Monday, July 27, 2009

One on one with Jack English

Stephen Manhanga & Jack English

Stephen and I have known Jack since 2001. He came to Bindura, Zimbabwe for three weeks and it was then that we became friends. We love spending time with Jack, Judith(his wife) and their children. I caught up with him in Bishopstortford and this is what he said……..

M.M: Tell me about your background Jack?
J.E: I’m from rural Ireland and I grew up on a farm. I’m the eldest of 4 boys. I got saved in New York City in August 1974. After finishing college, I came over to London in 1975 and I have been living here ever since. I met Judith when I was 32 years old. We married about a year later. We have 3 children: Jacob 19, Hermione 16 and Simeon 12.

M.M: How would you best describe your family life?
J.E: It’s like a rollercoaster ride in many ways with it’s highs and lows.

M.M: What work are you into?
J.E: I’m an antique furniture restorer.

M.M: Do you find your job rewarding? If so, why?
J.E: Yes, I do. I was raised in a world of antiques. My grandmother was a collector of antiques. It’s in my blood.

M.M: You attend church at the Charis Centre. How long have you been going there?
J.E: 11 years

M.M: How would you describe your home church?
J.E: It’s a lively, reaching out and forward looking church. We have a good community of believers. Most of my friends are there. I’ve made good, genuine, lifelong friendships.

M.M: You came to Zimbabwe in 2001 with your friend Dick Hall. Several years have passed since then but what do you recall about that trip?
J.E: Coming to Zimbabwe was the turning point in my life. It broadened my spiritual and personal horizons. I’ve since had a deeper intimacy with God. It was where I met you and Stephen. It was also good seeing my friend being blown away by the experience and having fun. It was wonderful.

M.M: Excellent. Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?
J.E: I find cycling very relaxing. I’ve participated in the cycle tour in France and Belgium as well as doing the London to Paris three times with my two friends. We have lots of laughs and its God blessing men being together. Our wives don’t mind. Next year we are planning to go to Holland.

M.M: GO FOR IT Jack!
Interviewed by Molly Manhanga

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Up close with Evan and Tracy Rogers

Mark Absolom, Evan & Tracy Rogers

Evan and Tracy Rogers were based at Jubilee Church in Cape Town where Evan was the worship director for many years. They moved from Cape Town to Dubai where they are both teaching and Evan leads worship. I had the privilege of interviewing Evan and Tracy in Poole and getting to know them a little more.
M.M: Tell me about your background?
E.R: I was born in East London and I’m the son of an Anglican Minister. I went to Port Elizabeth before moving to Cape Town. I met Tracy through the church at a summer camp. Tracy was born in Cape Town. I met Tracy when she was 16 and I was 20. We married 4 years later.

M.M: What instigated your move from Cape Town to Dubai?
E.R: I was in Jubilee Church for 20 years and felt we needed to move. We felt an international calling. Dubai was a God thing. We are crazy about our dog and so he came too. Job wise – we are both teaching in the same school. We put out many fleeces and they all came through.

M.M: Tell me about the church and life in Dubai?
E.R: There are 40 nationalities represented in the church. There are more Asian people and it’s a nice change, fresh……, new……..The church feels like it has momentum, it’s healthy and vibrant. The people are very nice – warm, friendly.

M.M: Excellent. Any nuggets on worship in general?
E.R: We are called to be a joyful people, expressing praise freely and without hindrance.

M.M: What did you think of the service at Gateway?
E.R: It was good to see people willing to step out of their comfort zone. The multi-coloured glory of God is being reflected in the diverse expression of praise. I felt there was a good sense of freedom and no feeling of resistance. People embraced something different, a willingness to cross cultural boundaries and celebrate.

M.M: Quite a memorable service. What are your thoughts on people worshipping “in spirit and truth?”
E.R: Worshipping in spirit and truth is a revelation of Him. He will bring forth worshippers of him by his spirit. We worship who we serve. I’m a praise singer of the one I worship. I try to express praise that is appropriate to who God is, from a Biblical expression, rather than from cultural comfort zones. I like to sing songs that are God focused rather than me focused. This is inspired from the truth of who God is and what He has done in our lives.

M.M: What is your motivation for writing songs?
E.R: I express what God is speaking to me about. It’s a truth needing to be expressed. I write happy songs because there is a lack of them. It’s inspired by truth and expressed through writing songs. Writing songs is a medium of teaching people – teaching Biblical points of view through songs.

M.M: Any thoughts on your future?
E.R: I’m excited about the future and what God has in store.

M.M: Thank you so much Evan and Tracy. May God continue to use you in Dubai and may the people experience Him in a new way through worship.

Interviewed by Molly Manhanga

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Influential Women by Wendy Virgo

This is one of those books that you can’t put down once you start reading. From her wealth of experience, Wendy writes with such “transparency, truth and tenderness.”

From the New Testament to today – how women can build up (or undermine) their local church…….

“Women are powerful in the church,” writes Wendy Virgo. “They can be a tremendous asset – or a huge liability. They can influence the whole ambience of a church.”

Here are Priscilla, Tabitha, Lois and Eunice, Euodia and Syntyche, and others. Some are saints, full of good works; some were frankly poisonous and did considerable harm. What can we learn?

