Prayer Filled Hope Fuelled
Romans 15:13 (NKJV)
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In 1998, I had completed Teen Challenge programme and was awaiting my upcoming graduation. I was part of Teen Challenge’s ministry band called “The Evidence” that would go around churches and through music testimony and preaching, we would present the Good News of the Gospel as seen through the eyes of rescued and redeemed addicts.
In March 1998, just as we were setting out on one of our trips, Paul Evans our musical director pulled into a local South Wales fuel station and I noticed that a Scottish national newspaper (The Daily Record)was on display. (I had never known it to be sold this far out of Scotland before nor did I see it after that.) The front page headline was of a girl from my hometown that had been caught up in the sex trade in Glasgow and had been found murdered. She was the seventh similar murder in Glasgow around that time. I knew the girl, though not really well, as she was one of the larger groups of addicts in Easterhouse that I had been part of.
As I sat there weeping over yet another needless death, the reality began to awaken in my consciousness that I actually now had not just an answer to this tragic travesty, but THE ANSWER to the mindless cycle of destruction that addiction was reaping in Easterhouse.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the hope for the lost.
At that time God was using poetry to help me process a lot of stuff that was going on in my life and the poem below was how I processed this. Not a great literary work by any means but actually a very accurate and prophetic work recorded that would begin to be fulfilled with the start of Easterhouse Community Church.
Seems like he’s picking them off one by one
How long will it be before they are all gone?
My dear dear friends, who were always around
Now it seems so few are left to be found
Who is to blame for my generations loss?
Who is responsible? Who will pay the cost?
Is it the evil one, that devil called satan?
Yes it is he, and I really do hate him
Use me, O Lord, to help save their souls
This, Father God, I ask for my role
I want them to know Jesus died for their sin
So He could rise and make them new men
I’m so tired, Lord, of seeing them all die
When there really is no need to say goodbye
If only they knew of Your awesome power
That could change their lives, make them bloom like a flower
Thank You, dear LORD, for giving me Your Light
So now I can go out and fight the good fight
Help me, please Jesus, to smash satan’s trends
Help me please god, to rescue my friends
I want them to see what You’re doing in my life
And that looking to You will free them from strife
This is my prayer, LORD please let them be
Sitting in heaven with You and with me
THANK YOU LORD
I knew at that moment I wanted to be part of a proper work and ministry of the Holy Spirit in Easterhouse. I never thought for a moment I would be leading it – I just wanted it to happen.
My prayer was that God would use me in some way in a work in Easterhouse.
Return to Scotland
Fast forward in February 2011, I was now married to Tracy with three beautiful daughters, Alisha Zoe and Naomi.
I had served God in Wales, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and now I was back home in Scotland and we were about to have the first service of Easterhouse Community Church. Gathered in a small community hall on a spot 20 years before I had looked across at people going to a Sunday service and thought that church was a place I wasn’t good enough to go in and those there were too good to come out.
Back to the present
We will celebrate our seventh anniversary on 18th February, and this year sees us in our own building located within Shandwick Square, a local shopping centre. I am also thrilled that Pastor Phil Hills, chairman of Teen Challenge and also my pastor when i was first saved, will be our guest speaker. With a mixture of locals and people from afar and wide joining us, we average about 30 each worship service. We get up to a dozen people at our discipleship classes on a Tuesday evening and we are involved in many outreach events throughout the community. There are several prayer and fellowship gatherings each week and are involved in men’s breakfasts that bring in men from across the West of Scotland. Last year also saw our third women’s conference with over 70 women attending over the weekend. Many of these women still testify to the work of deliverance the Holy Ghost ministered in them through these days
We have also run a twice-weekly Jobclub that was aimed at the most broken in society and normally brought in men unemployed for more than ten years with little or no social skills or IT ability. Our Jobclub will be returning with a whole new format this spring, aiming to help even more in our community
Our annual Arise Easterhouse gala has been growing in influence and last August we saw nearly 3,000 people pass through the gates and enjoy an afternoon of leisure and pleasure under the sound of high calibre praise bands, free children’s activities and food. With teams from churches abroad and home (as well as Lisa and the AoG iKids) joining with us on the day.
We also welcome mission organisations to participate, bringing this part of the work of God to a large people group that would never otherwise have any awareness. This year saw John Edwards (Walking Free) and others take part. We are always looking for more Christian ministries to partner with us in this.
