There are moments when God leads us to a cliff edge and invites us to jump off! This page is my leap of faith.
My Christian journey began in 1989 when watching a video of young people talking about their faith, sharing their moment of encounter with God. Through those testimonies, God led me to a cliff, so l leapt.
I quickly became a co-originator and pioneer of Youth 2000. In those years I was privileged to witness the conversion of thousands of young people. I was always struck by the power of their testimonies. Ordinary people, people like you and me, sharing their stories of encounter with Jesus; this Good News speaks to the heart and becomes a catalyst for conversion, and can change lives. Talking about Jesus's love for us and our love for him is the essence of the New Evangelisation.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 1989 spoke to 'Catholic believers: to encourage them to bring the witness of their faith to the digital world......to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this "digital continent". Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm...... the greatest gift you can give to them is to share with them the "Good News".' (43rd World Communications Day, Sunday, 24 May 2009)
Thus 'The Encounter Project' is born: a project to bring conversion stories to the internet and social media by means of short shareable videos of ordinary peoples’ moments of encounter with Jesus. The mission is to share the 'Good News', by the authentic witness of people of faith. The internet can be a hostile place; I believe that these stories of love can cut through the darkness and enable the 'blind to see.' (cf Mat 11:5).
In order to capture these testimonies we intend to attend Christian events, where we will set up the 'Testimony Tent'. Inside the tent will be an inflatable studio, where we will film their stories. The studio will serve as the focal point; provide privacy and offer consistent quality production values.
This project is a start-up at this point. All we have is the idea and a great deal of faith in the generosity of God and his ability to make things happen.
We need an inflatable studio, a tent, lighting, cameras, IT equipment and software, marketing materials, a website and annual hosting costs. We need your help to raise between £3000 to £4000 to purchase the start-up equipment. Our hope is to have funds in place to attend this Summer’s Youth 2000 Prayer Festival at Walsingham, 24th - 28th August.
Being British, this part is difficult: asking for money is hard. So here goes! We cannot even start this evangelisation project without your financial support. Your generosity will help to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to social media. Please partner with us so together we can become Missionaries to the Digital Continent, helping Jesus to reach out to the wounded and broken hearted.
We've set a goal of £25,000, of which £4,000 will be set aside for start-up costs. This will be a full-time ministry so the remaining £21,000 is for wages. This is not an easy request to make; however, taking this project on is a huge leap of faith off a cliff edge. I have a wife and two young children to support as well as a mortgage and all the other normal expenses of life. The figure of £21,000 is a goal, a target, a hope, so to speak: not a starting line. The starting line is £3,000; anything above that will be gratefully accepted. To leap is to trust, and I believe his word, 'that a worker is worth his wages' (cf Lk 10-7, 1 Tim 5:8)
I have often heard British Catholics complain that there are a lot of good American Catholic resources but not many of British origin. That is because, in America, people are confident to ask for money to support lay ministries; in turn, people are generous in their support. So please help build up a great British “Open Source” resource, which could serve a range of catechetical purposes as well providing a historical archive of British faith stories of our time. A publisher has already suggested that transcripts of these testimonies be put together in a book. This is a starting point, not a destination. Please join us on this adventure that God is opening up before us, as Catholics we have a great story to tell so let’s tell it.
Please pray for the success of this venture.
Finally thank-you for your time and please share this page on your social profiles.
- Gareth Leyshon
- Jean-Louis Nancy
- Anne Griffiths
- Alison Figueiredo
Westerham, South East England, United Kingdom