Two choices: either purchase or borrow the book and read it or a Book Review will follow shortly…..

Ladies Meeting at Crossroads...

Going through the book “Influential Women” by Wendy Virgo, I have been inspired to call the Ladies Meetings we have in the community “Women of Influence”.

We had a meeting yesterday at Crossroads Community Church and it was exciting being with the ladies again. Seeing the older women dance and sing was excellent. Many testimonies came through of how God is working in their lives. I then shared on “A Heart That Obeys” taken from Elizabeth George’s book, A Woman After God’s Own Heart.

The focus was on 2 kinds of hearts - David and Saul’s heart.
God’s description of David: “I have found David……..a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.”

Speaking on behalf of God, the prophet Samuel rebuked Saul, the reigning King of Israel for:

  • Failing to obey God’s specific instructions (1 Samuel 13).
  • Again and again, Saul overstepped his boundaries – the ones set by God. On several occasions he specifically disobeyed God. Although he was careful to offer prescribed sacrifices to God, Saul failed to offer God the ultimate sacrifice – Obedience – from a heart wholly devoted to God. (1 Samuel 15:22) Clearly, Saul was not responsive to God or His laws.
  • After one extremely serious act of disobedience, God sent Samuel to Saul with a two-fold message: “Your kingdom will not continue” and “The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14)

David on the other hand

  • Was willing to obey God
  • He served God
  • Was concerned with following God’s will
  • His heart was centered on God
  • Even though David didn’t always obey God, he had what mattered over the long haul – a heart after God.
  • Although David was well-known for his physical prowess and might as a warrior, he was humbly dependent on God, trusting in Him and acknowledging, “The Lord is the strength of my life” (Psalm 27:1)

How do we follow after David in our devotion to God? The key to living a life of obedience is the heart. If we keep our heart, if we diligently attend to it and guard it, ten all of the issues, the actions, the “on-goings and out-goings” of life will be handled God’s way.

A heart responsive to God and His ways leads to a life of obedience.

I urged the women to be serious about God and follow after Him.
Response: The women received this VERY WELL and discussion followed. It’s amazing listening to all the “things” or reasons that are hindering some of the ladies from following HARD after God – all real and genuine.

At our next meeting we will continue to explore these real life issues and concerns – lay them on the table and pray into them. I’m confident that God can break through these and any other difficulties.

By Molly Manhanga

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Absolom Family pt 2

The Absolom Family

If you want to have a GREAT laugh – Mark is the man to be around. If you want total support of the Cherries – Mark’s the man. If you want a family man, passionate about hospitality…….you’ve got it, Mark’s the man. If you want a man who loves God unashamedly – it’s Mark Absolom. The warmth, love and passion that flow from this man is brilliant. Stephen and I just love being with Mark, Lesley and their beautiful daughters – not to mention Lady, their dog. Read on to find out more about Mark…..

M.M: Evan Rogers from Dubai led worship and Stephen Manhanga from Zimbabwe preached. What did you think of the service?M.A: It was a breath of fresh air. Evan Rogers has abit of English/Welsh in him which came through. He is a worshipper – he worships God and has a heart for people. It’s something we needed. Like Steve preached, we need to move on. It’s good to be challenged. Stephen was really good. His message was right and appropriate for Gateway. Many people responded and have been affected. We will see the fruit from today.

M.M: The saying “From the Nations, to the Nations” – Did it ring true today? What are your thoughts?M.A: Yes. The style of worship had a flavour for the bigger picture. Cogs within cogs. We sensed the wholeness of God where we can spread dreams and visions beyond Gateway. We are HUGE – owning the vision of New Frontiers and being a part of it. Having you guys and Evan – there is a sense of belonging. In Christ, there are no barriers. The service brought out our oneness.

Mark Absolom – What FUN!
M.M: Fantastic! What do you foresee for Gateway Church?M.A: I’m hoping to see growth – numerical growth, baptism, salvation, babies, and marriages. Gateway is prophetic as Steve said; in being an opening for people to come in – a sanctuary, a safe place. It is also near a Port, the coast – it will not only bring people in but send people. It is a Gateway to Europe, to send church planters, teachers and vice versa.

M.M: Yes, yes, YES! Having visited Zimbabwe 8 months ago, what are some of your reflections?M.A: I fell in love with the country and the people. Despite the depths of despair and nothingness, I could see hope, joy, expectation, looking and longing for a better future. The HOPE is in God – through Foundations for Farming, the pre-school in Mguza. You are in this with God. Zimbabwe is like a cream cake – once you’ve tasted it once, you need more.

M.M: Any hope of you coming back to Zimbabwe?M.A: Yes, most definitely! It will be two fold: to celebrate my silver wedding anniversary and to serve you guys.

M.M: Anytime! Anyday! What are your thoughts of the church n general?M.A: As a New Frontier movement, we are on the edge of something new and exciting with church plants and leaders being shaken and stirred. God has more – a new jaggered edge – moving on and feeling a tug of God. There are new cities to be taken. It’s exciting. The leadership has a real heart and it stirs and challenges you. Looking at the church at large can be demoralizing, particularly in the West, because of churches closing and it’s more about me. It needs to be challenged as it’s about the gospel of Christ.

