Things are under review

March 25th, 2015

You may have noticed that there haven’t been many blogs lately.  Well, the Youth Challenge website is under review at the minute.  Hopefully when it’s all finished things will be looking really good, with plenty of information for you on what’s happening in Youth Challenge.  So keep watching!!

Don’t forget about the Easter Conference coming up.  It will be a great conference and we’d love to see you there for at least part of it.

And as I’m no longer part of the Youth Challenge team, this will be my last post in the website.  But you might still see me conducting the SYC Choir now and again and at various YC events.  You don’t get rid of me that easy!!


Big Release!!

March 6th, 2014

Do you remember back to 28th December 2013?  It was a lonnnnnnng day of standing and singing lots as we (ie the SYC Choir) recorded our 6th CD.  We got through 10 songs in about 12 hours.  I don’t know about you. but I’d no voice left at the end of the day and was totally shattered…..never mind the sore legs!!!

Well, a lot has been happening with the recording since then.  All the solos and backing vocals have been added and Malcolm is working away at putting additional music to it and mixing it all together.  And from what I’ve heard of it, it’s sounding really good!

Picture1 webSo on Saturday 12th April we’re hoping to have a big release night for the CD.  It’s in Lurgan Baptist Church at 7.30pm.  It will be a real night of praise with not only the SYC Choir singing, but the Monteith Family (Malcolm, who’s producing the CD) and they’ll be a praise band too.  So not only do we want you to come along and sing with us in the choir, we want you to bring your family and friends too.  There will be refreshments provided, so it would be great if you could let Colin or myself know if you’re coming and how many are coming with you!

CDs will be available to buy on the night.

Those of you who are in the choir – we’d ask you to be there at 2.30pm in the afternoon.  You won’t have heard the pieces since we recorded them…can you even remember them??  So we want to have a bit of a practice so everything sounds good on the night.  Pleeeeeeeaaaaaaaasssssssssseeeeeeeeeee come and sing with us!!  We’d really love to see you there.


Things have been changing…

March 29th, 2012

Crutchleys web…in the Youth Challenge team.  First of all our previous leaders, David and Olivia (and Lydia) Crutchley, have taken on a new role in CEF as Local Directors for the Mourne Area.  Many of you have got to know and love David and Olivia as they served as our Co-ordinators for the past 10 years.  Pray for them as they work among the boys and girls and young people in the Mourne area.

Chris webSecondly we said “Goodbye” to Chris McCune.  Chris joined us in 2007,  but over a period of time he felt God was telling him to change direction in his ministry.  So Chris is still with CEF but he has moved into the area of publications in the Multimedia Department.  He’s now working with David Coffey in the National Office in Belfast.  As many of you know Chris is very creative and will bring much to his new role.

Colin webNext we say “Hello” to two new members of the Youth Challenge Team.  Colin Hylands is the new Youth Challenge Co-ordinator. Many of you will know him (along with his wife Victoria and children Nathan and Kezia) from Teen Camp or New Year Camp.  They grew up through the various CEF activities from being children at Good News Club to becoming camp leaders.  In adulthood Colin sold bathrooms and Victoria was a teacher, and they spent many years as volunteers with CEF before Colin joined full-time. Hopefully you’ll hear more from him in later blogs.

Heather webThe second member to join the team is Heather Meenagh.  Heather hails from Dungiven direction.  She was involved in various CEF camps and ministries before taking a gap year with the mission.  During that time she felt God calling her into CEF full time.  So after studying at New Tribes Mission College and spending her time as a candidate in the North West Area, she joined the Youth Challenge team at the end of 2011.  Heather will be working in the North West and North East Ulster areas, seeking to build up the Youth Challenge ministry there.

Please pray for Colin, Angie, Marcus and Heather as we organise the Youth Challenge ministry.  Pray for the wisdom that we need and that God will be glorified in all we do.

Angie McKee

Summer Outreach Training Course 2011

October 19th, 2011

Anna Robinson was at the SOTC this summer.  Here’s what she thought of the course:

“What a faithful God have I,

What a faithful God.

What a faithful God have I,

Faithful in every way”


sotcblog1Whenever I think about the SOTC, this is the song that comes into my head.  Everything I learnt at training week, everything I experienced, everything that brought me there all comes down to the fact that we have a faithful God.

