Andy's Review Of 2023 - The Message

Wow. Every year I say this, but this really has to be one of the best years The Message has ever had!

The verses that have been my touchstone this year are Ephesians 3:20-21 which say, ‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’ I definitely think God has done this time and time again in 2023, and I’m sure you’ll feel exactly the same when you read my wrap up of the year.

As many of you know, The Message Trust actually started as The Message in Schools and I love that working with young people is still at the very heart of what we do. Get this, through our schools work alone, this year we’ve seen over 1,600 young people respond to the gospel and thousands more across the other areas of our work!

And mission in schools is exactly how we started this year, kicking off with a No More Knives tour in Wythenshawe in January as we headed into five schools sharing truth-packed lessons and inviting the young people to an evangelistic gig. Over in Wales, the team had an epic start to their year with a WILD youth outreach event and a Youth Nights prayer and praise evening that they ran in partnership with local churches, encouraging and equipping young people in their faith. January also saw us run another Global Advance Day. On that day, we saw new Advance groups launched and the huge milestone of 10,000 groups around the world reached – every single one of them discipling men and women in their evangelism.

February was an epic month for our No More Knives tour. We’ve really seen God take this thing to the next level this year, as our teams have headed into schools encouraging young people across the UK to lay down their weapons. In February, the tours saw 261 students respond to the gospel in Teesside, Redcar and Middlesbrough. So, alongside our Genetik Sessions Winter School and our first ever LIFT evangelistic youth event in the North West, February was a powerful month of youth mission.

I absolutely loved March as myself and a bunch of our supporters went on a huge fundraising bike ride across South Africa. It was a great time of connection as well as raising essential funds for The Message. Back in the UK, our Eden teams gathered to be refreshed and encouraged on our Eden Teams Leaders’ residential and we had our second Stoke Youth Prayer Gathering in partnership with 24-7 Prayer Youth, which was an incredible night of young people crying out to God in prayer. And as Advance continued to grow around the world, we launched groups in Chad, and Ben and Luiz visited five Brazilian cities where we have over 3,000 groups now.

In April, we launched an Eden team in South Bank headed up by Krista and Niki in partnership with our friends at TVC church. Already, they’ve seen 130 of their neighbours come to know Jesus and you can read more about what’s been happening here. Keeping up the momentum of community transformation, we had a massive Love Where U Live outreach week and Family Fun Day in Wythenshawe to show the love of Jesus in word and action.

May saw us launch a second Community Grocery into Burnley – our Down Town store – to meet the ever-growing demand as people still grapple with the cost-of-living crisis. We also had a massive weekend of prayer, mission and church at the Big Weekend, and we gathered our urban mission workers and Eden teams for our Proximity Conference.

Taking schools mission to a whole new level, June saw our teams run a Resilience and Wellbeing Respect ME Tour in four schools across the North West. We also held a mission week in four schools in Derby where we met 2,000 students and hosted an evangelistic gig, and we ran No More Knives tours in Cardiff and Tameside where our teams gave out more than 800 Bibles across the two events. We also launched another Eden team in Sheffield – Eden Jordanthorpe and Batemoor – headed up by Jonny and Erica in partnership with Meadowhead Christian Fellowship. And, of course, June wouldn’t be complete without celebrating our incredible Urban Heroes and all that God’s done in their lives. Check out the powerful stories from the night here.

This July, we celebrated 10 years of Eden in Ragworth and Primrose Hill (North East) and our team in Wales took part in an incredible weekend of mission with Spree Wales running the youth ministry tent. This was followed by a week of Respect ME mission in South Wales alongside the Message Bus and a big youth event where 139 young people came along for fun and the gospel message. Further away from home, we launched Advance in Togo and trained up over 800 new leaders to start up new Advance groups in Kenya. 

In August, young people had an incredible time at our Genetik Sessions Summer School learning new skills as part of our creative workshops, and as they did, they got to hear about the good news of Jesus.

As is so often the case, September was a month of new things! We launched a new creative mission team, NXT CHAPTR, added some new members to band OTC, began a new Eden team in Byker (Newcastle), and started a new Advance Youth hub! And that’s just the beginning. Our North East team held a youth conference, our Wales hub ran Message Bus sessions in South Wales and saw young people respond to the gospel, and we launched a brand new international hub – Message Brasil – officially started, headed up by Daniel and Emily Eduardo!

And we weren’t stopping there. In October, we also launched our new Message Uganda hub and we’re excited to partner with local churches and organisations for Festival Bombo in 2024. If you’d like to find out more or get involved with the adventure, click here. Our team in Germany also held an incredible weekend of mission sharing the gospel through music and testimonies to 500 young people and the Message School of Evangelism students went on residential to press into God and build great relationships together. 

We saw Advance skyrocket in November. As the team visited Thailand, Laos and Cambodia to share about Advance, we heard reports that we have around 15,000 groups meeting around the world now and over 400,000 people have responded to the gospel as a result of the evangelistic efforts of our Advance group members! And in the UK, we launched a second Community Grocery in Newcastle in partnership with Hillsong Newcastle just as we hit 50,000 Community Grocery member families who now rely on the groceries to access affordable food and the wrap-around support.

December was full of mission, from No More Knives tours in Nottingham and South Bank, and the launch of Message Netherlands headed up by Daniël ter Maten, to hundreds of Christmas outreach events run by our incredible Eden and Community Grocery teams up and down the country. As the teams gave out free Christmas food hampers, they also shared the gospel and hundreds responded! Isn’t God wonderful?

I mean, what a phenomenal year! I can only image what God has in store for us in 2024. Thank you for being on this journey with us!


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