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

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The stories keep on coming!

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We’re excited to announce that 32 Stories – the second edition, is out now!

32 Stories is a booklet of stories from 19 different charities across York (and one story from York Central MP, Rachael Maskell). It has been put together by Wayne Golder at The Fulcrum Foundation and us here at The Besom in York and the intention is simply to encourage people in their giving.

The booklet follows last year’s first edition and we pray it will encourage readers across York and beyond. You can view both booklets here.

There is so much giving that happens in our city, so many stories of how God is at work, and 32 Stories is just one way of sharing them.

We were so encouraged to hear from one giver who has been using it in their family story and prayer time each evening. It has also been used as a basis for prayer in church house groups.

Our second edition is available to buy from us at 50p each. Please drop us an email if you or your church would like to buy some.

Charities who share stories in this edition:

TLG Early Intervention

Restore – Housing Charity

The Archbishop of York Youth Trust

York Neighbours

Bundles of Joy

Big Breakfast at St Crux

Eat Well, Spend Less – York City Church

Kidz Klub York

Railway Mission

Chaplaincy at York Races

Friends International

Carecent

Joseph Trust

Street Angels York

York Foodbank

Riding Lights Theatre Company

Family Matters York

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Here’s why beggars can be choosers

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Beggars CAN be choosers

So often when you hear people talking about charity and giving to the poor, you hear the phrase ‘beggars can’t be choosers’. It’s this idea that because someone has nothing, they should just accept whatever they are given and they have no right to say whether or not they actually want it.

People use this as an excuse to give rubbish – things that are poor quality or that they just do not want anymore – because they think that someone who has nothing should just be grateful for anything. Anything is better than nothing, right? But do you know what is better than ‘anything’? The best thing. And that is what we at the Besom in York want to give: the best.

At Christmas time, we remember Jesus – His birth and significance of His coming. He was (and is) the best possible gift we could receive. During Advent, we are flooded with hampers at the Besom and we love it! We love seeing boxes bursting with treats, gifts and presents – things that we’d love to receive ourselves. And even more than that, we love hearing the stories of givers’ enjoyment at the act of giving!

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The main reason we believe in giving the best, has EVERYTHING to do with the GIVER, rather than just something to do with the receiver. When we Christians give the best, we reflect God’s (the Giver of all good things) gift to us! The Besom exists for the giver; to see the heart of the giver transformed through the act of giving to someone in need.

Those who receive might be a family escaping domestic violence with just a few bags of clothes or those who are stuck in cycles of poverty, having only owned rubbish things or nothing at all. Undoubtedly they benefit hugely from receiving the best. They receive dignity, value and love. They are blessed and are shown God’s love.

When we say that beggars can be choosers, we offer a choice where previously there was no choice. There is the choice for the giver – to ask God “what should I give?” and there is a choice for the receiver – “what would I love to receive?”

So this is why when we’re offered a sofa that “will be alright with a throw on it” we’ll say no or a bed that will be “alright for a homeless person” we’ll politely decline.

We don’t just care about the object that is being given, but also the motivation behind it. We realise that in doing this we are asking givers to re-consider how they view people who are in need and what things that they themselves would want to receive.

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A lot of the people we meet have next to nothing; some have nothing at all. Many of them are coming out of difficult periods of their lives. We want to change that. We want to give people the good quality things that they deserve, because we believe that they DO deserve them. We want to bless people with gifts.

When we say and then act on the fact that beggars can be choosers, we have to be prepared for those who receive to say no to our gift. It is not just about giving the best.

This was illustrated to us recently. We were offered a really nice three-piece suite. It was one we’d seen and knew was great quality. In fact one of the van givers came back after delivering it saying he loved that we gave out the best and would have loved it in his lounge. We thought the receivers would love it too. But a week later they asked us to collect it and take it away to give someone else. At first we couldn’t understand why, but we now recognise it as them exercising the choice we so wish them to have.

We believe that everyone deserves the best and that beggars CAN be choosers.

The Besom in York core team

Give Day Stories

At The Besom in York, our vision is to enable churches and Christians across the city to give time, things, skills, money and more – whatever they are able to. It is great to be able to share stories of how this partnership happens.

Two weeks ago, we told you about we saw God provide for York City Church’s Give Day – how He diligently gave us individual recipients to match up with different gifts offered.  This week we have some testimonies and quotes from those who gave on the day.

Here are a selection:

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A few special party guests.

“We hosted a party for a family with nine children, it was lots of fun. The best thing was seeing the different generations of guests enjoying themselves.”

