Thursday, June 03, 2010

Floods upon the Dry Ground

Hi folks ... we're home!

After 7 weeks in freezing cold Arctic UK, we are back in beautiful Philippines. It feels as if we have stepped from the freezer into the oven but we are glad to say that the searing temperatures we came back to a fortnight ago have dropped. In fact, we have had the first rain for 6 months here in Santiago and all of a sudden the horrible yellow dusty colour of our grass has turned lush green.

It made me realise that we need constant spiritual refreshing in our lives.

It is so easy to become dry and arid ... so easy to let the 'cares of this world' take away the life of God in us. When we are dry and brittle it is not a good sight and is certainly not pleasing to the eye. When we go through difficult times - wilderness times - our attitude and our spirit can often be negative and so lethargic.

But what a difference the rain makes. All of a sudden the yellow becomes green, the short becomes lush and the dead becomes alive. New life. New shoots. New energy. Sefton Village has become a paradise again ... all because of 3 days of rain! Wow. What a thought.

No matter how dry we are of how difficult a time we are having or how long we are in the wilderness for ... there is always refreshing with God! he can always supply a drink of cool water. He can always pull us through and pick us up. He can always shower us with good things. No matter how hard it gets ... we have a God who can bring us to places of rest and refreshing.
Check out Psalm 23 and see how blessed we really are:

He is my shepherd
I will not live in want

He MAKES ME lie down

Where? In green, lush pastures ... places of plenty, much food and safety

He leads me beside quiet waters
He restores my soul. Again. Again. And Again.

He guides me in his ways
We need not fear death ... for He is with us

His rod to comfort us
His staff will lead us
He prepares a table for me.
Where? right slap bang in the middle of mine enemies!
And they cannot scare me, touch me or harm me!
Why? Because he anoints us with His spirit

Our cup of blessing constantly overflows!
Goodness and Mercy will CHASE after me ...
EVERY DAY that I live

And when it's all over here ...
it's just beginning in heaven

For I will dwell in His house ... forever

So whoever you are - a Filipino trying to make it through life, a Pastor trying to lead the church in the ways of God, a housewife in UK bringing up a family, a businessman in Singapore trying to survive recession ... let me tell you the great news today. Maybe you feel that life is yellow, arid, dry and dusty - but if you will stop for a while and reach out to God, his rain and refreshing is only a prayer away. No need just to survive ... you can thrive!

Listen to the promise of the Lord in Isaiah 44:3 (NLT)

For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, And my blessing on your children.

A few showers will change your life!

Pastor Mark Ritchie

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Cnristmas Update ...

Well, we are nearly at the end of 2009. I remember in August thinking 'I think the rest of the year is going to fly by so fast' .. and it has!

Sefton has been a hive of activity in 2009. Despite many challenges - particularly financially - we have seen the amazing provision of the Lord and have seen many new and exciting things happen. The ministry has developed in many ways and we are so grateful for a wonderful group of people who we are privelilaged to call or staff. They are magnificent.

We have had so many visitors and teams this year. Each team and team member have added so much to Sefton Village and I know that they have gone back changed.

We had to go back to UK in February for 6 weeks after we heard the news that Mary's dad had cancer. It has been a tough year for them and even for Mary .. but God has answered our prayers and David has had some great results over the last few weeks. thanks for your prayers.

We have started some many wonderful minsitries this year - Theatre for Christ, New School Building, Powerhouse Schools Programme, Street Pastors ... if you want to see a short DVD that we made for a church in Hamilton please go to our blog

There are three things I want you to take note of:

1. Christmas Cards - If you are in UK, please note that you don't have to spend a fortune sending cards to the Philippines for us. Many of you did this last year. David Strachan and his family are coming out in Dec 17th, so if you want to send a card to us, save some money and send it to them and they will bring it out. His address is:

The Ritchies
c/o The Strachan Partnership
37 Hay Crescent,
AB42 1HH

If you in the Fraserburgh area you can drop it into my dad's house.

2. New Blog: We have decided to make a new blog for Sefton Village. In the past myself and Matthew have had the burden of blogging about all the news from Sefton. But now, hopefully every day, one of our staff will be writing about what's going on at Sefton.

Check it out -

Please bookmark and leave a comment!

3. Christmas Expenses

Hate to repeat this again in 2009, but we always struggle at this time of year. By law, we have to pay all of our staff a 13th month pay in December. It's not an optional bonus ... it's law. We also have many extra expenses in December.

So basically, we need around 5000 pounds in the next two weeks! I know it seems impossible but if you can pray about it and help a little ... we can do it.

