England Update: Dear friends, Brian and I have been serving in England for four months now and we consider ourselves acclimated to the many life changes here. By God’s grace, we truly feel “home.” We cannot express in words the amount of peace and joy in our hearts that has been birthed out of simple obedience to God’s call. We are exactly where He wants us to be. There is so much to catch you up on, but I suppose a good place to start is by sharing a little about our town, “Stockton-On-Tees.”
Stockon-On-Tees: Stockton is not the most desirable place to live in the UK—In fact it is considered the “armpit” of England. We see broken families and a huge shortage of fathers on a daily basis. Stockton is home to a lot of poverty, drug addiction, alcoholism, as well as physical and verbal abuse. From day one, we noticed an alarming amount of affliction on this town—Stockton has a large demographic of people with limps, canes and wheelchairs of all ages.
During the first three months of our move, we resided in community living with two other young women serving in England. Our neighborhood was considered government housing—most of the occupants were refugees, asylum seekers, middle-eastern immigrants, or poor/disabled British families. With this in mind, our team developed a ministry called, “Mill Lane” Mission where a neighborhood Q&A was hosted every Thursday night. Anyone with questions about God, the Bible, Christianity, etc. was welcome. This outreach has been going great and our team has seen a handful of people come to know Christ.
While I speak of all the devastation in Stockton-On-Tees, I am also extremely encouraged. On High Street, there is a campaign going on called, “Rediscover Stockton.” The town is literally rebuilding itself in the physical realm by putting in a new performing arts theater and a fountain in Town Square. While there is tangible construction going on in our town, I see a beautiful parallel of what God is doing in the spiritual realm—He is rebuilding Stockton spiritually. Brian and I fervently believe that God wants to restore Stockton in this generation. Our team is incredible and each so uniquely gifted and passionate about making a difference. Without a shadow of a doubt, the Lord is moving here in northeast England and we trust wholeheartedly that He has brought us here with great purpose.
Youth For Christ: Our schedules have been busy since we landed in the UK. As YFC workers we are in primary and secondary schools every day of the week. Within the primary schools, we have established reading programs, lunch clubs and after school kid’s clubs. Kids Clubs have proved quite successful. It’s been a lot of fun seeing them grow in their knowledge of God, in their creativity through crafts, and in character through sports. God has shown Youth For Christ amazing favor; He has been faithful to open many doors throughout the public school systems and across the Tees Valley. It is pretty astonishing that we have been given the ability to not only reflect Jesus to the next generation, but also openly teach about Him.
Some of the Kid’s Clubs can be extremely challenging due to the bad behavior of many of the children. Most of these kids have terrible home lives and simply do not know any better. They are often disrespectful, disobedient, vulgar, and cruel to one another. (We do however see progress and are encouraged by it.) In secondary schools, we work as teacher’s assistants in the nurture classes, which are comprised of the disruptive, unruly students or those with learning disabilities. We have also begun one-on-one mentoring programs, which have proved extremely effective. We are thrilled to continue this program next term.
Café Church: Morris Ministry was asked to head up a Café Church in central Stockton. Café Church is a casual worship experience with a gospel-centered message that meets in local coffee shops across The Tees Valley. This outreach program has been going good so far. Our first service was the largest Café Church YFC has ever hosted. It is our desire for these events to be effective in both Christian fellowship and community outreach. As youth workers, we desire for Cafe Church to be a helpful tool in bridging the gap between the church and schools. Typically kids are more likely to meet at a coffee shop than at church on a Sunday morning—the outreach provides a safe and comfortable environment to build relationships, as well as present the gospel.
Stockton Parish Church: When arriving in the England, we were immediately planted in the Stockton Parish Church, which is over 300 years old. Brian and I were officially commissioned as full-time staff members in mid-October. It was an unforgettable experience to be anointed with oil, prayed over, and deemed “worthy of the calling we have received.” (Eph. 4:1) The ceremony was made extra special because Mr. Kevin and Mrs. Susan Morris flew into England and witnessed our commissioning in person.
