Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Healing is Amazing

Come rain or shine, every Saturday for the past year, a group of people from local churches known as Healing on the Streets, have been out praying for people. This week it turned parky on Park Street in Camberley, as the group setup alongside the Farmers' Market,  and braved the chill in the air to pray for a whole range of issues.

Healing on the Streets

Healing on the Streets launched one year ago, and whatever your thoughts are about prayers and healing, something has been happening. Maybe it requires a real leap of faith to believe that someone can restore a physical or emotional issue, just by sitting down and praying with you. But then what is there to loose? It costs nothing, you don’t sign anything, and nobody will talk to you about the bible or church unless you want to. However wacky you might think Healing on the Streets are, you can find local groups in towns and cities up and down the country, all with similar successes to report. They are a national phenomenon, quietly getting on with the business of helping people in the community. If they can bring healing for all the things listed on their feedback page, then I reckon they are worth a shot.

Some weeks seemingly not a lot happens. Then other weeks, something quite special happens. Last Saturday was one of those special days. Healing on the Streets were thrilled to hear from someone they last saw seven months ago, who reported on the progress of a back complaint. In April the individual had been unable to bend to pull socks on, and was suffering from longstanding disc pain , despite several operations. The initial healing was very dramatic and after prayer they were able to completely bend over and touch their toes. 

Seasonal colds and flu, migraines, depression and  emotional healing are just some of the issues the group are regularly asked to pray for, as they stand near their healing flag between 1.30pm – 3.30pm in Park Street. They often have groups of young people congregating on the nearby benches who pop over for prayer for a range of things, including relationship issues. Feelings such as a positive warmth, and a sense of peace, are commonplace when being prayed for by the Healing team, made up of volunteers from local churches.

So next Saturday when you’re in Camberley, I challenge you to try them out, and see if they can help you. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Hounslow in Camberley – Our New Children’s Worker

Sarah Hounslow, St Paul's Camberley Children's WorkerSarah Hounslow and her family

Sarah Hounslow, from, well, near Hounslow, is the new Children’s Outreach Worker at St Paul’s. She and her young family have now moved to Camberley, and she has been busy planning special events like Who Let The Dads Out? and the Snow Ball for children in the area.

Sarah developed her career in children’s work at East to West, a Christian youth work charity based in Surrey and Berkshire, before starting out in her ministry. She hasn’t moved far. Sarah grew up and went to school in Sunbury, and has recently moved into Camberley to perform her now role.  From our chat, it was clear that children’s work is more than a job to Sarah,  it’s a real vocation. Sarah is married with 2 boys, Will and Alex, and husband Jason who works in London. So how does she fit the role around her busy family? Sarah said: "Because I love working with children so much, and enjoy children so much, the two fit together quite well".

Sarah Hounslow makes cakesAs Children's Outreach Worker, she has spent most of her time in schools, giving assemblies and building relationships with the community. She also plans to start an after-school club.  Her first assembly was on the theme of Acceptance. Delivering a life message in an innovative and meaningful way, she baked and decorated cup cakes, placing sprouts in the prettier cakes, to show that we shouldn’t judge be appearances, and that we should accept everyone for who they are. Sounds like a life lesson a lot of adults could learn from.

Sarah doesn’t stop with her work in schools. She’s also hit the ground running, with three outreach events for children since she started in September. The Glow Party is an alternative to Halloween, which this year delivered the message that God is bigger than anything we're scared of. Who let the Dads Out on Sat 25 November creates a special space for dad’s to spend time playing with their children, in a relaxed cafe style play area. The Snow Ball on 22 December is a winter wonderland experience. The look without all the father Christmas stuff, the Snow Ball is a party for 5-11 year olds to celebrate Jesus birthday – Christmas.

Christianity traditionally has the reputation of being boring, but Sarah’s role seems far from that.  Sarah said "Not at all when you're involved in children's work!". She's right – I’ve visited Freezone, a youth club run by St Paul’s for young people, and the energy and activity is immense. I guess Sarah can take the pace though. Anyone that can jump over the edge of a viaduct and free-fall until the rope catches you, and swings you  through the arch, has to have what it takes to work with young people. Sarah said "It was the scariest and most exhilarating thing I've ever done". That was until she came to St Paul’s!

Sarah takes her inspiration from 87 year old Conny, who is still running a children's group for 7-11's. Sarah said “She's a real inspiration, like my surrogate nan. She lived in south Africa and has many stories about God protecting her, and I believe God has done the same for me”.  Of course life isn’t plain sailing, and when the going gets tough, Sarah has a way to cope. She says "my strategy has been I can't do this without you God. I've stopped in my path and prayed and said I'm giving this to you, because I know that I can't do it unless you're in it". A perfect day for Sarah is swimming with Will and Alex in the morning, and afternoon tea with friends, chilling, chatting and catching up. 

