Archives For Melanie

On Becoming British

Melanie —  June 16, 2021

Today I became a British citizen.  In one sense, it’s not a big deal.  I’ve been a permanent resident of the UK for many years.  So what’s changed? Well, first of all, I now have the right to vote.  Peter has always teased me about what our MP (member of Parliament) would think about all my letters to her if she knew I couldn’t vote! Now, more than ever before, I feel strongly that we need to be exercising our right to vote and I intend to do that. Secondly, I will be able to finally join the rest of my family and apply to become a British passport holder.  These are nice benefits, but they don’t change too much about my daily life.

However, I feel today marks a significant moment in my life. Let me explain why.

When Peter and I moved permanently to England nearly 17 years ago, we felt very strongly that God had led us here.  After a long process of pushing many doors for ministry in multiple countries, in December 2004, we quite surprisingly found ourselves on a plane to Great Britain with our two little girls and one on the way.  We had always assumed we would end up doing ministry in a country other than the UK or the USA, our home nations.  After all, we wanted to be missionaries!  However, our dear friend George Verwer challenged us to consider the vast spiritual needs here in the UK and proposed that we also use the UK as a base in order to travel to do ministry elsewhere on the globe.

God has certainly blessed this plan – it’s worked! Peter has been able to serve and teach in many countries. Over the years, however, the Lord has opened more and more doors for ministry for right here in the UK.  Although we still have a massive heart for serving internationally and Peter continues to travel (hopefully this will resume post- Covid 19), our focus has narrowed as we’ve poured ourselves into church planting and leadership training right here in the UK.  Looking back, we see God’s amazing grace and faithfulness in taking our desires from 17 years ago and allowing them to be fulfilled.  He’s also given us work to do that we never could have imagined we’d be doing.  He’s has given us the UK as our earthly home, a place to serve him, and a place to grow and raise our family.

Becoming a citizen feels significant for me today because I truly feel the UK is my home.  Today made that feeling official, something that over time has gradually become true in my heart.

I remember my early years of living in the UK . . . I was frequently homesick for the USA and its familiar culture.  British culture/terminology/people often felt foreign to me.  I felt like I was always the outsider in the room. I would still refer to the USA as my home country, the place where my heart was, where I was really “from.”

Gradually, something shifted.  I’ve put down roots, not only practically but emotionally.  I will always be an American and I will continue to hold an American passport.  And I’ll probably never lose my American accent!  I love America – its culture and people will always be precious to me.  But the UK is my home now.  Sometime during the process of the last 17 years, this became true.  Today it’s been recognised officially.

My heart has made a home in the UK and the UK has made a home in my heart.

The citizenship ceremony today for me was a moment to recognise God’s kindness.  He’s brought me here, brought me through the process of cultural adaptation and integration.  He’s given us a purpose here.  He’s given us treasured relationships with friends, neighbours, church family and many others.  Although the United Kingdom has its flaws – like every other nation – it is a beautiful place to live, with beautiful people and many opportunities to which to serve.

Today, my heart is full of gratitude.  I’m thankful to be a citizen of a (mostly) free and democratic country. (Please God may our freedoms continue.) I’m thankful to now have a real voice in elections.  I’m thankful to be joined by one more thread to my precious husband and children who are already British by birth. I’m thankful for my wonderful friends, who in large part are the reason that this country is my emotional home.

However, though I count the United Kingdom my earthly home now, in another sense, no place on this planet will ever be my real home.  My citizenship is in heaven and this life is just a breath compared to the amazing future I have ahead of me.  I’m a child of the King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Saviour of the world.  One day, I’ll worship before his throne along with countless millions from every nation, tribe and people group. And His Kingdom shall reign forever and ever.

Hebrews 12:28 – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.

Acts 17:26-27 – From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

Philippians 3:20 – But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

In case you are interested, the citizenship ceremony included this oath and pledge:

I, Melanie Mead, swear by Almighty God that, on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law.

I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.

 

 

All together again

Melanie —  May 14, 2021

We are so thankful to the Lord for bringing Hannah and Aliyah home safely! Aliyah was in the USA for several weeks sharing about her upcoming year on the Logos Hope and visiting Moody Bible Institute where she hopes to attend after her gap year.  She had a really wonderful time and was able to see our USA family and some friends as well – a sweet bonus! Hannah has completed her second year at Corban University and the two of them were able to travel home together last week, along with Hannah’s boyfriend, Noah who will be with us for a few weeks.  The three of them were in quarantine here at home up until yesterday and after 3 negative Covid tests (1 more to come!) they are now enjoying their freedom to leave these four walls! We are incredibly thankful to God for these girls and their faithfulness to him and also for His faithfulness to them! It’s been very sweet to be all together again and also great to begin getting to know Noah.  God has also graciously provided Hannah with a job back at the nursery where she has worked previously.  A specific answer to my prayers – he is good!  Hannah will be here til early August and Aliyah will be heading to the Logos Hope at the end of August.

