Posted by: Ruth Gilson | June 7, 2012

‘Look beyond what you see’!

Had a Lion King moment in the car this morning….You know, ‘look beyond what you can see….’ and it made me think about ‘things’, tangible things.

I’ve come to the conclusion that we like ‘things’. We understand tangible products. We know what to do with ‘things’, especially useful or purposeful ones.
  • I know what to do with a book, I read it!
  • You ‘get’ what to use a hammer for – you hit things with it…..
But what does one do with a painting that’s a bit abstract, that tries to capture light and wind and movement?
Other than sell it if its really good and make a nice profit, I imagine the answers that spring to your mind are the same as mine – ‘look at it’, admire it, frame it and put it somewhere good….
JMW Turner has long been my favourite artist. If I have time when I’m out, and about near a gallery, I will intentionally pop in to see a piece or two of his work.
This London scene is one of my favourites: ‘An Incident at London Parliament 1834’
Turner  was an artist in the ‘romantic era’, and was known for pushing boundaries in order to try to grasp greater understanding of the things he painted. Just recently I learnt that he once lashed himself to the mast of a ship as it sailed, in order to experience more of what the wind and the sea felt like – so that he could capture this in his art.
Now that’s what I call ‘looking beyond what you can see’! He went beyond tangible, to essence, approach, concept.
But when you look at his paintings of ships and the sea you can see how all that he grasped about the concept and essence of the elements both impacted and defined his finished artwork
I have the feeling that whilst some of us would probably admire a piece of  artwork by Turner, and even choose to look at it from time to time, not many of us would feel our lives changed as a result of having seen it.
His portrayal  (in this piece) of light and movement and fire would not be as useful to our everyday lives as say a lightbulb (light), pair of shoes (movement) or even a match (fire) would be.
We like tangible
Is that why we so often struggle to grasp the reality of God’s presence in our lives? Because it isn’t always something tangible? Because we can’t necessarily grab hold of it, or use it for something?
I wonder too, when we think of GB, if it’s why we are often keen to grasp and use the ‘products’ of Girls’ Brigade – the programme material, the resources etc, yet we don’t always know how to reflect on our ‘essence’  – our approach, our very identity and purpose
Programme and resources are tangible. We know what to do with them. We are comfortable to use them
In the busyness of delivering tangible programme and activity I know that it’s not easy or ‘automatic for us ‘ to take a step back to reflect on the less tangible threads that are the elements behind GB’s activity amongst girls.
Here’s a thought though – maybe we should follow Turner’s example.
Why not ‘lash yourself to the GB mast’ before you pick up the planning and  programmes for GB this week!
Why not spend a bit of time with God asking him to open you up to the ‘elements’  of GB – the vision, values, purpose, passion that are right inside the tangible stuff we do.
Here is a Bible reading and a few prayer phrases/thoughts that may help you to reflect:
Zacchaeus was totally transformed through his encounter with Jesus (Luke 19)

‘Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” ‘

  • Lord, what does it mean to be ‘transformed’ 
(A description that may help is this – transformation is a work of God that happens in our lives FROM THE INSIDE as we invite God to be at our centre, and is lived out on the outside – in our actions and attitude and faith)
  • Jesus, you were always relational in your approach to those around you, like Zacchaeus. What will that mean for me at GB this week?
  • Jesus, You were so relevant to the context and situation with Zacchaeus. You saw beyond the ‘tangible’ moment, to the need inside him. Take me beyond the ‘programme’ to conversations and example that is relevant to the girls I meet this week
  • Jesus, you’re acceptance and love for this man restored him – into relationships with his family and friends, into a new place in his community (free of his past), into a relationship with God his creator. Help me to  see how to be like you at GB this week – and be a person of restoring love where there is brokenness or hurt or mistrust
Of course, It’s ok to be  tangible – we live and share a real and tangible faith in a world that is real! That’s why Paul, a key early church leader, encouraged us to live out our love for God in a tangible way (Romans 12)
 Place Your Life Before God
‘So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.’
BUT – let’s not forget to look beyond what tangibly see, to dwell on the essence, the vision, the purpose….
‘Girls’ Lives transformed: God’s world enriched’…….
as I share with the young people around me what it means to me to
‘seek, serve and follow Jesus Christ’ 
Posted by: Ruth Gilson | May 30, 2012

In Flight


Having checked in for a few flights recently, I have discovered something.

