I love my church. About a month after I arrived, Helen suggested I try out Oasis, which now meets at the Cricket Grounds. The church has a huge heart for the community and it shows through the amazing impact it has through its many ministries. I have gotten involved in several things at Oasis that keep me busy Tuesday and Thursday nights and Sunday mornings.
Every Tuesday night I go out with an “Outreach” team for a few hours. We split into groups of 3-4 and walk through downtown Birmingham looking for homeless people. We never take money out, but provide them with hot drinks, crisps (AmEng “chips”), and chocolate. We also give information about local shelters and services available. We want to reach out in not just a spiritual way, but also in a practical and physical way. We don’t rush in with Bibles and sermons, most nights we just try to have a bit of a chat, make sure they have somewhere to sleep or something warm to sleep in, and a warm drink before they call it a night. Over time we have developed relationships with some of the people we see, which opens the door for more conversations. Even if we haven’t met a particular person they sometimes know who we are, often seeing our bright orange backpacks and asking if we are with Outreach. We are meeting them where they are, physically and spiritually. Most nights we end up hanging out under bridges, in car parks, or behind billboards. They respect us, because we respect them. I think to someone on the streets, this is one of the biggest gifts you can give. We don’t judge them for being in the situation they are in, we simply seek to love them and show them Christ’s love, and we do it with bright orange backpacks, a cuppa tea, and a pack of crisps.
Each Thursday I go to ‘Homegroup’ and I am honest when I say I don’t know what I’d do without my homegroup! We get together for a time of worship, discussion, and occasionally a game of sardines or some other childish endeavor. Sometimes we discuss the talk from the previous Sunday, other times we just go where the discussion leads, anywhere from how our week has gone to debates on predestination! There are about 10 of us who regularly meet and I always look forward to it. I will definitely miss my HG when I am home for the summer (which is only 6 weeks away!!). One of the most helpful things my homegroup has done is made England feel like home these past 7 months. I feel connected and loved and supported; all the things you need when you’ve moved 4,500 miles from home!
On Sunday mornings I am usually at Oasis, either in the talk or helping with the kids. I’ve started volunteering with the children’s ministry recently and love it. They can be a bit rowdy and I come out of it worn out, but definitely worth it. They enjoy my American accent and mocking it. I enjoy getting to know them and just having fun with them. It’s a good “kid fix” when I’m missing my lovely siblings!
Stop in sometime! We would be happy to see you; http://www.theoasischurch.com/
So there’s just another piece of my life in England I thought I’d share with you. I will hopefully post more about my course this coming week, as I am now officially on Easter break 😀 Also headed to Cardiff this weekend! Stay tuned 🙂