October saw us rely more fully on faith support. Trusting God will provide through people who know us, trust us and believe in what we are doing has not been easy, but Anji and I can now engage more fully in our unique vocation here. We also have the needed space to build capacity for future impact and a Sabbath day once a week! Thanks to your support these highlights happened this month:
Our residential community in Newbigin House has grown to 7 resident people as well as 2 alpacas, 2 lizards, 4 chickens and pug called Yoda. This month we have also had over 25 guests stay with us from all over the world with over 200 different people coming through the old vicarage for various groups, training, meetings, meals…. and mayhem!
Local ministry in our Winson Green neighbourhood has gone to another level. Weekly community meals, weekly prison ministries, family outing to Blackpool, Grow mental health support group started, youth ministry. We now also help lead Prison chapel one a month and a local church service once a month too. Just to name a few of things happening! Anji also got her ‘FAB Community Hub’ building at the local Oasis Foundry school so there is more space for youth, family and community initiatives. Neighbourhood leaders have come together to form Newbigin Community Trust which was approved by the Charity Commission to give local leaders a greater voice in renewing our neighbourhood together.
- See Newbigin Community Trust’s vision and ethos here:
Raising-up of more resilient urban leaders through our School for Urban Leadership has begun. We launched new weekly leadership programs this term with Newbigin Associates (7 community leaders in Winson Green), MA in Urban Mission (9 urban leaders with University of Manchester’s Nazarene College), Gas Street Group (11 urban leaders exploring urban mission) as well as Missio Dei retreat day (4 urban leaders for discernment), an Immersion Course weekend in Winson Green (9 CMS Pioneer leaders) and ran a retreat day with Baptist ordinants (30 leaders at Bristol Baptist). We applied for the Newbigin School for Urban Leadership to be a Community Interest Company and had Lianne join us a day a week to be our administrator to help this entity be like a strong trunk to so that our dreams for urban impact can grow like branches.
Going ‘upstream’ to try and prevent people being pushed into torrents of urban poverty and to fight for more just and sustainable urban future at a global level has had some important breakthroughs too. October 15-20 I went to Quito, Equator to co-lead a delegation called ‘Urban Shalom Project’ to the United Nation’s Habitat III for the future of cities. We ran a pre-conference (The Gospel and the future of cities) to help our delegation to prepare to represent 600 million Christians at the UN gathering with 45,000 leaders. I had the privilege of being present in the assembly hall when the nations of the world committed to the New Urban Agenda for more sustainable, resilient and inclusive cities. A campaign, publications and forums to help Christians engage with this global agenda will be launched next year and I will continue to co-Convene as Urban Shalom Project as part of the co-alition made up of Micah/World Evangelical Alliance and Lausanne.
- Here is our press release
None of this would have been possible without your trust and belief in us! We are so very grateful for the providence of God through so many generous friends, families and communities. Transitioning back to faith support is not simple, but we are conscious of Hudson Taylor’s encouragement that ‘God’s work done in God’s ways will not lack God’s resources.’ Thanks for standing with us as this adventure unfolds.
Ash and Anji Barker
The next event is the “Urban Shalom Forum” in Birmingham on the 3rd May.
To book onto the event, please visit our Facebook Page.
Risky Compassion is a series of stories, insights and reflections from Dr Ash Barker’s twelve years immersed in Bangkok’s largest slum with his family. From this extreme context, he explores the story of the Good Samaritan and teases out life’s risky questions and implications for each of us. Ash brilliantly identifies those qualities that can enable you to go deeper in life – no matter where you live.
As you read Ash’s latest book you will:
- Be compelled to ask yourself those risky questions about what really matters in life.
- Step out of your own comfort zone: Begin to travel further on your own risky journey.
- See how suffering can help you take the risks of gaining insight.
- Learn how to join with God’s risky compassion.
- Begin crossing over to connect: Finding solidarity with those on the margins in ways that changes life perspectives and values.
- Find strategies that can work for you to help others and find your own vocation at the same time.
Ash wrote, “Life in Klong Toey slum confronted me. I couldn’t avoid the big, risky questions that this neighborhood raised for me about life, death and what matters most. As my time in Bangkok began to draw to a close, I felt an invitation to search for deeper answers to make sense of my years here and this book is part of the result. Exploring the story of the ‘Compassionate Samaritan’ helped me find meaning in the midst of suffering. I pray and hope this story, and these musings, can have a similar impact on you.”
Richard Rohr contributed the foreword for Risky Compassion and wrote, “I hope anew when I meet people like Ash and Anji Barker and the many like-hearted folks who work with them, and whom I meet all over the world. They are surely out there, and usually not making many headlines because they are too busy doing instead of talking. Christ seems to be just as invisible and unnoticed now as he was when he first came. Just doing it is less book-worthy than thinking about it, for some sad reason. But this book will help you to both think with the universal mind of Christ–and to do what you must do with the endless empathy of God. ‘What we received as a gift, we must give as a gift’ (Matthew 10:8).”
