Schools Bible Exhibition 2018

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Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

This month our church took over 600 children from Garnteg, Cwmffrdoer and Victoria Village Primary school(s) on a journey through the Bible.

The exhibition (provided by the Open Air Mission) comprised of 18 boards that included pictures, infographics and bite size narrative for the children to follow*.

The first board told the story of creation, the second the Garden of Eden and so on.

The children could see how wonderful the world was when God first made it. There was no death, no pain, no sickness, what a wonderful place to be.

God then made Adam and Eve and gave them all that they could possibly have wanted. With just one rule to follow, “do not to eat from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” (Genesis 2:17).

This rule gave Adam and Eve freedom, they now had a choice, to love God or disobey Him.

As we all know the devil entered into the garden as a serpent and convinced Adam and Eve to break this rule and partake in the forbidden fruit.

The children were then invited to share some of their school rules and the punishments they would receive if they break them. (Times have changed).

The children could all see from this simple exercise that (just like in school) God gives us rules for our own benefit and safety. They could also see that God has every right to punish people for breaking His rules (which is what the Bible calls sin).

Adam and Eve sinned, they broke God’s rule. For the first time they knew that they were naked. They felt ashamed at what they had done and were banished from the garden to live in this cold, hard, fallen world.

But in love, we are told that God covered their shame and comforted them with animal skin.

The children could see right at the start of the exhibition (and the Bible) that rejecting or ignoring God’s life giving rules, logically leads to death. God loved Adam and Eve and did not want them to die, so innocent blood was shed, so that Adam and Eve’s shame could be covered.

This theme pointed all of the children forward to the promised Messiah who would fix the problem of sin in the same way by His death.

The display moved on to Noah, then the Tower of Babel, we looked at Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel, God’s family whom the promised Messiah would come into the world). The Exhibition took us then to Joseph and his journey to Egypt, the Story of Moses, the Ten Commandments, the Passover and Exodus. Always reaffirming the point that God (who made us) gave us rules to live by so that we could be happy but (just like today) the people in the Bible constantly rejected God and broke His rules (sin) and that such action requires punishment, just like when you break the school rules.

The children could see for themselves that for the guilty to be reunited with our loving God, innocent blood had to be shed, so that God can also remain just in His punishment, whilst at the same time remaining merciful to those who He love who did the wrong.

The exhibition progressed onto Elijah, the Judges, then King Saul and David, the Babylonian captivity, Daniel and the prophets, before ending with Christ’s birth, death and resurrection, explaining again the significance that for the guilty (us) to be reunited with God by grace, innocent blood has to be shed to make atonement for our wrongs, so that God can remain just whilst at the same time being merciful to us.

The display ended with a clear lesson.

Christian’s believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the one who God sent to deal with the problem of sin (that alienates humanity from our loving Father in Heaven).

Jesus did not break a single rule, He was totally innocent, yet on the Cross He took the just punishment for the sins of all people who love Him. (1 Peter 2:24).

A truth that we asked each of the children to consider.

Volunteers from the church dressed up as characters and spoke through their story (in first person) at different stages throughout the exhibition. The children then had the opportunity to interact one to one with the “heroes of faith” that brought the teaching alive.

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The exhibition gave clear Biblical themes throughout to help the children come to their own conclusions.

The Christian world view was presented to them fairly and in the greatest of love without putting any pressure on them that could damage the witness in the future.

The exhibition takes just one hour out of the school day and is interactive (so the children stay focused throughout). Head teacher Garnteg Primary School Susan Roche said: “The whole week last week was great as it gave the children something different. It combined very important aspects of the curriculum like RE, history and the humanities and brought it together in an interactive way which made it very meaningful.

We can thank God that many children still know the key events of the Bible today; from the fall to Passover, David and Goliath to the birth of Christ, but the exhibition illustrates superbly how all of these historic events fit together as one big story of God’s redemptive plan for humanity.

 

 

At the end of the exhibition the children filled out a quiz, which volunteers from the church marked. The following week the Mayor, local councillor and the press joined us to present prizes to the children.

Each child was rewarded with an information pack that includes games, treats and information about the church.

We hope that such outreach will inform the children and their families of the many services that we provide for the community and that through this outreach the elect would come to church, hear the gospel and know a changed life that will glorify God.

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Read the Article online here

 A huge big thank you to the wonderful volunteers at the church who gave up significant time and resources for this to happen and to the OPEN AIR MISSION for their support.

*Narrative by JP Earnest (Field Operations Manager) Open Air Mission

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Well Done Giles

Let me start by stating clearly that I follow King Jesus. I am not a proponent of “church and state,” neither is the below piece intended to show any favouritism or indeed affiliation toward any political party. With that now said… let us begin!

It was over a year ago now that I was asked by Councillor Giles Davies to join Rev. Martin Freeman as his chaplain during his tenure as Mayor of Torfaen. I was flattered and put it to prayer.

I agreed and by God’s Grace the year has been a real blessing. Giles has given me the opportunity to meet and engage with people in the community that I might otherwise not have had the chance to.