This was my first year doing training week, and I had an absolutely fantastic time.  I had heard people talk about it a little when I was younger, and while I didn’t think a lot about it at the time, it was always something that I thought I would really like to do.  Admittedly never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would need to come quite so far to get there!

sotcblog3Initially I was definitely a little nervous about coming.  Aside from the distance – coming from America on my own, there was also the fact that I didn’t know too many of the people that would be coming.  I moved to the States when I was 12, and while I have lots of fond memories of CEF camps in N. Ireland, I’m 17 now, and even though there’s a feeling of coming home, I was uncertain as to whether or not I would still fit in.  Before I left, my dad told me to remember “not just to survive – enjoy it!”  This was the attitude I tried to take, and as it turned out, I really had nothing to worry about!

The leaders played a big part in the easiness of settling in and feeling comfortable.  While I might be accused of shameless flattery, I can say with absolutely no ulterior motives that each one was amazing, and were a great blessing to me.  The fact that I can say that is a great testament to their goodness of heart, as a number of them have had the dubious pleasure of knowing me for a long time!  But in all seriousness, I can’t thank them enough for making me feel so welcome, and I really enjoyed spending time in their company.

sotcblog2All the lessons were really good, and even with a busy schedule, I wouldn’t have missed any of them.  I loved learning how to teach a Bible lesson, and learnt so much.  The “What is the Gospel?” classes were brilliant – they were so relevant and very valuable to me as I started to get a more thorough understanding of the gospel, as we learned to teach about it.  John Nixon’s classes on “The Roman Catholic Child” were also amazing, and through his lessons I was able to understand certain things that had completely confused me before.  Bible study in the morning was a perfect start to the day.  I haven’t mentioned all the lessons, but they were all great, I learned so much, and even outside of classes it was really helpful to discuss questions I had with whoever had been teaching that particular class.

Two of my favourite times of the day were prayer time in the morning, and praise time in the evening.  Both were a great time of fellowship, and I loved that we started the day praying, and remembering Who was in control of our lives.  Depending on the weather for praise time we either went down to the harbor, or we stayed in the dining area. It was a really special time, and wonderful to be able to worship our faithful God together.

sotcblog4If you ask anyone who has gone to training week, they can tell you that practicals at the end of the week can be stressful, and a wee bit nerve wracking.  While this is true, it should also be mentioned that definitely for me, preparing the Bible lesson was one of the best parts of the week.  Studying the lesson, learning it, and going through Scripture really blessed me as I was preparing it.  Something I discovered was that you can learn a lot personally from the Bible, as you learn to teach it to someone else.

I made a lot of great friends at training week.  In free time it was a lot of fun just to spend time getting to know people.  For anyone who enjoyed music, there were often a few people with guitars or playing piano in the meeting room!  I was in a dorm full of amazing girls, and we had a really special time together.  Quiet time as a dorm in the evening was definitely a highlight – although we probably wouldn’t have gotten any sleep if we talked as much as we wanted to!  It was a major blessing to me, and continues to be, as I keep in touch with them!

sotcblog6I couldn’t possibly write this without mentioning at least once how incredible the kitchen staff were!  The food is delicious, and as someone with a couple of allergies, they were very helpful, and Seaview is very high on my list of best places to eat.

What else can I say?  A lot more!  I could tell you so much more about the time I had, and what I learnt, but I would have to recommend you go for yourself.  God is faithful, He brought me there in spite of anything else, and even in spite of me at times.  The reason all of it works is because of the recognition that no matter how faithless we are, we have a faithful God who chooses to allow us to be a part of his plan.  “What a faithful God have I, faithful in every way.”

Scottish Camp 2010

November 15th, 2010
Dave 'you know like' Lacey

Dave 'you know like' Lacey

Scottish Camp 2010 was an absolutely brilliant week.  Here’s what Dave Lacey remembers about it – written as only Dave could!!

