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Solas, Rural Ministry and Lee Abbey

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It’s important to us at Solas that we don’t only get involved with gospel work in the big cities around the country, but that we reach into rural areas as well. While many of our evangelism and training events take place in the big population centres, we also believe it’s important to reach beyond those urban areas.

And so it was that Andy Bannister recently led a small conference at the beautiful Lee Abbey in the Exmoor National Park. Lee Abbey is a Christian conference centre launched just after the war, with a vision to get the gospel out of the churches and to reach places like Devon. The pioneers of this work recognised that the big churches in places like London, Birmingham or Manchester can all too easily neglect places like the South-West, where churches tend to be smaller, and are spread out more thinly across the countryside. Part of Lee Abbey’s work is running training courses and conferences designed to encourage, strengthen and inspire Christians, especially from across the South-west.

The four-day course entitled “Confident Christianity – Persuasive Evangelism in an Age of Sceptics” took a small group and equipped them to share their faith with friends and neighbours, colleagues and classmates in engaging ways.

Andy says: “It was particularly fantastic to have so much time with a group, because you really get to know them and talk in-depth about their situations; specific friends they are trying to share their faith with, particular issues they are dealing with; and to pray with some of them too.”

dsc_0354_14359254650_o-2048x1152He was also really impressed with Lee Abbey: “While lots of guests come and go for the conferences, there is a continual Christian community of about 90 people, staff and volunteers, at the Abbey too. Watching them as they work out what outward looking Christian community is all about was quite inspiring. They do a lot in the local towns and villages; they are always thinking about how they can bring non-Christians in for events. It was a real privilege to work with them, in what was a new partnership for Solas. I’d seen Lee Abbey before in passing, when walking the Devon coastal path, but never been inside, it was great to meet them and work with them!”

Lee Abbey were also enthusiastic about working with Solas. “Everyone who attended was ‘fired-up” they said, while guests wrote that it was “excellent, informative, and well-informed”, “Bring Andy Bannister back!”, “Andy’s ideas are presented in a memorable way and well argued. Others wrote that “His humble, gentle and respectful approach had lessons for us all.” The Lee Abbey community are also using Solas’ Short Answers videos in their ministry too, so the partnership goes on!