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The role began at Giles’ induction (May 2015) where I was brought in before the Council to accept the commission and pray for the new Mayor, a daunting task that ended with a rather serial applause from the council – I get myself into some crazy situations!

A few weeks later I received a call from Giles, inviting me to join him at the Blaenavon World Heritage Carnival. This was simply to show support (in his guise as Mayor) and for a walk around the shops for a meet and greet. I dressed accordingly (jeans and a short sleeved shirt). To my surprise, I ended up leading the parade down the high street alongside the Mayor and our MP. As I walked past the many faces in the crowds lining the road I was told to wave and smile, I felt so out of place in my casuals and could not hide my embarrassment, repeating Isaiah 61:10 in my head as I walked. To my horror, later that week, a picture of us all appeared in the Free Press, front page! It was a privilege to be part of such an occasion.

Pastor John with Mayor of Torfaen, Mayor of Blaenavon and Welsh Labour MP for Torfaen

Pastor John with Mayor of Torfaen, Mayor of Blaenavon and Welsh Labour MP for Torfaen

Another duty of the Mayor is to go to parliament and it was a pleasure to accompany Giles. I had a great day walking the halls where many a hero such as Oliver Cromwell, Lloyd George, Winston Churchill and Nye Bevan once walked. I was humbled to sit in the viewing area to witness our democracy in action (you can read more about the day here – A day in Parliament). To the “enjoyment” of the Mayor and Mayoress, the car journey to and from London was filled with theological debate with my Methodist brother Rev. Martin Freemen.

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Together we have judged painting competitions in Pontypool Park, shares a cream tea in the museum, enjoyed garden parties, fireworks at the Golf club where Giles arranged for Folly Tower to be lit Purple (in support of Pancreatic Cancer UK), we have supported and been part of local concerts, memorial services, school plays, fundraisers, memorial services and pub quizzes. I have had a chance to meet and work alongside Churches and Ministers from across the county, something I longed to do.

All of this was just the tip of the Iceberg of the Mayor’s role. Between the Ministry and secular employment I simply could not accompany Giles to everything, my entire year’s service could be compressed to just one of his active weeks, he truly embraced his opportunity to be the first among equals of Torfaen.

The year has not been easy for Giles. He has been one of the faces of a council faced with great austerity; we have both campaigned vehemently to save our local Victoria Village School and Brynteg Nursery (that has not been easy and put him in an awkward situation at times).

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Giles has had to balance his work as Councillor for Abersychan as well as Mayor (alongside the “day job”). This left little time for his family, including his wonderful daughter, who has supported him all the way. I am surprised Giles has not burned himself out with the workload and I have prayed that God would uphold him. A prayer answered.

Whatever you’re political or personal view of the man, I can say he worked hard for our county and I am pleased to call him friend.

Giles brought the office of Mayor into the 21st century, being the first in history to have a twitter account desiring to be both transparent and approachable through all communication channels; he worked with the greatest sincerity aiming to achieve the impossible task of pleasing everybody.

Giles took his duty seriously (with his heart on his sleeve) and whilst out on engagement would always seek to support local businesses, purchasing goods (from his own pocket) to buy anything from cheese platter’s to commissioning paintings from local artists. He worked with a humble spirit and saw his position as a privilege and raised thousands of pounds for his chosen charities; Alzheimer’s, Llanerch Disaster Memorial fund, British Heart Foundation and Pancreatic Cancer UK.

Folly Tower World Pancreatic Cancer Day

Giles has regularly supported the outreach at Noddfa, attending special events in a personal capacity and in his guise as Mayor, for that I am grateful. The last function he attended at the church as Mayor was the Queen’s birthday party where he and Gwyneira shared my vision to bring the local churches together and show our unity in Jesus.

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Giles would be the first to admit that his efforts were could not have been achieved without his team, I did not have the pleasure of meeting them all, but would like to thank them all especially Hywel (chief advisor, security, chauffer, guardian of the chain, comedian and all round legend) and the wonderful and hardworking Chris Slade.

Sadly I could not attend the handover as I have just returned home from a family holiday, but delighted to hear that the baton of “Chaplain to the Mayor” has now been past onto another Evangelical Rev Johnny Raine at Pontrhydryrun Church.

I will continue to pray for Giles and all the other Councillors, as well as our new Mayoress Veronica Crick, may the Lord bless you in your service.

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. 1 Timothy 2:1-3

Purple Lights of Hope

We are very blessed in Abersychan to have such a committed and active Councillor as Giles Davies. He does so much for our community and his drive to make a difference to the area has not deteriorated since he took office as the Mayor of Torfaen earlier this year. Giles continually seeks to support all those in the area to the best of his ability, he is always out serving the community and I thank God for him.

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Giles Davies Mayor of Torfaen and Pastor John FunnellSo, when I get a phone call from Giles, asking to support, I jump at the chance (and we all should)! I do not do this simply as assistant Chaplain to the Mayor, neither as a friend, but in gratitude for his efforts to improve the lives of all of us in the community. Giles has sacrificed a lot of his time and resources supporting his charities this year, and has worked incredibly hard to raise awareness for “World Pancreatic Cancer Day” (13th November 2015). I was humbled and excited to be part of the proceedings.

