New Youth:Link initiative in Yeading
Excitingly, Youth:Link, our youth outreach, is about to start running one event a month in a church hall in Hayes, near the Hillingdon cluster. This is all thanks to Joe Pender, who refused to be defeated in his quest to make this happen and eventually succeeded by talking with Pete Mackenzie about coming and using his church hall. Pete kindly agreed!
Joe’s legacy lives on, and coming out of lockdown, this about to start up in a week or so! Please do pray, especially for Katrina and Natalie who are leading Youth:Link right now, for strength, as they both work full time, and an anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Please also pray for the youth at Pete’s church, as he is going to invite them, and there are potentially at least a dozen who might come along ... interestingly, despite lockdown, a couple more youth from Hillingdon have also started coming along this year, so please do pray that God would continue to be at work and bring those He wants to touch and bless.
We will be buying some things to set up the hall, but some donations would really help too!
– Rebecca Delargy
Video message from the SOS President
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings in the name of Christ! Now that our Eastern Orthodox brethren have celebrated Pascha, I can wish everyone in the Sword of the Spirit a very happy Easter season.
Here is a video message from Jean Barbara which Jean would like all the brothers and sisters in the Sword of the Spirit to see. In it Jean talks about the 50th anniversary of Sword of the Spirit covenant community which we want to celebrate, and he mentions an illustrated history of the Sword of the Spirit: we will send you soon some information on how to obtain copies of this book. Jean refers to a meeting of the International Assembly ‘in the summer’: this will now be on Saturday October 9, and we will send out more information in the coming weeks.
Please arrange for your community members to see this video – either by showing it in a community gathering, or sending the link out to your members and asking them to watch it in their sharing groups or on their own. If your people will struggle with English or Spanish, please arrange to add language subtitles to the video (let us know if you need help with that). The IEC wants every SOS member to see this and hear about the priorities for this next season that we believe the Lord has for us.
We will be saying more about these priorities in the coming months, including presentations of them to the regional councils and to the International Assembly, and then to the International Coordinators Meeting in November.
Thanks brothers and sisters for your help with this. The IEC considers this to be an important message for all our members, and appreciates your help in getting it to everyone.
Peace in the Lord,
Sharing Group Follow Ups - April 2021
If everything were perfect, what would we have to endure from others for God’s sake? But now God has so arranged things that we may learn to bear each other’s burdens, for no one is without faults, no one is without burdens, no one is wholly self-sufficient, no one has enough wisdom all by himself. That being the case, we must support and comfort each other; together we must help, teach, and advise one another, for the strength that each person has will best be seen in times of trouble. Such times do not make us weak; they show what we are.
- Thomas à Kempis
Sharing group follow up questions:
- How Self-Sufficient do you regard yourself?
- Do you look to others for support and you to support others?
- Do you value the relationship with your Pastoral Leader/Helper?
- When was the last time you met?
- How do you see your role in Sharing Group?
A note of thanks from Mike
I'd like to thank Antioch for all their prayers for me and ask them to continue. It has been quite an ordeal. I have been through nothing quite like it (and it continues, I have not been pain free since this all started on January 2nd with Covid 19, then worsened on Jan 15th with a broken ankle due to Guillian Barre.) I only discovered in early March how many things had gone seriously south! It wasn't just that I was paralyzed from the neck down, was on a ventilator for two weeks and receiving oxygen. I didn't actually know I was knocking on death's door -- I was hallucinating most of three weeks. (I remember my hallucinations and little else between January 20th and February 25th.)
I believe God answered the prayers of the saints. I especially see this in three ways:
1) My rapid recovery -- I was still paralyzed on February 25th and got out of the hospital using a walker on March 15th. (Guillian Barre typically takes six to nine months to recover to 85%.)
2) More significantly, I was far more joyful than usual throughout my time in hospital and
3) Your prayers got me through the darkest times. I lost my ability to remember any memorized prayers: I could not make it through the Lord's Prayer nor night prayers, I either forgot the words or simply forgot what I was doing. I had no way of validating that I had any relationship with the Lord. That was frightening.
I am still wrestling with Guillian Barre. I am in pain most of the day from my calves down. Sleeping is difficult. My thinking is still confused at times. Typing is very slow but I can do it, and my sense of balance is bad, but I am still "improving more rapidly" than most according to my doctors and therapists.
Advent Words from the Brothers
One of our daily practices during this time is to read a particular Scripture passage every day and meditate upon it, all across the brotherhood. For a number of years now, family, friends and supporters have often joined us in this practice. In order to make that possible, we provide a way to download the list of passages here . We also have a daily podcast where one of the brothers (this year from the International Formation House in Ann Arbor) provides a short commentary on that passage. You can either find those podcasts here or simply subscribe to “Words from the Brothers” on I-Tunes, Spotify or any other podcast provider.
