Welcome to a window into our world.
We have been fortunate enought to have lived in various places around the world and have enjoyed and been challenged by the faith, education, wildlife, work, culture and people we have encountered. These experiences have also moulded us in our thinking and contemplation. Some insights we have shared below.

Saturday

Living in a European city under a high terror alert

What it’s like to live in a city on a high terror alert…
By Charys Potter

The streets are empty, the crowds are non-existent. Places where once many people walked through are now places where the ratio of soldiers to the population has reversed.

It is a visual representation of a breath being held. Scratch that, a million breaths being held. And those breaths belong to people, people with family, people with friends, people who sit down and watch Netflix together or alone, people who sit, laugh and drink together, people who have thoughts or ambitions, people who like tea, people who like coffee.

The news is constantly on and constantly watched.

The worst isn’t not knowing what is going to happen, the worst is knowing what has already happened. Wondering if things in other cities could have been stopped, hoping things in the future will be able to be stopped.

It’s scary and surprising, things like this don’t usually happen to you. But the reality is, they do. Things like have happened to the many seeking refuge in our countries. Things like this have been happening to children since they were born. We have been on high terror alert for a day and a half. Others have been on high terror alert for their entire lives, and for this I cannot show the amount of sorrow I have.

The laughs heard have not disappeared, but the tension could not even be cut with a knife.
Many are scared, many are not. But looking outside many cannot be seen. The streets begin to look abandoned and likened to a house that is not being lived in, but will also not be sold.

The sounds of sirens that are usually ignored and pushed away by the increase of the volume of the tv, are suddenly sounds that could mean an end or a credibility to the alert.
I was once on lockdown in a school when I was 8 or 9. The city has turned into that school.
The city contains many schools, many cafes, many restaurants, many homes. All anxious to what they will hear or see next.

I am sad[1] that this is happening, but I am sadder that for some it has been happening for decades. The world is a scary place to be living in, but it has been for a long time. The fear has not started recently, but rather has been going on for decades.
Sadder for the people who have lost their lives, the people who have lost their family, the people who have lost their friends.

The world needs something. I am not claiming to give an answer, because I don’t have one. But the world needs something to stop this sorrow and fear. Too many have died, and it has been too many for a long time.




[1] I feel that “sad” is nowhere near to explaining the sorrow felt, but I have looked through and have yet to find a word that describes this feeling adequately.

Wednesday

ONE PEOPLE, ONE CHURCH, MANY EXPRESSIONS...

Recently we enjoyed several days of deep challenge and refreshment.
We attended the annual CGi “MORE” conference in Chelmsford and the next day we went with Josh to St Peter's church in Vauxhall, London.

Both places of faith had very different styles of function and we were strengthened by seeing God in both places. One gathering was a relaxed but intense and a powerful time of worship with prophetic words, healing, prayer and good teaching running throughout. The other was full of liturgy and with a sung Eucharist. It was great to see that both had streams of God's grace running through them. We saw people in both places being impacted by God and in both communities broken people were experiencing the love of Christ.

Linsey and I are constantly reminded that when God looks at a city, a country or this planet God sees only one “church”. 
That “church” consists of people who are humbly committed to following and living out the teachings of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
They are people who have their hearts set on God and who try to live out, as best they can and with help from others, the reality of the love of Christ. In our humanity, we have different ways of expressing our faith and worship but as Linsey pointed out from the CEB version of the New Testament “God’s purpose is now to show the rulers and powers in the heavens the many different varieties of his wisdom through the church.”   The New International Version of the book of Ephesians says in chapter 3 “through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” or in the Classic Amplified version “[The purpose is] that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere.”

My journey has been one where I have interacted with a wide variety of Christ followers who expressed their love, action and worship in very different ways.

I discovered the life of Jesus through a Brethren based community in South Wales.
I had my eyes opened to the reality of the kingdom of God by people in small churches in the jungles of South India.

My insights were expanded through interning in Anglican and Congregational faith communities.
My understanding deepened through working with people who were from the Evangelical, Baptists and Charismatic expressions of faith.