The charity event started at Pontypool Golf club where we met to see the Folly Tower lit up purple, it could be seen for miles. (I believe this is the first time it has been lit up since the millennium).

Folly Tower World Pancreatic Cancer Day

The lighting of the Tower was launched in spectacular fashion with the best firework display I have seen this year (courtesy of Pendragon Fireworks).

We then moved on to St Cradoc’s Church, Trevethin, for the “Purple Lights of Hope Service” given by Canon Brian Pippen. Prayers were said, candles lit to symbolise ongoing prayer for those suffering with Pancreatic Cancer and a well chosen reading from Romans 8:18-26.

The reading from Paul’s letter talks about present suffering in a fallen world and the hope of Glory to come in Christ Jesus that will far outweigh our current pain and suffering.

Then we enjoyed an evening of fantastic entertainment.

Howard Jackson sang from his heart (full of welsh pride), a mixture of traditional gospel songs and some classics to. Marvelous!

Howard Jackson

Howard Jackson

Mandy Jones, spoke on her experiences with Pancreatic Cancer, losing her husband just six days after diagnoses. She bravely shared some horrifying statistics and gave an insight into the human tragedy. I will be praying for Mandy and her family as they continue to grieve their loss (John 3:16). Mandy heads up the charity in Torfaen. “Supporting the Fighters Admiring Survivors and Honouring the Taken and Never Give up Hope.”

Mandy Jones

Mandy Jones

We also had a scene from “AdHoc” dramatic group from their upcoming Christmas Carol show and a poem from Alex Wharton.

Alex Wharton.

Alex Wharton.

The star of the show had to be Laura Sidney. You do not expect to see such a talent at a local church in a small Valley town. Seriously world class. I closed my eyes as she sang and was carried away, a taste of heaven and something that she must pursue!

Laura Sidney

Laura Sidney

The night ended with refreshments and fellowship, a great chance to meet many in the community and support a worthy cause.

I ask everyone to please give what you can to the cause – here is the just giving page for Torfaen

A big thanks to Giles, Mandy and all who supported.

A day in Parliament

“Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish [from] the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Psalms 2:10 – 2:12

Let me start by stating that I follow King Jesus. I am not a proponent of “church and state,” neither is the below piece intended to show any favouritism or indeed an affiliation toward any party.

Alex Salmond and Pastor John

Alex Salmond and Pastor John

For those of you that do not know, I have agreed to be the assistant Chaplain to the Mayor of Torfaen. Why? Because I believe Giles (the Mayor) to be a man that has a genuine love for the community and a burden for those he serves (regardless of his or their political background). The role is voluntary and  (Praise God) already opened many opportunities for the Gospel in the community.

One of the duties of the position is to join the Mayor (Giles) on a trip to Parliament of which I have just returned home from and it was a day I would never forget!

We got to Parliament at around mid-day. Just like in an airport, security requirements had to be met, so our belts were removed and our wallets and phones put into trays. (Good job Giles did not wear his livery collar as it would have set all the alarms off).

We were greeted on entry by Nick Symmonds-Thomas MP for Torfaen (and local Abersychan resident). As we walked with Nick into “stranger’s corridor” things instantly got real! I noticed a number of heavily armed police among the masses of busy people. It was like a bee-hive of activity, filled with very serious looking individuals that I could only assume were; runners, researchers, assistants and the press buzzing around. Amidst the organised chaos, Lord West casually strolled past me befitting his stereo-type with top hat and cane and as we sat down I could see many recognisable faces, the closest being Nigel Lawson,  I also got to speak with Alex Salmond.

Nick has a very busy schedule, so was very kind to take some time out to show us around Parliament, where I soaked up the history. In the central lobby I saw the crack in the Sword of the statue of Viscount Falkland, this had to be repaired after the the Suffragettes chained themselves to it when fighting for the vote. There were many statues of some great men of History, the decorations and artwork throughout were awe inspiring.

We had the privilege of entering the gallery to see our democracy at work and by providence it was during the maiden speech of local MP Chris Davies (Breacon), sat next to him was David Davies (MP Monmouthshire) and on the other bench Jessica Morden (MP Newport) – with us in the gallery you could be forgiven in thinking that the Welsh were taking over! (None of us were asked to toe the line).

Chapel of St Mary Undercroft

Chapel of St Mary Undercroft

One of the high points was yet to come! The opportunity to take a rare view of the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft situated under the Palace of Westminster, built in 1292. This was a truly amazing space of unrivaled beauty, laced with gold leaf, stain glass, statues and carvings, the craftsmanship was exemplary!

Although I do not agree with such grandeur, it is a reminder that these fair isles are governed on a foundation of Christian belief and principles, a historical fact that each parliament sadly seems to drift further away from.

It was a wonderful day – London is of course impressive! But it is no Abersychan!

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour.”  1 Timothy 2:1-3

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