We call it faith on a plate.

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Last week we had a visit in York from Gilly Simmonds, who is the “map holder” for the Besom network. Gilly prayerfully keeps an eye on the bigger picture of what the Besom network looks like across the UK.

She told me a story from an emerging Besom that brought me right back to the roots of the Besom vision and how it works; or more precisely who makes it work.

The Besom in Brighton hasn’t launched out as a Besom yet – they are gathering a team, praying hard and have done a couple of practice projects. This story came from one of these practices.

The project was to decorate a room in a house of a mum and daughter. A team from a local church had offered their time to do this. The wider church knew what the group were doing and had been asked to pray.

On the morning of the project, before the team gathered, a number of people knocked on the team leader’s door with a gift. Lucinda takes up the story form here…

“One person came with some curtains. She said : ‘I have been praying for all of you this week and felt that God has told me to bring you these curtains – so here you go.’

“I was thrilled, confident that God had provided these curtains as a sign of His love for the recipient. She explained to her daughter ‘You know how were talking about God and how he provides? – This is what it looks like! You just wait and see how they fit the window.’

“Well you can probably guess what happened next. They did fit the window! Here they are:  a wonderful finishing touch to a newly decorated room.

We call it faith on a plate and how God cannot resist providing for His children!

“Also on the same day I said to the Lord please could you sort a kitchen table for this family by the end of the day?

“One of the givers on the day said she would like to go round shops and source items, so could I give her the list of needs? She turned up at the end of the day having bought one that fitted perfectly and multiple other items and the recipient was so, so, happy!

“The recipient could not believe she had her own bed and lamp and bedside table. She said to my husband, ‘This is now a home. Please thank your wife for the best day of my life!”

This Story really encouraged us in York. Let’s thank God for how He provides and let’s pray for the team in Brighton as the Besom emerges there.

Rob Ainsworth, co-ordinator, The Besom in York

 

 

I’m a little terrified to lead, but I’m trusting that God’s got it.

In September, Becky Lewis will take over from Rob Ainsworth as co-ordinator of the Besom in York. Here she shares her Besom journey so far and her hopes and prayers for the future.

img_0455Two weeks after I moved to York, five and half years ago, I found myself doing a Besom project. I remember it really clearly, I joined a big group of students clearing a garden and painting a bedroom in Tang Hall. I didn’t actually know anyone at all, I’d been visiting a church – heard ‘social action project’ on Saturday and signed up! Little did I know, this was the start of my journey with the Besom.

Fast forward a few months and I found myself as the University of York Christian Union’s social action rep. Sat in the very same office I now work in every week, I met Rob and Sam Tyndall (core team member) and chatted about how we could arrange for students to do some giving.

My time as social action rep was brilliant, I had the absolute privilege of seeing loads of students give up their Saturdays to help people in need in the local community. I saw students go above and beyond, filling cupboards with food, building relationships with recipients and I got to witness them going back to the houses they decorated, inviting people to church.

I heard a story the other day of one previous student who befriended a recipient to such an extent that she’d would drive her to church each week. My heart was happy seeing students making a difference and the Besom was a huge part of that.

In my final year of university,  I was getting sick of the question – “what are you going to do after you graduate?” My answer was always “I don’t know!” I didn’t have a defined career path ahead so I prayed and prayed and waited.

One evening, I got a message from Rob, asking me to consider the Besom internship. And that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt from the Besom is that God always provides. I accepted the internship with nowhere to live and no part time job to support myself. I tried to sort this all out on my own and completely failed. But once I’d prayed, God gave me a job and somewhere to live in the same week.

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And that’s my testimony for having been part of the core team the last two and half years. Over and over again I’ve seen God provide in ways I could never imagined. My favourite story has been when we prayed for a van and not only did God give us one we also opened the post to find a huge cheque on the same day. God definitely provides in abundance.

I love working at Besom. I love seeing the church step up and help those in need, and do it well. I love seeing how God is working in this city.

I’m really excited for the next season. I had never thought I would end up leading the Besom but God has confirmed it through many different people, words and prompting. I’m also a little terrified to lead, but I’m trusting that God’s got it. Come September the core team is going to look a little different without Rob and Katie Harman is on maternity leave. But again, as ever, we are trusting that He’ll provide. If you feel God might be prompting you to join the core team and facilitate giving in the city then we would love to prayerfully consider that with you.