We wish you a very blessed and peaceful Advent season!
On behalf of all the Servants of the Word
New Sword of the Spirit website
If you have not already seen it, check out the redesigned Sword of the Spirit website with a fresher look and some new features. The website was five years old and needed a refresh and to catch up with developments in technology. Thanks to Juan Carlos Aragon and Paul Codouni for their work developing it.
New features include:
• Social media feed
• Pray by Day, our own daily prayer tool
• New interactive map of SOS communities and outreaches
• Design optimized for mobile devices (70% of the views of the site accessed from mobile devices)
• Improved navigation and simplified layout
Check out the new website here:
Please forward the link to your community members.
Joe Pender - we miss you!
With huge sadness we announce the death of our dear brother, Joe Pender. Joe died on Wednesday 4th following multiple heart attacks caused by blood clots after his major cancer surgery on the Monday. Katrina, his wife, is much in our prayers, as are his parents Sean and Karen, his brothers and sisters and all the Pender and Doyle families.
We are so glad his father, Sean, was able to be with him at the end, and that other family members are able to be here for the funeral.
A video of the funeral is now available on the link below.
Pronto: find and follow
Around 2,000 people aged 22-35 partook of an online conference entitled Pronto: find and follow on Saturday July 1 8th. Daniel Dunkl from Vienna, Austria, and Michela Brooks from Las Vegas, Nevada,
welcomed attendees from 30 countries, multiple languages and time zones. The Philippines, Mexico and the United States had the most attendees, but it was exciting to see those just getting involved in our work who hailed from Brazil and Tanzania.
Ralph Mascarenhas, the one who proposed the conference, explained that the idea for Pronto 2020 came from seeing a strong response in Europe to the Legacy Conference, an event for those aged 20-30 that gives a vision for living community life as an adult. They had double the turnout online that they expected to have in person and the participants loved it.
Pronto began with a song in English and Spanish that was led from Beirut, Lebanon. That was followed by an online quiz for all 2,000 participants that crowned JP Fahed as the most knowledgeable attendee.
The News followed and featured stories from Rebecca Sastre about discerning her call to live single for the Lord and Sara Fonseca reporting on a successful online Alpha Course their Young Professionals Outreach did in Costa Rica.
Anton Collela from Glasgow gave the main address and proclaimed the call that unites us. A more substantial time of worship followed where participants could post what they sensed the Lord telling them. There were nearly 1 30 submissions and many of them stressed that we were one people with one call from the One God and that he wanted us joined in
Update from Fr Paul - July 2020
People have been asking how I am doing and what the situation is with regards to our work in Payatas. Let me say a few things.
Certainly my feelings and my energy have gone up and down. In a number of important areas I have not responded to God's grace as I should but God has nevertheless been AMAZINGLY faithful and generous.
One of the ways in which I have failed to adequately respond to God has been not taking enough time, or the right times, for sleep, rest and recreation. Another area has been not spending enough time in prayer.
I am doing better at resting and relaxing but I still need to do better. I think it was about two weeks ago that I was really exhausted but I am much better now. Please pray that I will have the faith, determination and discipline to rest, relax and pray as I should.
It is now 4 months since Community Quarantine was first imposed and the government has just extended the community quarantine until at least July 31. While some people are back at work, many are not and many who had some savings now have none. Many people are desperate!
There are now requests for us to provide relief food to areas of Payatas that we have not covered before. There are many thousands of families in areas which PNA was not covering because they were receiving relief from elsewhere who are now no longer receiving from elsewhere. A main reason for this is donor fatigue. We are intending to try to provide relief food to at least some of these families.
However our funding has been greatly falling as well. The only way we can continue is if God continues to provide, as he has done so far - sometimes at the last moment.
So far we have distributed around 78,000 food packs to around 12,000 families. We will simply continue to give until either we cannot due to lack of donations or until we believe the Lord has said it is time to stop.
I thank God so much for his amazing love, grace and provision. I also thank the wonderful generosity of so many people and the hard work of so many Payatas volunteers.
I have been touched by people's sacrificial generosity. Two days ago one of the people in the areas where we were distributing came up and gave me a small plastic bag containing coins. She said it was a donation for PNA to buy rice!!! The other day someone who had lost his job due to the quarantine gave his second donation for food distribution!!
Please pray and ask others to pray. As well as asking you to pray for the general situation, I am also asking you to pray for one specific situation. On Tuesday it was the burial of of a woman whose husband had been buried fairly recently. I performed blessings before the burial of both of them. The husband was shot dead and the wife died of cancer. They leave behind four orphaned children. Please pray for these children in their great need, in poverty and without parents to care and provide for them. I intend to have PNA provide a scholarship for at least one or two of them.
God bless and be with you all,