I have this long list of things I thought about sharing with you that we’ve been up to. About baptisms and celebration, about family and memory making days as the summer stretched out long before us. And I always have stories of tears and joy, darkness and light. To quote a missionary I recently met whilst visiting the St Stephen’s charity in Hong Kong:

‘Ours is a ministry of miracles and tears’

The bible has a lot to say about battle and blessing. About perseverance and patience, about choosing to trust in God’s promises even when we can’t see any earthly way out. I believe that every family we meet through Riverbank is precious to Jesus. I believe that He made them, and loves them and has a plan of eternal importance for their lives. And I believe that as we pray for them, as we demonstrate the love of Jesus to them through our words and actions, as we gently point them towards the only One who can save, heal and free them, it is the longing of the Heavenly Father’s heart to draw them to himself and that those seeking rest from this fragile and weary life, might find their rest in him. We pray, love and serve in Faith that God is at work, by His spirit, in the lives of those we so deeply care for.

But the battle is real. And life IS fragile and our dear friends whom we care for and support, many of them are living in a place of loss, abandonment and often despair. And through our tears, that we often cry alongside them, the picture of the future can sometimes look blurry. The hope we cling to can be obscured by our sorrow in this moment.

One of the questions we often get asked at Riverbank is what do we ‘do’. And there are lists and lists of things. We drink tea and eat cake because it’s so often where the real stories come out. We build furniture and we find furniture and we try and help our families make and keep a home. We write letters and we raise our voice when injustice threatens to silence those whom we work with who struggle to make their voice heard. We work alongside specialists that can help our families with specific needs and we share knowledge and experiences to encourage them in their parenting journeys. We do all the sorts of things that happen in a family,
But most of all… MOST OF ALL

We sit in the dark place, so that whoever we find sitting there, doesn’t have to sit there alone.

We sit with the mum considering a termination. We sit with the mum evicted from her home. We sit with the mum consumed by deep and crippling depression. We sit in the dark and we reach out a hand that says:

You’re not alone. Here in the dark and the hopelessness, we carry a light that speaks of life. And if I’m honest, it’s often in the dark that I feel helpless, where so much suffering and brokenness is beyond our human capacity to alleviate or fix. But we reach out a hand and we sit in the place where Jesus always comes, because He always comes into the mess, into the place where His light alone will shine the brightest.

Often when I write this blog or an ‘update’ I think about all the bits and pieces that we have been up to and I do encourage you to sign up to our mailing list to keep up to date with our news on a more regular basis. But I always come back to this:

That whatever season we’re in, whether we’re piling people into coaches to take families to London Zoo on a hot summer’s day, running parenting sessions in a local primary school or getting ready for Christmas (more news on this soon!) first and foremost we are called to be those who sit in the dark with a hand outstretched, burning bright with the love of Jesus.

Because this light alone has the power to dispel darkness, this love alone is enough to satisfy the weary and brokenhearted, this God alone is the one who can transform, save and bring life.

November 2016
Ellie Hughes