A look back at Form 2016/17

Form, what a year it’s been. This year has been full of ups and downs, filled with a lot of laughter and a lot of tears. This year has been an opportunity to build relationships that will last a life time. As I look back on the past three months it is shocking to recall all that has happened. From the emotional huddles, to the profound teachings, to the spontaneous times of worship, Form has been a time full of learning and being stretched spiritually.

Final weekend away

As I look back to our very first Form social night at the Cutting’s house in September, it is hard to grasp how far we have come as a group. We have gone from being 14 individuals who knew nothing about each other to being family. I am confident that this family is one that will stick together for the rest of our lives. Although we will not all be living close to each other, I know that I can always rely on this family for support and for prayer. In twenty years, I know that the brothers and sisters that I met this year will still be there to encourage one another to persevere, and run the race of life well.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about his past year, is the potential impact for the kingdom that is coming in the near future. Form has prepared us as a group to “go out and make disciples of all nations.” In this Form year we are releasing leaders, teachers, pastors, potential missionaries, and professionals in all kinds of fields. In the words of the great John White “we have the potential to make an impact on Earth, for Heaven’s sake.” Josh always reminds us that “Form is not about this past year, but about the next fifty.” Daddy God has ingrained a desire to see the kingdom come to Earth in this group of disciples. It will be a great pleasure to see where we go in life and the impact that we make for the kingdom.

It has truly been a pleasure to be a part of the Form family this year. This year will be a year to remember for the rest of my life! A year of learning, growing, laughing, crying, and being stretched farther than we all would have considered comfortable. But at the end of the day we all came out of this looking more like Jesus than we did in September.

Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

 

Written by Adam Smith

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Sicily Mission Trip

Having all worked hard to raise funds for the trip, we were Sicily-bound…..

After being let in on the heart and vision that drive Jesus Generation and the lives of Josh and Marco and their families and church, we were on board and ready to put our all in to serving these families, the people of Sicily and each other.

The week consisted of various outings and tasks, for example:

A large derelict building close to the city centre has been purchased by Jesus Generation and other churches in the area as a safe place for the homeless and refugees to eat, wash, hang out, play basketball and be seen by a dentist or doctor if necessary. We worked in and around this building and got a lot done in the hours that we spent there during the week. I particularly enjoyed the vigorous, if somewhat aggressive assertion that went in to winning a fight against lino glued down since the 70s. “Leave that flooring, it will be hard work” was the advice, “no no, we’ve got this” was our response.

Sicily team - Agape House

We know that the power of prayer is real, so of course it took a front seat during the week. We were out on the streets blessing the city and the people who live and move through it. One morning we followed a prayer map that the Stanhopes and Louise had created. We spoke prosperity, possibility and provision over a huge piece of God-given land.  This will one day be a place of peace, refuge and hope for immigrants and refugees coming in to Italy from countries South and East of the island. What is impossible with man is possible with God.

Whether behind the scenes putting together an Ikea home to house future intern teams, out and about getting to know a mixture of immigrants and locals in and around the city, or going to spend time with families in the Roma camp nearby, we found it a privilege to get to serve and partner with what these guys are doing, and seeing firsthand how they are being led and blessed by an almighty God and loving Father.

Although a lot can be squeezed in to a week, it was only really a small glimpse in to the heartbreak and hope, separation and restoration and suffering and provision that seem to be ebbing and flowing side by side as God’s spirit and kingdom collide with the world.

Sicily - Roma Camp

We were struck by the hunger, sacrifice and selfless love that oozed out of Josh and Marco and we’ve been left encouraged and empowered to continue asking, seeking and knocking, running further in to the depths of God’s heart and advancing the kingdom of heaven on Earth.

With all the mission-trip boxes ticked off (a few cold showers, plenty of minibus-bonding time, the odd mosquito bite and let’s be honest, some “wees in the wild”) we returned home not only with a lovely glow and a few extra pounds, but of course plenty to process and celebrate as we get to step out in greater freedom and power as children of God.

