We have now received the direction from the Church of England that the Archbishops have stated that ‘public worship is suspended until further notice’. This means that St Mary’s will not meet for worship services on Wednesdays or Sundays until we receive further information.
We have also decided that in line with the government advice around ‘non-essential contact’ to cancel all small group meetings and mid-week gatherings for children and youth.
BUT the spiritual life and mission and ministry of the church will continue it will just look a bit different for a while.
This is a new season for our church and just like our expectancy for the Spring and the warmer weather we are expectant for God to continue to be at work in our lives; speaking to us, helping us become more like Jesus and prompting us in ways to ‘love our neighbor as ourselves’.
Here are the current ways in which you can connect in prayer, worship and with one another (remotely):
- Pausing to Pray
There will be two opportunities each week to ‘pause and pray’. One will be on a Monday evening between 8pm and 8.30pm, the other will be Thursday mornings 9.15 – 9.45am. If you would like to indicate that you are engaging with this and you wish to receive some prayer pointers and the allotted Bible reading email email@example.com and if possible send your mobile number so that you can join a Whatsapp group
- Worship and teaching
There will be a slot of teaching and prayers via video posted on both Wednesdays and Sundays. I am still to determine the exact way this happens such as whether it will be ‘live streamed’ or a recording that gets posted. But look on the website and our facebook page tomorrow at 11.30am for the first posting.
- Love one another
We have an incredible opportunity at this time to show God’s love to others. For example do you know people in Nursing Home or who are self isolating? Can you write them a letter or card or ring them up? How might we offer practical help like shopping, dog walking, medicine collecting etc for others from church, our wider family and our friends and neighbours?
- Children, families and Youth Work
We are looking at ways we can provide specific resources for children, families and young people – watch this space. As a starter, you could follow St Mary’s Wythall Youth, Children’s and Families on Facebook to find out new things as they happen!
Thanks for your patience and prayers at this time. Please keep in touch. Although a very unusual time I truly believe God wants to grow us in our faith and to grow our church.
Rev Manda Featherstone
17th March 2020
Francis Abola was the student we sponsored to go to Kira Farm in 2018. Here is news about Francis which we received recently from the charity Amigos, who run Kira Farm.
Thanks to sponsorship from St Mary’s Church Wythall, 22 year old Francis has created a very successful carpentry business, and is working to bring restoration to difficult family relationships.
Francis says: ‘My business is growing by the week and I’m now looking for other trainees to come and join me as I have so much work. After all my outgoings I’m able to save around £90 per month, which I am going to use to buy my own land, a place I can call truly home.’
My mother died when I was two and I was given the name Abola, which means abandoned child. My father took me to live with him and his new wife, but they never wanted me as I was so young and of little use. Apart from a grass thatched roof over my head, I received no love and kindness as a child. My stepmum hated me so much, she made me eat my own poo. Whenever anyone visited the hut and talked of how I looked like my dad, she would beat me up after they left. My body is covered with visible scars from her beatings as well as the invisible, psychological scars that I carry.
When my stepmum had children with my dad, she would lock me in a hut for days so I couldn’t play with my stepbrothers and sisters. When I was nine years, I ran away from home and slept in bushes for almost two weeks. I was eventually found, weak and almost unconscious from not eating and taken back to my father by some well-‐meaning villagers. As soon as I started to recover my father gave me a torturous beating for shaming him and my stepmum. Life couldn’t have been worse.
My abuse reached the ears of the elders of our clan, so they paid a visit to my family. They warned my dad and stepmum to stop the abuse immediately and made them send me to school. Things cooled down for a couple of months before things got even worse, but I was at least away from home and in school for part of the day. My father only paid school fees for one term, so I had to work digging people’s land and collecting water. It was backbreaking work, but I could earn about £7 a month in the planting season. I managed to work my way to secondary school, which was a minor miracle, but eventually dropped out at the end of Senior 4.
All I ever wanted was to work hard and look after myself, but it seemed a hopeless dream until I heard of Kira Farm Development Centre. This was the opportunity I had longed for. I made sure I turned up to the interview on time, and just prayed and prayed I would be accepted. I couldn’t believe my ears when Joshua told me to get ready to come to Kira in January. No one will ever know the gratitude and excitement I felt!
When my family heard I was accepted for vocational training at Kira Farm, they were so angry that they burnt my hut down and threw me out. I was certainly living up to my name, after all these years I was still the abandoned one and they still never wished anything good for me. The only way I could save my life was to run as far away from my dad and stepmum as possible. Fortunately, I knew of a relative who was now living 300 miles away in Entebbe and who I was able to stay with before joining Kira Farm in the January.
No one will ever know how much I needed to be at Kira. All my life I have craved to be loved and treated as a valued human being. God must have known Kira was the only place I could find the healing I needed to fill the emptiness I felt inside. I laugh when I talk about God now because I hated God with everything in me. I questioned where He was when my mum died, why I had to suffer at such a young age, even why my dad and stepmum nearly took my life. I am so grateful I went through the Kira’s discipleship training. It helped me find peace and come to terms with some of the questions I might never know the answers to. I now see God as my loving father, someone who I can talk to and rely on, a real father figure. I am also so very grateful for the love Joshua showed me. I never knew a person could give so much love and strength to someone that they hardly knew, and that they were not related to.
From Desperation to Success
As my year at Kira sped by, I was getting very anxious about leaving. What would I do, where I would live? I was encouraged that God had a plan for my life and now I had a family that loved me and wanted the best for me. But when I look back, I realise how hard it was for my fellow trainees to make friends with me. I came to Kira damaged and broken, I found it hard to trust anyone, but things are different now. If I had my time at Kira again, I believe I would have an amazing relationship with everyone I feel so different.
Just like a true father, Joshua was also worried about where I was going to stay, and what I was going to do, knowing full well I couldn’t return home to Kitgum, so he fixed up a job for me a few miles down the road from Kira Farm at a town called Kasangati. I worked for 3 months in a maize mill but also did some building work for the same company earning £60 a month. Accommodation and meals were provided so I saved every penny, which enabled me to set up my own workshop back in Entebbe. My business is growing by the week and I’m now looking for other trainees to come and join me as I have so much work. After all my outgoings I’m able to save around £90 per month, which I am going to use to buy my own land, a place I can call truly home.
I am praying to God to help me fully forgive my parents because even now I can’t understand why they hated me so much, and why I deserved to be treated that way. The annual Strength programme that is run at Kira helped me beyond measure. I’m using everything I learnt to reach out to my dad to
try and heal the rift between us I’ve managed to talk to him twice, and I feel know that, with time, we will be able to heal our relationship so that I may forgive him.
I grew up abandoned and alone, in darkness. To have felt love from Joshua at Kira Farm and from Ria and Pam all that way away in the UK has shown me God’s favour and helped me be the person I am today.
Join us in the anticipation of Advent and the joy of Christmas!
Sunday 1st December
9am Holy Communion
10.30am Christingle Service – fun for all ages
Wednesday 4th December
7pm Community Carols, with local schools, churches & community groups
Sunday 8th December
9am Holy Communion
10.30am The Hush before the Rush
Sunday 15th December
10.30am Traditional Carol Service
Sunday 22nd December
9am Holy Communion
10.30am Crib Service – suitable for all ages
Wednesday 25th December
10am Christmas Day service