Please pray for us as we head into this new season.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” – Philipians 4:19

God has been, is now, and will be faithful

IMG-20160725-WA0004How do you sum up 10 years in 10 minutes? You can’t really, but recently at the Besom in York’s 10th birthday, Rob Ainsworth (pictured), our co-ordinator, was asked by our trustees to do that. Here are a few personal reflections from him and a bit of news about the future:

So, this is us the Besom in York. 10 years old. If the Besom was a child, we’d nearly be ready to go to secondary school! We’ve spent 10 years here in York being a bridge between those in the church who want to give and those in need. I couldn’t begin to try to tell every story or speak of every person who has been involved with the Besom in that time.

I still remember the feeling when we started. We had a Sunday evening with Besom founder James Odgers speaking at St Michael le Belfrey and then a launch morning. We’d prayed for 40 people from a mix of churches in York and that’s who came. James spoke, as did Steve Winks, who was about five years in to running a Besom in Sheffield. Then I stood up and shared how we felt it was right to start up a Besom in York.

We weren’t sure what it would look like or who would be involved or even if we’d be able to help anyone to give, but we thought God said go. So we did. The next day I was sat in my office, tumbleweed went by and then a referral came in out of nowhere. A mum of eight children needed her whole house decorating and nearly every bit of furniture replacing!

It took over a year, but in that time God gave us givers and we equipped them to help her and transform her home. We and those givers learnt a lot en route.

We stopped counting gifts a few years ago. We were in the thousands of givers, £100,000+ money gifts, thousands of items of furniture and thousands of hours of time, but here’s what we’ve learnt along the way. Each gift is individual. Each gift is personal. Each gift is a gift and not a number. A gift from God given through the people of York for someone in need.

Each is a reminder of God’s heart for people in need. His love for the poor, the fatherless and the widow.

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God has been faithful

Ephesians 3 v 18 talks about the dimensions of God’s love. In 10 years we’ve seen the dimensions of His love and faithfulness – high, deep, long and wide.

High: Those instant answers to prayer, the unmistakable, thrilling God giving moments finding that we’ve been offered the exact gift someone just asked for. For the third time that day.

Deep: The tough times when the van was vandalised or the office was broken in to – God was there. He was faithful. There was always a great story waiting to happen!

Wide: God’s love and faithfulness has always been wide. Wide enough to include everyone. Wide enough to give each person value. Wide enough at Christmas to make sure we had enough hampers given for each person referred.

Long: Long enough to carry us through 10 years of giving! There has never been a day He has forsaken us! He has always supported and guided us. There were certainly days where we doubted and wondered what was going on but He has been, is now and will be faithful.

Changes

img_0455This summer there will be a few changes to the team at the Besom. Over the last six months the trustees and I have been talking and praying, listening to God. We’ve discerned that the time is coming for me to step aside from the Besom. We’ve also discerned that in Becky Lewis (pictured), God has given us an excellent co-ordinator to lead the Besom in York forward.

I met Becky five and a half years ago – she came into the Besom office as a student with the role of social action rep for the Christian Union. She had a huge heart for students to give to the poor. Even back then we thought – there is something different about this giver. What God will do with her!

So, in the summer I will be leaving the Besom and Becky will lead the team from September. Next week in the blog we’ll hear a bit of her story.

Rob Ainsworth

Offering the gift of friendship

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At the Besom in York, we are all about giving – and specifically enabling the church to give to those in need. Sometimes that takes the form of one person giving a sofa, while at other times we are able to help an entire church family serve their local community. The latter proved the case with York City Church recently and here’s what happened…

A couple of months ago we had our second Give Day as a church. The Besom team asked us to write a blog and tell a story of what we learnt. So here goes…

A Give Day basically involves us doing something different to our normal Sunday morning activities and creating an opportunity for each and every person within the church family that enables them to give in York and grow in the heart action of giving.

We had a wide variety of activities ranging from delivering flowers to building bunk beds, from giving free photo shoots for new babies to constructing compost bins and laying new carpets to unpacking boxes after a house move. A lot of this was widely resourced and set up by the Besom in York team, who helped find recipients for us to give to.

One of the main things that we’ll carry away from the Give Day, (hopefully for the long-term) are new friends. If we’re honest this has come as a bit of a surprise to us!