M.M: Totally. Any closing thoughts?M.A: I want to learn Arabic. I feel it’s a God thing. I also want to play football at 50 and to keep revisiting Zimbabwe as much as possible.

M.M: Thanks so much Mark. I’m inspired and really look forward to seeing you and Lesley back in Zimbabwe. May God continue to use you both as you to reach out and minister to people in your community and beyond. Oh yes – Up the Cherries!

By Molly Manhanga

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Absolom Family pt 1

Lesley Absolom busy in her kitchen

Stephen and I had the privilege of spending time again this year in the home of Mark and Lesley Absolom. What a precious couple they are and so passionate about hospitality…….
M.M: Tell me a little about yourself?L.A: I was born in Poole and I have an older brother Stephen. I was born into a Christian family and I desired a relationship with Jesus. I had an encounter with him when I was 15 years and I got baptized. I went to school in Poole and in college I studied Social Care. I worked in schools with children with disabilities as a pastoral care worker. I met Mark, my husband, when I was16 and we got married 4 years later. We have 4 children and Lady – our dog.

M.M: How best would you describe your family life?L.A: Hectic, but great. I love it.

M.M: Great. Tell me about your hobbies.
L.A: I love my garden and cooking. I also love swimming, walking, camping, reading, listening to music and socializing.

M.M: Your garden is really looking good! You attend Gateway Church. How would you describe it?L.A: It’s Gods family, challenging, exciting, supportive and always room for more.

M.M: Great. A very bold question up next. What do you think of Matt and Grace Hosier?L.A: Love them to bits. They are a very special couple and very gifted. They also have lovely children. Matt is a very gifted teacher, particularly building up the men. His gifting is raising up leaders.

M.M: Here, here. I could toast to that. Any comments on the change that has taken place?L.A: Change at church; change is good. We need to grow. The change at Gateway has been exciting. We are definitely seeing more young people and students. Seeing the men in the worship group is wonderful. Overall, it’s just been very good.

M.M: Thanks so much Lesley. I’m really looking forward to seeing you and Mark back in Zimbabwe. May God continue to use you and Mark as you continue to reach out and minister to people in your community.

By Molly Manhanga

Mark and Heather Wells

More about Mark and Heather Wells

I first met Mark and Heather Wells earlier this year at a Chronological Bible Storying training session in Harare, Zimbabwe (we had missed each other in Bulawayo) I was so inspired by both of them and decided to visit them on their home ground in Oakham, Rutland, U.K. Mark is the chairman of the European Association of Innovating SME’s and a member of the Rutland Council. Heather is the County Council elected member of Rutland County Council and portfolio holder for children and young people’s services.
Mark is also a “chef” of note! Totally impressive! I caught up with him in and amongst him steaming vegetables, putting a chicken in the oven and chopping up herbs….
M.M: Tell me something of your background.
M.W: I was born in Wolverhampton but left when I was 2. I grew up in Surrey. I joined the Royal Navy at 17. I left after a year and spent another working in industry in England and Germany. I then joined the Merchant navy and stayed for 4 years. I did my Merchant Navy training in Southampton and that’s where I met Heather

M.M: Where and how did you meet Heather?M.W: We met in Portswood Church Southampton. I was 20. 4 years later we were married. We have 4 grown up children: Edward 27. He is married to Lindsey and they have a child. Paul 25 and he is dating Charlotte. Louisa 22 and she is dating David and Jacob who is 20.

M.M: How best would you describe your family life?M.W: Hectic when we’re all together but fun.

M.M: Great. What got you started in Information Technology business?M.W: I needed a job. I’m an engineer by profession. My big break in Information Technology came in 1986 – there was a job in I.T recruitment and it launched me into a successful I.T career. In 1989 I started a successful I.T business but in 2001 we closed it down.

M.M: How did you and Heather both get into Rutland County Council?M.W: I had a long time interest in politics and I got involved with the local office. I put my name and Heathers name down and we were both voted in. Heather’s involved in a “God thing” in the Council.

M.M: You visited Zimbabwe in March this year. Was that your first visit to Africa?M.W: No, I traveled to Cape Town in 1976 and I came to Zimbabwe in March this year. I loved Zimbabwe. I found it beautiful and adored the people. I was made to feel so welcome. It’s such a vibrant, challenging country. I visited many African countries ad the “bite” got me when I visited Kenya in 2001. I have a love and sense of calling to Africa.

M.M: Great. You are planning to come back to Zimbabwe in August?M.W: Yes. I’ll be helping set up business ventures in Bulawayo and working with New Frontier churches in Bulawayo.

M.M: That’s excellent. We really look forward to you and Heather coming back to Zimbabwe, especially to Bulawayo. See you soon!
Interviewed by Molly Manhanga

One on One with Matt & Grace Hosier pt 2

Matt and Grace Hosier

M.M: What touched you the most at Together on a Mission?
M.H: Catching up with my friends.

M.M: From your experience, what nuggets can you share with other leaders?
M.H: a) Live grace rather than law, b) be secure in Christ rather than in performance c) Find a woman, love her, be happy with her.

M.M: Excellent nuggets from someone who is living the life. What snapshot did you get Gateway from the service today?
M.H: It raised the spiritual level of the church, breaking boundaries, freedom, taking more risks. People love to see diversity in action especially when it’s working.

