Tsedaqah ‘Rule of Life’ Blog

A joint blog post discussing how, as a community, we have been living out the Bishop of Liverpool’s ‘Rule of Life’ as disciples in that we are called to pray, read and learn and that we are sent to tell, serve and give.

Since September, we have been serving God in the Diocese of Liverpool
as part of the Tsedaqah community. Living together as a small missional
community has given us a chance to reflect on how we have been living
out the Rule of Life as part of our year-long internship so far.

PRAY – Prayer has inspired and guided all our work so far. Starting most
days with the office of Morning Prayer in the cathedral’s Chapter House
has made corporate prayer part of our daily routine whilst our own
individual prayer lives have become more regular and structured. Before
starting the internship, Madeline’s only time especially set aside for prayer
was with the family, before dinner or at church but now, more
opportunities to actively engage in prayer has enriched her own
relationship with God. Regularly attending Evensong at the end of the
working day has also given us all a different perspective of reflective
worship and how at the end of a busy day, we can just pray and worship
in the quietness of our hearts. The important thing for us as a community
to remember is that prayer is like a lifestyle: we should try to put God in
everything we plan to do before we do it and build our lives upon this.

READ – This year, we are all wanting to deepen our relationship with God
and immerse ourselves in his church here in Liverpool. To do this, reading
our bibles has become a key part of having the guidance and learning we
need to become more committed to God. The ‘Bible in One Year’ app from
Alpha has been a big help in helping us get a wholesome intake of
scripture every day, as well as the lessons read at Morning Prayer and
Evensong. The good thing about regularly reading our bibles is that we
can get a new insight into everything, as you can never look at the same
passage of scripture the same twice; something new will always pop out.

LEARN – Our worship lives have been very varied over the past few
months, getting to grips with the many different expressions of worship
that exist in the diocese. For Felicity, there has been a big difference in
the worship style compared to Ghana, where services at her church are
more charismatic and much longer! In fact, the church service in Ghana
on a Sunday lasts for 4 hours, from 9am to 1pm! Madeline has
commented that the main Eucharist service at the cathedral on Sundays
is broadly similar to the Episcopal tradition in the United States. However,
Zone 2 has provided more of a community feel to worship as has the
young adults ‘Something New’ service, experiencing much more small
scale, intimate worship. As Sam has been exploring a call to ministry and
has been leading services and preaching in his home churches in St
Helens, this has introduced the different traditions of the church and how
to best adapt to different styles of worship not previously experienced.

TELL – We are all part of a missional community grounded in faith and
working every day in different areas of the cathedral’s mission. This is
ultimately inspired by Jesus’ example of love and compassion for others
and bringing more justice to our community and the world. We have been
thinking about how we can deepen our own mission because there are
limited opportunities for evangelism when we mainly work with other
Christians! Yet one thing that has been clear to us so far this year is that
our strongest witness to the gospel has been amongst ourselves and in
our own faith community, exploring Christianity together and helping
nurture each other’s faith. Our individual blogs have also helped to spread
the message of Tsedaqah to a wide audience over social media, telling
people of the good work we are doing and how our faith has guided this.

SERVE – We have all given up a year of our lives to serve God here in
the Diocese of Liverpool. This is all part of our individual journeys of
discipleship to further discern God’s purpose in our lives, before making
the next step whether that be further education or work. Madeline and
Felicity have both moved thousands of miles to bring more justice in
Liverpool, leaving behind family, friends and their other ministries back
home. Given all the work we are each doing in this year of service, it
would be impossible to list just ten things! We are involved in so many
different projects and tasks, in social justice, education, youth work and
more, all grounded in serving God whilst also becoming better disciples.

GIVE – Similar to how we are committed to a year of service to see more
justice in the world, we have given this year to God in the hope He will
strengthen and enable us to live a generous and compassionate lifestyle.
We have been giving ourselves to service in ways we wouldn’t have
previously done. Our work with different groups, particularly with the
Micah Foodbank, has also changed our perspective on the world and the
community we serve, encouraging us to be more generous and give
anything we can to make a real, tangible difference to people’s lives.

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The First Three Months

Discerning a call from God was never going to be a quick fix. He doesn’t tend to give all the answers to big questions at once. So I thought a good way to try and find out God’s purpose for my life would be to spend a year serving in a variety of social justice and community projects with Tsedaqah. This post will give an overview of how the first three months of this internship has panned out.

