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Years ago God’s Lily felt that God was inviting her to do things that made a real difference in the lives of people and helped to restore churches. That was 1991 and she has been on quite a journey since then. One of the reasons why she uses a nom de plume is to not just to protect the innocent but to protect the guilty.

Part one the descent

She learned a lot about surviving difficult circumstances. Mum and dad tried hard but like most parents did not quite make the grade in terms of parenting. Other people and situations especially the part-time job she had as a teenager added a further layer of difficult circumstances. It was if she was being prepared to walk into the biggest challenge of her life i.e. marriage. Looking back it was obvious that it was not the best of ideas within a few days but she stuck it out for over two decades.

Imagine being diminished again and again by one challenge or circumstance at a time. Or put it another imagine being in an ever-shrinking box that you cannot get out of, or rather refuse to do the one thing that you can do to get out of the box because you believe it is something that is wrong that you should never ever do it.

In the end she got the order of the boot from that marriage because she was not strong enough to cope with the challenges that she faced. Challenges that were largely generated by the behaviour patterns linked to the mental health condition that he had been diagnosed with.

Part two coming up the other side

That was a few years ago now and she has realised that she has lived through PTSD or rapid onset trauma as well as complex trauma or slow onset trauma and come out the other side. No wonder she developed an interest in supporting people who have struggled with a variety of mental health conditions.

The first iteration of Lily’s Place included a comprehensive series of community projects. Some were intended to help people develop work-based skills or to learn how to do other things that would increase their income like start a business. Others were intended to bring people together in social activities including eating together. Mixed in were ideas that would help those who had to start afresh in a new home without much if anything in the way of household items like beds to cooking utensils. Not forgetting help for those who needed to develop household skills like ironing or decorating because they had never had to do such things for themselves before. It was an incredible dream and all based on what needs God’s Lily had seen for herself.

Not all communities are alike. In others, the big needs are related to health and wellbeing, the care of the elderly and include expanding the horizons of adults and children. That is why the community has to come together and work to meet the needs of the weaker members of the community. The truth is that it is those who are on the ground in the community who know what the real needs are. People can come in from the outside and say you need this and that and the other and get it wrong simply because they have guessed what the needs are and got it wrong.

Part 3 Bringing it all together

The aim of Lily’s Online Place is to empower those who want to build up something like Lily’s Place that meets the needs of the community. Oh, and where does the church bit come in. Well if it is God who wants things to happen so that the needs within the community are met then surely the first people He would ask are the church. However, experience has taught me that many people in the church are so busy living their own lives and keeping the church going that they do not get involved in community projects. On the other hand, those churches that do run community-based projects find themselves growing because those who they have been helped want to join them. BTW that could mean helping them by giving them a purpose in life by being a volunteer helper as well as receiving help.

There is so much to say on that topic that God’s Lily set up the Fresh Expressions of Community podcast. The name is supposed to remind churchgoers of Fresh Expressions of Church which is about doing things differently. However, it is about why and how church folk should get involved in community-based activities.

You can find out more here.

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