 

by Steph Hilton-Turvey

Sicily Mission Trip – Fundraising Fun

At St. Thomas Philadelphia, there have been rumblings of a mission trip to Sicily commencing May 3rd. A motley crew of guys and gals brought together by a internship known as ‘Form’, have been fundraising these past couple of months to bring a portion of God’s love to the vulnerable and needy in Sicily. Many income generators of various description have been used by the Formees and team members to get the wonga flowing and here’s a few of them.

Our very own Thomas, has organised a football tournament where teams buy in to play league footie and the chance to emerge the victorious team. A less televised version of a famous dining show; ‘Come Dine With Grace’ has been offering a meal for two with Prosecco for a tidy sum and all going towards the trip to Sicily. As well as a sponsored silence that Jess managed to complete with the help of a whiteboard and pen. Not so silent was Beth and Frank appearing on the radio and paper to declare ‘Siselli’ to the whole of Sheffield. An auction pioneered by Beth, which included many items such as holidays, concert tickets a signed football and more.

Siselli Auction

Whole group activities such as bake sales, gardening, cleaning and car washes have been all part of the fundraising too. And if you fancy a bit of sponge action, Pete Gaunt will be offering up his head as a target for wet sponges too, this Sunday 30th April.

by Nick Wastie

Reflections on Lent and Form Men & Women’s Day

Lent Reflections

“When people think of lent, it is often associated with “giving up something”, whether it is chocolate, fast food or alcohol. On Form we had the privilege of Liz Lovell going into more depth about fasting at lent and what it means for us. We were taught how traditionally lent is the preparation for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. This is done through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial. As a time of preparation and reflection, we took time in quiet to reflect on how we were doing with these aspects of our lives.

This then lead into a further time of reflection as we did a mini “fitness review” of our body, mind and spirit. We looked at how it is important to “stay fit” in the discipleship journey, to constantly renew ourselves. For me, personally, I didn’t give anything up for lent. However, I decided to focus the period on prayer. It was really effective to look at how prayer affects my body, mind and spirit and what daily disciplines I could add to my daily routine to improve my prayer life. Disciplines in life seemed to be an overriding theme in the girl’s huddle. It was good to remind ourselves of the disciplines we have put in place in our lives and where we can improve them. Overall, it was a great day and we are all prepped for Easter Day!” – Lydia

 

Men & Women’s Day Reflections

“Asking those hard and often a bit embarrassing questions about sex and relations is probably something we would all like to do; still we sometimes tend to hold them in because we’re afraid of what someone else might think. Asking that particular question is a great way of gaining knowledge in the subject from a Christian viewpoint, however the opportunity to discuss them in a group with experienced people only of your own gender helps you to develop your understanding of the question and also to dig deeper into how we can put the answers and advice we receive into practice. This is why I think the men and women’s day was much appreciated among us all in the group. A day full of teaching about our futures biggest events and challenges that ended on a high note with a men’s trip to the pub.” – Jakob

“One sunny Tuesday afternoon the girls and the guys had a split and got to spend some real quality time together. Us girls were all lucky enough to have afternoon tea at the Lovell’s house with fresh cakes, lots of laughs and reminiscing chats. We had a great time thinking about influential women in our lives and in the world, reflecting on the women we aspire to be and the real strong confident women we are; a time to encourage, reflect and be thankful for the examples of women we have in our lives. I was very grateful to have a space to talk about the amazing grandmother and mother I have in my life and thinking about the wonderful example they set me and what I can put in place to see that fruit in my own life!” – Liv