Please send any cheques to our agent (or email him if you want to put a gift directly into the Sefton RBS a/c):

Dr. Norman Reid
83 Marjoribanks Street
West Lothian
Eh48 1QH

Tel: 01506 653366

Thank you all so much for your interest and support regarding Sefton. We will be sending out a newsletter and gift in January. If you are not on the mailing list then please contact Norman on the above email address.

As you prepare for Christmas we pray that you will not get too stressed! Remember who it's all about ... Jesus.

We'd love to hear from you ...

All our love,

Mark, Mary, Lydia & Josiah

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sefton Village 2009

What's been happening at the best place in the world...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Church Hopping

I was reading Roger Blackmore's blog today and came across this article about church hopping. Someone was talking to me today about a church that was growing so fast ... but mostly by Christians who wanted a change and wanted a new scene. This is common the world over. Seems like these are a million excuses to leave a church and any one will do. But anyway ...

These are the top ten things church hoppers say, as listed in Bob Franquiz’s excellent book, Zero To Sixty

1. “But my old church…” This usually means they want your church to be like their old church.

2. “I just need time to be fed.” This means, “I don’t want to do anything. I’m here just to sit and see what I can get out of this church, so don’t expect me to serve in any way, shape, or form.

3. “I’m looking for a church that teaches the Word.” This means, “I’m looking for a church that dispenses lots of information without challenging me to do anything.”

4. “We came here because we are looking for deep teaching.” This usually means their last church focused too much on actually obeying the Word. They want a church that just talks about the Rapture, the Second Coming, who the Hittites were and the identity of Theophilus.

5. “I should know my pastor.” This means, “In my last church, I got to know the pastor, but when the church grew, and the pastor couldn’t have dinner with us every Tuesday night, I left and came here.”

6. “We want a church that’s focused on discipling people.” This means, “I want a church that’s focused on me, not people who are lost.”

7. “I wish you wouldn’t focus so much on what people need to do.” This means they don’t like commitment, they don’t like to be told the Bible actually tells them how to live and follow Jesus. They want to come to church, live in their sin and have no one tell them this is wrong.

8. “I wish you wouldn’t talk about money.” This is the best way to tell a pastor “I don’t give.”

9. “My old church/pastor was…” The way people come to your church is how they will leave. If your first conversation with them is all about their last church and pastor, that is how they will leave your church and how they will go to their next church.

10. “Pastor, I’ve been talking to a lot of people and they all say…” Translation: “Me, my spouse and my mother think…” If they start this way, 99.9% of the time they have no one else who thinks this way, it is just the best way to complain. If someone has a complaint and uses this line with me, they need to list all of the names or my best assumption is they talked to the same person 10 times.

Mmmm ... sounds familiar! If we only moved when God said move we would always be in the right pace in the right time.

Rachel's Back ...

Hi everyone. Right now it is ultra busy at Sefton Village. This weekend we celebrate 10 years of the KMGLC school ... should be a great occasion. We also are opening our newest Cornerstone Church in Sta. Monica. It's all go!

We have a team here from Rotherham New Life. We are having a wonderful time with them and I have asked one of the team - Rachel Fields - to write a Guest blog for me. Rachel was here 18 months ago when she was a student at Mattersey. She is a wonderful lady and has a great attitude & spirit. Here is what she is thinking ...

"Wow, back in the Philippines 18 months later. It is great to be back and see the wonderful people of Sefton Village!

We are a team from Rotherham New Life Christian Centre with 3 adults and three 16 and under girls. We have come out with a view to serve the people of Sefton, but we have been so blessed being here with the generosity of the people here.

We have been here since Monday morning.. and thrown ourselves into the programme that Sefton village would normally carry out on a weekly basis. Feeding Programmes, Street Pastors, School Assemblies, Bible College Chapel Service, Praying for the sick in a local hospital, visiting a local prison… and this has only been three days.

The most incredible thing about Sefton has been the incredible number of ministries that have started up in the last 18 months. I was impressed last year when I came, because they were extending the Kingdom of God more than I could ever imagine, now they have just blown my brains away with, Echague, St Mateo, Elementary School, the radio station is being built.. (I don’t know the rest, but I am sure there is plenty more) oh and of course 2 new churches planted in the last couple of weeks and one more this Saturday!

I am amazed that got has enlarged the territory of Sefton Village in turn Sefton Village is extending the Kingdom of God!

The three teenage girls have experienced somethings they have never experienced before. My husband Stephen is experiencing his first ever missions trip (what a place to start!!!!) and Stephen Chambers, a senior leader from RNL has come back again this year!!

Pray for us as we continue to minister through the next week!!"

Thanks Rachel. Will get some pictures posted soon!

Talk soon ... goodnight!