I became more aware of the integrated impact of the kingdom of God and the love of Christ through setting up alternative urban churches with marginalised people.
And I saw the healing and renewal of hurt people through the active engagement of humble multi-denominational Christ followers.   
   
Through these multi-faceted images of diversity and expressions of faith in Christ,(God) showed me that through being interdependent and interrelated we get to see a fuller image of Christ and God’s kingdom. 

I am so thankful that like jigsaw pieces connected together we are all part of illustrating a deeper and richer image of Jesus Christ. 

I read that Christ entered this world to bring freedom, healing and shalom to people and communities on earth. His mandate and the mandate for all who are followers of the way is to “to proclaim good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

It is, therefore, with sadness that I read in a recent survey report that “Religion (In this survey this included Christianity) scored poorly as a force for creating a feeling of community among EU citizens (7% in the UK, 8% in the EU)” (see http://www.brin.ac.uk under Importance of Religion). 

It appears there are many challenges.

It is, however, with faith I have confidence that when the multi-faceted communities of Christ humbly work together there can be an outpouring of the presence and fruit of Gods Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, goodness & faithfulness  - to a degree that is not possible when we only work on our own.

Sunday

Re-Engaging

Over the last few months as we have re-engaged with the UK we have enjoyed the differing views, colours and spectacles that have been laid out before us as well as the people we have connected with.

Lots of colour and depth.

This link opens up a few of the images that have given us this deep enjoyment.

Monday


WORDS

Words by preachers, politicians & pimps invade me, true or not,  wise or unwise.

Words have meaning and are also meaningless
Truth or deception

She speaks to me and I hear lies, confusion
He speaks and I hear control, bondage

They speak and I hear lies, confusion
We speak and I hear control, bondage


Words by friends, fanatic and family soak me true or not, wise or unwise.

Words that have meaning or are meaningless
Where is reality

She speaks and I hear love
He speaks and I hear freedom

They speak and I hear words that attract 
We speak and I hear words of love

Words by saints, sinner and charlatans they free me, bind me, confuse me

Words that have meaning or are meaningless
They unclothe, strip bear, reveal life

She speaks and I hear life
He speaks and I recall peace

They speak and I hear inclusion
We speak and I hear life, love & peace.


I speak and I hear but do I listen……

Kevin Potter

Wednesday

Next Phase

A big THANK YOU for all your prayers and support during our TRANSITION.
The first phase of transition, leaving the USA, went well and the campaign focus was met through various means. So, after a wonderful visit to family in Colorado we decamped for the UK.

We returned to the UK in early July, and it has certainly been a bit of a whirlwind.

Initially, for just over a month, we house-sat for family while they visited the USA. During this time, we also connected with our wider UK based family and partnered with God in working out the immediate detail of our UK transition.

Through this process, there were several wonderful little miracles that highlighted once again how the economy of the Kingdom can work.

Two of these examples have been:-
Coming back into the UK and being in a rural setting we needed to obtain a car quickly so that we could be mobile. It raised some difficulties as we have no credit history in the UK due to our living abroad for so many years.

While my Brother-in-law was on his holiday, however, he happened to notice an ad in his church’s email blast that mentioned a couple who were leaving for Africa and wanted to release a car. We had hoped to find an estate car as we needed the space to transport our various bulky items. We believe it’s called a station wagon in the US, Kevin, really wanted a black one!

My brother in Law kindly emailed us about this opportunity and I contacted the couple hoping the car was cheap as moving house and country limits the resources. Well, the young couple were getting rid of a 2001 “Black” Skoda Octavia “Estate” and didn't want to sell it but to give it to us.
We recently returned from a four day, 1000+ mile road trip to Scotland with said vehicle, and it did brilliantly.


We also needed to obtain various items of furniture for the house in which we are to be based. We have no furniture, and the house we have been given (at very low rent) was empty.
Suffice to say that various pieces of furniture have become available over the last few weeks; several beds, coffee table, sofa & chairs, blankets and sheets that wonderfully met the needs of our family. The bed we are now using is giving wonderful nights of sleep.