Well, on Friday 13th August Kyle and I headed up to Larne from the centre of the earth, Newtownabbey.  As we weren’t sure who was going to camp it was safe to say we were slightly worried.  You know, since we’re so cool and all that, that maybe people who weren’t as cool as us would be there.  But we headed into the boat terminal and we decided to mingle – you know, to get a feel for the camp and the campers.  I had a chat with a girl called Catherine Laughlin from a place called Ballymena, which I had never heard of, but where they have strange accents compared to the amazing Belfast accent that I have.  In all honestly I still have no idea what she said, even to this day, as my ears had to adjust to the Ballymena accent.  It was also at this point that Kyle approached me and informed me that there were people at the camp from all over the country, including Cookstown!  Personally we just thought that Cookstown was a made up place where sausages were made, but it turns out that it actually is a real place! They love their bingo games there and put us on to which is a great bingo resource site.

Getting on the boat someone (Hannah Skillen) then said, and I actually quote, “This is just like being on the Titanic.”  Turning to her I then asked if she realised that the Titanic sank.  The boat journey wasn’t good for me to be honest.  I spent most of it terrified that the boat was going to sink.  Once the boat docked I was straight off it onto land.  Still shaking from the experience, Kyle and I took to our seats on the bus.  I think we spent most of the journey talking about the fact that so many people weren’t from the Belfast area.  We hadn’t a clue what was going on.  Who were these people?

Judith & Janet

Judith & Janet

Getting to the Bible Centre we settled into our room and we met our other dorm mate (another David).  He thought it was strange that we hid under our covers when we got there, but eventually we came out.  We got chatting to the girls down the corridor from us.  They seemed nice.  At this point we didn’t realise what a bond would develop over the week, but until dinner time we were still unsettled.  Kyle was crying his eyes out he was so home sick.  My mum had spent the last hour reassuring me that everything was okay and that I’d settle in okay, but it wasn’t until supper that we finally felt comfortable.  This was the moment we laid our eyes on the most beautiful thing we had ever seen.  Kyle nudged me and said “Dave… look!”  It was at this moment we saw the woman of our dreams.  The wind swept hair, the amazingly fashionable apron and the dazzling eyes could only be one person – Janet!  When Kyle and I eventually got up to the counter to get food I couldn’t talk and Kyle actually fainted!  We both went without food that night but we weren’t hungry, we were in love!

SC10 blog4The Saturday broke a new dawn.  Up until now we were nervous and worried but after seeing Janet our hearts had its missing piece.  Heading into Glasgow we began to chat away to people.  After a while the accent barriers became a thing of the past.  We could, all of a sudden, speak the language that these country people spoke.  It was amazing!  Heading to M&D’s in the afternoon we had such craic.  People at the park thought that we were plain strange but we had the thought of Janet in our minds so, even when we got soaked on the water ride, we loved it.

Each day we had our Bible study.  This year we studied heroes of the faith from Hebrews chapter 11.  Honestly they were class.  I think this is one of the great things about the camps, the practical side of the teaching.  We found out how characters like Noah and Enoch kept the faith and what we can learn from them.  They were truly encouraging.

Sunday was more of a relaxed day until we did a mystery based game.  Since Kyle and I went to Monkstown, which is actually the smartest school known to man, we were certain we would win.  With the help of Jayne Stewart we set off solving clues.  Honestly we were like Sherlock Holmes, Watson and… the girl from the film.  Happy enough that we had done enough to win, we sunbathed which, honestly, we were surprised about as I didn’t expect the weather to be so good, but it was class.  Kyle and I worked on our tans for Janet and it seemed to work as she actually smiled at us at tea time!

SC10 blog5On Monday we headed off early to go tobogganing.  Still gutted that we were cheated out of the mystery game we headed to the slopes.  It’s a snow based sport so I loved it.  I love the snow, love the taste and the feeling of it, and granted the yellow stuff does taste funny, but we’ll say nothing!!  While sliding down a hill at speed you realise that friendship is of no importance as on various occasions Kyle and I shoved each other which usually resulted in either of us flying off somewhere.  It was a lovely Christian day especially when Johnny Hutton headed a train of people down the hill while everyone got great delight from covering the train in snow.

