I lead Celebrate Church in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. As a church, the Lord took us on quite a journey of discovery over the early months of the pandemic last year, of reliance of him, of the value we are to each other as his church and how as his body there is joy in journeying together.
We are a church in an urban priority area, where life is incredibly challenging. Many of our community are single mums. Mental health issues and anxiety are extremely high in normal times. You can imagine how difficult it was for us during those months but our God is SO faithful and we rejoice in him.
Missing United as a summer gathering was huge to us as a community as for many of our families it’s their only week away in the year. We came, as many others, to United Breaks Out with eager hearts to worship and to hear God’s word. We quickly discovered that geography is no barrier to Jesus!
We wanted to bask in his comfort at a time of great challenge and to hear where he was drawing us. Jesus so honoured us in our desires to seek him and brought much healing throughout our church to the extreme levels of anxiety that prevailed for the now and the future.
Many of our community were taken to deeper levels of faith and trust and were able to give control back to Jesus, which has broken off many shackles that had been debilitating.
We met at the Arena together virtually every morning and evening. Some of us met for a picnic in person in between on our local nature reserve.
Our children and young people had a fabulous time at the New Wine Kids Space Agency and Luminosity and there was some backyard camping going on. The Holy Spirit was powerfully healing and forming us all.
L felt the Spirit fall on her and her anxiety lifted. She made a decision to lead her life following Christ’s way more fully and has acted on letting go of old lifestyles that have been unhealthy. L has shared that her faith has become much deeper and God has affirmed in her spirit her choices to leave behind those lifestyles that have been a barrier to moving forward. She says, “I have more certainty in who I am in Jesus. I feel ready to step more into my life with him.”
S had been in a constant battle during the pandemic and had questioned his previously dynamic calling from God to our community and church. He was questioning whether he had heard correctly. As our morning speaker Pete Hughes shared, S said, “ I felt a sense of burden being taken away, lifted off of me and healing came as God strengthened me and affirmed my calling.” We prayed for S over Zoom after the Arena celebration and as the Spirit fell over him, he felt a cloud lift and an inner release came from the battle that had been raging.
M felt she received healing from all her worries and a gift of patience as she gave her worries up to Christ. She also had an affirming prophetic picture of us all meeting for our new ‘Wild Worship’ in our local nature reserve and the fire of the Spirit was passing from one to another of us as we worshipped – an lovely affirmation from Jesus of how we have just started to worship!
E joined the Access sessions and then joined us in the Arena and has “received healing and been helped by Christ to manage a time of tragic loss in my family”. She gave her life to Jesus in Access at United 19. We have such an awesome God!
We are planning to gather as a church community in a similar way this summer. We are so grateful for New Wine and give thanks to God for you!
Wendy Ruffle leads Celebrate Church in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.
Find out more about United Breaks Out 2021 here.