M.M: Looking at Gateway’s vision – how do you envision it panning out?
M.H: We’ll create a new leadership team, new elders. We see the church growing in numbers, depth and fervor. We’ll tell BIG stories of what Jesus has done – rich or poor.

M.M: Exciting! To conclude, what thoughts do you have on the Church at large?
M.H: I think within the New Frontiers family of churches we can take for granted how good church life is and it may not be the experience of others. We experience word & spirit, grace, generosity and so on. The CHURCH is the hope of the world.

M.M: Yes, it is. Thanks Matt for your time. May God be with you and Grace as you lead Gateway Church and as you continue to impact so many lives locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

By Molly Manhanga

One on One with Matt & Grace Hosier pt 1

Getting to know Matt & Grace Hosier pt 1

Matt & Grace lead Gateway Church in Poole. They are a wonderfully gifted couple and such special friends. They have four beautiful daughters. I managed to interview both Matt and Grace and this is what they had to say…….
M.M: Tell me something of your background.
G.H: I was born in 1969 in the Midlands. I moved to the North East England at the age of 8 and grew up in Hex ham. Scripture Union ran in the summer for 2 weeks at a Bible Camp and that is where I heard the gospel. I gave my life to Jesus when I was 10 years. I stayed in town until university where I majored in English and drama. I went to do teacher training in new Castle where I met Matt. I was 21 when we met and we married when I was 24. It took me a while to persuade him I was the right lady for him. We have 4 girls: Georgina 11, Suzi 9, Nancy 8 and Felicity 4.

M.M: How best would you describe your family life?
G.H: Noisy, lots of fun, exuberant. It’s an adventure all the time.

M.M: Great. Tell me about your hobbies.
G.H: I like to eat nice food, fishing in our boat, cycling with Matt and camping with the girls. We love the outdoor life in Poole because there is so much to do.

M.M: When did you move from Sidcup and how have you found the transition?
G.H: We moved from Sidcup in January 2008 and God was so gracious to us. He provided friendly faces and families. (Grace is weeping now at the goodness of God). It has been a great blessing as people were happy with us. No time to look back and no space for feeling sad. We shared our stories to get to know people and there was such a blessing in that. We’ve made life long friends and it stays that way.

M.M: That’s great. Any highlights in ministry?
G.H: a) People’s enthusiasm for pressing on in the things of God b) people embracing the new name and building. It speaks of God having new and wider things for us c) We are a Gateway to the kingdom of God. d) All the prophetic words spoken over us as a church and people’s heads are up and seeing the wider vision of God.

M.M: Any challenges in ministry?
G.H: Early on and ongoing as well as in leadership, the challenge has been to form deep friendships. It takes time and sharing ones life. Making friends outside the church takes commitment. It’s hard but I’ll make it happen.

M.M: With God, you can do anything. Any nuggets for ladies in leadership?
G.H: Fight for time alone with your man and enjoy being with him. Everything else flows out from that. Be his best friend and support. Have fun and it makes church easier.

M.M: Thanks so much Grace. May God continue to use you and Matt mightily in Gateway Church, your surrounding community and regions beyond.

By Molly Manhanga

Mick and Theresa Richardson

Mick and Theresa Richardson

Stephen and I first met Mick and Theresa Richardson last year when we visited Weymouth. We spent a few days in their home and loved it. They are incredibly hospitable people. Mick is on the leadership team at Weymouth Family Church. I had the opportunity to catch up with Theresa….
M.M: Tell me something of your background.T.R: I was born in Balham London and raised in a Catholic family. I didn’t always have a happy childhood. My father was a heavy drinker and easily became an angry man. The environment I grew up in was angry at times, although my mother was always peace-loving and was always there for us. I later realized that my relationship with my father had affected me and God had to bring healing. I became a Christian at 18 through friends. Soon after this I also left home to live with a Christian couple at whose baptisms I had become a Christian. I met Mick when I was 20. He lived in the same area. It was love at first sight. I knew I’d marry him. We married two and a half years later and have 2 sons. Neil is 27, married to Cheryl, with a daughter, Abigail soon to be one year old in August; and our other son Sean is 24. He lives with Mick and me.

M.M: How best would you describe your family life?T.R: We are adjusting to our sons being older. One of my sons is married and I miss them as he lives in London. It’s lovely being a grandparent. I’m discovering that the grandparent relationship is a special one. My grand daughter is very peaceful.

M.M: You moved from Putney Community Church to Weymouth. What instigated your move?T.R: God. While living in Putney, we had a holiday home in Weymouth. Mick was an elder in Putney. We visited Weymouth Family Church and developed relationships. We felt God joining us with people in Weymouth and we eventually moved here.

M.M: How long was Mick the Elder before you moved?T.R: Mick became an elder in 2000, but led the church for just over 2 years whilst we were without a full-time leader. Mick continued during that time as a secondary school teacher.

M.M: What have been the highlights of ministry?T.R: There are many highlights and I’ll share a few: a) Involved with young lads into substance abuse. We led a Youth group with them. They are the sorts of children that the church didn’t find easy building bridges. People found it hard to understand those sorts of children. They heard the gospel but we don’t know what God is doing with them. b) Marriage Pastoral Care. We enjoyed it and like working with couples. c) Worship – we often led worship together.