“Sunday was such a good idea. We’ve just been round to the Syrian family’s house and they were in!! Fourth time lucky! Aw, it was so good!! They were so grateful for everything! We’ve swapped numbers and are hoping to meet up for some bonfire night fun!”

“When we made up the hamper we wanted to buy as many items as we could, it was challenging and fun to do. When we delivered it to the family we learnt something. We wish we’d bought less, but spent more money on each item.”

“My son and I bunksput up a set of bunks for a family. It was hard as the room was pretty cramped. But we got them up. It was good that the rest of our family could join us to give some new bedding for the new beds and artwork for the walls to finish off the new look in the bedroom.”

“We went to give V* the hamper we made, she was so touched! She seemed quite overwhelmed in a lovely way. She really wants to come along to City Tots – so it feels like it’s a real opportunity that God has opened up. She said that the hamper  was a gift from God and that we couldn’t imagine how much it meant to her! 🙂 It was so good to give.”

“We went to a residential home to have some fun. We played bingo, sang some songs and had some fun with the residents. It was good to go as a family, our children were a big hit and brought a lot of joy to the home. It was good to spend time with the folks in the home, but I wish we’d had much more time with them, we were just getting going! I think we’ll try to go back as a small group.”

“It was really challenging – we rang our recipient to ask if we could buy them anything, any specific gifts. Maybe a nice food hamper? She told us that their cooker had been condemned and feeding a family of eight without it was very hard. Could they have a new cooker, please? This left us kind of stuck, we had a budget of £60. We couldn’t buy a cooker for that. We considered what we could do for the sixty quid; buy a combi-microwave oven, hope we could find something second etc… but that didn’t seem to sit right with us. There was no other option that would work for the family – they needed a new cooker. We prayed and then went to visit the family, they were struggling on with a two-ring hob. It was even more obvious where God was leading us – to ‘dig deep’ in our own pockets as a group and buy a brand new cooker. We’re glad God brought us to this place and glad the family can cook meals again.”

It’s so good to hear stories from the day and see how God is working in a church body, teaching and stretching people in faith. This Give Day was just a taster of what God has for us when we give. As we respond to His abundant generosity through being generous and loving to those in our city, we get to join in what God is doing in York. And as we do this we get to know more of who He is, we get to see more of His provision and we get to see Him at work.

*Not her real name

Money making a difference

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Rob Ainsworth, co-ordinator of The Besom in York, looks at how we have been able to use some financial gifts.

At the Besom we specialise in helping churches and Christians in York give what they have to those in need. A lot of the core team’s time is spent equipping individuals and families to give furniture and household items, or enabling church groups to complete time-giving projects.

This week we thought we’d highlight some examples of how and where money donated by givers in York has made a difference for those in need in the city.

  1. £50 bought a stroller-pram for a young mum and daughter struggling without one.
  2. £240 ordered three tonnes of blue slate chippings to cover the garden of a recipient who due to disability struggled to keep it on top of the weeds.
  3. £300 bought a new cooker for a grandma, mum and baby son in a specific neighbourhood in York.
  4. £202 meant that we were able to pay for a skip for an elderly man to clear his garden. A number of people had taken advantage of him and fly-tipped there.
  5. £165 installed two cookers for two families.
  6. £40 bought top soil to fill holes in a garden left by a gardener who took advantage of a mum and didn’t finish a job.

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    Rob Ainsworth
  7. £14.99 purchased a pair of anti-allergy pillows for a dad without any, £20 bought bedding to go with them. This combined well with a bed given and delivered to him.
  8. £160 bought a set of bunk beds for children in Clifton. (The price was discounted without our asking!)
  9. £110.31 meant we could order three mattresses for three cots to add to three bundles that were given out to new parents in the city.
  10. £69.99 was spent on a new microwave for a young family needing to sterilise bottles.

If you or your church is interested in giving with the Besom in York, click here for more information. Our contact details can be found here.

 

 

 

 

Bundles of Joy is Launched!

12509204_539129942915211_2977996279044038329_nOn Thursday 23rd June we had the pleasure of launching Bundles of Joy. It was an evening of story telling, testimony, vision, and prayerfully commissioning the work of Bundles of Joy in York.

The evening began with Rob sharing how 18 months ago the Besom trustees had been praying and felt stirred to pray that we might see new initiatives started in York that would see the church coming alongside the disadvantaged and marginalised.

Rachel and Carly joined Rob and talked about how Bundles of Joy started. It started in their hearts – having been on the receiving end of many gifts for their children fro their church communities, they had a passion to see the church in York to give practical gifts of baby items to families in need. Rachel shared how she first had the idea about 18 months ago!

