CherishEd. is three years old next month. Throughout our journey we have had stories of needing to trust and cling onto Jesus that many of you may be familiar with. In this short blog I (James) will be sharing with you a couple of stories from the past few months, share some reflections and will invite you to join with us as we go again for another year, seeking to trust and follow as we are about to embark on what we believe is set to be an exciting adventure.
A crazy year leading to a crazy couple of months
Some of you may be aware that just before Christmas I suffered from a nervous breakdown. There is a long story that goes with this but here isn't really the place for it. I would say however, that if you are in Children's Ministry and are battling the beasts of anxiety and stress do get in contact. I would love pray for you.
Out of a season of ash a season of real creativity has begun to grow. The counsellors that I worked with literally prescribed painting and prayer and it was this that I did almost exclusively for the first three months of the year (the medication is also helping!). I was producing art to help myself heal. I then began to be approached by people that wanted to buy paintings for a donation to CheishEd. As a result, £1030 was raised for CherishEd. in May 2020. This is more giving than we had seen in the entire previous year. We were amazed, overjoyed and so thankful to God for such a big encouragement, particularly after such a tricky season.
Being in a place of thankfulness, on Sunday 31st May I felt God say 'you ain't seen nothing yet' and that we should be expecting him to release £5,000 this month (June 2020). I dismissed this and didn't tell anyone about it. This sum seemed totally crazy and way beyond anything that we had experienced in the past couple of years. And then...
On Monday 1st June I had an email from Movement for Good to tell us that we had 'won' £1,000. Suddenly, I felt in my stomach a real conviction. I felt the question 'Do you trust me?' weigh heavily in my spirit and so I shared what i had felt God promise (£5,000) with Amy (my wife) and those that had nominated us for this award.
A forgotten queen?
As a family we have been going through the book of Daniel. I love how you can re-read scripture and find new gems not seen before. In Chapter, 5 just after a hand has appeared and its fingers had inscribed words that couldn't be understood or translated by any of those that were expected to be able to, it says this:
10 The queen, hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “May the king live forever!”she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods.Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners.12 He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems.Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.”
The commentaries that we read together suggested that this queen, most likely the queen mother, was able to speak to the king in such a way because of her experience and through her personal faith. She had witnessed God at work during her husband's reign and had seen God at work in and through Daniel. She had observed her husband's madness and seen God restore him and put him in a greater place than he had experienced before his humiliation. She has seen, and mostly like taken part in, the praise and worship of God that is recorded for us to read at the end of chapter 4.
The commentaries highlight that this queen hadn't been in the banquet and speculate that this was because, unlike the court at the time, she was still following God. As a result, she was likely to have been ostracised and humiliated for her faith. Regardless, she chose to remain faithful. She had been called to a life of following God and nothing was going to come in the way of that. Her faithfulness meant that she was able to bring counsel to her son in time of most need. She wasn't to know that her faithfulness would be recorded to encourage us. She wasn't to know the countless lives that she would impact by choosing to follow the call of God on her life. Regardless, she followed; she choose to trust.
The forgotten queen's trust has been a huge encouragement to us. Five years ago Amy and I felt God call us to develop what is now known as CherishEd. We believe that God has a special role for our small charity to make big impact. We have been called to resource and equip children's ministry and as we set out into our fourth year we are seeking to remain faithful to what God has called us to as a charity.
In my increased time of creativity I have begun designing a range of wooden resources, known as 'CherisEd. materials', that seek to support children's knowledge of the Bible and that can help create opportunities to support children to become God connected. We are working with a traditional wooden craftsman and are ensuring that these will meet the necessary safety requirements. At the moment we have the first 25 designs from a range of roughly 150 resources. We are starting the prototyping and safety testing process and hope that before the end of the calendar year we will be able to make available the start of this range for use. Each resource takes roughly £500 to go through the prototyping and safety testing process. We are going on the journey of raising £12,000 to help us make the first 25 resources available. Our work with churches and children's workers has also highlighted how budgets can impact resource acquisition. We are therefore seeking further funding to develop a resource loan scheme whereby churches can borrow a set of our resources on a termly basis. Further funding is needed to enable this to happen.
Those of you that have explored our website will know that we believe that we are called to establish a permanent training centre. We have seen a few properties that we think would make excellent centres. We believe that we are looking at a budget of £550K to make this possible. We have had £100K pledged to this project and this year are actively pursuing further funding to make this happen.
Safe to say our 4th year is set to be a BIG year. There is much we are seeking and trusting God for and we are coming to him with great expectations for the year ahead.
How can you help?
We are so grateful for our supporters and encouragers. All that we have seen God do through CherishEd. so far has been so encouraging. We know that there are so many people praying for us and we are so truly thankful for the prayers that have covered our work and our family during this season. Prayers for us as we set out trusting in God for the year ahead would be greatly appreciated.
We have some large figures that we are looking to raise in the coming year. We have seen a significant release of funding in the past couple of months and have been so encouraged by this but there is more that is needing to be done.
We have opened up an Etsy Shop a and will be adding further paintings to this with all proceeds going to CherishEd. If you would like to support us by buying from the shop, please do follow the link.