All I seem to need to know/tell the plane folk is wrapped up in a couple of questions

1. Do I have evidence that verifies Who I am and Where I’m going?

2. Do I have any baggage?

This has really hit a chord with me about my life as a Christian, and also about the movement and growth of GB.

For a long time now I have been totally persuaded that a key part of learning to align my life to God, to be a follower of Jesus, rests on my knowing who I am. I

know that may sound basic and obvious, but actually I’m pretty sure that our grasp of who we are is something that we tend to ignore. Life happens to us and around us, and we ‘get on’ with it in the everyday. It’s what we do.

Recently a number of things have come my way that have caused me to have to delve a bit deeper than the ‘everyday’ though. Thoughts about future (I think it’s because I’m 50 this year and starting to wonder what my ‘old age will look like!!) Questions about whether I have energy and motivation for what I’m doing, about responsibilities, family, church relationships ….allsorts of things.

And of course the answers to the ponderings depend entirely on my grasp of ‘who I am’.

If I’m just a 3 score years and 10 person, living this life as if its a cosmic accident or just ‘the way it is’, my thoughts about my everyday, my future every days, will drift in a certain way. I’ll choose for my sake. For my security, my comfort, my view of my future.

BUT – if who I am is completely tied to God….then my ordinary everyday life is wholly different.

If I KNOW that I am created by God, and chosen to be a reflection of His perfect image in His world, then things in my life start to fall into place differently. My everyday priorities, choices and relationships begin to be filtered in my mind through a lens that realises that it’s not about me, but rather about God in me.

Who I am determines how I live, what I do, where I go, how I’m energised in my everyday life.

Where I’m going is totally linked with who I am.

I love this verse in the Bible – especially in the ‘Message’ version

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12 vs 1-2)

The same is true for Girls’ Brigade (or any Christian community I think)

Knowing who we are as a group (an organisation, a mission, a local group…) determines how we approach our ‘work’, what we do, our attitudes, our planning, our attitudes…EVERYTHING!

Those of us in GB then, how do you see GB? A uniformed youth work attached to church? A place of education and discipline and programmes? Part of God’s mission in His world? ……..A worldwide mission movement with passion to se girls lives transformed and enriched?

To take flight to our destination we must know who we are….and then live like it!

On Baggage

My case this time is well underweight (I am SO impressed with myself). Partly that’s because I know I don’t need much whilst I’m here. I know I am being cared for, there is provision, I don’t need to bring my whole house in order to live well!

It’s also because I really want to leave stuff behind that makes the journey heavier and harder to handle.

It was a choice.

It was about trust in what the flight system would provide for me, it was trust that I would be loved and cared for whilst here. This seems just as true about the internal and past baggage my life seems to accumulate…. as I get to know who I am, I discover that I am God’s and he thinks I’m amazing!

So, I can trust him to look after me, care for me, provide for me. I don’t need to carry all the ‘stuff’ that helps me feel in control!

It’s true for GB too. As we discover we are called by God to be a community of care and transformation in girls lives we CAN (and must) let go of baggage we carry that just holds us back!

Later the Master (Jesus) selected seventy and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go. He gave them this charge: “What a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands. So on your knees; ask the God of the Harvest to send harvest hands. 3″On your way! But be careful—this is hazardous work. You’re like lambs in a wolf pack. 4″Travel light. Comb and toothbrush and no extra luggage. (Luke 10 vs1 -4)

Happy travels!

Posted by: Ruth Gilson | May 11, 2012

Legacy of an ‘elder’

Yesterday a famous hairdresser died. Vidal Sassoon – who apparently took women out of hair that sat like a helmet to free creative styles like the ‘bob’.

He was an elder in his field. Undoubtedly he’s left a legacy. 

On Saturday I’m taking part in the Youthwork Summit 2012 in London. Amusingly I’m part of a session on the legacy of Christian youthwork in the UK… you should have heard the tentative way in which I was invited to join the ‘panel of elders’!

It’s making me think though. In 2013 GB celebrates 120 years of ministry among girls and young women. What is our legacy?

 And what’s mine…? Now that I’m apparently an elder!

Right now I’m sitting in the car in the middle of a housing estate in Bristol. I’m heading to a leaders’ forum to talk about how GB is developing and some of the push and pull that comes from the evolving of a strongly-felt calling into new approaches to how this is actually worked out in local places… like this one.

And I dare to think that this is GB’s legacy as part of church in mission for the past six generations. 

I’m hoping it’s mine too – a commitment to be who we are and live out what we’re about as God’s people… even when we’re tweaked and challenged to move out of our comfort zones for the sake of the girls on this street.

Posted by: Ruth Gilson | May 2, 2012

The big apple

It’s been a while since I ‘blogged’ except for the GB Europe Connected Blog contributions of course. Maybe I just gave up, dried up or decided to shut up… until today!

I’m in New York. I know, glamourous high life comments accepted. Though this is in fact a long promised adventure with friends to celebrate my half century – well, it would be, but they’re not here yet. I digress.

I’ve 36 hours here alone to discover NY my way – so basically I’m going for art places and public places… culture past reflected in art and culture now reflected in the people around me.

My conclusions so far? Remember my NY experience is very vast, well You’ve Got Mail and the detailed world of Mac Taylor in CSI NY!

1. My alter ego is definitely Popeye – scrambled egg brekky at Heathrow with spinach, lasagne at 38,000ft somewhere over the Atlantic – spinach and steak on Madison Avenue tonight – with spinach! I wonder if I should buy a pipe or just claim extraordinary powers?!

2. Wellies are the definite footwear of now. Either highly trendy and coloured (with your office suit) or expensive looking Barbour-types with side belts and designer labels as standard.

3. For a place supposedly still dominated by the ‘evangelical right wing’, I’m hearing (in my prime spot right by the bar in a mid-town Manhattan food place this evening) chat about sex (lack of it, hurt because of it and disappointment in the hype about it), fatigue with work and the ‘ok-ness’ of finding happiness any way you can regardless of who you hurt.

So, dear friends (as once said by an amazing early church leader called Paul – who I’m sure hung out in the Rome bar of the day), I conclude this:

1. There is a need and a place for God’s incredible power ( bigger than Popeye!) to break in to people’s quest for identity acceptance (there MUST be more to a woman than wellies – however trendy they look!)

2. There is a deep desire in us to connect with others – until the going gets tough, then we’ll seek beyond the stable committed place of now because we have a ‘hole’ for something more and are lured to quick fix places.

As a God person in this restaurant tonight I wonder just how to share the simple truth that the daily grind and the infinite quest for acceptance has always been thus – we have a God-shaped hole!

Our desire for connection will never be satisfied by spinach (or the development of an alter ego) or by wearing sweaty wellies on a warm spring day… but in the deep and everlasting faithfulness of God Himself who has, can and will break into our everyday!

Lord Jesus, help us, your salt and light, to add flavour and enable lights to be switched on today in this your world.

‘Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavours of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.’ Matthew Ch.5: 13-16 (The Message).

Posted by: Ruth Gilson | May 9, 2011

Farewell Oz

Sunny here – my shadow during a garden break!!

The last couple of weeks have been a productive time on the old laptop….except for blogs, oops!

I have had some space to try to draw together a few thoughts from the trip, hopefully to enable me to share the experience and learning with others….in a constructive way rather than a 3 hour session of snapshots tee hee.

I am uncertain how my cases have coped with the packing for UK – I doubted they would – maybe I have forgotten loads of stuff eek! Anyhow I’m pretty much done, and now enjoying the thoughts of a few hours chilling over coffee and a meal etc with Helen before I check in.

Final thoughts on the trip?

  • A blessing and refreshment in God
  • Chance to rediscover what it means to be ‘me’ ….not REG the National Director ….mmmm
  • Privilege to see God at work through GB in different ways and places
  • Amazingly encouraging to see women of God in GB everywhere I have travelled
  • Challenging to answer questions about gospel relevance in GB in post/becoming post and never yet Christendom places of our ministry
  • Puzzling to fathom what it all means as we travel forward
  • Confident that God is on the move in and through GB
  • Hungry to play my part
  • Sad to be leaving a people and places I care for
  • Aware of God’s voice prompting me to keep my eyes fixed on Him, NOT the boundaries in my head, heart and spirit

Thanks to GB for the freedom to explore God’s leading at this time, thanks to Piang and Coral for the endless conversation on vision, thanks to Sue and my GB colleagues in EW for holding the fort so graciously and well (I hope!), to my praying family and friends, and thanks so much  Helen for opening your home, your God focus, your care and endless tubs of ‘Basillllllll’ You’re a ‘dag’ girl x

It’s sad to be heading off today …..but there’s lot’s in store…..Watch this space!!

Seek. Serve. Follow Christ!

Posted by: Ruth Gilson | April 25, 2011

Hello World!

So, shall I climb it? mmm maybe not!

Guess you think I have hibernated in the autumn heat of Oz eh?

Can understand why, it’s been a too many days since last I penned a few lines….feeble excuse I know but….

It’s been HOLIDAY time for me in Sydney, whey!

Bright day in the Blue Mountains near Sydney

Had a whirlwind few days with Coral, Helen and then some of her family who few flew up from Tasmania to celebrate her big 40!  From enormous nacho’s in Darling Harbour to lunch at the Sydney Opera House Opera Bar, ice-cream cake on the beach over the water at Manley (way to go Ben and Jerry’s!), a trip on the sky train up in the blue mountains and a close encounter with a Kookuburo….all was fun. It’s good to laugh and talk about nothing, something, God, Jesus coming again, mission, relative merits of various chocolates ….aaaah, holidays!

Sky train……then a Blue Mountain view and  ice-cream CAKE!!!  


     GB friendships                 The kookaburra!              Opera House             

 (Michelle & Helen, met at a GB ‘fono’ 25 yrs ago)

Having said all that, I haven’t forgotten my purpose here on this trip, part of which saw its culmination for now at the GBA national Council weekend….a key date in my itinerary.

It was so humbling to be the ‘speaker’ at the weekend, the annual gathering of GBA’s State and National leadership team (plus, this year, a number of invited younger leaders).

Having taken the theme ‘Cross over and move on’ from the 2010 International conference we spent time exploring what it means for GBA.

I found it fascinating to see the similarities and differences between GB in the UK and over here.

A beginning in 1927 (same as GB Singapore) in Western Australia was as a result of a woman from UK pioneering Girls’ Life Brigade (GLB) into the area. Other pioneering women used their move from the UK to New  South Wales in the 40’s to lead the way to the first formerly registered GLB groups in the country.

Over the weekend we talked about how our make-up as pioneering types or settlers makes a big difference to our attitudes toward forward development.

After all, the generations of  women in GBA that have invested so much time and effort in settling the systems and style of  GB here in Oz must, like in the UK, struggle to imagine a new style future where our original methods do not play a role in our modern mission calling to reach girls in 2011 Australia.

Yet those pioneers brought a new mission opportunity to Australia, based on a passion to see girls and young women valued and transformed by God’s activity in their life. It was new, relevant to the era and shaped by the local culture…..only once it began to be settled into a nation wide movement did it take on specific ‘GB ways’!

It was such a privilege to see the desire of so many of this key 2011 GB leadership group to want to travel on a new route in mission, following pioneers who see the spiritual, social and political horizon of Australia  – an increasingly post-christendom scene.

As ever, the issues of new vision for a new era are painful and at times challenging to embrace, but as I watched tears, debate and thoughtful reflection at the council, I was sure that God IS on the move and calling GBA to join in with God’s mission of transformation and restoration of His world in THIS generation

Maybe it’s not for me to say this, but hey……why not….

Maybe it’s GBA’s time to pioneer again , to be intentional and to ask the Lord ‘How do we reach out in your name, cross over and move on,  and say  ‘HELLO WORLD’ in your name amongst a new generation of girls and young women’


Easter Sunset at Mt Tamborine. God’s power, God’s world!

Posted by: Ruth Gilson | April 13, 2011

‘Toughen up Princess’!

Yes I am back from the road trip! I know it’s been quiet….thanks for all your concern as to whether I’m safe or stuck in a Pacific craft cupboard somewhere…….(o yeah that’s right no-one missed me!!)

Anyhow I survived my billing on the pacific agenda as the conference ‘motivational speaker’, and was thrilled to see God at work amongst us as we shared leadership stories and were open together about some of the issues that motivate/de-motivate us as we seek to lead others.

It really resonated with me when one of the delegates mentioned that she gets de-motivated when she sees other leaders failing to empower younger leaders in church and GB……because they are worried about whether they themselves will still be needed and have a role. So, this challenge is faced in many places around the world eh?

'Imagine you are wriggling into a pair of size 06 jeans.....' Jeanne teaches Taryn the key to Cook Island dancing!!

The brief insight and inspiration I gained through the GB Pacific conference was genuinely great, and I am so very grateful to the group for their welcome and care.

Chatting afterwards with the Commissioners/Deputies  of NZ and GBA plus Jennifer Box, our International Vice President for Pacific, was a real bonus too. We shared our stories of developing structures to serve our purpose in THIS generation. Food for thought!

I must, though, tell you that the road trip was a challenge.

Three very unsympathetic Aussies in a car for 3 days is NOT good when you have lumps in your throat, sneezes and a temperature. What’s worse is that one companion is a nurse. (they are always so harsh!)

From time to time I had to discreetly remind them I wasn’t well……and it was hard to experience their response to my plight ….. “Toughen up princess”…. mmm.

We managed to pack in a few visits to craft shops, coffee shops and a great Thai restaurant…yep I’m back on rice….as well as spending time out chatting about Coral’s ‘topic of the day’!

'How do we keep the broken tumble dryer door closed?' Corals 1st topic of the day!

The Bay of Islands was as I remembered it from my last trip, and just so peaceful and lovely. I even saw a pod of Dolphins in the bay…..and my all-time favourite wading bird, the Oyster catcher!

Early morning view from my room in the Bay of Islands - NICE!!

Shame my companions were more interested in cycle rides, treaty grounds and an ice-cream burger (I kid you not!)

Helen samples the cookies and cream ice-cream burger - Yuk!

Highlight of the trip for me was two-fold. Infecting my fellow travellers (sorry friends!) and calling in on old friends in Whangarei.

It was just great to see International Vice-Patron of GB, Jill Clarke (President 1998 -2002) and Keith. Not sure I’ll ever get over the way you just drive past the end of someone’s road the other side of the world – and find a note on the door welcoming you by name, just in case they are out on the farm……when (if) you happen to drop in!

catching up as if we meet everyday was lovely, as was the brief opportunity to share GB thoughts, and insights into God on the move in our lives and families. Nice.

I’ll always remember a snippet from Jill’s first ever address to GB as our International President. It was in Australia, ’98 and she talked of the importance of GB, our structures, hearts and actions, being committed to in such a way that the indigenous groups of people in each country where GB is in mission are reached and nurtured in ways that are relevant to their needs and cultures, and that give freedom for them to engage with Jesus Christ through a GB ‘way’ that suits their area.

Prophetic and missional words Jill. 

What I am seeing in this small trip from England and Wales to Asia and the Pacific is that GB is being re-positioned as a mission tool of God’s church to offer a new (and predominantly never-churched) generation of girls opportunities to discover what  ‘life to the full’ is actually like !

That thought has just blown my cold and sneezes away….so, now I need to focus on the GB Australia National Council meetings beginning on Friday.

I feel privileged to be standing alongside Coral and Helen as they lead GBA at this time, and to have the opportunity to share with key State leaders from all over the country. We are looking at the same theme as Pacific (and the International Conference last summer) ….what does it mean for GB in  Australia  to be part of an International mission that is facing God’s call at this time to ‘Cross over and Move on’ .

I’m officially excited…. women in GB, called for ‘such a time as this’ (Esther 4:6)

….now there was a Princess that had to toughen up….to fulfil her calling to stand up for the Godly faith of a nation…Esther.  So, that’s why GB’s seeing an Esther Generation of young women being raised up in leadership in various parts of the GB world eh?!

Sydney here I come 🙂

Posted by: Ruth Gilson | April 4, 2011

Pacific days….

'.....Save me, save me'!!

Hard as it was to leave my handsome prince behind at Brisbane airport I have managed to tear myself away from the land of Oz for a 2 hour 31 minute  (how do they know that?!)  flight to Auckland New Zealand.

I have to say that although I have loved my time in hot Asia, and am loving being based in hot and humid Queensland, it was truly BRILLIANT this morning to stand on the balcony of our Auckland home and breathe fresh cool (ish) air! It felt like a warm early summer day at home, and for the first time I had real twangs of homesickness. This wasn’t helped by news from Banbury that my beloved cherry blossom tree is beginning to blossom……EARLY so I will miss it this year L

But life is good, and it is a great privilege to be here for the GB Pacific Fellowship Annual Conference. Leaders from six Pacific countries are here: Australia, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea(PNG) and Tuvalu. The conference is a mix of ideas sharing, strategic input, fun and games (literally), craft (yikes!), worship and business discussions.

So, Pacific leaders are just like Juniors eh....'we won, we won'

It reminds me of the GB Europe meetings – the same sense of community (or is it communitas), shared excitement about the lives that are being transformed and enriched through GB’s work amongst girls, learning, food and of course chatter (and craft!)

Impressed at my craft skills....or did someone take pity on me???

My big news of the day is that Coral (national commissioner GBA), my chopstick companion in Asia recently, has honed her skills since our trip and helped her team to win at the chopstick and rice game this afternoon. I have to say though that I was shocked at the low tactics used along the way. I really don’t think that role modelling ways to cheat to the group of younger leaders at the conference is appropriate behaviour for National Leaders…..

Coral...improving with chopsticks, but no angel on the court!

I was very inspired today as we worked through a session about vision and goal setting (led  by  Jennifer Box the Pacific chairman /International Vice President) as I heard PNG’s Natonal Commissioner (Powe) share their goal to have GB in each of the 21 provinces of the Islands by 2015. They currently work in five – that’s a ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal! (for info on ‘BHAG’s’ have a read of Jim Collins’ book ‘Built to Last’)

4 National Commissioners! Becky (Niue), Powe (PNG) Coral (Aus) Glenda (NZ)

Becky, National Commissioner from Niue, was amazing in her vision for GB learning to be church in the community more to draw families into the gospel.

This morning Kuets (‘coots’), National Secretary of PNG shared how mountainous the journey feels, yet their sense of God’s leading to ‘cross over and move on’ (theme of the conference, based on last years international conference in Malaysia). As she led worship at the beginning of our day she took us back to Exodus (ch’s 10 -15) and talked of how faithful and powerful God was as the His people left Egypt and had to cross an impassable Red Sea in order to move on into all that God had for them…..this, she shared, is her story of leadership in PNG. God IS their hope, and they are committed to follow Him as they cross over and move on in their mission amongst girls and young women. Truly Inspiring.

Am here until Wednesday , meeting with Jennifer and others to chat about the stories of mission in NZ….then going on a 3 day NZ road trip with 3 Aussie’s , my conference room mates, Helen, Coral and Taryn ….o boy!

1 4x4 and 4 cases....Bay of Islands here we come....

Posted by: Ruth Gilson | April 1, 2011

Signs of community

 I’m driving on the left, just like the UK. Why then does it feel different?

Maybe it’s the disappearing left hand lanes – they merge for no apparent reason. It could be the somewhat unique (politely put) signposts here in Queensland. I looked for signs for Indooroopilly, a significant sized shopping mall suburb, but to no avail. Yet I could take you straight to Pinjarra  Hills – even though if you blink you miss it!
Or maybe it’s the most interesting yellow road signs – check this out, we never see legs crossing in Didcot!!

Nice legs!

Anyhow all I’m saying is it’s a good job the sauce with my first steak night since leaving UK  didn’t take me or Helen over the ‘RBT’ random breath test encountered on the way ‘home’ last night!!

At last .....good old steak!

Today began early for me with a call to my friend, house mate, colleague. Nice.  Should I be worried though  about her stories of team karaoke to ‘Pina Colada’, a bizarre sounding song from ‘years ago’ (the 80’s!)  

GB team members launching n:vestigate story bags at conference

It caused me to think about that sense of togetherness and affirmation that comes from knowing you are connected to other people, regardless of where God takes you in your life.

One of the things I’ve discovered during my time as part of the Christian community that happens to be known as ‘Girls’ Brigade’, makes this very real for me. This global and local community of Christian women share a connectedness in God. Whether Its singing at the support centre in Didcot, eating shredded duck in Singapore or chasing round for coffee and chat in Brisbane – We are connected through our shared faith, worship and heart to follow Jesus.
Now don’t think that I am rosy eyed today – there are people in this community who aren’t my kind of people ( no offence!) and there’s activity in GB that leaves me out in the cold (!yep I mean craft!!) 
BUT what is great is that I’m beginning to see that actually rather than a Christian  ‘community’ – defined by some as a ‘self help therapy group for it’s members’  GB is actually a Christian ‘communitas’.
Recently I read this word  defined as ‘a community that comes together IN ORDER to go out to others ‘
Now in my view that’s an exciting connectedness, especially in light of all that I am continuing to read in the early chapters of Acts.
 The communitas of Peter, Mary, and the first apostles had this very connectedness and drive.
They came together to pray, remember Jesus, strengthen one another THEN they went out to others in His name……..and look how God’ Spirit moved in and through them!
Posted by: Ruth Gilson | March 29, 2011

Aussie Adventures

Well its been a week since the Possum sighting. Since then I have noted the attack formation of geckos and discovered that toads always jump in one particular direction.

'Who's a pretty girl then....REGI'!

I have also successfully begun the English language training for the home Cockatiel with whom I co-habit ( named ‘Billy’ of course – as have been all the home birds owned by my host. Lacking in originality I feel!) So far Billy has managed one almost definite recounting of his handle, ‘Billy – boy’. I am confident that by the time I leave he will be singing at least one line of the well-known UK GB classic ‘It’s raining men, alleluia’!!

Nothing as good as a 'long black'!

So what else has taken my attention this week in Brisbane life? Well I have noted that GB leaders over here are definitely picky about after company coffee  – and will drive miles for a decent brew. Also, interestingly in 30+ degree heat they wear tights with uniform….hardy lot these Queenslanders.

Also, it isn’t possible to buy alcohol in supermarkets over here – ‘liquor’ or ‘bottle’ shops are the only licensed place to purchase (same is true in Norway I discovered last year!) I was reflecting that maybe this system keeps a  good balance in drinking, reducing availability a  little …….  That was until I experienced my first ever ‘drive-through’ bottle shop last night!

Then of course, as you see from my tweets, there’s the IKEA comparison.

So, when can we have meatballs then?

I have now been twice (second time I managed alone, driving through the city without a care in the world….wonder if my host was as chilled at seeing her Xtrail drive off into the sunrise  (they get up SO early) this morning. She did pray for Angels to surround me as I travel today ! I am pleased to report that the meatballs, although seriously misshapen into something that resembled an Aussie rules football, compare well with my experience of Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Sheffield, Wembley….

