In the early 1980s Nick and Grace Turner started teaching and reaching out to university students. By the mid-1990s the group that met together often numbered between 120 & 150 students whom they taught and to whom they sought to model radical discipleship. As a result of wanting to live like Jesus, and live life “on the edge” for God, many of these students went out in short term mission and a number of them stayed on longer term. They would be supported by succeeding students (from a shoebox fund!) and come home to recount the things they did, so a new generation was inspired to go out.
To begin with all the students went out with different missions. In the early years a number worked with street children in Brazil, with the poor in India, some went into full time ministry in different denominations, or went into youth work.
Ross Paterson in his book “The Antioch Factor” talks of ‘The Bath-tub syndrome’. Churches often have a great send-off for their missionary, and interest is high just after they leave, gradually sinking into non-existence, so they are scraping along the bottom of the bath-tub until near return when interest rises again. This is very discouraging, and our aim is to be part of keeping people on the mission field by caring for them, giving to them, keeping their profile before people, and sometimes going to minister to and with them.
Nick and Grace discovered, however, that because of lack of pastoring many who went abroad in mission (or even here) often returned to them for support… and so Firelighters was born.
The Ministry grows further...
The organisation was initially set up to care for, mentor and pastor those they had sent abroad as missionaries. As time has gone on the scope of those involved has broadened to others ministering abroad – sometimes in joint partnership with other missions and sometimes just with Firelighters. The organisation now includes those in full time ministry in the UK (vicars, youth workers etc.) and also others in secular work where those involved view their work very much as a vocation for God e.g. the army, counselling, anti-trafficking etc.
Numbers fluctuate a little but there are over 40 Firelighters at present.
The other side of the Mission….
As we spoke to people about our mission partners and about Radical Discipleship, what became immediately apparent was that many considered discipleship to be for young people rather than the calling of the church. Many people are currently entering our churches, knowing that God loves them, but not hearing His command to “take up your cross and follow Me”. Sadly, what seems to be basic discipleship teaching by Jesus in the Gospels is often not taught.
This being the case, we decided to formalise the teaching that had resulted in so many living radically for Him and going out in mission, and devised the T.I.D.E. course (Training In Discipleship & Evangelism). Therefore the second emphasis of Firelighters is the teaching of Radical Discipleship.
Our mission statement is “To be like Jesus and to change the World”.
This results in a two-fold mission for the organisation:
1. TO BE LIKE JESUS
The TIDE Course
This course has 12 sessions (with material for 3 further sessions on each topic, so it can be studied for 12 weeks or much longer) and it encapsulates the teaching that resulted in Firelighters being sent out to the nations.
The TIDE Course seems at first glance to have familiar topics, but it is not intended as an introduction to the faith but for those already Christians who are challenged to a far more radical approach to living.
One pastor in Wales said that the TIDE course had impacted their community as people put things right in their shops and work places. The course has been run in every type of group from a church of 700, to small individual home groups. It has been run in the army, by University groups and has been used, to date, in around 30 countries.
When we were filming the DVDs, one member of the crew, who was not a believer, came up after the session on God's Heart for the World, and said “If Christians really were like this, I would want to be one!” Living like Jesus is the only way to reach people with reality. Teenagers have come to Christ listening to the same session, because they see the love of God and the need for radical living.
2. TO CHANGE THE WORLD
As we have said our members either work exclusively with Firelighters or are partnered with us while working with other missions or denominations. Please look at our Mission Partner profiles to read about individuals.
As a result of our Mission Partners going into hard places, a number of Projects have been born – see our Projects page for details.
Firelighters is simply a product of the grace of God. In the case of so many of our Mission Partners, God has chosen those who would call themselves weak, or who have little, and He has multiplied what they offer him. Our aim is not to be well known but to be so motivated by the love of Jesus that we use what we have and see God use it to change His world.
A Firelighter burns up and leaves nothing of itself behind, except, hopefully, a blaze which brings others to Jesus Christ.
- 4 High Street
- High Shincliffe
- DH1 2PN
44 (0) 7929 262224