I had been told by several people that Heatree was old, cold, and worn out, my expectations were quite low; I think I was expecting something from Oliver Twist, but instead the building was warm; as were the staff; the rooms had good quality beds with en-suite bathrooms. The grounds were expansive and beautiful, if a little waterlogged; and no signal for our precious mobiles, so no distractions.
The first Friday evening meeting went well with leading from NLF’s Keith and worship from Zoe on guitar. RGCF’s Bob House spoke at the first meeting about building our faith and our churches. We had a great illustration with a tower building competition out of giant Jenga. Engineer Chris’ team built strong, but it turned out that Keith’s team built the higher! Bob was there to apply the spiritual truths.
Chris Clewer (NLF) taught in the remaining four meetings on a series called, ‘Pressing on…’, using the experiences of Israel.
- Escaping from slavery: Exodus 1&12 (Slavery to Passover)
- Defeating the enemy: Exodus 14 (Crossing the Red Sea)
- God supplying our needs: Exodus16&17 (manna and water in the wilderness)
- Seeing and tasting fruit: Numbers 13&14, Josh5 (do we see giants or fruit?)
The churches also had two individual ‘Vision sessions’ during the weekend. New Life Fellowship is going through a time of change, our pastor has retired and we have gone back to the original leadership model of three elders. We have been uncertain for some time what direction God wants us to go in. The school we meet in has become more unwelcoming, as due to new government policy we have very little access to facilities, as physically and spiritually the doors are locked. Though we worked in the community we have little results to show for our efforts. So this envisioning weekend couldn’t have come at a better time. We had two sessions of prayer and seeking God’s direction for our fellowship, one thing mentioned was our need for the right building, right partnership and right person for the way forward. With that in mind we felt led to call a forty-day fast and seeking season, which ‘coincidentally’ coincided with lent. God is moving His people, His voice is being heard and the Holy Spirit is moving in power in our services. Even though we are few in number, like Gideon we have a Mighty God by our side, whatever He requests, we will do. How can we fail?
Jenny had come especially up from Cornwall to lead the children’s meetings in a study of Joshua – which of course meant building, then demolishing Jericho!
We had spare time to enjoy the lovely grounds as well as pool, table-tennis and table-football. On-stream teas and coffees meant plenty of relax and chat time. Some also braved the elements for a Dartmoor walk and visit to Jay’s grave
The fellowships started the weekend fairly separate – but as the event wore on, so did the mixing and enjoying of real friendship and fellowship. By the end, you could hardly tell them apart.
What a great – and significant weekend we experienced. We’re certainly going to make it a priority again in the future.