At the moment, Charys is working to put the final touches to her 7-month internship in Belgium that is starting towards the end of September. She has saved nearly half of the money required and has developed a webpage that highlights her progress. Click here for more details
Josh is exploring accommodation opportunities in London as he looks to start back into his last year at University in early October. Ben is planning the wedding with Mackenzie, has a gig at the Troubadour Club in September, check out the link here and let your friends know. Ben will also be studying this semester and is persevering towards a work visa.

Settling back into the UK has been an exciting, emotional & challenging roller-coaster. Eye opening as we reconnect with the wonderful diversity, amazing as we note the awesome high-tech development in the major cities and sad to see the lack of development and decay in other smaller cities. We are also enjoying the friendliness and general good nature of the folks we meet in the UK, despite the rain.

Over the next several weeks, we have debriefing sessions lined up regarding our work in the United States. Plus we will be connecting back into the Christian Growth International community and liaising with various people in Wales and around the country about possible next steps.

We would, however, appreciate your prayers as we do need to write and allow the appropriate time during this home assignment for healthy renewal & restoration to take place.

All prayers are appreciated and as you pray for our family, please remember Springwater Church (http://www.springwater.org.uk) who have been kind enough to loan us their manse for our home assignment





THE TRANSITION                                 UPDATE 17TH JUNE 2015

In the early part of July 2015, we, the Potter family, will once again journey through a period of major upheaval.
After 11 years we will be leaving the USA and moving back to the United Kingdom. Joshua has already been a vanguard for this as he is living in London.

Charys will be going to University in the UK but for Linsey and myself, we have a growing discernment that we are to connect with others in Wales who are working to see the reality of the Kingdom of God impact local communities. Wales is currently facing many challenges. Our hope is to be part of creating an interrelated community that is able to live out the teachings of Jesus Christ and practically empower the whole community. This initiative could be either through developing a new integrated church community or by assisting an existing community that wants to cultivate a similar idea.

Various friends have asked how they can directly support us through this transition and quest. To this end we have developed “Transitions”.
This web page is a place where people can underpin our upcoming move and where we can disseminate information to those directly cheerleading this venture.

Raising a minimum of $5,500 between now and the early part of July would help undergird this transatlantic transition.

# CURRENT UPDATE:

Various wonderful friends have donated on Indiegogo Life & in the UK, plus we have gifts that have come through Oasis USA from the month of May.
All together with all the donations we now only have $2320 to go


THE STORY
Our journey has taken us to various countries around the world where, as a family, we have endeavored to live out the practical reality of the kingdom of God within the diverse cultural settings we have found ourselves.

It all began in the United Kingdom in the early 90's when Linsey & I quit our jobs, went to college, worked in an urban church plant and subsequently relocated to India.

We both had history with India and it became our home for over seven years. Initially we worked with others primarily using our professional skills and spiritual gifts as well as sharing our family life with orphans & young people in South India. Subsequently we partnered with women and children infected or affected by HIV in Mumbai. Ben & Josh were very young during this period, and Charys was born in Mumbai, India.

In the eighth year of the sojourn, we and others sensed that God wanted us to bring our time to an end and move to the Thames Valley in England. Initially, this was not a happy prospect although after wise counsel we understood it to be a correct path to take. In England I, Kevin, started and became the founding director of The Mustard Tree Foundation(Reading), an organization that helped the local church and local city government work together to meet the needs of people in urban deprived communities. Linsey worked as a music/worship director in a local church and taught music at a local school. At the end of our time in England we both became ordained ministers.

After four years and once the ministry was up and running, we were invited to move to Boulder Valley in North America and assist the church in the USA & Mexico in supporting ongoing ministry within the city of Ciudad Juarez in the Rio Grande Valley. Initially, Linsey and the kids loved the idea and agreed, but I didn't. However, As God provided leaders and resources for the development of The Mustard Tree Foundation I saw that I needed to follow the rest of the family and that it was correct to pass the mantle across to others. In the autumn of 2004 we all moved to America.