 

img_0345My work with Tsedaqah has been split between projects in Liverpool and St Helens. Perhaps a sensible starting point would be to give you an insight into what a standard working week with Tsedaqah looks like. On a Monday morning, I travel to Liverpool Cathedral to work mainly with Canon Ellen Loudon in the Social Justice Department on a variety of tasks, that range from putting on conferences to designing colourful noticeboards! Monday evenings are perhaps the most important part of the week as all three interns gather together at Tsedaqah House with our mentors and invited guests to share a Community Meal.

Tuesdays are spent at the Micah Food Bank pantry session at St Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, just down the road from the cathedral. Micah Liverpool is a social justice charity that has been set up by Liverpool Cathedral, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and St Bride’s Church to relieve Liverpool residents from social injustice and poverty. Helping to run the food bank has been an eye-opening experience for me, helping people, primarily asylum seekers, who have near to nothing to live on and need basic food and toiletries just to survive. To give someone a voucher or an actual food parcel has shown me how helping people can make that real, tangible difference. A particularly difficult experience for me was when a young girl recently arrived from Iran came to food bank. I took down details from her ID card to see that she was only one month older than me and had been forced to flee her home country alone at such a young age. This was so upsetting yet a stark reminder to be grateful for the peace we enjoy in Britain and how fortunate we actually are here.

On a Wednesday, I return to St Helens to continue to work with asylum seekers and refugees at the Our Warm Welcome Drop In Cafe, providing essential support and advice as well as weekly English classes, to help those from war-torn parts of the world to integrate into British society. In the afternoon, I help at the Little Rivi after-school club, sharing faith with families that may not be comfortable in a traditional church environment. In the evening, I help to run the ‘Edge’ youth group at St Andrew’s Church, where we have been working on a faith-based magazine publication. Thursdays have been quite flexible, working in different environments, be it worship or meetings. Friday evenings over the past three months have been spent working on the Eden Bus project for the youth that congregate in St Helens Town Centre, giving them a safe space to play video games and hang out, whilst also trying to share gospel with them, as part of the mission work of ‘Transform’.

After what has normally been my day off on Saturday, Sundays have been spent continuing to develop my own ministry in a church environment across the Town Centre Team, leading services and preaching on a regular basis. This has helped me to experience new worship contexts and know more about what it means to be a church leader. Alongside regular spiritual direction from Rev Harry Wood and Rev Dr Mike Kirby exploring my sense of calling, a more regular and structured prayer life has helped me to connect with God more deeply and seek His guidance for my journey this year.

There have been so many individual experiences in these first three months that I wish I could tell you about in detail without this post becoming an extended essay! But perhaps I could finish with a bullet point list of some of the main highlights so far on the internship:

  • Attending the consecration of Bishop Bev with fellow interns Felicity and Madeline
  • Young Vocations retreat weekend to Birmingham with CPAS, to discern my call more deeply with like-minded young Christians through worship, prayer, discussion and teaching
  • Frequent pastoral evenings with our mentors, David and Debra Walker
  • Getting to know so many people from across the diocese and sharing my story
  • Becoming a charity trustee of Street Pastors St Helens
  • Sharing the gospel with so many people, especially in the run-up to Christmas
  • Loads of time to just reflect and pray on the opportunities I’ve had so far

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Thank you for reading this post and I look forward to regularly sharing my experiences throughout 2019 with you on this platform. Next post in a couple of weeks! God bless.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” – 1 Peter 2:9

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An Introduction

Thank you for joining me here on my first ever blog post. I must apologise for taking so long to get started on this concept of ‘blogging’ but finally, I have got round to it and I look forward to sharing my experiences on this gap year with you. My fellow interns Madeline and Felicity have been blogging for quite some time now and I have instead been keeping a rather long and boring diary, currently weighing in at 5000 words! Rest assured, I will endeavour to be considerably more broad and concise.

As many of you will know, I am currently spending a year with Tsedaqah (the Diocese of Liverpool’s internship programme – more on that later!), to discern God’s purpose for my life whilst also making a real, tangible difference in people’s lives and in the community. This programme officially started on the 8th October 2018 and has since developed into a time of great joy and opportunity to develop my own skills whilst helping others.

These blog posts will hopefully give you an insight into my experiences during this internship, the highs and the lows, whilst also allowing me to share a bit of faith.

First major post is coming this Thursday, reflecting on the first few months of the internship and giving an insight into the projects I have been involved in.

So please, watch this space and God bless!

‘Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer’ – Romans 12:12

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