M.M: Fantastic. Any challenges in ministry?T.R: Finding ourselves too busy at times to spend enough time with each other. Not really prioritizing and making time with Mick. We constantly need to learn how to get the balance right, otherwise my weakness is that I could resent Mick being in leadership.

M.M: Any final comments?T.R: I’m realizing more and more my weaknesses if I don’t spend time with God. Everything I do I need to wait on God and his Holy Spirit. I have a deep desire to spend more time with him and to spend more time reading his word.

M.M: Thanks Theresa. You and Mick are truly a blessing in our lives. Be blessed as you continue to serve Him.
Interviewed by Molly Manhanga

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Family Matters....

Meeting my cousin Naggib Chakane whom I haven’t seen or heard from in 20 years was just so precious and a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life. The joy of Face Book is what linked us up again.

Naggib came to Gatwick airport to spend time with Stephen and I before we flew back home to Zimbabwe. So much to catch up on in such a short space of time!!! Naggib, his wife (who was in Switzerland) and son all attend Coign Church in Woking, Surrey which is part of the New Frontiers family of churches. I was ecstatic. Our parting words were: “Let’s NEVER lose touch again.” Family matters…

The second blessing was that not only Naggib came to the airport, but he came with another friend, Nigel Lurrie who has known Stephen for years. Nigel left Zimbabwe for the U.K in 1997 and it was excellent to meet him again and catch up on what God has been doing in his life.

The blessings of God are awesome….

By Molly Manhanga

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Reflections on Together on a Mission (TOAM)

I'm still on a high from the excellent time spent at Weymouth, Brighton and Poole. God has been so gracious to Stephen and I as we continue to experience the favour of God......

  • The Weymouth Family Church looked after Stephen and I in Brighton. It was precious spending more time with Steve Hunter and Team.
  • The praise and worship was beautiful - many tender moments experienced. It was also good seeing Kate Simmonds.
  • The opening speaker Mbonisi Malaba, leader of New Creations Church in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe was a definite highlight. He did so well on a Global heart and perspective.
  • Joel Virgo's message on The Armour Bearer, spoke volumes to me - straight to the heart.
  • Meeting up with the Zimbabwe team from Bulawayo for dinner, which was graced with Martin and Dawn Tibbert, Gavin Bateman and Team was a blessing.
  • Needless to say - seeing Scott Marques and team praying for the sphere(Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique) was inspirational. Scott,now based in Mozambique, prayed in Portuguese! WOW!
  • Terry Virgo is always a delight to listen to - wisdom, grace, humility were the tone of his messages on NF past, present and future.
  • Meeting with friends and catching up on what God is doing in their lives is great. Sam and Marlene Poe are a God sent.
  • The seminar on Global Hospitality was wonderful. Listening to dave and Liz Holden(U.K), Lee and Stacey Yarborough(Mexico) and us: Stephen and Molly Manhanga(Zimbabwe), was interesting. God is a God of diversity and it's brilliant seeing him touch people across cultures & race. We are One New Man in Christ.
Change is in the air.......The tide is turning.....
By Molly Manhanga

Monday, July 13, 2009

A fabulous service at Gateway Church

It had been almost a year since I was at Gateway Church, known then as Alder Road Church in Poole. The CHANGE has been amazing ........

  • The church is led by Matthew and Grace Hosier.
  • The welcome is warm and inviting.
  • The vibrancy is infectious.
  • The increase in numbers is evident.
  • The people are wonderful.
  • The extension of the building is beautiful.
  • The garden is lovely.
  • Life and expectancy fills the air......

What of Evan Rogers leading worship?

Different, dynamic, fun. Full of dance, clapping and laughter. It was GREAT seeing the Brits "getting down" and dancing to songs from Africa.

What of Stephen Manhanga's preach?

GREAT. Anointed and timely.

I just loved everything about the service and will remember it for a long time to come.

Written by molly manhanga

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fitness First at Bournemouth

Abbo Man playing on his beloved AFC Bournemouth - Number 3: the man with his hand raised.

Stephen Manhanga at home at AFC Bournemouth. Bournemouth is playing the Saints and won 2 - 1.

GREAT. Up the Cherries!

Steve & Catherine Hunter pt 2

Steve Hunter

Steve and Catherine have been excellent friends of Stephen and mine. We had a wonderful time with them in Weymouth as well as at The Leaders Conference in Brighton. I managed to catch up with Steve and this is what he said…….

M.M: Since taking over the Weymouth Family Church in October 2008, what have been your high and low lights?S.H: Highlights – It’s a privilege to lead the church, huge and incredibly humbling. I love the people and seeing growth in their lives. It’s a joy working alongside and rubbing shoulders with Matt Hosier, Guy Millar, Andrew and so on and people like you. You take God so seriously and I aspire to it.
Lowlights – Balancing family and ministry. There is no way I could do what I am doing without Catherine’s support. She has sacrificed so much for me. I’m acutely aware not to get the wrong attitude and to bring truth to people especially in our culture.

M.M: What is the vision of Weymouth Family Church?S.H: There are succinctly 3 points: a) Proclaim Jesus – It’s all about Him. He is the highest core value.
b) Loving people – in a radical way. Put other people first and
c) transform communities through the church i.e. local communities and communities throughout the world.

