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.
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.
As 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.
This week our blog is dedicated to celebrating the saving work that Jesus has done in two Besom recipients recently.
Yes – you read that right, heaven has two more occupied rooms, two more individuals in York have accepted the redeeming, saving grace of God in their lives and are both now part of local churches.
We found out about Joanna* a couple of weeks ago when we got a text from a giver who’d been giving time at her house over a number of weekends. The message read:
“We thought you would be encouraged and delighted to know, that Joanna* decided to give her life to Jesus a couple of weeks ago. The Lord surely is gracious and compassionate and mighty to save!”
We were indeed encouraged and delighted to hear this news! Looking back – we can see that God had been working on this for quite a while. Joanna* has been the recipient of a number of gifts and prayer, over a number of years and in recent times her family had noted a difference in her after Besom givers had been giving time in her house. She is calmer and more peaceful!
The news of a second lady finding faith was a nice surprise for us at an early morning meeting. Angie* was another Besom recipient that we knew well and enabled a number of givers to give to over the last four to five years.
She had recently had her council flat re-wired and had a new bathroom and kitchen fitted and needed some help to redecorate after this. When we went to see her we noticed a ‘on your baptism’ card on her window sill. She was delighted to tell about the church she is now part of, the friends she has made and show us the photos of her baptism.
How amazing to see her again, now fully in the knowledge of her adoption as a daughter of God, loved and accepted, full of hope.
So what have we learnt at the Besom through these stories in the last two weeks:
Do you pray and then doubt God will answer? Do you pray and forget to even see if God does answer? Do you simply find it hard to pray? Even if we’ve been following Jesus for a long time, most, if not all of us, will go through periods like this.
One thing that can really encourage us, both to keep trusting in God and to keep praying, is hearing of answered prayer. It so great to remind ourselves that God is sovereign and, amazingly, He chooses to act in response to our prayers.
At the Besom in York, we want to commit all we do to God and trust Him to provide for the work He has given us – to enable Christians to give across our city. We love seeing how God answers our prayers and those of our supporters – and we hope you do too.
We often share prayer news on social media. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get the updates. But we have also now started a new section on this blog called ‘Answered Prayers’. As the Ronseal man would say, it does exactly what it says on the tin!
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.
Core team member Becky Lewis hopes to apply lessons God has taught her in York as she heads to South Africa.
Through the Besom in York, God has shown me that whatever someone’s situation, they deserve the very best. Not hand me downs or half-hearted help. Jesus never disregarded someone because of their position, in fact He sought out the people everyone else rejected. He never gave someone second best. So I’m taking these lessons with me, I’m going to (with God’s help!) give it my all whilst we’re out there.
God has also taught me that there are people in need right here in York. That I don’t have to go abroad to serve those in need. But it seems He is calling me to South Africa and has been for a while, even if it’s just for two weeks. So I’m excited for what he’s going to teach me out there and the lessons I learn, I’ll bring back to the Besom.
In a few weeks’ time, two other youth leaders and I are taking five of our young people from York Community and St Paul’s churches on an 18-hour flight.
There’s a significant backstory to why this is happening and without sounding too clichéd, it started when I was around eight years old. It was Red Nose Day and I was watching the programme on TV with my family (mainly for S Club 7’s appearance…) Next thing I knew I was angry, crying and my parents had turned the TV off. This was my first experience of seeing absolute poverty. My lasting memory was seeing children my own age starving, orphaned and lonely.
This was the start of God breaking my heart for the poor, lost and broken. Throughout my life I’ve found God putting me in situations that have been uncomfortable but so necessary for me to understand poverty. From social action projects as a teenager, to getting involved with helping the homeless at university, to finding myself doing a Besom project two weeks after moving to York, to being on the core team at the Besom and helping people help those in need.
I first went to Soul Survivor (a huge Christian youth festival in Somerset) in 2009 when I was 16. It was there that two people called Tich and Joan got up to speak about a village they were building for orphaned children in South Africa. They spoke with a beautiful humility and passion for these children. They also couldn’t quite believe what God had called them to. It was the exciting start of LIV village.
Over the years I’ve been back to Soul Survivor and each year we’ve heard the progress of the village. Last year, we took York Community Church’s (YCC) young people to the festival and there were Tich and Joan speaking of God’s faithfulness. It is now home to 154 orphaned and vulnerable children and is on its way to becoming completely self sustaining.