In the USA we worked with many people. We helped start a church community in Colorado with some wonderful Christ centred people and worked with the American & Mexican church in Ciudad Juarez. We also watched as the city of Ciudad Juarez became a center for gang violence and became impacted by the border drug wars that significantly affected the local church. The church in Juarez was filled with wonderful Godly people who were under intense pressure and needed major support. We learned a lot from these humble, colorful, charismatic people.

When the Lord brought this endeavor to an end, it looked like we would be heading back to the United Kingdom. Quite amazingly six months before we were due to leave Colorado our direction changed and turned 180 degrees. I was invited to work with Oasis USA in California and help the local and global church fight human trafficking through advocacy, community action, and victim support. This west coast period also enabled Linsey to undertake a course of studies at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena that added considerable expertise to what we were doing and what we hope to achieve in the future. Interestingly the name Pasadena means “of the Valley”.
As you will note our journey, which we had not planned, involved partnering with many people who living in valley settings.

Wonderfully during our Californian chapter, our children blossomed into adulthood and started their individual adventures.

THE HOPE
So now after 11 years in the USA it is time to relocate back to the United Kingdom and we have an emerging comprehension that it will be connected with Wales.

During our journey we have been given many encouragements and words that press in on this decision, some that date back to our time in India. We believe the key ones are:
  • Ezekiel 37 - Valley of the dry bones coming to life, which was given to us in our early years in India.
  • Luke 4:18,19 – Preaching good news to the poor and proclaiming the year of the Lords favor
  • Matthew 22:36-40 – Loving your neighbor as yourself
  • Ephesians 4:10-12 – Equipping people for the works God has prepared for them
Our hope is to join with others in Wales who are working to see the Kingdom of God further impact the country. It is a small nation within the United Kingdom and is currently facing many challenges. (Click here for further information) Our desire is to live out the words shown above, with others, in an interrelated community. This could be through a new integrated church community or by assisting an existing local community.

We would ask for your prayers and you can support this vision by:
• Donating
• Praying
• for our last couple of months in the USA
• for our children and our looming transition back to the UK.
• for Wales

In the last 23 years, we have only lived in the UK for 4 of them and none of these as a family in Wales.

Thankfully we have already been offered a house where we can live for the latter part of 2015. During these months, we will use the time to connect back into the UK, finish research, write, meet with friends and supporters and rest. We will also connect with various wise individuals; seek further discernment; and pray for the possible future opportunities available in Wales before launching into the next tasks that God has prepared for us.

We will send out updates and add you to our community of prayer

HELP US TRANSITION WELL AND SUPPORT OUR GOAL OF LIVING OUT HOPE, LIFE, AND SHALOM INTO the BRITAIN & WALES.




Thank you all very much indeed.
Many blessings 
Kevin


Friday


A BELATED HAPPY NEW YEAR

We hope and pray that 2014 finished in a manner that was encouraging for you and that 2015 is a year filled with shalom.




We certainly need that peace as this summer most of the Potter family will be transitioning back to the UK.

Long-term our (Kevin & Linsey’s) heart and focus is for supporting & engaging with communities and individuals in a manner that supports the weak and vulnerable. Our desire is to have a hand in a community that illustrates the kingdom of God and that facilitates people and communities as they strive for and achieve the whole potential that God has for them. In our ventures, we have seen a great deal of pain, angst and heartache occurring in all types of countries & communities whether “rich or poor”, “civilized or not”. Our desire is to work with others & live out the restoration focus described in Ezekiel 37:1-14 & to see communities filled with God’s Spirit and living as whole as possible. We believe it's attainable as amongst the pain, angst and heartache we have also seen the reality of the Kingdom bringing life, joy, shalom, love and restoration.

Currently we (Kevin & Linsey) are looking for temporary accommodation either in Wales or the South of England. If you get to hear of any rental accommodation available, please let us know. We expect to spend several months in deputation, closing this phase of life, settling into the UK and liaising with various people about what happens next.

This is a brief extract for our newsletter. You can read the rest at THE HERALD