In all of this work we have been grateful for the support of organisations and churches that have enabled us to punch above our weight in so many areas; showing the true meaning and example of Partnership in the Gospel.
Convoy of Hope Europe, under the leadership of Michael McNamee, is one particular example. Tracy and I have known Michael going back many years, and Michael approached us offering support in our work and endeavours to reach the community.
They became our main partners in the Arise Easterhouse Christmas outreach events and Summer Gala, underwriting the bulk of the cost as well as supplying a lot of logistical and prayer support. Their belief and faith in our mission have released us into realising our dream of a faith-based community event that would bless the whole community and bring people within the sound of the Gospel that we would otherwise not have reached. Our partnership with CoHE also led to us receiving our first overseas missions team, and the start of a partnership that endures.
August 2014 saw a team of about 25 teens and young adults arrive from Cornerstone Assemblies of God in Bowie, Maryland, USA. This bunch of godly young men and women, led by Matthew Lehmann and Phil Sabella, showed the difference Christ makes in any young life He is at the centre of. The whole team enthusiastically entered into working amongst the community and a programme of works that transitioned our local church onto another level. It also introduced me to the Senior Pastor, Mark Lehmann, and a friendship that has stretched across the Atlantic and seen partnership in prayer, in encouragement and even in our Jobclub. It has opened our peoples’ eyes to the truth that not only do they belong to our local fellowship, but to the much larger Church. They have been blessed to know so many people are actively interested to know what God is doing in and through their lives. And we pray that one day we become a contributor TO THE WORK of others. It was fantastic this year to welcome TWO teams from Cornerstone, one helping with the building renovations, and the other with the gala. So blessed that so many would sacrifice time and money to come and invest in the work and the people of Easterhouse. It has also been great over the last few years to see St Mark’s Church, Dublin partner with us in the Gospel. This is Tracy and I’s home church. The church Tracy grew up in. The church I began ministry and leadership in and at he church where so many influential people like Gary Davidson and Sean Mullarkey 9as well as my mother in law and Associate Pastor Anna Tormey) first began to mentor and lead me.
Forward to the future
In light of the poem quoted earlier, and in response to the prayer it is, God’s faithfulness has even seen one of my old friends that I used to do drugs and gang fighting with very quickly becoming an integral part of the church. We feel he is the firstfruit of many as we endeavour to walk in what God is doing amongst us. It has also been heartbreaking to attend, and even serve, in the funerals of so many that used to hang out with us. Many young men still in their forties, have passed away over the last few years. Please pray that we can see more of these young men and women become Hope Fuelled through the life of Christ.
We had sought God for some time in prayer over moving into new premises that would require massive financial input, but we felt were a better location with more options.
God, however, in His infinite wisdom chose to answer by telling us that “We had not maximised the capacity of our current location”.
In response to God’s instructions to maximise our capacity where we are (stretch out our tent pegs and enlarge the place of our gathering) we have been undertaking an extensive renovation programme. This will enable us to make even more use of our facilities and also bring them up to current standards and be more contemporary.
It will also allow us to up our presence in the community with the Gospel. What now follows is our plan for the future as it relates to our gathering place. We thank God for the team from Cornerstone that worked 24/7 last July to help with the bulk of that work.
We have themed 2018 as our year of “Prayer Build”. We seek to emphasise even more the place, purpose and power of prayer in the life of our fellowship and community. We will be building on what we already have seen Christ do through prayer and seek to impact more lives with His presence.
Please pray with us, therefore, as we seek to bring the presence of God more and more out the doors and into the community. Whilst all the time making the doors they will come in becoming more and more presentable and reflecting the goodness of the God that calls us.
Stuart & Tracy Patterson and all at Easterhouse Community Church.
Partnership in the Gospel
This blog is part of a wider collection to show the journey that would eventually lead me to the cross of Jesus Christ, my personal redemption, and my journey of faith afterwards. If you would like to know more of my story, please click on my “About” page and take it from there.
If you would like to know more about the Christian response to addiction, or just need hope please click on one of the links below.
Teen Challenge Strathclyde
Teen Challenge UK
Teen Challenge Global
Bethany Christian Trust
Cornerstone Assemblies of God, Maryland
Broken Chains Ayr
Easterhouse Community Church