There was also an invite to come with them at Easter to visit and give time to the project. Through the Besom in York, I’ve worked with people in poverty in this country. There is so much need, even here in York, but sitting on the floor with 6,000 other Christians around me, I whispered “God, can I go?”.
I didn’t tell a soul. A few weeks later three of our YCC youth approached us and said they wanted to go. Things sort of spiralled from there! Now there’s eight of us, and we fly to Durban in a few weeks time.
Please pray for us as we travel, serve and spend time at LIV village in April.
We’ve loved partnering with Bundles of Joy this past year. In this week’s blog, founder Rachel Kirkby reflects on their anniversary and what God has taught them during that time.
Isaiah 41:13 says “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you”.
I love this image. As a parent, I find myself saying phrases like this to Amara often when she needs an extra support or encouragement “come on, hold my hand, I’ll help you, mummy is here”.
And she always trusts me. She has learnt that the affirmation that “mummy is here”, means she can step forward into this new situation and trust that it will be okay even if she doesn’t know where it might take her. It’s her intuition to cling to me and let me guide her through, knowing that I will always provide what she needs (whether it be a drink to sustain her or a tissue to wipe the muddy hands after a fall).
Chewing on this passage, it struck me how much we need to have this toddler-like trust in our relationship with God. This has particularly been true for Bundles in our first year.
We were ‘born’ last January and in our first year, have had as many up and downs as any other baby!
But overall I feel as if we’ve learnt, like a baby, that if we cling to our Heavenly Father’s hand we can learn to walk in this big world with confidence. He never fails to provide what we need, and He never fails to challenge us to grow even further.
One major example of this over the past year has been the issue of where we could store the donations from our givers. When we started out, I’m not sure we were quite prepared for the volume of physical gifts that the Bundles vision would conjure up.
We have been blown away by the sheer generosity and commitment that people have to give. We are so thankful that this aspect of Bundles has been explosively abundant and we’ve seen God move in the hearts of the givers on a weekly basis.
However, it hasn’t come without its challenges! We’ve had points where we’ve simply had to say ‘no’ to givers because we’ve had no space, which has been really hard, and at times frustrating.
We prayed about this, we asked others to pray about it, but for a while it felt as if we were getting nowhere.
Our spare rooms were getting increasingly full, our husbands were getting increasingly questioning about the bags of clothes and toys in our hallways, and I’ll admit it was tempting to get increasingly frustrated about a lack of answer!
But, like a toddler, what we needed was God to take hold of our right hand and say “Calm down, do not fear, I will help you, I’m the Lord remember.”
One particular Sunday, this is exactly what happened. God spoke into my heart with both challenge and encouragement. Our preacher was talking on Luke 12, the parable of the rich fool, and used a quote from Augustine of Hippo who said (paraphrased) that the bellies of the poor are much better storerooms for excess grain than a bigger barn. My ears were pricked!
Of course this was true. Why were we praying for somewhere to put things, when we should have been praying for homes for these physical gifts to go to!
To summarise the week that followed this ‘pinpoint moment’ – we basically ended up with not only more referrals to send out gifts to, but TWO generous offers of space.
As always, our Heavenly Father knows what we need and provides it, in His perfect timing.
So this January, we started the year with an amazing space to store physical gifts, which has released us to have so much more time and freedom to make bundles and bless families in York through Bundles of Joy.
Further on in this chapter of Isaiah, (verse 17) it speaks of the poor and needy searching for water, but there is none.
This fits with many of the stories of the families we have met doing Bundles. Families living in fear and anxiety about where their necessities will come from. A single mum crippled with worry in the lead up to Christmas. A young couple with no support network, who didn’t know where to turn to ask for blankets to keep them warm in a flat with no heating.
“But the Lord will answer them. I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.” So true!
It has been so evident in the joyous giving that Bundles has facilitated, that the Lord hears the cries of the poor and has answered them through Bundles of Joy. What a privilege to be a part of this!!
As we journey into our second year, we are grateful for all the lessons we have learnt so far and look forward to learning to walk a little bit more, whilst remaining completely dependent on our Heavenly Father who takes our hand and provides all we need.
Thank you for journeying with us in prayer, please keep doing so!