M.M: Do you have any strategic plans of how you’d like to get there?S.H: Phase 1 is Building church for people we haven’t yet got. We want to attract unbelievers and think of where they are at and have a love for people. In a condensed version – the way we do church - Nehemiah is our example in that we need to identify what key gateways we have into the community like Sunday mornings, Small Groups, Fusion and so on. We don’t want to get caught up in “this is how we’ve always done things.”

M.M: How has Neil T. Anderson’s book “Freedom in Christ” helped you as an individual?S.H: I realized again that there is nothing more I can do to please God. I have been set free from “you no good at this” mindset, and blocked goals: when you have to rely on someone else to get the job done and it doesn’t happen….the only person you can change is you. I need to keep my attitude right and deal with myself. God is BIG enough to deal with others. I have to add that it is a joy seeing it worked out in other people’s lives.

M.M: “Fusion” by Katy Phillips and Karin Todd - What are your thoughts?S.H: God is clearly using it in a massive way. It’s getting into people’s lives. We haven’t yet used it in the Church. It’s a gateway into the community. Katy and Karin have done a good job with it.

M.M: Fantastic. What touched you the most at Together on a Mission (TOAM)?S.H: a) Joel Virgo’s message was outstanding – very humbling. Team dynamic is so critical to church growth.
b) Terry Virgo’s first 2 talks – baptism of the spirit and a reminder of the grace of God.
c) Being with you and Stephen. I genuinely love you both. If we lose relationships, we’ve lost a lot.

M.M: I agree and you are making me tearful. Any nuggets for leaders?S.H: Be who you are. Don’t try to be someone else. Be who God made you. Make Jesus your best friend and the primary focus as everything flows from there. Honour your family with passion, love and affirmation. Be an encourager. Lastly, work yourself out of a job – raise up other leaders.

M.M: Excellent Steve. What a pleasure interviewing you and hearing your heart. May God give you ALL the desires of your heart as you continue extending His kingdom.

Interviewed by Molly Manhanga

Steve & Catherine Hunter pt 1

Catherine Hunter

Steve and Catherine lead the Weymouth Family Church in Weymouth. They have four beautiful children. I managed to interview both Steve and Catherine and this is what they had to say…….
M.M: Tell me something of your background.
C.H: I come from Dorset. I have 2 sisters and we had a stable, happy family life. I became a Christian when I was 12 years old and I wanted to be a teacher. I did a 4 year teacher training course and worked in Poole. Steve grew up in Dorset and went to church in Fern dam. That is where we met. We met when we were 25 and got married at 26. We have 4 children: Hannah which means Grace of God is 10, Jemimah – Dove, spirit is 8 years old, Benjamin - Right hand of God is 6 and Abigail means Beautiful.

M.M: How best would you describe your family life?
C.H: Hectic, very busy and very sociable.

M.M: How long have you been leading the church?
C.H: 5 years. Steve was an Elder for 4 and now he has been the lead Elder for a year.

M.M: What have been the highlights of ministry?
C.H: I just love New Frontiers – the ethos, teaching, being part of a family of churches. I love the community aspects of church. I also love meeting people from different countries like Zimbabwe and Philippines and hearing about what is going on.

M.M: That’s great. Any lowlights in ministry?
C.H: Time pressures – having to balance children, church and self.

M.M: Stephen Manhanga from Zimbabwe preached this morning. What nuggets did you get from his message?
C.H: He challenged people prophetically, to bring in others with you. My passion for evangelism and reaching people has grown. This was the challenge this morning and we have masses of opportunity in the pre-school and school community. The question is where do I take it from here?

M.M: Any final comments?
C.H: Every day, every year, I become more convinced that the gospel is the only way to change people’s lives. It’s our only HOPE.

M.M: Thanks Catherine. May God continue to use you and Steve mightily in Weymouth Family Church, your surrounding community and regions beyond.

Steve Hunter

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Testimonies from Weymouth & Dorchester

I simply LOVE hearing what God is doing amongst His people and how He is transforming lives.

Being in Weymouth was excellent. Everything was a highlight. I enjoyed the fellowship of friends, the Sunday service at Weymouth Family Church, meeting “new” people and the testimonies.

Here are just a few….

1. Georgie: Her partner died of heroine 3 years ago. She was into it as well but God transformed her life. People within Weymouth Family Church were gracious to her, counseled her and were there for her. She says, without the love of people, she wouldn’t be where she is today.

2. Helen Ryan: She was so affected by the sudden death of legend and King of pop music, Michael Jackson that she thought of her children. What would happen if they died? She called them up and begged them to give their lives to the Lord…..they did. Helen has also had her foot healed from arthritis.

3. Christopher Berry: Chris is Helen’s son. He is 26 years old and had just committed his life to the Lord the week earlier. What a joy meeting him.