SC10 blog8Tuesday – Sport’s day – the pinnacle of any great camp.  It’s the one day of the week that you take delicate care and consideration in your apparel… an older football top that looks worn, thus giving the appearance you’ve played sport before; shorts that obviously mean you mean business; and football socks that are neither up nor down.  (The reason for this is that it gives the impression you’ve just been running as everyone is aware that socks fall down when you run.)  Finally though, the most important piece of sporting equipment known to man…a bottle of Lucozade Sport.  Every great athlete drinks it and just the bottle itself tells people that you are sporty!  In reality though you spend half the day faking asthma due to the fact that you can’t run the length of yourself because you’re so unfit!  All in all though, sports day is a great day to flaunt your “sports pose” and yes, that is a real thing that I have perfected over the years!

SC10 blog3Wednesday was the day that we went to Edinburgh.  It was the day that we had our outreach in the city centre and it went really well.  Reports came back from the people handing out tracts saying that they’d had some really good conversations.  While singing we had our photo taken by one of the official photographers of the Edinburgh fringe festival.  He was really glad to see us as he was a Christian guy and he was pleased that we were doing an open air in a city that rarely sees things like this happen.

Later that evening was the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.  We were honoured that evening to be in the presence of the king of some country that, like Cookstown, everyone knows is a made up place.  Anyway we clapped him and then settled down for the night ahead.  In all honesty, it was like walking into the local estate except it was a lot more synchronised.  The drumming was in time and impressive.  The guys on the bikes, though they cheated death a couple of times, actually knew what they were doing, unlike the local boys from the area.  It was a class night though.  The music was class and so where the people there.  Nicole Erwin and I chatted to an older couple, John and Eileen.  They were lovely and they gave us some great relationship advice.  I guess Nicole and I will definitely aspire to be like them when we are older!

Blind Date Scottish Camp style

Blind Date Scottish Camp style

Thursday morning was upon us faster than we realised.  After the late night, the lie in was nice, but the last full day of camp was upon us.  Most of the day was spent preparing for the talent show which was so talented it was unreal.  That evening a pleasant young lad from Belfast was on “Scottish Camp’s Blind Date” and somehow he won.  For the life of me, I have no idea how he won.  His answers had no context to the questions being asked and his clothing was tacky, but it was all good.  The highlight of the night had to be the “John McCulla” song – even thought John wasn’t at the camp and many of the campers didn’t know who he was, he still got a mention!

That evening all sorts happened.  I even heard a rumour that a boy broke a rule to help the girls pack their suitcases, and then promptly hid under a bed when Angie appeared.  Haven’t a clue who that would be, but he should be down right ashamed of himself!

SC10 blog6The final morning had come oh too quickly and honestly, people were in tears saying things like “Oh Dave how will we ever live without seeing you everyday?!” and “Oh Dave you complete me!”  And it has to be said that those were the comments made by the leaders!!  The comments the other campers made were slightly more awkward as Kyle and I got several marriage proposals, but we couldn’t say yes to anyone.  Janet just looked at us every time someone asked, and we knew that none of these girls would ever match up to her!  Before we knew it, we where on the boat, which, may I add, had to be the rockiest boat I’ve even been on.  I thought that sea sickness was something that people made up and just pretended to have when they felt sick on a boat, but it turns out that it’s true and it’s not pleasant.  The whole time it was happening the thought went through my mind “I’m near certain there was a scene like this in Titanic the film!”

Once on dry land I walked outside the terminal and there was the greatest woman in my life… Irene Lacey.  Oh, it had been too long since mother and I had seen each other.  After saying my goodbyes to everyone mother and I left for home.  On the way home Kyle and I told this exact story of what happened at camp that week.  Since this account is completely true, Irene loved it and I hope you did.  Camp was great and I’d recommend it to anyone who is considering it.  I can’t guarantee that your week will be exactly like my account, but you’ll still have fun.

Dave ‘like…you know’ Lacey

(For more photos of Scottish Camp look under the Camps – Scottish Camp page.)

Summer Outreach Training Course 2010

August 26th, 2010

The summer is almost over.  It all began with the Summer Outreach Training Course from 25th June – 2nd July.  Christy came to SOTC for the first time and here’s what she thought about it:

(More photos of SOCT can be found under Training – Summer Outreach Course)

 Having completed the Junior Training Course a few years ago, I knew this week would be intense, tiring and, at times, a little nerve racking, but completely worth while.  And yes it was!  Things began on Friday evening with a brief introduction to the week ahead and CEF® itself, breaking us in to the routine of SOTC.