One of our favorite parts about our church family is the diversity. There are over 15 nationalities represented at our parish. Brian and I anticipated working with a bunch of teenage “Brits” when we arrived in northeast England, but to our surprise, we also get to work with 50 incredible Iranian families. Many of our new friends fled Iran for religious freedom and most of them are seeking asylum in Stockton. (Christianity is illegal in Iran, and the penalties are severe—anywhere from jail to the death sentence.) The language barrier can be difficult at times, but we share the same spirit and they’ve become like family.
SPC Youth: Our biggest priority has been leading the youth group at the Stockton Parish Church. We disciple throughout the week, and on Tuesday nights, Brian leads a boy’s Bible study and I lead a girl’s Bible study. In October, we organized our first youth retreat—the theme was on “Identity.” The weekend went brilliantly from team challenges in the forest, to fish and chips on the Scarborough shore. Brian taught an incredible message on the power of our thought life and one young person shared about encountering the Lord for the first time. The following morning I got to share my testimony.
Brian and I have been given many opportunities to speak at different churches, youth groups and youth events—both together and as individuals. We are exceedingly grateful for every chance God gives us to testify to His faithfulness, goodness and grace. In November, we hosted another successful event called “Youth Church.” It was a collaboration of three different youth groups from local churches in Stockton—the students all came together under the same roof to worship as one body. We have also been able to host a several fun youth socials, including a movie night, ice-skating, and a spectacular Christmas Party.
Highlights: In September, Elam Ministries provided the Persian community with an accurate, complete, easy to understand Bible translation for the first time. The New Millennium Bible took a team of over thirty translators nearly 20 years to complete and a few men lost their lives in the process. Considering the demographic in our church and the new Bible release, we felt God asking us to create awareness and raise financial support for Persian Bibles. Through generous people like you, we raised money for nearly 50 Persian Bibles! Every family in our church has now been provided with God’s Word in their native language.
On a personal note, one of the boys in our youth group moved from Iran only a few months ago. He could never fully participate in the lessons because he was still learning English and did not have a Bible in Farsi. One Sunday morning, we presented this twelve-year-old boy with his first Bible. I can’t describe in words how thankful he was nor could I describe the look of pure joy on his face as he strolled out of the youth room absolutely beaming and heading straight for his parents. He was so excited to share His Bible with them. We will never forget this moment.
God’s Faithfulness: As most of you know, Brian and I are missionaries, so we will be working here for the next two years with no salary. With that said, it has been a beautiful opportunity for us to truly depend on God to provide for every need. We have had so much to thank Him for recently. First, God provided us with the resources to purchase a vehicle in England. (This was made possible by selling my car back home, while simultaneously receiving a generous online donation.) Having transportation has been an absolute blessing. For the first several months, we walked everywhere or took the bus. The flexibility that a car provides has been enormously beneficial for ministry.
Second, God has provided us with a house. Brian and I resided in community living our entire marriage (six months), until recently. While it certainly had its season and blessings, having a home to call our own has been the most remarkable gift. A family from another local church (talk about the capital “C” Church) provided us with a house, and didn’t even ask for us to pay rent. On top of that, the church we work for partnered with a charity that has committed to paying our house bills. Needless to say, God has taken care of us! We are overwhelmed with His goodness and faithfulness.
Conclusion: Overall, this journey has been beautiful thus far. It’s certainly not easy doing full-time ministry, but God has unquestionably made our hearts come alive here. Brian and I have been challenged immensely and are growing exponentially in every way. We are so honored to be serving in England and we long to pour our whole hearts into our positions as youth pastors. Every day we are in awe of how God has entrusted us with this task and we humbly receive it. Thank you to everyone for your love, support, and continued prayers. We love this country, our town, our church family and you—our extended family! Your love and generosity is making an enormous, ETERNAL impact on this community!
MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Love, Brian and Morgan Morris
Prayer Requests: (1) Please pray for us as we implement a new discipleship program next term. (2) Please pray as we continue to pursue our seminary degrees online. (3) Pray that we raise the support to stay in England for another year. (3) Pray for God to continue making an impact on the lives of the young people here. (4) Pray for Kid’s Clubs and Mentorship Programs. (6) Pray for continued vision and discernment (7) And last but certainly not least, please pray for us as newlyweds and that we would continue to grow closer to God and closer to each other.