4. Dan: He used to have a mocking, smearing attitude. His t/shirts had symbols of the occult. He went to a Christian meeting with Gary Fry and one day he asked; “Do you believe in demons being cast out?” That same day, Dan said he couldn’t wear his t/shirts with the occult symbols. He responded to the gospel, prayed the prayer of repentance and was delivered from his involvement with witchcraft. He screamed and belched and was totally set free. He is on fire for God and fearless of man.
"I have come to give life and give it more abundantly" declares our God.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Looking at Andrew and Katy Phillips

Katy Phillips
I first met Andrew when he visited Zimbabwe in 2003. He came to stay with Stephen and me for a few days. I met Katy, his wife via email when I was still in the Educational field and we became great friends. It was excellent catching up with both of them and hearing more about “Fusion” – founded and pioneered by Katy Phillips.

M.M: Tell me something of your background.
K.P: I was born in Bristol and Andrew in Salisbury. I was born into a Christian family and had a strict upbringing. I ran away from home when I was 17years and I met Andrew at a British bike rally. Andrew and I were friends for a long time. We married 4 years after meeting. 2 weeks before my wedding, God spoke to me about being “unequally yoked”. I gave Andrew to God and when I looked at him, he was on the floor crying. Andrew gave his life to the Lord 2 weeks before we married. We have 4 children: Hannah 22 who is married to James, Tom 18 who is in the Royal Marines, Dan 15 and Eleanor 13.

M.M: How best would you describe your family life?K.P: It’s much easier as the children grow up and leave home.

M.M: What work are you involved in now?K.P: Generally, I’m a Parent and Family Support Worker in a Primary school and co-author of Fusion with Karin Todd. I deliver training days.

M.M: Explain what Fusion involves.K.P: Fusion is a universal programme aimed at parents and carers. It empowers parents with new skills and strategies seeing them as parents in their own unique family. It goes into Schools, Children’s Centres and Churches.

M.M: WOW! In your opinion, is Fusion successful?
K.P: Fusion has been going for a year and we have 200 trained Fusion facilitators. Fusion is available in every school in Dorset.

M.M: Fantastic. What are the highlights of Fusion?K.P: It’s a privilege working with parents and seeing them established back into their role as parents.

M.M: Any lowlights?K.P: Not really.

M.M: Any final comments or recommendations?K.P: You can read up on us on our website

M.M: Thanks Katy. You are truly a blessing in the lives of many people and may God take “Fusion” far and wide.

Andrew Phillips with his daughter Eleanor

By Molly Manhanga

Meeting the Fry family....

Gary and Carol Fry with their children
M.M: Tell me something of your background.
G.F: I was born in the Purbecks. My parents divorced when I was 3 and we came to Weymouth. I went to Radipole Primary School for 5 years. My mum remarried and we moved to Blandford. We lived on a farm. I went to Blandford High School. I excelled in practical things like woodwork and metal work. I worked for a local farmer where I heard the gospel. Carol (my wife) and I met when we were 16. Carol was brilliant in school and is really intelligent. She worked for Barclays Bank for 10 years. I went to Australia and after I came back Carol and I started ‘going out’ at 21. We had a dance and 4 years later, we married. We became Christians just before we married. We have 4 children; Sam 14, Megan 12, Jake 9 and Joey who is 7.

M.M: How best would you describe your family life?
G & C.F: LOVE It. We gave our family to God and have been blessed with 4 children who are our best disciples. God has anointed us as a prophetic family – a family for him. Our greatest passion is family – being a family on mission. The biggest challenge of family life is that the children see us for what we REALLY are: the joys, difficulties, our first reactions and so on. We need to be humble with our children.
Sam (14): Family is our identity. It’s a massive part of our life. It’s good except when we get disciplined.

M.M: Love how real you are with your family. How long have you led the Weymouth Family Church?
G.F: We planted the church in September 2002 and handed it to Steve Hunter in October 2008. We led it for a total of 6 years.

M.M: You are now in Dorchester. What prompted you to move?
G.F: God was leading us. We just knew it was time to hand over Weymouth Family Church. God sent us to Dorchester to bring stability and help with the leadership team. The time will come when God will open up whatever is next for us.

M.M: What have been your highlights in ministry?
G.F: Weymouth Family Church – seeing it planted, grow and going beyond where we left it is a highlight. It’s a privilege to be paid - to love Jesus and tell others about Him. I get time with my family. Part of ministry is family and my greatest passion is to see as many people saved as possible.

M.M: What has been your lowlight in ministry?
G.F: The toughest thing is relational breakdown especially when the relationship is not restored.

M.M: That can be really painful. From your years of experience, do you have any nuggets for leaders?
G.F: “Pride is a leader’s worst enemy. Humility is a leader’s greatest friend.” Remain humble, that’s the greatest lesson. Pick others up; see the good in others and all around us. Choose to be grateful. My wife Carol is totally amazing. I couldn’t do anything without her.

M.M: Excellent nuggets. Thank you Gary. Be blessed as you and your family continue serving the King of Kings.
Interviewed by Molly Manhanga

Monday, July 6, 2009

Friends are a gift from God....

Steve & Molly Manhanga and Steve & Catherine Hunter
enjoying a Sunday afternoon braai in Weymouth.

One of life's little secrets.....

One of life’s little secrets

People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centred.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest people with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favour underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for the underdog anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People really need help, but may attack you if you help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you’ve got, and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

Taken from Neil T. Anderson's book

The Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course by Neil T. Anderson

I first heard about this course from Brian Oldreive – Founder and Pioneer of Foundations for Farming (Farming God’s Way) and when Scott Marques – Zimbabwe’s Apostolic Leader within the New Frontier Family of Churches, referred me to Neil T. Anderson’s books, particularly The Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course, I was eager to get my hands on it.