The students

The students

Each day began with rise and shine at 7.00am, and our own individual Quiet Times, followed by breakfast, and then prayer time.  Daily John Nixon gave a Bible study, before the teaching classes started.  This year the Bible studies focused on questions – Why? What is the message? Where? How? Who? What then?  Delving into God’s Word to learn for ourselves about our God, His great plan, and how we are part of it and are to be as His children.  The teaching began appropriately on “The Biblical Basis of Child Evangelism”, reminding us that many children are lost, that they can be saved and that as Christians we have a responsibility to share God’s Word with them and in the way the Bible instructs us to. 

Elementary classroom

Elementary classroom

The remainder of the classes largely focused on how to deliver the Gospel effectively to children.  “What is the Gospel?” with David Crutchley, laid out the key truths of the  Gospel, helping us to understand them clearly in our own minds, to allow us to teach them simply to children.  The Bible Lesson practical is possibly the most dreaded task of the week.  The Bible Lesson classes with Denise Annett broke the task down into simple accomplishable steps with constant encouragement, delaying the nerves somewhat.  One of the classes I found very interesting was “The Roman Catholic Child” as it helped to give me a greater understanding of the mind set of a Catholic child and their need of the Gospel.  The urgency needed when teaching the Gospel came through both in class and in the Bible study.  We do not know what is to come in the future, or when.  We do not know if we will be here tomorrow – if we are not, did I, did you, do all we could to bring others to Christ?  I know this highlighted my need to maintain my focus on Him, always.

Dorm 11

Dorm 11

Dorm times were special.  I won’t forget Dorm 1 quickly!  We had some hilarious times, but it is the fellowship we shared that stands out the most.  Each of us spoke honestly and from our hearts on what we had heard earlier in the day and the thoughts it provoked, as well as many aspects of faith, including sharing how God had been and was working in our lives.

Christy teaching her lesson

Christy teaching her lesson

The encouragement from God’s Word from leaders and fellow classmates each time doubt popped up continually reminded us that with God each of us could and would teach a lesson – ‘I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.’ Philippians 4:13.  The dreaded practicals themselves are nowhere near as bad as I had dreamt them up to be.  I even managed to come across as ‘confident’ in the memory verse, and overcame a memory blank in the Bible lesson – with God’s help nothing is impossible!

The teachers

The teachers

One of the great things about SOTC was being able to see the passion all the leaders have from and for God.  Often I am frustrated by the apathy in the church especially towards the lost, but there was no shortage of passion and enthusiasm at SOTC.  The leaders’ passion was clear to see and infectious; in how they taught, encouraged us and testified to God in their lives.  It reminded me to live ‘Soli Deo Gloria’ – to God alone the glory.

To sum up why I enjoyed SOTC so much, is because it was a week filled with teaching, learning, personal encouragement, fellowship and worship of our great God.  Now that the week is over I feel more able to “reach the unreached within reach” with God’s help, for God.

Christy Reid

News from Marcus

June 7th, 2010

Below you’ll find the link to Marcus and Jayne’s latest prayer letter.  Take the time to read it and then you’ll be able to pray more effectively for them.  They’d really appreciate your prayers both in the run up to, and during, the summer months.  Thanks.

Marcus Prayer letter May 10


Exam time is here!

May 24th, 2010

exams web1The sun has been shining and we’ve had a real scorcher of a weekend here in Ireland.  That can only mean one thing – it’s exam time!!  Many of you are working hard, doing lots of revision, aiming to get the grades you need to get back into school or to university or to get your degree.  You’ve made out your revision timetable and you’re sticking to it.  And many of you will be like me – trying to do everything possible to avoid having to do any studying!!  Even cleaning your room is more interesting that revising……and a 10 minute break can last up to 4 hours!!!  (So stop reading this blog and get back to work!!!)  I remember those days well!

