At the beginning of June our 0-18s team went away to Westwatch for a weekend of envisioning, equipping and team building. This weekend was the first of it’s kind for JCC; previously we have done separate 0-5s, Blaze and Glo team weekends however more recently we have brought the ministries together to be able to support and encourage one another on the same journey and with the same vision.

We were blessed to have Stephen and Emma Dawson join us for Friday and Saturday along with two of their boys. Stephen is an Elder at CCK in Brighton, and they head up the Racecourse site amongst many other things. Together they have experience across the 0-18’s age range; they have five young children and have led both kids and youth work at CCK. Stephen leads the 11-14’s work at Newday and Emma has a well-known blog for Christian Mums They also have a passion for mission, moving as a family into the heart of the roughest estate in Sussex.

We began the weekend with an introduction by Pete and prayer and worship on Friday night. It was obvious from the outset that God was in the room, despite having no one leading worship, God’s spirit was tangible and everyone had a song, word or scripture to bring. Following this we had hot chocolates round a campfire.  West Watch is beautifully set into the hills of the Ashdown Forest, we were blessed by lovely weather all weekend, with warm, light summer evenings and bright sunny days.

Saturday was mostly led by Stephen and Emma on Mission, beginning with an introduction into their story and some group exercises, thinking about why we do youth/kids work and our own personal stories. This was followed by Stephen talking us through his top 13 ways to make what we do gospel and mission centred, these included being welcoming and remembering names, reaching whole families, being innovative, authenticity and patience. Throughout it all Stephen and Emma gave inspirational testimonies from their own experiences; including how God had spoken to them through Psalm 127:3-4 Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. As parents and youth workers we sharpen these arrows and pull them back on our bows, sending them out into their own places of mission. As warriors we have a responsibility to send them sharp and straight.

Stephen’s afternoon session was on personal mission looking at our own mission fields, the cost of mission, teaming it, prayer and being intentional. We spent the remainder of the afternoon and evening as team, walking on the forest, eating and playing games. This was a great opportunity for people who don’t work directly together to get to know one another and build team.

On Sunday we spent more time in prayer and worship, strategising and hearing from Pete. We prayed for our young people and each other; it was clear that the teaching from the day before had stirred the team and impacted lives, many people were moved to tears and the atmosphere was exciting – it was Pentecost Sunday and we were gathered together in an upper room, waiting on God, being filled by the spirit to be sent out as missionaries and to equip mini-disciples!!

During this time of prayer on Sunday Beth Martin had the following word: This town is going to be an army (of the Living God). (What does an army do? It goes into battle, takes new ground and defends.) I see arrows being shot from windows. (Arrow loop narrow castle windows). I see us dressed for battle. Holding the sword of the spirit, and wearing the good news of peace on our feet, the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness and the belt of truth around our waists. (This is our protection as we are going into battle). Ephesians 6.14-18 I see a river of water surrounding us, like a moat. (The river of God from which we gain protection and life). I see a sea of arrows travelling through the air. (The children and young people we are discipling). I felt God remind me of David and Goliath. David conquered against Goliath against the odds, because he trusted in God. We trust in the same God as David. What I took from this was: 1) We are going into battle. We need to put on our spiritual armour. 2) We are sending out arrows as we disciple and send out young people. We are going into warfare.

I’m excited to see what’s next for the 0-18s team and the kids and young people!

Kat Gunter