We had 120 people with ages ranging from just a couple of days old to 60+ years giving to 15 groups of people in York. Of those 15 groups, we’re still in touch with seven of them and we’re really grateful to God for each new friendship.

Each of these friendships look different. So far it’s meant going for coffee, arranging to eat together, restoring a table and chairs for a family, helping another move house, visiting at home, welcoming some to our toddler group and even some to church on a Sunday.

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15 v15 (NIV)

Jesus’ words in John 15 are a good reminder to us that it is as God’s friends that we go out to serve people on Give Days and it is with new friends that we have returned.

York City Church

‘I have realised again just how much the Besom taught me’

sam tyndallOur 10th birthday party prompted a number of former ‘Besomers’ to get in touch with their reflections and testimonies. Here are two to encourage us as we look ahead to many more years of helping the church in York to give.

“I’m so grateful to God for my time involved with the Besom in York. I learnt so much and grew significantly as a Christian from spending time with the core team, with givers and with recipients. It was an invaluable time for me.

“I’ve been preparing a talk on money for church this evening, and have realised again just how much The Besom taught me and got me thinking about money, giving, generosity, and poverty. For me personally, through the Besom God also grew in me a love for His church, which has led me to train for church leadership, which certainly wouldn’t have happened without my time at The Besom (as well as the encouragement and support of the Besom team).

“I know I’m just one of many givers that God has used The Besom in York to teach and disciple. Praise God for all he has done, and will continue to do through The Besom in York.”

                          Sam Tyndall, curate at St Barnabas Church, Linthorpe and former core team member

Picture 022“I just want to say thank you [Rob] so much for all you’ve given to the Besom. My three years will always be some of the best of my life.

“The spiritual support of working with you and Sam and Jo especially in those beginning few years truly carried me through some dark times. And I’m so pleased to have had you there to encourage and challenge me.”

Becky Griffin, former core team member

Celebrating what God has done

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It was amazing to celebrate our 10th birthday party at the Belfrey Hall on Sunday and reflect on all that God has done over the past decade. Around 75 of our supporters enjoyed afternoon tea and birthday cake as we looked back to the start of the Besom in York in 2007.

Phil Armstrong from Ed Mezzetti on Vimeo.

We launched at the same venue in February that year with the vision to help the church in York to give. That vision remains the same today and we pray it will do for years to come.

Neil Hulse, the chairman of our trustees, reminded us of the motivation behind the Besom. He said: “It’s giving because we’ve experienced the love of Jesus.”

a compilation made for our 10th birthday party

Posted by The Besom in York on Sunday, May 21, 2017

Neil highlighted what a blessing it is to give, as Paul states in Acts 20 v 35.
He added: “At the heart of the Besom in York is prayer. God is an attentive listener.”

Jo White from Ed Mezzetti on Vimeo.

The Besom in York’s co-ordinator, Rob Ainsworth, shared some of his highlights such as how the giving of local churches over a year period had blessed a mum with eight children. Since we started, thousands of recipients have been blessed through the church giving and this has been a real reminder of God’s heart for the poor.

Chris Cullwick from Ed Mezzetti on Vimeo.

As Paul writes in Ephesians 3 v 18, we have seen the full width, length, height and depth of God’s love in action.

Here are a few photos from the day. If you have any to add to either this album or the 10-year one, please email ed@thebesominyork.co.uk

Posted by The Besom in York on Sunday, May 21, 2017

Thanks for all your support and prayers.

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The Besom in York core team (from left): Katie Harman, Becky Lewis, Kirsten Nott, Ed Mezzetti and Rob Ainsworth.

Singing happy birthday from Ed Mezzetti on Vimeo.

The Besom in York is 10!

IMG_0033As of 25th February this year, The Besom in York is 10 years old!

We look back on the last 10 years praising and thanking God for everything he has done. We’ve seen hundreds of Christians giving their time, money, skills and things to people in need all over the city. We’ve seen people go above and beyond, giving incredibly generous things, building relationships with people, inviting them to church and going completely out of their way to make a difference.

This Sunday we’re celebrating 10 years of the The Besom In York and you are invited!

Where? – Belfrey Hall, Stonegate

What? – Afternoon Tea

When? – Sunday 21st May, 2 – 4.30pm

There will be lots of cake, givers past and present in attendance, friends from Besoms around the country and a short reflection at 3pm.

We would love to see you there!