The only advice I can give you is –  Keep Going! Keep working hard.  Do your best.  Keep the end in sight, then you’ll have the whole summer to enjoy.  Some of you might be thinking ”I’m a Christian so I’ll get the results God wants me to get, whether I work hard or not”?  But is that right - if you don’t do any revision and get poor marks, is it God’s fault, then?  I don’t think so!!  1 Samuel 2:30 has a exams web2lovely promise from the Lord – “…for those who honour Me I will honour…”  But it’s a promise with a condition – if you honour God in everything you do, including your studying, then He will honour you.  How He honours you is up to Him.  For Daniel and his 3 friends it meant they were 10 times wiser that all the wise men in Babylon.  Now, God may not make you 10 times wiser than everyone else doing their exams, but in some way He will honour you.  Work hard at all you do.  Next time you feel like you can’t be bothered to do some revision – stick at it!  Do the best you can.  Remember what Paul says – it includes your revising(!):

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord and not to men.”

Maybe in the back of your mind you may have that sinking feeling that when you open the exam paper you won’t be able to answer any of the questions!  Help!!  Well, don’t panic.  Just quietly ask the Lord to bring back to your memory all you’ve learned and rely on His help.  He’s not going to abandon you when you walk into an exam room – He’s right there with you.

bible reading web1Whatever you do through exam time, make sure you keep your time with God everyday.  Don’t let the busyness of revision and exams push that time out of your life.  You need to keep close to the Lord, so guard your Quiet Time each day. 

 Those of us in the Youth Challenge team are, and will be, praying for you throughout May and June until the exams are over.  And if you want a wee break then why not come and join us for the SYC Fun Night on Saturday 12th June 2010 – more details later. 

God bless.


Easter Conference 2010

April 29th, 2010

What did you do over the Easter holidays.  Some young people spent it at our Conference in Portrush.  Here’s what Michael thought of it all:

After re-reading previous blogs on this website, I can finally sympathise with Mark Knox, who spoke of his millions of drafts when preparing his report!  However, I’ not  complaining; in compiling this summary of Easter Conference, I’ve been granted a valuable chance to truly reflect on what can only be described as an amazing few days.  Life-changing in fact.  But how can I summarise all that God did in those few days?  It’s impossible.  But I’ll give it a go.

Easter web4Having conquered Teen Camp, New Year Camp and 1st Year of SOTW, I figured it was time to see what the fuss of Easter Conference was all about.  I was slightly apprehensive; this would be the first CEF camp I’d been to, where I wouldn’t be enjoying Rosemary Law’s wonderful hospitality at Seaview (she told me to say that!)  Apparently the format would be different, if not even slightly intense.  As per usual, my worries were pointless, as I am currently looking back on an amazingly blessed number of days.

It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces again upon my arrival on Friday.  A group of around 35 young people (I include Angie, Marcus and Chris in this group, so that I can be invited back next year!) stayed in the youth hostel in Bushmills, a group which enjoyed great fellowship throughout the Conference.  Friendships were both made and strengthened, and it was a privilege to be part of the group.  After a rather relaxed Friday evening together, we eagerly anticipated plunging into the Conference itself. 

Easter web5Saturday and Monday were similar in structure.  Both days began with a voluntary prayer meeting, followed by breakfast.  It soon became evident that certain individuals had not experienced this time of day for quite a while!  Lead by Marcus, the prayer meetings were the perfect way to start each day, with a short devotional swiftly followed by meaningful, sincere prayers.  A brush of the teeth and grab of the coat, and it was onto the bus, travelling to Portrush Presbyterian Church for the Conference itself.  The Bible study, terrifically lead by Roger Carswell, was swiftly followed by a short coffee break, before we moved back into the main church for the morning seminar.  Each afternoon, the young people were ‘unleashed’ into the likes of Portrush and Coleraine to spend some free time together – many good times were shared, and extraordinary beach volleyball talents were unveiled on Monday!  Before we knew it, it was back to the church for tea, before the evening service kicked off.  A very full and busy day away from the youth hostel finished with a brand-spanking new event called ‘Meltdown’, a more relaxed meeting for the young people, led by Angie, Chris and Marcus where we heard from various missionaries, and found ourselves being incredibly challenged.  One sleepy bus ride later and we were back in Bushmills – the wise option would have been to grab a cup of tea and go straight to bed, however it was hard to resist the lure of group games such as ‘Signs’ and ‘Empires’!  A couple of hours later, and it was finally time to crawl into bed.  Sunday followed the same basic outline, apart from the morning, when we were able to attend a church of our own choice.