Encounter God Weekend

The Encounter God weekend took place over a Friday evening and a Saturday in February with the whole of the Form Network. It was time to spend with God, worshipping Him, hearing talks, and praying into big situations in our lives. The talks were on big topics such as fear, shame and forgiveness and they enabled us to question some things maybe we would have otherwise chosen to put off. During the weekend, we all experienced Jesus in different ways and many of us experienced breakthrough and freedom. Below are a few of our experiences:
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“Encounter God was an opportunity for us all to come together with the Form Network, and shift our focus fully onto Jesus. We had a time dedicated to whatever God wanted to do and we were willing to listen. I was impacted by the full force of Jesus’ love; his unending persistence in wanting a relationship with us, one that we do not deserve. I feel immensely honoured to be able to worship such a great God, and privileged that I had a whole weekend to think of nothing else.” – Liv

“Since I went on the Encounter God weekend I’ve realised how much your past can affect you and the impact it can have on you later in life. I experienced freedom from past events and I feel I’m now more aware of when God is highlighting things in my life.” – Nathan

“My personal expectations for this weekend were high as this particular weekend had been spoken about for the whole form year – ‘This is something that you by any means can’t miss’. I expected God to really work with each and every one of us. I had heard testimonies about God’s power of inner healing taking place during these days and was particularly excited for the weekend to commence. I was anticipating God’s move as I stepped into the first session of worshipeg-5 on the Friday evening. The outcome of it was just as good as promised, during the last worship slot on the Sunday evening, I had one of my few moments in truly encountering the Holy Spirit. His presence affected me through my emotions which was God revealing himself to me. At the end of the weekend, many of us stepped forward in front of the people who had been standing with me throughout the weekend. During the last worship, we shared our experiences of God’s presence. However, I was not one of those who felt the immediate effects from God after the weekend, although I was really encouraged and motivated to start working with what we talked about in our prayer together – this was with the prayer ministry couple, who’d prayed with me.” – Jakob

“At the Encounter God weekend, I didn’t have a profound revelation at the time like many of the others did. However, the weekend highlighted to me the root of something I have been struggling with for a while. It takes me a long time to process things but the weekend allowed me to process what was on my mind, pray into to it and give it to God. Since the weekend I have felt a lot freer, my mind is a lot clearer and I have been able to re-focus my gaze on Jesus. It’s a process but I am already experiencing freedom. It was great hearing the testimonies of the others at the weekend and what God had freed people from in such a short space of time. It reminded me how amazing God is, that he knows every intricate detail of us and always wants the best for us!” – Lydia

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Tent of Meeting

The Tent of Meeting has been a week of 24/7 worship and prayer. The week was such a wonderful opportunity to focus our time and energy on God, waiting for Him to show Himself in different ways to us. Nights up until 3am of prophecy and prayer have been such a blessing to experience for some of the Formees – spending time together and with God. On the Wednesday, some of the Missional Communities came together to worship, the room was packed with people and the Spirit was so clearly moving amongst everyone. It is one of the clearest times I’ve seen Jesus and felt His presence. From this, God has fuelled us for this season and we are ready to take what we have experienced with Him into our internships and home for Christmas.

Jill

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Tent of Meeting was held between the 6-13th of November. My strongest memory from the week was when the Forge team spent 3 hours in the prayer room, first worshiping and then praying out things we wanted to see in the city of Sheffield. It was nice to be together to pray against things like, abuse, poverty, alcoholism, and that we would reach out to more people. In other words, we prayed for a transformed city. We also divided into two groups and in the groups we took turns praying and prophesying over each other. I got some words from God that I still carry with me. During those three hours in the prayer room I also got some time to read the Bible and to just be in God’s presence.

Anna

 

The Tent of Meeting was truly a wonderful place to spend time with God. The time spent in there was very precious and amazing. We spent time praying and listening to what God was saying about the city of Sheffield, the church, our lives and listening to what God was calling us into. We encouraged each other through prophecy and scriptures that God gave to us. It was great to hear what God was calling us to do, what He was doing in us and His promises for us. The time of prayer and worship was amazing as I/we encountered God, and His presence was amazing, it was a time of laughter, tears and pure joy.