We are keeping very busy with homeschooling and ministry.  Yesterday Peter began teaching at the European Leadership Forum (online again this year) and he would greatly appreciate your prayers as he teaches in the preaching network over the course of the next week.  He’s also preaching (online) at a church in London this weekend.  He finds teaching online more difficult than in person, so you could pray for energy and enthusiasm and true connection with people’s hearts.

Peter also continues preaching most weeks at Trinity Chippenham and we are currently in a series on the book of Acts which has been so challenging and also encouraging.  Click here to listen to recordings or here to join our church’s livestream (3:45 pm UK time on Sundays).  We are incredibly grateful that we’ve been able to continue using an Anglican church in town for in person church services.  We’ve actually had quite a few new people join us (quite a few unsaved).  It’s been exciting to see how God has been growing our church even during this lockdown time.  We’re also thrilled that our new Christians Against Poverty debt centre is now open for clients!  Please pray for us as we seek to continue reaching our community with the good news of Jesus and wisely look to the needs of a growing church.  We hope to move back into our former rented facilities (a secondary school) in the next month or two.  Please pray this would all go smoothly and Covid restrictions would be fully lifted as planned by the government.

Personally, Peter and I would both value prayer for physical and emotional stamina and that we’d find moments to rest and recharge.  We have many things on our plates and many people who we love and care for deeply.  We want to remain fully connected to the Vine ourselves so that the life of Jesus may flow through us to others.

**In our last email update we asked if anyone would like to pray with us regularly for some specific situations. If you responded to us, we apologise that we haven’t contacted you yet but we will do so soon.  Meanwhile, if someone else would like to join this group in prayer for some specific needs, please let us know and we’ll share the prayer points with you too!

 

 

Winter and the Hope of Spring

Melanie —  March 16, 2021

The photo above is a favourite of mine – taken just before Hannah went back to the USA after Christmas.  I’m so proud of my four teenagers (well, Hannah is no longer a teenager now that she’s turned 20!).  Of course, just like us as parents, they aren’t perfect, but they are fantastic people and it’s exciting to see them growing up, pursuing Jesus and becoming our friends as well as our kids.  It also warms our hearts to see how they love each other and have fun together.

We’ve been in pretty strict lockdown in the UK most of the year so far, which should mean we’ve had more time to share news.  Hmmmm.  Funny how it doesn’t work that way. Our lives feel full, though we are feeling increasingly sad about the limits on our lives and ministry.  We are pondering and praying about lots of things and asking God to help keep our hearts stirred with passion and perseverance in serving him. I think we aren’t alone in feeling a general sense of discouragement as the lockdown drags on.  However, we have had many times of joy and reasons for thankfulness this year already.  Here are a few photos which highlight some of the blessings:

We got some lovely snow in January which was really fun for the children (small and big!) and beautified our world. God’s creation is awesome.

 

Kaylah turned 9 on the 1st of February. She enjoyed some one-on-one walks with friends throughout her special day.

 

Aliyah turned 18 on the 5th of February. Lockdown restrictions meant we couldn’t have the big party we’d hoped for, but with a little creativity she ended up having a really special day . . .

 

Surprise videos from friends and family, surprise zooms and a walk in the sunshine. People were so kind in their expressions of love to her. She’s now busy finishing her last year of school, teaching piano, serving in various ways and preparing to go to the Logos Hope for a year. We’re so excited to see God working in her life.

 

Mariah’s birthday was our next birthday season celebration. She turned 16 on the 19th of February. We surprised her with a treasure hunt leading to her birthday present, various friends showing up to walk with her throughout the day and some surprise zooms. We also took a little trip to a garden centre! Simple joys. It’s a true joy to watch Mariah mature and grow. She spends a lot of time playing/makimg music and is increasingly spending time serving those around her.

 

Hannah turned 20 on the 2nd of March! She’s continuing to keep very busy at university with many things including her job as a multicultural resident assistant. We miss her and we’re excited to see her, Lord willing, in May when she comes home.

 

Lockdown breeds creativity, which isn’t a bad thing . . . Joel and the girls made this football stadium out of magatiles and playmobil people.

 

And we’ve had dog shows . . .

 

. . . and walks . . .

. . . and Kaylah and Jessah did some dressing up for World Book Day. Can you guess who they are?

 

We plan to write an email update soon with more ministry news so watch this space. We are also pondering embarking on the project of writing and sending out a paper prayer letter.  We often produce the paper letters in conjunction with our trips to the USA to see supporters – please do pray that trip like this may be possible later this year.  It has been 3 years now since we’ve been back to the USA as a family.  As with many people, we are finding it difficult to plan. In the midst of disappointing and discouraging times, we’d appreciate prayer for closeness to Jesus and that we’d continue to choose truth, joy, faith, community and service.  Click here for a fantastic sermon on this topic.  Thank you for your faithful prayers for us.  We’d love to know how we can pray for you too!