Steve and Catherine Hunter from The Weymouth Family Church not only blessed Stephen and I with copies of the book, but we were able to attend one of The Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course sessions that Steve Hunter leads. It was amazing.

I was so fascinated by the testimonies of what God is dong in people’s lives, how He is setting people free, the openness and honesty with which the group share and the real life issues that are spoken about. The DVD was wonderful and Steve Goss’s presentation is captivating. Both the books and DVD are “reader” and “watcher” friendly.

God is really transforming lives and setting people FREE.
By Molly Manhanga

Friday, July 3, 2009

A lighter note...Visiting family in the U.K

It's always so exciting visiting the U.K in July as Stephen and I get a chance to visit family and friends.

Being with my sister, brother-in-law, nieces and nephew is GREAT. I "unwind" from the pressures of Zimbabwe life while getting a chance to see what is happening in Northampton and beyond.

One of my favourite adventures is going shopping with my niece who is half my age. It's just so interesting. What I consider "practical", she doesn't and what she considers important - like clothes - I think is crazy. But, in this fusion, we have such FUN.

Amidst the relaxation, I'm constantly in touch with friends and work colleagues in Zimbabwe. It's wonderful not having to worry about electricity or water cuts, even if it just for a week or two.

More adventures begin as Stephen and I head down to Weymouth to spend some time with Steve and Catherine Hunter and friends, before attending the Brighton Conference.

Stay tuned for our adventures.

By Molly Manhanga

Relationships in leadership pt 5

Bob and Peggy

Relationships as a basis for leadership

See people as God sees people otherwise it inhibits our effectiveness with them.

“Imago Dei” – Image of God

Genesis 1:26 – 27 we are created in the image of God. If every human being is created in the image of God, how should we look at them? Our call is to see people as God sees them. It will change the way we see and feel about people. Don’t see people as machinery. People are people, they have a name, a life story and God knows that life story. God loves and has died for each person. He wants a relationship with that person.

People are worthy of a relationship and only in that relationship will we be able to minister to them. When God saw me as worthy of a relationship, He saw me as worthy of forgiveness. There is no God like our God. He loves, blesses, forgives, shows grace and mercy. We are to be an embodiment of God. People are to see Christ in us – to be drawn to God.

Relationships and their beauty is what God is all about. Satan has dedicated himself to breaking relationships. “We see ourselves as important and everyone else must change, conform and think me.”

Every relationship has its differences. Trying to change people brings conflict as we tend to concentrate with what’s wrong in a person. Focusing on differences destroys marriages, relationships, churches and so on, as it brings in a wedge. It takes courage to see what is happening here as Satan is trying to destroy us.

1 Corinthians 5:17 God is in the ministry of reconciliation. He renews broken relationships. God created us to love one another, not change one another.

Imago Dei – Image of God

Compiled by Molly Manhanga

Relationships in Leadership pt 4

Bob and Peggy Kuest

Servant Leadership

The myth is that servant leadership is seen as weak and one cannot set boundaries.

Jesus was a servant leader and yet he exercised authority because it was best for us. Is our leadership best for the apprentice or for those we lead.

In Israel, every law was given for its benefit: the sanitation laws, civil relationships, government, how to worship God and so on. They were there also to prove to Israel the seriousness of consequences of sin.

“If you have to tell people you’re a leader, then you’re not.”

“Getting people to do what you want through cohesion or fear means you’re not a leader.”

Leadership principles don’t change whether you’re leading one person or one thousand.

Good leaders develop an eye for potential. They develop, encourage, challenge that potential.

Be consistent as a leader.

Leadership is about helping others grow.

Leaders develop accountability relationships – “First among equals”. Hold each other accountable for openness and transparency.

Relationships in Leadership pt 3

Bob and Peggy Kuest

Definition of Leadership

“Leadership is a relationship of service dedicated to assisting a group/person to reach their potential.”

Leadership is not a position or title as the world thinks. It’s a responsibility. This is a Godly opportunity to serve others and it begins with a relationship.

Leadership is by permission. Jesus had it and modeled it for us. If we come in with a power-based leadership, people will do the bare minimal. Nothing more, nothing less.

“I can follow a person who cares about me, who knows me. I give them permission to lead me.”

“I need to build relationship with people who genuinely know me and care about me as a person. You feel it and sense it. It’s not just words.”

Leadership is a relationship of service. Dedication follows suit. I Timothy 3:1. Desire that relationship of service for the right reason. Don’t get involved with the cares of this world. Leadership is HARD especially when you are following God’s way.

Some people believe that they are given the “gift” of criticism and they are generally seen as a burden or a problem. The easiest thing is to either ignore them or run away from them. Being a leader is tough. You stick it out. Build a relationship of service until God tells you to do something else.

Earlier we said that leadership is a relationship of service and that dedication follows suit. What is dedication? John 14:16 and John 16:14 we see dedication as assisiting. The Greek word is “para” meaning beside and “klyte” meaning come. Paraklyte meaning to come beside. To build, encourage, strengthen and make you successful.