You can buy Risky Compassion from Amazon.
A one-day retreat developed especially for individuals and groups who need some space to refocus and discern life afresh.
Parker Palmer once asked, “Is the life you are living the life that wants to live in you?”
To better detect answers to this question, “Missio Dei Discernment Retreat” helps you take your own story seriously and then helps find ways to be better nurture and express the unique life that God has for you with others. Dr. Ash Barker has designed this guided retreat as a series of exercises, reflections and questions and has helped thousands of people to have space to identify and express lives for God in a hurting world over two decades. Ash would love to support your journey too.
The retreat runs from 9am to 5pm and the cost is £25 per participant with BYO lunch.
Endorsements for ‘Missio Dei Discernment Retreat’
‘Uncovering where our “deepest passion meets the world’s deep need” (as Frederick Buechner describes vocation) is critical as we explore how and where to cooperate with what God is doing in the world. We can be overwhelmed by statistics, challenged by sermons, or brought to tears by stories of injustice, but until we take time out to discern how God has made us and where God is sending us – in our own neighbourhoods or the other side of the world – then we won’t be serving out of the most life-giving places. “Missio Dei” could be one of the best investments in your vocational future. I encourage anyone – young or old – to retreat with Ash Barker and team and be open to surprising discoveries about God and yourself.’
– Associate Professor Darren Cronshaw, Baptist Union of Victoria and Australian College of Ministries
‘….was so valuable. The two days brought together so many thoughts and gave me time to collect them together. This experience has been a catalyst for change in my life.’
– Pamela Ledley, teacher, Sydney
‘No matter what stage you are at in life it is good to sit back and do some evaluation about where the Lord is leading. This is an excellent vehicle for bringing together past leading and helping us to see how that might feed into what God has for us in the days ahead. Highly recommend it!’
– Greer Lowe, Manager, Slievemoyle Cottages, Strangford, Northern Ireland.
‘Nearing 50 I wondered if I was too old for this kind of thing. I soon discovered the value of reflection on what has been, refinement of God’s call on my life and the realisation that the best is yet to come. I warmly commend this seminar to you!’
– Richard Glazier, Pastor, The Well, Bangkok.
‘I found the exercises so helpful in giving me direction and hearing from God regarding my vocation, that I have re-used them every year for the past 10 years! Highly recommended!’
– Deb Tunne, teacher, mum and community worker, Melbourne.
‘I participated when I was at a critical crossroad in my life. I was feeling directionless and confused. This retreat provided me with the space and the tools to discern and reflect with God, hearing where He had brought me and where He was leading me to. I’d recommend it to anyone.’
– Angela Weekes, Urban Neighbours of Hope worker, Broadmedows.
‘…gave me a space as a young person to explore my faith and giftings through simply being present with those from my community and finding hope in the margins and mundane places’
– Gemma Banks-Morgan, mission worker with Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor, Cambodia
‘I highly recommend this to anyone who is willing to honestly look at their life to date, and not be scared about asking God “Where next?”. This experience will strip your life down to what is truly important and give you the impetus to take the next step into God’s amazing and radical plan for your life.’
– Andy McCulloch, mission worker, Bangkok.
‘At a time of significant transition in my life, attending this retreat allowed me the time and space to listen afresh to God’s direction for my life. The decisions which followed have been direct responses to God’s clear call on my life’.
– Vikki Holmes, Community Engagement Coordinator, Dandenong West Primary School.
‘… is a time where you can reflect and discover the patterns and movements of God in your life. It helps you see with real clarity where you have been and therefore is invaluable in deciding where you should go. It is also a wonderful time of sharing God’s stories with one another, providing a space of communion with fellow travellers on the journey. I would recommend it to everyone who is seeking to discern God’s voice in their life.’
– Ashleigh Newnham, refugee community worker, Southern Migrant Refugee Service, Melbourne.
‘…was a defining moment for me, bringing clarity and encouragement to my life. An illuminating experience, I cannot recommend it highly enough.’
– Annette Binks, guitar teacher, Perth
‘I was pleasantly surprised at how practical and engaging this seminar was. I learned so much about myself and the way God has constantly woven himself through my story. A great experience!’
– Angela Conway, support worker, DASSI, Melbourne.
‘… helped me to explore how God has been leading and shaping me through the years. The beautifully facilitated retreat helped me become more aware of my motivations and passions, and provided a wonderful time of discernment for the future.’
– Robyn Edgar, Children’s Ministry Coordinator at New Community Ringwood Church, Melbourne
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