I am an introvert, and it was correctly identified by the others that I needed a day away from people, so that is exactly what I did today. Here’s Chris to catch you up on Thursday’s (penultimate) youth café…
We hosted the last (planned) Access: Youth Cafe on Thursday, with Jamie and Lisa, who had been the only people coming to the other youth cafes that we’d hosted throughout the festival. The session started out as most others did – Jamie showed us a few card tricks, and we played a few games. He then noticed the infamous ‘Fantastic Beasts…’ DVD on the table, and asked to watch it. We warned him of the troubles we’d had the other night, but decided to go for it, and see if it would behave this time! Thankfully – and rather frustratingly – it did! We then decided to make an afternoon of it, by getting a take-away. So, Lisa and I went into town to buy gyros and chips, while Mel and Jamie continued watching the film. We returned to find that a whimsical cushion fight had broken out. Once I arrived on the scene, it quickly escalated as I helped him completely bury Mel under a large mountain of cushions! It was at that point that I realised that Mel and I had been adopted as ‘surrogate siblings’ by Jamie. The whimsy continued long after the movie had finished, and the smiles on the faces that it brought to both mother and son are something that will remain etched in my memory for years to come! –Chris
When Jules came to help set up for Corfu’s Got Talent this evening, the three of us surprised him with a cake (and candles) and gifts for his birthday, which is not till Monday, but we knew we weren’t going to see him then.
It was all go to set up. We were going to hold the competition outside, which meant lots of things needed to be moved around, and the PA needed to be set up. Trish very kindly handled the refreshments, and from around 8pm people started to arrive – both acts and audience.
We had an amazing 11 acts who performed! Some people performed as a group, and then solo. First up was Daniel – an incredibly talented flautist (who also assists with worship on Sundays); then it was Jules, Mignon, Pavla and Josh who formed a jazz group. Jamie went third – I was so glad he was able to come and show off some of his amazing card tricks. Jules performed “American Pie” solo, then it was Nick’s turn to show us some magic. Nick is a neighbour of a lady from church who’d given some Festival Jubilaté leaflets to his family when they were printed, and not only did he come but he brought his brother and five or six of his friends to watch! It’s taken us three weeks, but we finally had a group of young people at one of our youth events! Not only that, but Nick was amazing. He and Jamie were able to chat to each other about magic too, which was lovely.
Martin and Suzie wowed us on piano and guitar by singing “What a Wonderful World” (which they reprised because the microphone didn’t really pick up their voices the first time). Nichea, Andrea and Lydia performed a sketch for us, about how you’re never really dressed without a smile. Lydia stood and pouted while Nichea and Andrea tried different dresses and outfits against her, and every time she changed outfit she still refused to smile. The final outfit did the trick though! After their sketch, each of them performed a solo song (Nichea told me she’d practised hers for 3 months and 2 days, and it paid off).
We had an intermission, during which Mel gave her testimony through the majestic art of juggling. It was very well received!
At the end, Pauline, Trish and I retired to do the judging, and it was clear to us who the winner was: Nick. Andrea came second, with her Greek song, and then Jamie came third.
The amazing thing about the whole night was the atmosphere; it just felt so safe and encouraging and supportive. People were able to form bonds and connections. It was a brilliant, brilliant way to round off what has been, if nothing else, a very interesting mission! But I know that God has most definitely been in it all. I have no doubt about that.
We had a much quieter day today, but it was needed! Mel went out into town in the afternoon to play Pokémon Go, and she ended up in a shop looking to buy a tshirt. She noticed the owner had a tattoo of a rosary on his arm, and so she showed him her own tattoo of a cross on her wrist, and asked if she could pray with him? He replied, “That would be lovely! I’m Greek Orthodox, I pray all the time.” He then prayed for her, too. It’s amazing the opportunities God will give us when we let Him!