Thomas

To live is Christ, to Die is gain…

“It is going to be the most exciting but challenging year of your life”, this is what the Form leader told us with the biggest smile on his face to most of us on Form. We were encouraged to undertake a year of discipleship to help us transform and look more like Jesus. From his face, he knew exactly what he was getting us into and he was very excited about the outcome. There are 14 of us undertaking this year of transformation, and over the past 6 weeks we have been very busy getting to know each other.

We have enjoyed so much together already, walking through the beautiful peak district, cheese and wine nights, and watching shooting stars! It has been great getting to know each other and the leaders. But as you can imagine it hasn’t all been that easy! We have also been pushed out of our comfort zone doing missional work for the student’s Freshers week. It wasn’t easy to step out and speak to the students about faith, but we found it encouraging seeing so many freshers wanting to know more about Jesus, and having the leaders at every step was very helpful. This was something that most of us have never done before and we would not have blamed you if you mistook us for street sellers. It sometimes felt like trying to sell a product that we did not ourselves believe in, I guess this is all part of growth. It was mostly about getting to know the students and building a relationship with them, welcoming them to the city, which would have been a new surrounding to most of them, and also to some of us. We also helped at a community festival at Kings Church which is a sister church of where we are based. This involved helping setting up for the event, serving and talking to the community.

A highlight, and probably also the most challenging time we have had so far, has been the weekend away in Castleton where we got to meet the other Formees from around the country, and got to know each more intimately. It was a weekend full of worship, prayer and teaching. We played games and grew in relationship with one another, growing deeper in our first huddles. In the huddles, we shared our journey with Jesus and what we have found difficult in our faith so far. It was a great time of being vulnerable and trusting one another and bringing it to God. We then all read our Form prayer to the rest of the Formees which was very nerve-racking! This prayer included what we wanted Jesus to do over this year and what we wanted breakthrough in. This was also a glorious time as we saw God mending hearts and speaking to us throughout the weekend and felt excited to return and get started with our internships!

The teaching we have received so far has been amazing, many of us have been moved by the Covenant and the Kingdom teaching amongst many other teaching we have received. It has brought the reality of the gospel to our hearts and has begun a change in our lives. We have learned so much over this term, some of the teaching that has challenged us is Andy Stone’s talk on the Covenant where in short we have learned that we get to “be to do to and not do to be”, this has really challenged our identity and knowledge of the gospel as it is not about what we have done, but it is about what Jesus has done and accomplished. The teaching has been practical, on how to do mission well and how to be intentional in finding people of peace and investing in them. Through our experiences many of us have learned to trust God even when it is hard, and to fix our gaze on Him when we feel overwhelmed.

Every day at Form we begin with prayer and worship to start the day, which has been a place where God has spoken to us and revealed himself. During the Form day we are able to spend time with God through praise and worship and spending time in His presence through prayer or simply being quiet. We are still getting hold of the truth that every time we breathe is spending time with Him and that we do not have to be in a specific place to do so for “He shall never leave us nor forsake us”.

Finding a rhythm in the week and settling in with a routine has been difficult for some of us, and fitting all of life into one week! Another challenge is being vulnerable with others and meeting new people. However, over time we have all grown closer and learned to support and encourage each other through the experience. It is also amazing to note that all of those on Form who can get a part- time job have been able to get one, all in the first few months! God has truly been amazing. We have seen healing take place through prayer and we also have been encouraged by the prophecies and words of knowledge given. So far it has been a very exciting few months and yet also very challenging.

Josh knew what he was getting us into, and he knows of the amazing changes that this year will bring. We have already started to see the transformation, and it is so exciting to think of the end of the year and what we will all have learned. We are living in Christ and still dying to ourselves each day, gaining more of Him and growing just to be like Him. To live is truly Christ, and to die is gain.