You can contact Sarah Hounslow on 07789 995274 or email

Hear the full interview with Sarah by clicking on the button below.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Who Let The Dad’s Out?

Who let the dads out?Who let the dads out”, woof, woof…Remember that song from the movie Rugrats in Paris?

Well OK, it’s dogs not dads, but you get the idea!

St Paul’s are hosting a morning of fun and food for dads, and children aged 4-11, in a free event their calling “Who let the Dads out?”.

Dads chill-out in a relaxed cafe style play area. Music, weekend newspapers and unlimited bacon (and vegetarian) butties are on offer, whilst we sip  tea and coffee. I love the sound of this. They tell me we dads can also have the opportunity to join in with the children, playing games, if we don’t overdo it on the bacon butties.

Bacon Buttie Sarah Hounslow, Children’s Worker at St Paul’s, Camberley, is responsible for the event. She told me “This breakfast is a chance to give mum a break, to pamper herself, or just do some Christmas shopping, whilst dads get time to chill and spend time with their children.”

I know one mum that has decided to take advantage of this offer, which means I know exactly where I will be at 9.30am until 11.30am on Saturday 26 November. St Paul's, Crawley Ridge, Camberley, Surrey GU15 2AD. Sarah said it’s OK if I can’t make it on time. I can pop in anytime. Not sure if that offer extends to you, but worth a try.

I’m looking forward to sitting back, relaxing and enjoying free unlimited tea, coffee and bacon butties on St Paul’s! Now where are my children? Apparently I need them to get in.

For more information

Contact Sarah Hounslow on 07789 995274 or email

Friday, 18 November 2011

FreeZone – Entering The Zone!


Lucy with some of the FreeZoners

As I entered the FreeZone, I wasn’t sure what to expect. In a previous post, St Paul’s Youth Director Sarah Percival told me “Year 6-8 meet at FreeZone in St Paul’s on Thursday between 7-8.30pm for manic fun”. She wasn’t wrong about the manic!  I must be at St Paul’s then.

FreeZone is a lively youth group in Camberley, which seems to be all about having fun, making friends, eating sweets and learning along the way about life. Oh, and it’s free too (but I don’t think that’s why it got the name). Sarah and a team of volunteers plan and run a range of activities including sports, games and crafts for the hour and a half of extreme excitement. Table football, Nintendo Wii, Sony playstation, comfy sofas, nail painting, games in the hall, football and competitions are some of the activities on offer. Most of St Paul’s centre is dedicated to FreeZone for the evening, including the hall to chill out and run around in.

The boys liked playing with the Playstation, Wii and playing pool, and thought FreeZone was “Wicked!”.

I met up with some of the 11 year old girls, to find out more, whilst they were chilling on the comfy sofa. I quickly learned FreeZone is all about Talk, Tuck and Chill. The talk is on a different topic each week, around God. “Even if you’re not a Christian, it’s nice to talk about things and meet and chat with new people. It’s worth coming because of all the fun we have.” said the girls.

St Paul's FreeZone LogoLucy is one of the team members who has helped to run FreeZone the last year, and is a former FreeZoner herself. She told me the activities have moved on from when she was in the ‘zone’. Back then knitting was one of the leading edge activities. The girls didn’t seem too keen on knitting. These days, sweets seem to be a very popular choice, with a tuck shop open on the night. Lucy gives up her Thursday evenings to run the group because, as she says: “it’s really fun, and I like helping out. Its a great life experience.”

FreeZone provides an opportunity for young people to build camaraderie, and seek advice and guidance, in a fun, safe environment. “It’s good times” say the girls. Looked like good times to me too, so let the good times roll. Except that perhaps next time, I’ll take some ear defenders!

To find out more about FreeZone at St Paul’s, come along, or contact Sarah Percival on 07921 816631 or via email.

Hear all about FreeZone from the FreeZoners….

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Remembrance Sunday – Our Tribute

We shall remember them

“We shall remember them”

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Camberley Leaders on Retreat


Last week, Rev Mark Chester, together with other church leaders in Camberley, spent 24 hours together focusing on God’s plan for the area.

The ten Churches Together in Camberley (CTC) leaders stayed at St Katherine’s Retreat Centre, Parmoor, in prayer and discussion on how best to bring Christ’s mission to our town.

Mark said “Jesus encourages each of his followers to do all that they can to work in harmony and unity for the building up of the Kingdom of God. The CTC is a visible sign of this. To anyone who cares to look, Christians not only get on in Camberley but they are working together to build better relationships through the work of their Partnership Development Officer (Christine Glover), Street Angels and other tangible and measurable projects. May I ask that we all continue to pray for this ecumenical initiative in our midst.”

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Online Remembrance Sunday Tribute

Poppy - St Paul's Online Tribute
St Paul’s will be holding a service of remembrance on Sunday 13 Nov starting at 10.45am.

This year, we are also paying a special online tribute to members of our brave armed forces, who gave their lives in battle.

At 11am on Remembrance Sunday, we will release a podcast on our Audioboo network. This will include thoughts from Major General Tim Cross OBE,  Major General Roddy Porter MBE, Colonel Ivar Hellberg OBE and ‘Padre’ Mark Chester.

Major General Tim Cross is a local lay minister here at St Paul's. He has been engaged in various conflicts, in Northern Ireland, the Gulf War, Kosovo and Iraq. His last operation tour was as the senior British officer working with the senior American HQ in Baghdad in 2003.

Major General Roddy Porter  is also a member of St Paul's. Colonel of the Royal Welsh, he was until recently Chief of Staff (Joint Warfare Development) at the UK Joint HQ. He has served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq during his 30 year career in the army.

Colonel Ivar Hellberg is a member of St Paul's. In his 37 year service career he saw active service in Borneo and the Falklands War. It was in the Falklands he received a citation whilst serving as a Royal Marine commander. Ivar is no stranger to the casualties of conflict.

Rev Mark Chester is the vicar of St Paul's. He has recently completed a tour of Afghanistan as a unit padre in Helmand Province. Prior to becoming a vicar, he also served in the regular army.
Facebook, Twitter and AudioBoo Following the podcast release, St Paul’s shall fall silent on social networks, as a mark of respect.
This is intended as a bold gesture for our brave hero's. We wanted to show our heartfelt support to all our armed forces who gave everything, so that we might have freedom. They are particularly in our mind at this time, as our own vicar, Rev Mark Chester, has just returned from Afghanistan, serving as a unit padre.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Rambo in a Dog Collar - NOT!

Rambo in a dog collar, Mark Chester is not!

Mark, vicar at St Paul’s Camberley, made this very clear as he spoke of his recent mobilisation to Afghanistan at a men’s breakfast at Pine Ridge last Saturday 29th October.

Seventy men, including counsellor Paul Deach from Surrey Heath’s Resident’s network, listened as Mark spoke of his experiences as a padre in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Mark was one of ten padres looking after approximately 700 soldiers for six months. This meant he got firsthand experience of the British forces across Helmand Province. As well as padre he acted as a team medic, having trained with Amputees in Action. At the peak of activity, Mark dealt with 12 casualties in 24 hours!

During the talk he recounted episodes from his diary which brought to life the poignant and sometimes disturbing truths of what he and the soldiers experienced out there. On a more light hearted note when asked what his role included as a padre he answered, give out sweets! A kindly gesture greatly appreciated by the soldiers who felt relaxed enough to open up and chat informally. “A padre can be told what to do,” explained Mark, “But cannot tell anyone else what to do, which means anyone can talk to you in total confidence.” Soldiers can air their issues and let off steam in a way which does not result in a disciplinary. Padres provide support to commanders too. Being in command is tough and lonely so being able to speak frankly to a padre is a relief. Primarily padres are there to provide spiritual support. Mark says, “You’re out there to represent God who is intimately and totally interested in everything you are doing.”

Reaching a maximum of 50 degrees, heat is a major issue in Afghanistan. Mark routinely went on patrol with his unit carrying a comparatively light pack of 40KG and facing the thick constant billows of dust. It was essential to keep up liquid intake or you would soon become dangerously dehydrated.

To read more about Mark’s experiences in Afghanistan, see the previous blog posts.

To find out more about St Paul’s, please visit or contact the office on 01276 700210.

Friday, 4 November 2011

GLOWing Time

Glow Party at St Paul's Camberley Thank you…

… to everyone who helped with our GLOW party. Over forty children attended, and there has been a lot of great feed back.

One  Mum said that her children haven't stopped talking about it. Another said “it went at a lovely pace with great games”.

Look out for our next children’s event on 26 Nov, “Who Let The Dad’s Out!”. Dad’s, give the lady of the house have a few hours off and pop over to St Paul’s at 9.30 – 11.30am with your children. Sit back, relax and enjoy unlimited bacon butties on us!

Thank you again,

Sarah Hounslow

St Paul’s Children’s Worker