Easter focus on forgiveness

Forgiveness is the theme of a new give-away Easter magazine published by HOPE to help Christians start conversations about faith.

In the cover feature HOPE at Easter draws parallels between the plot of Les Miserables – recently shown on TV – and the forgiveness and grace of God.

“We are so grateful that 7,000 copies of the magazine were ordered even before it went to press,” says Roy Crowne, HOPE’s executive director. “Our aim is to provide tools for churches to use to reach out into their communities. The magazine is a great give-away and our book ‘Who Do You Say I Am?’ is a fantastic gift to give to those who do come to church at Easter.

“We hope that every church will be outward-facing this Easter, inviting people to guest services where they can hear and respond to the gospel, and helping those who come to church for this most significant Christian festival to discover the different the resurrection makes in lives today.”

The testimonies of people whose lives have been changed by Jesus feature throughout the HOPE at Easter magazine, which uses a first-class, contemporary design to present the good news of the gospel story in an attractive format.

Alongside the magazine and the book, the Talking Jesus course is helping Christians of every denomination to be confident about sharing their story.

Paula, a mum from St Michael le Belfrey in York, took the course at a Mums and Tots group whilst the children were in a crèche. “Now I feel confident talking about my walk with Jesus,”she says.

Paulaexplained: “I’m not very good at speaking up and can never seem to find the right words. As a Christian I tend to avoid mentioning church at all to my non-church friends. That’s what the Talking Jesus course changed for me. The videos were like windows; like being able to spy on yourself. Objectively watching yourself avoiding telling people the good news.

“Why? For me it was lack of confidence, but the course gave me the tools to address this, the words needed and the motivation along with a safe place to have a go.

“The biggest change for me is that I now look and pray for opportunities to talk about Jesus and the amazing difference he has made to my life.”

The Talking Jesus course is a six-part video course available on USB or DVD.Paula is one of thousands of Christians enthused by the course to talk about Jesus to friends, family members and work colleagues. Since the course was launched last year, more than 4,000 copies have been distributed and 18,000 booklets have been sold.

Gordon Kennedy, minister of Craiglockhart Parish Church in Edinburgh, said: “The response to the course has been more than I could have hoped for. One man in his 50s, a regular at Sunday church but still young as a believer, spoke of having had three conversations with people he has met while walking his dog.

“Another older man spoke of how he has taken the opportunity to speak of his faith and hope in Jesus when asked about his treatment for cancer. All those at the course have spoken of how they are praying for the five names they wrote down on week one, and many have now had opportunities to speak to some of them about Jesus.”

The range of denominations, ethnicities, locations and size of churches using the course is unprecedented. The Methodist Church is giving a copy of the course and 10 workbooksto every one of its ministers. And Britain’s fastest-growing denomination, the Redeemed Christian Church of God,has adopted Talking Jesus as part of their evangelism strategy.

Several Anglican dioceses have also written the course into their mission strategy. Exeter diocese’s Mission Shed network is taking copies across Devon,churches across Cumbria are using it, and Chichester diocese has offered a copy of the course to every parish.

Richard Jackson, Bishop of Lewes, said: “Talking Jesus is a simple way of equipping us to have conversations about Jesus with friends and family. I think any Christian could benefit from its encouragement.”

Roy Crowne, HOPE’s executive director, and one of the team behind the Talking Jesus project said: “The Talking Jesus course seems to have caught the need of the moment as people want to know how to put their faith into words. The course is being used by an amazing number of churches – large and small, black and white, in cities, towns and villages: RCCG, Methodist, Anglican, Baptist and new churches. Goldhill Baptist Church, King’s Church London, across its three sites,and Catholic churches are using it too.”

Bishop Mark O’Toole, who leads the Catholic Church’s Department of Evangelisation and Catechesis, said: “The Talking Jesus resources have been immensely useful as we seek to support evangelisation and to encourage a new missionary impetus in the life of the Church.”

The course enables people to speak confidently and naturally about Jesus day-to-day. Izzyalso from St Michael le Belfrey in York, gives a typical reaction when she says: “I now feel I have been given a toolkit to use in all sorts of contexts, and I have had some fantastic conversations as a result. I know now that my job is simply to talk Jesus – the rest will be up to God!”

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