Advent Dreaming Appeal 2016
It gets dark early in Birmingham this time of year. By 4pm the cold and frost seems to slowly overpower what light there has been during the day. Somehow that image seems appropriate for us this Advent season. Often when darkness comes our fears need to be faced. It also in darkness, however, when dreams can come to alter our journeys. We remember in Advent that it was dark when Joseph and the Wise Men slept and had their dreams that changed their destinations and destinies. To see the light of our world shine brightly is often only possible through unexpected visions found travelling in darkness.
So it has been for us this year. We experienced more darkness than we anticipated as we entered more fully into UK life, but we now see visions of what could be that go far beyond our initial expectations. Gwen Gardner, for example, informed our new dreams. She grew up in a tough Birmingham neighbourhood, left to raise a family and has returned to join us in Winson Green. ‘I love kids and animals’ she told us, ‘can I help out?’ Gwen became our first resident living with us in Newbigin House, is a Newbigin Associate learning community leadership and helps run Animal Encounters working with troubled kids as part of Newbigin Community Trust. Gwen has a special connection with her Alpacas, chickens and the local children who love her like their Granny. Last week the Animal Encounters trailer was stolen and it was Gwen who addressed the media to try and get it back. I doubt it will be gone for long (See Birmingham Mail article and video http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/benefits-street-thieves-ruin-christmas-12276371). Gwen is a sign of what the world needs more of: opportunities for growth and sharing unique gifts.
Could I ask for your help at this special time of year? Real opportunities are now opening up for us and we need to focus more fully leading in four areas:
- Building our residential community able to offer more radical hospitality, including those coming out of prison (Newbigin House);
- Seeing our neighbours come together to offer more community-based solutions to our neighbourhood problems. (Newbigin Community Trust);
- Raising-up more resilient urban leaders, able to shape our new urban world from the ground up (Newbigin School for Urban Leadership);
- Campaigning for a more just and sustainable urban future (Urban Shalom Project, a co-alition representing 600 million Christians).
Our biggest challenges are not ones of vision, direction or opportunity, but resources now. To really establish these four entities in 2017 will take an extra £30,000 above our planned budget. Would you join us in praying for 300 people to give a one off £100 donation this Christmas to seed our urban dreams for next year? Could you pray and give £100 to our first Advent Dreaming Appeal?
We hope and pray that you too can face your dark times and detect afresh God’s dreams for you and your loved ones. Can we anticipate together the world changing this Advent Season? We hope to see God’s light slowly piercing the darkness through all our vulnerabilities, dreams and visions.
Your partnership with us – whether good-will, prayers or giving – is a lifeline, enabling us to see more urban change emerge. Thank you for standing with us.
Dr Ash Barker,
PS. Please give to our Advent Dreaming Appeal here: