It would be great to catch up with you at our Annual General Meeting on Monday 12th October at 7pm on Zoom. All are welcome - book in via www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cni-network-annual-general-meeting-tickets-118605210377
September - Dirk-Jan Boerman from Beach Mission
This months Community Hero is Dirk-Jan Boerman from Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel, close to Rotterdam in Holland. Dirk is the co-founder of Beach Mission who work in several European holiday resorts over the summer months.
Dirk grew up in a Christian family with a view of God that he had to obey many rules and that to be a Christian would mean a boring life. Dirk explains,
“I was trying to keep in the middle, I didn’t want to make a choice for a long time.
“On one side I believed that God existed but on the other side I wanted to have a free life.
“At 16 years old I went to a Christian concert and a speaker shared that God cared for me and wanted me to have a personal relationship with him.
“That message spoke deep into my heart and all of a sudden I comprehend what the message of the Gospel was but thought I may change my mind by the next day so responded privately by praying that I was not sure if I could give my all.”
This prayer led to Dirk reading the Bible over and over and the messages from the preacher becoming very relevant and real to Dirk.
After High School Dirk went to Delft University to study biochemical engineering.
At University there were very few Christians and Dirk was struck by the way other students spoke about Christians with many saying if you are a bad scientist you believe in God as he is the answer to all problems which cannot be solved.
“I started to pray with other Christians at University and after a while I recognised the need for more sharing of faith and others advised that I would be a good person to do this.
“A group on the University were active in sharing their faith on the streets on Wednesday’s and after many weeks I decided to join them.
“I thought sharing my faith would be hard and difficult but I had very good conversations and was really happy to do so.”
In the Summer Dirk became involved in an organisation, Naar House, that was evangelising in the city as well as at raves. Dirk was involved in Naar House for 12 years and became part of the board of trustees.
“Having a good conversation is not the goal of mission work.
“Jesus did not say go and have a good conversation, pray a prayer of decision or go and make people sit in a church.
“Jesus said go and make disciples.”
Dirk started to look at how there could be better follow-up with those who had fruitful conversations. In 2007 he led a team to holiday resorts in Holland with a vision to go where the young people they met at the raves went on holiday.
“My vision was for summer resorts and so in 2014 I left Naar House to focus on reaching people in holiday resorts abroad.
“This was the start of Beach Mission.”
Since 2014 Dirk has coordinated 20 teams who have served at holiday resorts across Europe including Sunny Beach in Bulgaria, Albufeira in Portugal and Salou and Lloret de Mar in Spain as well as Texel in Holland.
“Every night the teams are round and about in the nightlife wearing yellow polo shirts with a different bible verse which is unique to the individual on the back.
“The yellow shirts are easily spotted and a conversation starts quite easily.
“We are also able to help them by assisting them to the hotel or apartment and giving out flip-flops, bottles of water and bracelets with the web site which are very popular.
“We invite those we reach to a twice-weekly barbecue where we have free food, music, DJ and someone who will share their life story.
“For those who are interested they can stay a little longer and we offer the first night of the Alpha Course which is available in many languages and in every European country.”
This year has been very different to other years with coronavirus affecting the trips, with Bulgaria and Spain needing to be cancelled and only Holland and Albufeira going ahead.
“The trips still resulted in people coming to faith, people been baptised and miracles happening.
“We experienced God very close and the week in Portugal was very special with God’s presence very close.
“We do our work to help others but the first blessing we receive is for each person on the team.”
Dirk shared the story of a bizarre evening whilst on BeachMission.
"Cees and Ricardo decided to sing a song for a boy.
"He called his friends back, which led to a large circle singing about God.
"Outside the circle a boy and girl were watching and so one of the team Ricardo walked over to them.
"Another of the team, Femke, wondered what was wrong with the girl's (Maelle) foot, since it was in a cast.
"Because they were French Viveck helped to translate and after a chat we offered to pray for her foot.
"She indicated that it gave a peaceful feeling and Ricardo stepped out by asking if she wanted to walk which Maelle did and reported that the pain had diminished.
"We immediately decided to pray again, after which she started walking again, still pain free.
"The team prayed that Jesus would take away all the pain and heal her broken foot, and yes God did the miraculous and she walk without pain!
"It was really, really great to see what God was doing here, he touched her heart, yet her boyfriend though sceptical could not deny what a miracle Jesus has done in the life of his girlfriend.
"God again and again shows His greatness through miracles, worship and great conversations."
Beach Mission is a very practical way of reaching mainly young people on holiday across Europe. Dirk and the team are now looking to plan for 2021 putting in place logistics around covid. For more information visit en.beachmission.org
The City of Hull Street Angels volunteers found the woman in the water on Friday night
A couple of Hull’s street angels truly lived up to the name after they dramatically rescued a woman who ended up in the freezing Hull Marina water.
Usually the City of Hull Street Angels team help those a little worse for wear or handing out flip flops to those struggling in their heels. Read more here.
But sometimes they have they have to go above and beyond, never more so than on Friday night.
The two street angels were patrolling Hull Marina around 9pm when they spotter clothing and a handbag close to the Holiday Inn.
One of the street angels, who just wants to be known as Tom, explained what happened.
He said: “We were outside the Holiday Inn on Hull Marina around 9pm when we saw something wasn’t right.
“At first we could not see the patient but then she appeared from under the water in a distressed state. She said she could not swim and she put herself in the water.
“We could not gain access to the pontoons to hold onto the patient so we had to verbally instruct the patient to hold on until we gained access.
“The police responded very quickly and were on scene within minutes. As they arrived, a local boat owner opened the gates so we could access the pontoons with the police to rescue her.
“We gave the woman foil blankets as it was clear she was high risk of hypothermia, the ambulance then arrived and took over.”
City of Hull Street Angels is a registered charity which began in 2018.
Volunteers patrol on Friday and Saturday evenings, currently from 8pm until midnight and are easily recognisable with their red jackets.
They provide drunken revellers who have over indulged with water and flip flops, wipes, foil blankets and vomit bowls if needed.
They even carry portable phone chargers so people can make urgent calls if their phones have run out of power. All volunteers are trained in basic first aid.
Trustee Carole Fenny has praised the two street angels for their quick actions in saving the woman.
She said: “I am amazingly proud of what they did. They did a great job and saved her life.
“They were pleased with what they did but sadly it is not that rare for us.
“A year or so ago one of our volunteers had to hold one woman by the collar until help arrived after she jumped into the water at Princes Quay.
“We have dealt with a number of people with mental health issues.
“Unfortunately, the bus we used to could take people in for privacy until appropriate help arrived has since died.
“We are trying to raise funds for a new one but it could take a long time."
A gofundme page has been set up to help raise funds for the City of Hull Street Angels.
After an enforced break due to coronavirus, the Guildford Street Angels project has resumed its friendly night-time patrols, providing a calming presence and a listening ear to people socialising in the town centre.
Guildford’s town centre chaplain, the Revd Noelle Coe, said “We have been working very hard during lockdown to get our teams ready for the time when they are able to return to the streets – offering compassion and practical help, after hours.
“We now have new rotas in place, new operational guidelines and face masks at the ready.
“Initially, our volunteers will be supporting anyone who becomes vulnerable at the earlier time of 8pm until midnight, as many venues are currently operating shorter hours.
“We are so thrilled to be getting back on to the streets, helping the town return to normality in these unprecedented times.
“We are grateful to the support of so many partner organisations, such as the police, Guildford Borough Council, churches and Pubwatch, who have made this possible.
“We are looking forward to working with others to help people ‘Be cautious, Be Kind, Be Calm’ when enjoying a night out – working together to get our town back on its feet , as safely as possible.”
The Street Angel project is run by the Guildford Town Centre Chaplaincy, a registered charity, and was established in 2008, at a time, the chaplaincy says, “when aggression, antisocial behaviour and crime was a growing problem in the town centre”.
The project is supported by churches, businesses and people from the Guildford area.
Before lockdown the Street Angels project had been helping some 5,000 people a year, between 10.30pm and 4am, every Friday and Saturday night.
The chaplaincy adds: “The Street Angels are proud that the police, nightclub doormen, paramedics and CCTV operators value their contribution to the safety of local streets, helping the town win the coveted Purple Flag award. During this enforced suspension many of these angelic volunteers have transferred their skills to their sister befriending project, Community Angels, who have experienced a 300% increase in the demand for their befriending services.
Guildford Town Centre Chaplaincy has continued to receive public recognition of its contribution to the community. Guildford Street Angels was awarded the Mayor of Guildford’s Award for Service to the Community 2020 and won Surrey and Hampshire Eagle Radio BizAwards Social Enterprise of the Year Award 2020.
It says it is is also proud to be the current chosen charity of the year for the Guildford Town Guides.
Organisations and people interested in finding out more about how they can support the work of the chaplaincy can find details on its website.
This story is based on a press release from the Guildford Town Centre Chaplaincy.
~ Meet the team Tuesday~
Today we get to meet the fabulous Xanthe. Xanthe has been volunteering with Illuminate Soho since Feb 2019.
Her first night out spreading the love around Soho was on Valentines Day when we took 150 roses into 3 clubs
// Why did you first get involved with Illuminate Soho? //
I first got involved with Illuminate Soho because I wanted to be a part of spreading God’s love and hope and everything else that goes with it to women in the creative industries. I have a heart for women to really know how amazing they are and not everyone gets to hear that truth.
// What’s one of your fav things about being involved? //
I love getting to know the ladies and having a laugh with them all! But also being able to pray for them and see those prayers answered along the way
// What’s one of your best London hangout spots? //
I grew up in East London so that’ll always have my heart, but one of my fave places is probably Shoreditch - colourful streets to explore, good coffee and salt beef bagels!
// Something you like to do in your free time? //
Sing! Currently trying my hand at song writing
August - Kathryn Wright, Dundee Street Chaplains
The CNI Network, Inspire Magazine Community Hero for August is Kathryn Wright from Dundee Street Chaplains.
Kathryn started with Street Chaplains in 2016 and has been with the team on and off as life allows. Kathryn came to faith around six months before joining the team
“Most of my life I had zero interest in faith and I reached a point in my life where I was going to end it.
“God intervened quite dramatically and gave me a new life.
“This changed the world for me and it changed how I viewed the world around me as well.
Kathryn met Andy Burns, a fellow back row dweller at Central Baptist Church, Dundee, and he told her about Street Chaplains which he founded in 2000.
“Andy chatted to me and asked if I was an insomniac and didn’t mind missing out on sleep.”
Kathryn wasn’t sure if she was the kind of person who was or should be involved in this work due to a lifelong shyness. Kathryn explained,
“I am a mess, who am I to be going out and helping someone else?”
However Kathryn was inspired by the story in Luke 8:39 where Jesus healed the demon possessed man and then told him to go and tell people what had happened. This brought about a dramatic change for Kathryn and as such she was challenged to go and meet people where she could share her faith.
“The Street Chaplains meet and share care and compassion with people who are hurting, the ones falling out of the bars drunk and the LGBTQ community.
“These are the people who often don’t have any or much positive Christian influence in their lives.
“They know bits and pieces and some words but, like myself before 2016, have a deep fear of the church and Christians.
Kathryn felt despite the fact she isn’t the best at talking to people, that she wouldn't have all the answers and had as much need as those the Street Chaplains were seeking to help, she knew this was something she wanted to be involved in.
“The Street Chaplains team welcomed me with open arms and are an inspiration to work with.
“They feel like a family and I am privileged to be part of that.
“It is amazing the conversations you end up having with people - people you wouldn’t meet in other circumstances.”
The key to the work of Street Chaplains is serving people and serving the community. In this role of serving the team meet a wide range of fascinating and interesting people and one night Kathryn ended up talking to a group of drunk Santa’s about Jesus!
“It does bring home that it is not about us, it is not about our ability, God is the one doing the work and he shows us what to do - we need to trust in that.”
Kathryn’s paid work is a Member Pioneer at the Co-Op supermarket in Broughty Ferry. This role sees Kathryn connecting with local groups and organisations to offer support and networking with each other to help build more resilience in the community.
“At the moment we are aiming to help with food poverty and giving away excess stock to enable charities to feed the most vulnerable in the community.”
In summer 2019 Kathryn started part time Theological Studies at Highland Theological College.
“This has been amazing and to have the time to be able to do this is a privilege.
“It is hard work and very challenging but is absolutely worth it.”
Over the last four years since the dramatic change when Kathryn became a follower of Jesus, she is filled with a sense that this life is to be lived for God and as such has a deep desire to serve and show that love to other people.
Better late than never, here is our Community Hero for July - Marcus Bennett, who has had an involvement in so many local projects, despite facing considerable personal challenges of his own ...
Marcus grew up in Luton and describes himself as a Londoner who is currently living in West Yorkshire. He became a trustee for CNI Network in May 2020 and has 20+ years experience of church leadership as an Elim Pastor.
He has had involvement in starting up a wide variety of projects including Wimbledon Food Bank, one of the first one hundred Trussell Trust foodbanks to open in the UK. He is a former trustee of London’s biggest YMCA.
Marcus went to university as an agnostic, to study theology and business. Three weeks into university a friend explained the the gospel to him and he experienced, to quote John Wesley, “his heart was strangely warmed” and he committed his life to Christ. Settling into a local Elim church in Wimbledon, he went on to lead a church in Mitcham, eventually became the minister in training and taking on leading the church.
Marcus explains, “As a minister one of the people I would regularly pray with was Carolyn Skinner, who was in the process of setting up Third Space Ministries, which now heads up Club Angels.”
Marcus was involved in the ‘Love All Serve All’ outreach at the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament queue, which involved sharing the love of Christ with the tens of thousands of people camping out overnight on Wimbledon Park waiting for tickets.
In 2014, he moved to West Yorkshire to lead the Elim church in Dewsbury. Marcus co-founded Dewsbury and District Street Angels at the request of the local council to operate daytime in Dewsbury town centre, helping meet needs around vulnerability, loneliness and street drinkers. During his time at Dewsbury Elim, a Romanian-speaking church was started to help support Romanian residents in the area. This helped combat poverty and promote community integration.
Marcus shares, “Sadly mental health issues meant I had to step down from pastoring the church at Dewsbury.
“Needless to say, this was a difficult time for all concerned.
“Realising that mental health is as much a medical issue as it is a spiritual one became the key to my healing and recovering.”
Over time Marcus learnt to get back into a much healthier daily and weekly routine, including a proper day of rest. Marcus encourages those who are struggling to seek help and know that recovery is possible.
“I have set up as self-employed to offer life coaching helping people to recover from burnout, or better still avoid it!
“I have a part-time role with The Torch Trust, promoting its sight-loss friendly church scheme which helps to equip churches to enable blind and partially-sighted people to have an equal, full and active role in the church community, and reach out in help with the spiritual needs of the sight loss community.”
During furlough from The Torch Trust, Marcus is volunteering with YourNeighbour.org, a network of 1300 church communities responding to the COVID-19 crisis through connecting those with needs with a local church who can respond and help through a national helpline. It supports and equips church leaders to respond to rapidly changing needs and is liaising with the Government and NHS.
Marcus became a Trustee with CNI Network as his passion is for the church to get out of its four walls to make an impact within its local communities. As CNI Network and its local projects demonstrate God’s love to the people in front of us, it is a perfect fit.
“My heart as a trustee is to help CNI Network develop and build stronger links with the local and national Church. There is a need within all organisations to look at new strategies for working in a post-Covid world and I want to work within CNI Network to make the organisation and our local projects stronger in the months and years ahead.”
Throughout his life as a Christian Marcus has seen time and again how the church can make a difference in local communities and how the people of faith can be a massive force for good within the wider society.
He concludes, “Be kind, always look to do good and ‘whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might!’” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
Update from the Board of Trustees
With the financial challenges being faced by many charities up and down the UK due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19 the Board of Trustees have taken the difficult decision to furlough its CEO Paul Blakey as of Friday 5th June. CNI Network is a not-for-profit organisation and relies on the generous donations from projects and friends of CNI Network and from the talks and festivals Paul and other trustees are involved with. As the majority of festivals this summer have been cancelled and talks planned during this period also cancelled it has left us in a challenging position financially; we estimate at a £10k reduction in income during lockdown alone. We hope that by furloughing Paul now, we will be able to sustain the long term future of CNI Network. The board of trustees offer their thanks to Paul for coming to us with this recommendation in order to preserve the work we do.
Should any projects or individuals require any advice or support during this period our Trustees will be available to you. Please contact our Chair or Vice Chair of Trustees in the first instance.
Chair: Stuart Robertshaw - firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice Chair: Olivia Shaw - email@example.com
Whilst on Furlough Paul will be taking some much deserved down time and will also be working on various non CNI Network ideas that he has not had time to fully invest to.
As a board we thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to CNI Network; if after reading this any projects or individuals would like to make a contribution to CNI Network they can do so via cninetwork.org/donate
Please pray over the next few weeks: for the CNI Network trustees in this critical time of supporting local projects beyond lockdown; for Paul and his wife Jean as they explore different ways of ministry. As a charity we acknowledge our thanks to the UK government furlough scheme which has ensured CNI Network and other charities and businesses can thrive within the new reality beyond the now.
Donate to the work of CNI Network here
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Postal Address: CNI Network, The King's Centre, Park Rd, Halifax, HX1 2TS
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (founder / CEO) / Phone: 07725501465