In the evening, Jules came to pick us up and take us to Agiotfest, which is an ex-pat run music festival that takes place in the little village of Agios Ionannis, in the centre of the island.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was a pleasant evening (with very good food!). The first act was a Dutchman who performed throat singing, accompanied by a lot of rare and expensive musical instruments (including a Bouzouki, a singing bowl, and handpan/hang drum). He was followed by a group called 7 Mile Limit, who play regularly at a Corfu hotel. They played lots of swing music, and did lots of covers of popular songs, including “Oh When the Saints”, which they then encouraged everyone to join in with. After them came a rock cover group, called the Ex Lovers – I was surprised at how many songs I knew!
By this point I was getting tired (and dare I say it, a little chilly – it was 20 degrees!), but we stayed to hear a little bit from a Cuban band, whose lead singer was very lively!
It was our last morning at church. As well as celebrating Jules’ birthday again with cake and singing, Chris came up to the front and played us a song that he’d written himself. It was beautiful; all about what it’s like to personally know Jesus. Jules preached on the topic, sharing his own conversion experience.
After church, I spoke to some more Dutch guys who’d come to church (from a different group). One was a mechanic, one was a tractor driver (we had a lot in common, what with growing up in Shropshire), and one was an English teacher and the leader of the group.
Mel and Chris spoke to a couple from the UK; they were on their honeymoon and were about to move to Bristol to begin ordination training.
After everyone had left, Mel shared something really exciting: Nichea has become a Christian! The last week or so, she’d been with her grandmother (Sandy) in Athens, helping refugees. Nichea shared during the morning service that she’d prayed for a lady who’d gone through a traumatic sea crossing to get to Athens. She and Sandy arrived back on Corfu just before Corfu’s Got Talent was due to start (they walked all the way from the airport!) so that Nichea could perform.
When Mel gave her testimony, it sparked something in her – and so, this morning she confided in Mel that last night (Saturday) she’d heard Jesus audibly say, “Come and follow me!” All of us were overjoyed when we heard that! Mel gave her a copy of the New Testament and Nichea ran straight outside to read it. What an incredible story of God’s faithfulness and goodness.
That evening, we took part in The Well – a monthly, informal service that takes place at Holy Trinity. Chris, Mel and Jules led worship, and a guy called Matt gave a short talk entitled, “Is it worth it?” based on Isaiah 55. He talked about plans, and whether Festival Jubilaté had been worth it. (The answer was yes on all sides!) God has created drops in the ocean here that will create ripples – how far they spread is anyone’s guess! We then had a time of prayer ministry, initially led by myself, Mel and Chris, but then we were prayed for too by the others. It was a really lovely way to round off the whole festival. It made it feel complete (for us), but of course, it’s just the beginning for those who live and are part of the church here!
We asked Nichea if she’d like to be baptised – her eyes lit up at the prospect! Unfortunately, her parents are in the UK and are not so keen on the idea. Please be praying that they come round…
Although this essentially completes our festival updates, I will be following this up with one (or two) more post(s), so stay tuned!
• God has been good, and faithful, and purposeful these last three weeks. We trust that He’s done everything He wanted to do through us while we’ve been here, and that He’s set things in motion for the months and years to come.
• Praise God for Nichea coming to know the Risen Jesus!
• Please pray for Nichea and her family, that she would be able to be baptised and equipped to live out her walk with Jesus
• There might be an opportunity to come back next year and do a(n improved) repeat of Festival Jubilaté – please pray that if that’s God’s agenda, that things would fall into place!
• Continuing prayers for Jamie and Lisa; all those who performed at CGT (especially Nick and his friends); the shop owner Mel prayed for (and all those who work in the tourism sect of Corfu, it can be especially exhausting); the Dutch group; for Jules and the church as they prepare to follow up on all that has happened here during the festival
• Please pray for a safe journey home for the three of us (we head back on the 31st by plane, and then Chris and I have a train to catch on the 1st September)
• Mel is faced with the enormous task of moving to Liverpool this coming weekend! Please pray for peace, and that she would be able to get everything together, and that everything would go smoothly.
Thank you all for your prayers! We could not have done this without you.