Those of you who are wondering at my purpose of being here, and about evidence of lack of focus…..fear not. I have had a great week reflecting on my Asia trip and gathering some notes ready to share with others. Also though I have enjoyed stepping back from the usual pace and taking a look at the people and place where I am staying. It’s just so amazing to do this at the same time as reading the Bible’s record of the Acts of the Apostles (There’s a rhyme that helps me to find it…’Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. ACTS and Romans follow on’….) 

Yesterday I read about Peter whilst he was staying by the coast, at a friend’s house. (Jesus had previously  named Peter as the man on whom the Christian church would begin tobe built and to grow )

 Acts  10 is an amazing insight into the ways of God, and His love for people of ALL nations. Peter has a vision of all kinds of animals being served to him to eat – and is told by God that, although as a Jew certain foods and practices are seen as unacceptable (non-Kosher), If GOD tells Peter its ok to eat, then it is. OK, you may think. Strange but challenging for a lifelong Jew (now Jesus follower) to swallow (sorry!!) 

The significance of his dream comes to life as te story unfolds, and it really blows my socks off every time I read this passage! 

At the same time – THE SAME TIME  as Peter is being prepared by God for a new move in his life as a Jesus follower, a Christian,  a seemingly random conversation between a man called Cornelius and some non Jewish folk around him  – a days’ walk away from Peter –  prompts a whole new moment in the growth of Christian faith.  One of the incredibly exciting truths I see in this story is how active God is by the power of His Spirit, in ways that are unanticipated and so holistic

How often do we think that God is one-dimensional. At the most He MIGHT speak with us, BUT here quite indisputably He is working His divine mission out through intervention and connection with 2 lots of people the same time – he’s preparing Peter, AND prompting Cornelius…..even though they don’t know each other and are unaware of the significance of what God is doing in them at the time

Cornelius was told to send for this man Peter, and bring him to his house in order that he will talk with him and his community about God.

He did as he was prompted, and when the men he sent arrived at Peter’s holiday place and asked for him by name Peter was already primed by God’s Spirit to go with these strangers when they called for him – no questions asked, even though they were not Jewish (it was considered unclean for Jews to mix with Gentiles – get the significance of Peter’s dream?!)

 As a result of all that God was doing Cornelius’s community of non-Jews became the first Jesus followers (Christians) from beyond Judaism.

Jesus’ commission to his disciples was for them to share about Him (the gospel) in Jerusalem (the heart of Jewish worship and law) then Judea (Widespread mission to  the Jews) and then to the ends of the earth (mission in places of mixed faith, new cultures….) 

And Peter was the pioneer!

Why am I excited about this, as I explore the suburbs of Brisbane? Well I see churches all around, am meeting Christians and hearing of what God is doing here in this place,  and am constantly reminded that as we obey God’s prompting in our lives – he will use US to bring the good news of His restoring love to His people.

Who would have thought that two seemingly random actions recorded in Acts, where 2 men heard and obeyed God,  actually marked the watershed that means today in Australia, like any other places on earth, people are believing in Jesus and learning to live as his followers! 

The stories in Acts continue to unravel the scale of the paradigm shift this represented to Christian faith – I just store in my head the truth that whenever God leads a pioneer there is often a bit of push and pull within the ‘known’ structures ….because the pioneer is treading now ground, and the systems that exist are more used to coping with the ‘way its always been’

In 1927 GB began its ministry in Australia  (though I believe it took till the ’40’s for ‘affiliated’ groups to be seen). Someone pioneered mission amongst girls and young women over here. 

As with GB Singapore (incidentally also begun in ’27)  there are similarities to GB UK,  presumably because both were pioneered by women from the northern hemisphere. 

I’m grabbed though by the absolute truth that GB’s ministry in each nation, amongst their people’s cultures and contexts MUST be indigenously relevant, home led, and developed in response to the needs and cry of the girls and young women  in that place.

Peter obeyed God and pioneered to the ‘ends of the earth’. Later the committees of church debated how and if a gospel for every tongue and tribe could or should work……mmmmm

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