As someone who had no clue what to expect during the few days, I spent most of my first moments at the Conference with my mouth wide open – all the people I’ve ever met within CEF, all under the same roof!  The names which so frequently occurred in prayer letters finally had faces!

If asked to describe the Bible studies in one word, it would be ‘refreshing’.  It was universally agreed that our speaker, Roger Carswell, had been given a gift, and he was definitely using it to glorify God.  He managed to connect with people of all ages within the Conference, leaving us all with a lot to ponder and causing key truths to re-emerge in our individual walks.

Easter web2The seminars really stood out for me as the highlight of the few days.  On Saturday morning, we discovered more about “The Past, The Present and The Future” of CEF in Ireland, from Sam Doherty, Henry Berry and Philip Annett respectively.  I found this hugely informative, especially “The Past”.  Whenever I’m asked to give a short presentation at church, on the volunteer work I do with CEF over the summer, I’ve always thought that it’d be more useful to include a little context.  Now I feel it’s a necessity.  It is astounding to hear of how CEF grew and flourished from its humble beginnings, to what it is today, under the Lord’s help and guidance.  Our God is great!  “I’m down! How do I get up?” by Valerie Murphy, definitely caught the eye when scanning down the programme, and it most certainly did not disappoint.  Combining examples from the Bible with practical advice, God was most definitely present and speaking through Valerie that Monday morning.  Evening meetings were just as mind-blowing, with the report on CEF Ireland encouraging all those present, yet making us even more determined to help continue its development.  Sunday night saw a very interesting report from Pavle Kostadinov of Macedonia and finally the retiring CEF European directors, Roy and Ruth Harrison.  Shortly after their presentation, and being ‘interrogated’ in a interview by Chris and Angie later in ‘Meltdown’, I can confirm that all of the young people who had never before met Roy and Ruth instantly fell in love with them, with quite a few females being quoted in saying “I want to get married, grow older, and be just like that”!!

Easter web1Another personal highlight was the Saturday night meeting, which was mostly a worship session, with the highly anticipated debut of a small band made up of CEF workers.  Once again, goosebumps were forming on my arms as it was very clear that we were in God’s presence that night.  Finally, a huge thanks to those who spoke at Meltdown meetings; Harry and Wendy Robinson, Pavle, Stan Beamish, Roy and Ruth, Chris, Marcus and Angie.  Suddenly, questions were triggered within my head: Why remain comfortable in good ol’ Northern Ireland?  What is God calling me to do?  Let’s serve this extraordinary God.  Marcus, Chris and Angie had admitted that ‘Meltdown’ was on its trial run, and that they weren’t sure how it would turn out, or what reaction it would receive.  I’ll take this opportunity to say that I thought it was the perfect way to end a day at the Easter Conference.

In finishing, I want to mention the big thing that God taught me during the course of the few days.  The easiest way to explain is to take some of the lyrics from a song we sang on Friday night, during a short worship time;

“Ordinary people are the people God will choose.

Ordinary people are the people God will use.

People who are changed inside, whose hearts have been made new,

Are people who can change the world, that change begins with you,

That change begins with you.”

Time and time again, this theme of ‘ordinary people’ arose.  Henry Berry often coined the expression, ‘We are simply ordinary people, serving an extraordinary God.’ Valerie Murphy’s seminar presented examples of how the people in the Bible were not massively different than us, and they suffered the same setbacks as we often do.  Suddenly it hit me.  Those who work for, or volunteer in organisations like CEF are not in some ‘exclusive club’.  They are by no means unlike any other Christian.  However, where the difference lies, is in the fact that they are fully committed to serving an amazing God.  And consequently, they have been blessed.  Even though we always see them up on a stage in front of lots of people, or leading a camp, amongst other things, they are simply ‘ordinary people serving an extraordinary God’. 

On looking back upon the Easter Conference, I’m well aware that now God has made this clear to me, there’s no excuse.  It’s time to truly commit to serving Him.  Only then, as the song reveals, will God use me.  It’s safe to say that the Easter Conference changes lives, and it’s definitely something I’d recommend to anyone with a desire to hear God speaking to them.

