Last week (Weds 29th May) we had our May Family Afternoon at Hawbush Gardens! I have attached some photos for those of you that are more visual- Thank you Dave Hadley for popping along to take the photos!! We also had 2 family afternoons in the Easter Holidays but unfortunately we didn’t manage to get many photos for those!
The venue we use for our ‘Family Afternoons’ (Hawbush Gardens) is a beautiful place and has a really lovely atmosphere too. I am very thankful to the team that maintain this site including my dad Ken and other volunteers like Steve, Stuart and Trevor just to name a few! I am also thankful for a team that at one point met frequently on the gardens to pray for the work on Hawbush and particularly prayed over the gardens. The site is brilliant in the sunshine as there is so much space for the kids to run around in but in the rain its slightly less appealing as indoor space is limited and on Wednesday it rained!! I was a bit gutted about this and was disappointed that I hadn’t had more faith for dry weather, however despite my lack of faith the afternoon went brilliantly! We had at least 50 children turn up from over 25 different families, and somehow we all fit inside…
We had food donated by Asda again which is amazing and all went down well. Thank you to Mandy, Brenda, Rachel, Dan and others who prepped and served the food! The team ran lots of activities in limited space and really engaged the kids and parents in all that was going on and because the team ran things so well, there was opportunity for myself and a few others to be free to chat to parents and kids and continue to build relationships. I am looking forward to investing more in some of these parents, particularly a few that have been asking me about my faith and others that have offered to help out at future events.
At the events we always seem to have a great mix of regular families and new families, one of our moms brought 3 other families along this time which was really encouraging! Because of this mix it gives opportunities to continue to build relationships but also creates a welcoming atmosphere for newcomers who have no idea who we are or why we run these events- a great conversation opener!
In my interview with Tim Murray a few weeks ago on a Sunday I explained that at these afternoons there is an excellent outreach opportunity! We have relationship with families which means they are more open to hearing about our testimonies and the gospel, we also have opportunities to spot practical needs and families we can support. Naturally most of us love chatting about ourselves and so there is an opportunity to chat to parents and kids and just listen to their stories, what they are passionate about, what they are struggling with and having someone really listen to you can have a great impact.
We have already seen some families connect further and have started exploring faith through these afternoons and I believe we will see more. I have already said it but I will say it again, there is a great opportunity here to share God’s unconditional love with potentially 30 adults and 50 kids at each event and because there is such a sense of community in that area and people seem very connected to each other I think there could be a great impact. I would love to see God’s love changing many families, breaking through into the darkest places and flowing through that area. The families that we have seen come to faith or start exploring faith have done so through many connections, not just a one off moment but maybe having a few people ask how they are, share their own story to the parents, listen to their stories, and then invite them to other things where they can hear the gospel.
If you are looking for a place or opportunity to outreach or see as a place you can do mission I would encourage you to get in contact with me and have a chat about it! I would love to invite anyone to consider coming along just to visit an afternoon without any pressure to help or come to all the afternoons. Just come and see what it is like and pray about if this is something you can get involved in as we always need extra hands, friendly faces and people to witness to the families.