In February, we’ve been very busy with both Richard (Chairman) and Tony (Vice-Chairman) taking visits, plus our Administrator Jess Balding and Board member Charles Wallendahl, with members of Holy Trinity Claygate, Dibden Purlieu and some of our American supporters.
Reflections from Jess:
Every year I am overwhelmed by the warm reception we receive upon arrival at the gates of the Rhema Garden and this year was no different. This was my third visit to Rhema, and I was struck by how much had changed in such a short time. There are now nearly double the number of children at the garden (58!), plus 14 special needs’ children and 14 Bible College Students, plus many new Pastors and new buildings. Nothing however could prepare me for the sea of smiling faces that greeted us off the minibus.
We were greeted and led into the dining-hall for a welcoming service. With at least 10 children on each arm it was quite a challenge to get into the building, but we managed it! As always, Bishop Samuel led worship with help from the Bible College Students and children clapping and singing along. The team introduced themselves and we explained what we would be doing during our week at Rhema.
Jess with some of the Special Needs children and the Hand-print Mural.
Amongst painting new buildings, visiting Pastors and their church plants, teaching English to the Bible College Students and just soaking up the atmosphere at Rhema, my favourite part is always the after-school club. This year Rachel and I led it with a much more relaxed approach, providing a craft activity, colouring pages, skipping ropes, balls to throw and catch and a Frisbee. We aimed to spend time with the children, and that we did! Two personal highlights for me were the handprint mural (pictured above), which by the end of the week had all the children, students and staff at Rhema on the wall facing the playground. The vision for the mural was that although children come and go to the garden, a memory of them will always be there. Another highlight was a queue of excitable children waiting on Bishop Samuel’s driveway for Rachel and I to start the club!
As always, it was hard to say goodbye to the beautiful people at the Rhema garden, it really does feel like home after only a few short days. I know it wont be long before I see my brothers and sisters in Christ again though.
A thought from Charles:
Charles teaching Esther in the English class
These words seem apt for The Rhema Garden having spent the last week there: ’It is the gospel made visible, a fairy-tale landscape of grace, here the weak and helpless are cared for in a palpably Christian atmosphere.’ (E. Metaxas)
This truth is most real when a child with learning disabilities worships the Lord with great passion. The children’s
continuous smiles are the outward sign of their delight in the love of their Father in heaven.
A few words from Hal:
My heart is full and I have been joyfully recounting the adventure we all shared in India…
God was evident in every moment and experience; every face, every song, every handshake, and every hug. Our God is indeed an Awesome God.
Hal with his sponsored child Bayvashri and Bob Glendening.
In faith and common purpose,