


DUTCH TRADITION PROVIDES OUTREACH OPPORTUNITY TO CHILDREN & FAMILIES     “In Holland we have the tradition that when a baby is born we eat biscuit or rusk with sugar coated aniseeds,” writes WATT planter Anja Belder – reporting on their plan to relate this community tradition to Christmas.  On the Wednesday and Thursday before Christmas the WATT team met people in the shopping centre in Assen – and handed out biscuits.      

“Underneath the biscuit we put a note,” reports Anja.  “We wrote ‘congratulations on the birth of Christ’ and ‘you can find the story of his birth on (kertsverhaal means Christmas story).’”  The WATT team prepared this website with three stories – the Bible version of the birth of Jesus, a children’s story and a story for very small young children.  There is also an email address for those who have questions or those who would like to know more.     (Note:  This is an excellent idea.  What tradition in your country could be used to share the story of Jesus?  I apologise to Anja and WATT for not sharing this story before Christmas – to inspire others.  Peter.) 




TED Church Planting Office

Peter Roennfeldt