This blog post was written by Jill Straughan, Anna Gyllensten & Thomas Msadala

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End of the Year

photo 2.JPGForm has ended and God has done immeasurably more than we all could have asked or imagined! We are all very thankful for every person who has poured into our lives this year and each of us look more like Jesus than we did when we started. On our final weekend away, we each shared a testimony of our journey over this year- the highs and lows, expectations and breakthroughs and, of course, the tears and laughter. This was a powerful way of sharing with our Form family how God has transformed our past hurts and experiences of life by healing us, restoring us and setting us free. We have learnt about who we are as sons and daughters and are excited that this is only the beginning of walking out everything we have learnt this year and running hard after Jesus.

“They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Here are some testimonies of what God has done this year:

Brandy: “It’s hard to summarise everything God’s done through my Form year. The past year has been a journey of trust. He’s continued to show me that I can trust Him, even when things don’t make sense. I now know He’s trustworthy because He’s begun to show me how much He loves me. I know He is constantly with me and working towards my good. This year has given me a foundation to carry on from. I know I can handle anything life throws at me, because His strength is made perfect in my weakness.”

Rachel: “I can hardly believe that Form is coming to an end, what a year it has been. A year of resurrected hope and reassurance of my faith. At the beginning of the year we were asked to share our hopes and dreams for Form 2015/16, I was wrapped up in so much disappointment from the hand I felt life had given me, that I had no hopes to share apart from one-I held on to faith that I would have hope and dreams reinstalled this year, it has been, and continues to be my daily prayer. With my Father being a faithful one, I have seen a shift in my life, a shift that allows me to put my hope and expectation in Him, releasing me to hold things lightly and step up and out into trusting the One who has the best for me.”

Louise: “God has spoken His truths over me this year and it has been so powerful in healing my heart and allowing me to step into the freedom that He has for me. It hasn’t looked like I thought it would at all, I think I expected there to be these moments where everything would change, looking back there has been a few of those moments but actually He has shown me that there is joy in the journey with Him and He is so gentle in the process of healing us. I am so different to who I was when I came to Sheffield. I have learnt that He knows what is best for me and to trust fully that He is always good. Coming to Form felt like a battle to choose God – it felt like giving up everything for Him, putting off starting my career, my future, a husband. I thought I was putting my life on hold for a year… that seems ridiculous now looking back! I thought I was giving things up but God has shown me that actually I have gained everything. I’ve learnt that I have an inheritance as a daughter of the King.”

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Sicily Mission Trip Testimonies

So we’re back! We’ve had an amazing time; we’ve seen miracles, many 13103276_575407742642197_7549237077780747916_n (1)people blessed, grown close as a family and eaten too much gelato! We are very thankful to all who supported us financially and with prayer. We really appreciated the generosity and could not have done it without you! I could write thousands of words on what we did, who we met and where we went! But I shall sum it up as briefly as possible and share some testimonies of God’s goodness and impact.

We stayed with Josh and Rachel Ballard and their 4 amazing kids – Macy, Liberty, Ryleigh and Titus. They shared their home and lives with us for the week and we were incredibly blessed by them all and the conversations we had with them. Marco Basile, Cinzia and their daughter Sophia were also hugely welcoming and Cinzia made us so many amazing Sicilian meals! Marco leads Jesus Generation, the organisation we worked with, as well as leading a local church.

The first couple of days we worked on the new team house, building and cleaning in preparation for teams this summer. In the evenings we joined Marco, Josh and their team in two outreach projects, once to feed and pray for the homeless of Catania and once for the girls to go out with a fantastic lady called Carmen to talk and pray with women who work in the streets. Both nights were eye opening and incredible, both to join with the mission and see how these guys do mission.

On the weekend afternoon/evenings we did some outreach in a popular park. Occasionally Marco sets up a mechanical bull, using it to attract a crowd and then taking the13015322_10153404804871356_3990214688996357874_n-001 opportunity to share the gospel with people. They were great times of sharing, conversation and building relationships despite the language barrier! We also spent time being part of their family and helping out where help was needed – whether that was the boys pulling out thistles on the land or the girls attending a women’s prayer meeting. There was so much that we did and we learnt a lot! I could go on but here are a few testimonies from the week instead:

Jess – “I was really impacted by the sense of generosity and family the Sicily team invited us into. They modelled an unconditional love and embrace. This was really powerful. Personally I was also very blessed through their hospitality and came away feeling completely refreshed and restored. God spoke to me deeply about being in the heart of who he is, inhabiting the deep places of God because of who he is and how he sees us- accepted and loved!”