Michael Pollock

Thinking of what to do this summer? (2)

March 23rd, 2010

The summer is fast approaching with all those lovely long holidays for many of you.  And maybe you’re thinking of how you’ll spend that time.  Why not spend it doing something for God?  Why not spend it among the boys and girls who don’t live that far from you but who’ve never heard of the Lord Jesus?  Why not help us in bringing the Gospel to them?

To help you to do that we have a Summer Outreach Training Course for those aged 16+, beginning on Friday 25th June 2010.  Susan was at the Course last year – here’s what she writes about it:

SOTC09.1 webHaving already been through the Elementary Summer Outreach Training Courses last year, I decided that I would return to take the Advanced Course.  I had thoroughly enjoyed the first year and did not think that it would be possible for the second year to be any better, but I was quickly proved wrong!!

After arriving in Kilkeel and discovering that I had to live in dorm 11 for a week (the sauna of the house, but thankfully David took pity on us and bought us a fan!), there was a joint Elementary/Advanced class on the work of CEF® around the world.  It was amusing to see the shock on the faces of those on the Elementary Course as the timetables for the week were handed out – SOTC is far from a holiday!!

SOTC09.2 webThroughout the week we enjoyed our usual praise times before supper and when the weather was nice we had the opportunity to go down to the harbour for it.  This for me was one of my favourite parts of the week as it gave us all a chance to relax and enjoy fellowship with each other.

Speaking of enjoying each other’s fellowship, last year, and also when I did the Junior Course, the main sport of the week was volleyball.  However this year, to the surprise of David Crutchley, ultimate frisbee was the game of the week, a game inspired by “The Fermanagh Four”.  Anytime there was a break, if you looked out the window someone was throwing a frisbee about and it was great because everyone could play (well…most people anyway…!)

Each morning someone on the Advanced Course shared a devotional and then we were split into smaller prayer groups.  This gave us a chance to pray individually and for each other and throughout the week it was interesting to notice how more people began to pray as the practicals were looming!  Training week really does strengthen a person’s prayer life!!

SOTC09.4The first class of the day was John Nixon’s Bible study on the Tabernacle.  I thoroughly enjoyed them and I do not think that I am alone in saying that I got a lot from them.  They were a real encouragement to us all and helped prepare us for the challenges each day would bring before us.

Last year as a first year I had often wondered why the second years always seemed to be laughing and making so much noise.  After sitting in a class with David Jackson I soon understood why!  The counselling classes were very amusing especially “Pastor” Alistair and Robbie’s Oscar winning performance!  But in all seriousness, these classes were important as we learnt how to deal with a variety of situations which we may face in the summer in camps, Holiday Bible Clubs and 5-Day Clubs®, etc.  After  SOTC I found that all we had learned in these classes was very useful when I went out on a CYIA team and was a leader at Inters camp, and was able to put it into practice.

We had three visitors at SOTC, Judy, Ufuk and Emma – three CEF workers from Europe who were over to observe what Training Week was like.  They sat in with the Elementary class and when it came to the dreaded practicals, they took part in assessing us!  On the Thursday Ufuk celebrated his birthday and this meant that there was a birthday cake and he shared it with us all…I took the last piece but contrary to popular belief (Philip Annett!!) Ufuk did actually get a piece!!

SOTC09.3 webWhen the dreaded practicals were looming it was interesting to see how fences, walls, pool table, mirrors, doors and so on were being evangelised!  We were split into smaller groups for the practicals, I felt that this helped calm nerves because there were less people to stand in front of and also gave us an idea of what a 5-Day Club might be like.  Thankfully we all managed to survive and pass the week!

In conclusion, I had a great week at SOTC this year with all the fellowship and banter, but most importantly I learnt how to teach the Gospel more effectively to the children.  I was able to put what I was taught at the course into practice throughout the summer at CYIA week and camps, and it was amazing to see what a great help SOTC was!  So I would like to thank all the teachers (big children) for all the help they gave to us all throughout the week and I really pray that children’s lives will have been won for Him during summer.

So why not think about coming along and be trained in how to teach children the Gospel?  For more details see under “Training” and “Summer Outreach Course” tab.  You’ll also find an application form you can download there.  Pray about it.  Ask God what He would have you do this summer.