Monday, 10 October 2011

It's been too long, blogger friends!

Hello World!

I say, it's been a long time hasn't it! It seems that I haven't posted since May, and that wasn't even a real post that was just me bragging about my, frankly, amazing essay! From that success, I start writing an essay called, '10 easy steps to becoming as humble as Stephen Neal', but I thought it was too obvious a think to write about so I stopped.....

Since we last met, I have graduated with a Divinity degree from the University of Wales, don't worry I worked for mine (get me with my current affairs), and have been away to Albania. I am now safely back in Bangor working in Costa Coffee and working for Hope Church Bangor. I shall chat about that in a bit, but for now let's talk about Albania!

Albania 2011

For those of you who don't know, I have been going out to Albania over the last few years to teach and help out on Church run English camps. The camps are run by the members of the Albanian Evangelical Mission (AEM) and this was my 4th time going out spread over 5 years.

This year has been the best yet. As soon as I got there I felt settled, I knew what I was doing and what had to be done and how to do it! This meant that I could focus on other things, like making friends and hopefully extending the Kingdom of God.

I was there for two full weeks of camp. The first we had younger campers (12-15ish) and it went very well. We had some great lessons which we used 3 years ago. We looked at Great British heroes. We looked at:

Alfred the Great
Florence Nightingale
William Tyndale
Michael Faraday
George Muller (Not strictly british, but he did his magic here)
Eric Lidl
And one other person who I can't quite remember, maybe someone will remind me....

These went well. I had a middle group and their English was pretty fantastic. They remember the memory verses, known as keywords, and I pray that the seeds that were planted will continue to grow over the months and years.

On the second week, we had the older ones (15-17ish). These guys were great! Really great! Many had been before and knew the ropes already, so it was an easier week in many ways. There was a much higher level of English on this week and the lessons were less vocabulary based and more discussion based. We look at the concepts of:

Ethics and Morality
The end of the World
And one more, but I can't remember what again.....

There were some great kids in this group and we saw some spiritual seeds growing. I won't mention names as I haven't asked for their permission about talking about them.... Over the years there have been some teenagers come to faith and it has been fantastic! One girl became a Christian this year a week after camp. Before camp she was not aware of Jesus' love and Salvation..... NOW SHE DOES!!! It is really great to see fruit coming out of the work that we do, and it encourages us to do more!

In your prayers please pray for the new Christians as there are different situations and some are awkward. Pray for all the seeds planted in the hearts of all the teenagers, that they would grow and become fruitful too.

Working life

I am now back in Bangorland! I work in Costa still which is constantly busy now! We have had a refit and it looks really good. We have a brown marble counter. I am always very tempted to slide over it, instead of walking around the counter through the entrance... One day.... maybe when we are closing!

The more exciting part of my life happens in Hope Church Bangor. I do not have an offical job title but I like to think of myself as a 'Ministry Apprentice'. I am involved in several different areas of the church, I have been organizing events such as:
  • Engage: A community outreach program. We usually do this in the summer (June time) but it didn't happen this summer so we are doing it now before the weather gets even worse. It is a two week thing, and we have just finished the first. We have been out litter picking and have done a bit of weeding around the roads. We are offering to do odd-jobs for people (free of charge) as we would like to get to know people in the local community. The aim of the outreach isn't directly for evangelism, but to remind them that we are part of the community and that Hope is their church as well! Pray for the rest of the week, that we would make contacts and potentially change someone's life.
  • Alpha Course: Alpha is a 10 week program that introduces people to Christianity and to Jesus. It is good for non-Christians and for Christians. It is such a great course, I am thoroughly convinced that God is using it around the world for the furtherance of His glory and kingdom. We are starting this on the 26th October at 7 at Fat Cat in Bangor. If you are around you are very welcome to come along and to spend the evening with us. There will be food etc.
  • Sunday Night Music at Costa: We haven't thought of a snappy name for this yet. Some are already taken like 'Sunday Night Live' which is a great one. Someone has suggested 'Live Wire @ Costa'. I am not 'hip' enough to think of a better one. This will be a social music night for the public with a hint of faith. This will happen on the 30th Oct. Again it is not a way to ram the Bible down people's throats while they're trying to sip their latte. We are there to make people aware of Hope Church and to show people that we're normal people and good to know. Emily Bacon is going to pull together a jazz band for the evening. They are known as 'Bacon and the Butcher Boys'. I look forward to playing the bass for that.
In church, I also do admin stuff like notice-sheets, even though this sounds mundane I really enjoy it. I get a strange sense of satisfaction in doing anything with Church at the moment.

I will also be preaching once a month-ish. I preached last week on the Adam and the Image of God. There is a recording at this url:

That is enough blogging for now. Things happening in the future are:

  • Working for Costa at 8:30am tomorrow: I need to get to bed.
  • Buying a Motorbike for easier travel: At the moment I live slightly outside Bangor (about 3 miles) and buses can be frustrating. The Bike will give an extra slice of independance. I bought my helmet, gloves and jacket today. Safety first and what not. My next step will be to complete the Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) which will allow me to ride on the road with 'L' plates. Then I shall buy a bike and ride around. I can see several reasons why you don't want to fall off your bike. 1) Because it'll hurt! 2)Because it'll ruin your beautiful jacket. It's such an awesome jacket!
That's all folks!


John Kynaston said...

Good to see you back in the land of blogs!

Really enjoyed seeing you the otehr week and hope everything is going well at Hope!

Great news on the bike ... what are you after?


Steve Neal said...

Hi Uncle John,

On the bike front I am looking at getting some kind of 125. I haven't done my test so I'm limited to that for now, but I may think about progressing to a bigger machine. I am excited about it and looking forward to getting on the road again.

DavidN said...

"Then I shall buy a bike and ride around." Well that sounds like a good plan ;)