They also shared stories of giving that Bundles of Joy has enabled since they opened in January and how God has been working through them.

One story that was shared was how a bundle of baby items was given to a young mum-to-be who had been referred to the Besom. The baby was due at the end of June and the mum didn’t have any baby items. Bundles of Joy were able to give her a bundle of baby items, a moses basket, a pram, and various other things in order to help prepare her for when the baby arrived.

Stories like this are just the beginning of what Bundles of Joy is all about: the generosity of givers, wanting to give things to those who are in need.

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Carly, Rachel, and Rob then shared the three-point vision of Bundles of Joy.

  1. Equip the church to give. Bundles of Joy is here to provide a way for Christians and churches in York to extend their communities of love and share generously baby clothes and equipment that is so freely given within churches.
  2. Enable people to receive. Bundles of Joy is also about seeing those without receive the practical things they need for a new baby, but also support and encouragement.
  3. Encourage referrers. Bundles of Joy receives referrals from a number of professionals in the city. We want to encourage them in their work and be a helpful source for the people they are supporting.

Following this, everyone was invited to go round various prayer stations that had been set up to pray for different aspects of the work and vision of Bundles. At one prayer station people were asked to write messages for Bundles recipients that could be put in bundles that were to be given out, to encourage recipients and let them know they were loved. One such message said:

“You are loved. You are precious. You are valued. You are beautiful. This bundle was made for you and your baby and we are praying it meets your needs exactly. We know being a mum can be tough but you can do it!”

13578849_10157072884400082_503249143_nAnother prayer station encouraged guests to write down bible verses and prayers for the bundles of Joy team. Thank you for encouraging us – here are a couple.
“Every giver, every gift, every bundle is like a light, shining into the lives of those who receive them. And God shines light into the lives of the givers also. Lighting their hearts on fire for Him and for those who are in need.”

We finished the evening gathered together, prayerfully commissioning Bundles of Joy together. With gratefulness and faith we look forward to what God will do through Bundles of Joy in York.

 

Putting God’s call into practice

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As you may already know, The Besom in York is supporting Bundles of Joy, a new group that has started up in the city. Its vision is to help provide parents with the essentials they need for their newborn babies. This week Bundles of Joy founder Rachel Kirkby updates us on how things are going.

It is almost the end of April, which means is it four months since Bundles of Joy started.

In that time, we have had a great number of people respond to the vision of Bundles and generously, joyfully give in numerous ways. These gifts have abundantly blessed over 15 families so far.

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It is such a joy to be able to deliver a bundle and see the recipient respond with a ‘wow’! A wow not only because of the lovely quality items included in the bundle, but a wow at the realisation that someone cares so much about them and their baby that they delight in giving them these gifts.

I remember this feeling so fondly from when we had our own daughter back in 2014. Our friends and family showered us with so many gifts. It made us feel supported and we knew that our family, and our baby, was loved. This is true for most families living within Christian communities.

Bundles of Joy is just one small way to allow this element of Christian community to extend beyond the church walls. It provides a really simple way for us to be able to reach those in need and put into practice the Biblical call to be generous.

As Hebrews 13:15-16 shows us, a natural consequence of following Christ is to share what we have with others.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

Here is the story of one family who have given regularly over the past few months…

Catherine is a member of our church, St Michael le Belfrey. She is a mum to three beautiful boys aged five, three and ten months.

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On hearing about Bundles of Joy, Catherine was moved by the vision to extend God’s community to others in our city. Catherine and her husband Paul have been on the receiving end of generous giving when they had their boys within the Christian family of our church and felt called to replicate this to other families without this network.

Catherine turned up to my house, having taken time out of her whirlwind schedule, to drop off some things for Bundles of Joy. What struck me most was not the physical gifts she was bringing, but the attitude with which she brought them.

It was clearly a delight for Catherine to pass on these gifts to bless another family. Each item was carefully taken from the boot of her car with the commentary of how it could be used by someone, laced with a memory of when or how her own boys used it. This even conjured up tears at one point!

There was so much emotion wrapped up in the things she was giving, it could have been easy for her to store it up for herself.

Yet greater than this, it was evident that Catherine’s love for God, and her awareness of His love for her, caused her cup to overflow with generosity and desire to share this goodness. Thanks to this, several families have been blessed with gifts Catherine brought, meeting a need and demonstrating God’s love for them also. Catherine has since passed on several more gifts to Bundles and no doubt will continue to do so in the future.

My prayer today is of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving to God that He generously gives to us as His children all we need, thanksgiving for a community of believers in York who are passionate about meeting the needs of the poor and responding to the call to extend God’s kingdom in York.