Our intention was to receive training in how to use The Jesus Deck with a bit of an insight into how the Kingdom of God was demonstrated in the community through the Church.

What transpired was lots of inspiration about the Kingdom of God in the community with a bit of Jesus Deck training.

Don’t get me wrong, the training was also good. Revd. Neil Roberts has quite a knack at helping people connect with God through the Jesus Deck as it serves as a visual bible study with the added mystery of God speaking through the cards that people choose. Neil relates the story of Jesus to the story of the person he sits with doing ‘the reading.’ He spoke with us about those he had met who had chosen two cards about the life of Jesus that related so beautifully to their lives.

But what really blew us away was the way the church and Three Trees centre had been developed over the years and their active engagement with people in their community.

I hadn’t visited since the redevelopment work and rebuild of the centre. The last time I had visited buckets were in most rooms to catch the rain water that trickled through the rotten ceiling.

Last year Neil was awarded a BEM for his dedicated work in the community. He’s like a modern day Abbot for Chelmsley Wood and my goodness, people really do use the centre and find a home. While we were there, a constant too-ing and fro-ing of people came in and out through the wide open doors. People visiting social groups, the cafe or accessing some of the offices that are rented to a wide range of social action charities.

On top of this incredible work the church alongside a few other community groups, their Baptist Association and businesses recently opened a fish and chip shop. The idea is that the profits from the business are plowed back into their community.

This notice board in the chippy explains how!

So the Abbot really does have a fryer. The connection with and ‘salt and light’ nature of the community chip shop has the finger prints all over it of the King who ushers in a new kingdom.

We left our team day somewhat in awe as to what God can do to change a community through His people. The church isn’t huge in number but they punch way above their weight.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to visit I would very much recommend it. It’s like a modern day open Friary where the broken, bruised and most vulnerable in the community find a safe haven.

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