Sam – “God really gave me joy in serving and showed me the pleasure He takes in a heart serving with love” 

Jenny – “God was showing me more and more throughout the trip how incredibly big he is and how he will keep blowing my mind and not let me put Him in a box. Anything from just looking out over that amazing, breathtaking view, to seeing the people we worked with laying down their lives to serve homeless people and refugees just because they know they’re so loved by Him”

David – “God really challenged me in my identity, in who and what I belong to. He really spoke to me about gender norms, and how it’s not important if I identify as male or female, that it’s all about who I am in Him, that although I can’t change the culture, I can affect how they see me.”

Van story – We were on our way back from Taormina and everyone was dozing off when suddenly the van jolted and woke us as we dribbled off the road to a stop. Marco said “oh, we’re out of petrol…” He got out to talk to Josh in the other van and they sped off to get us moDSCF2504re fuel – it should have taken about 20 mins. As we sat there I prayed, “Jesus I ask that we can run on you, just like I’ve heard stories of people going for years without re-fueling” everyone else was praying too. Marco decided to try and get us further off the road because every time a car went past the van rocked! After a couple of tries he managed to start it up. Then it just kept going and going! It was amazing! We started singing worship to God and the power that we accelerated up the slip road with was ridiculous! We passed the others in a petrol station on the other side of the road, waved and continued – still singing. 3+ km after we’d run out of diesel we got to the station and filled up. It was incredible; it had just got better and better as we went along. Wow. God is good!

This blog was written by Mary O’Connell

 

Mission Trip Fundraising

We’re excited to be travelling to Sicily for our Form mission trip this year. The dates that we are going are Monday 18th to Tuesday 26th April. We are really excited to go to Sicily and reconnect with Marco & Cinzia who are good friends of the church. You can support us by clicking this link.

You can read about the vision of Marco, Cinzia and their team here.

Samuel TimLike many short term mission trips, it will be important to remain flexible in order to help the community there in the best way possible during our stay. There are lots of different things that we could end up doing – one primary thing being reaching out to and spending time with the people of Sicily. This could be with the church community there or getting involved with the projects that help refugees, homeless and prostitutes. We will also serve the church and community there in various ways – helping with building and working on their land. Our youth and energy definitely won’t be put to waste. Depending on each of the team’s individual gifting and passions, some of us could end up leading worship there, baking, or making up some skit to perform for the children there. The possibilities are endless. The key thing is us staying open to whatever ways we can bless the people of Sicily.

To make this mission trip happen we need a lot of prayer.

Please pray for practical details such as:

  • Provision of money for the trip plus enough to bless Marco, Cinzia and the team we’re working with
  • Organisation of the tripPete Marilyn
  • Naomi Stanhope, the member of the Form team who will be leading the trip
  • Prayer for good health

Please pray that God would guide us:

  • How are we going to reach out and help the people of Sicily in the most efficient and loving way?
  • How can we make a change in their life and bless them with what we’ve got?
  • How are we going to be able plant more seeds and help people grow closer to God?
  • Prayer for us to have a mindset like Jesus: not to judge people on how they live their lives, what choices they’ve made to be where they’re at.
  • Prayer for us to be able to see the people as our own, that we all will acknowledge our identity in Christ as followers of Jesus and work together as one community to make Sicily a better place.

Please pray for us as a group:

  • Pray for us as a team – that we’ll grow closer as a group, that we’ll work as one, that we’ll be able to work out whatever conflict that come our way as smoothly as possible. But also that we all will have a great time serving others as we’re serving the kingdom of God.

Thank you for all of your support.