‘One More Mile for Zac’s Place’ Just Giving Campaign

This month we have launched our ‘One More Mile for Zac’s Place’ Just Giving Campaign to help raise additional support at a time when we are looking to make significant upgrades on the building and increase the level of activity and support we provide. The Just Giving platform enables individuals to easily arrange sponsored events for our cause and administer the donations, including reclaiming gift aid. To kick the campaign off, Zac’s Place minister, Sean, will be running the Swansea Bay 10k on 19 Sept. 2021.

To find out more about the campaign and to support it visit https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/zacsplace

We love the picture above. It captures a moment several years ago in between rehearsals of a play written and produced by the Gritty Productions team, (who were behind the Swansea Living on the Streets series). This play brought together actors and artists alongside those sleeping rough to write and perform together. It was a remarkable experience and brought some insight how bringing creative expression and a commitment to tell a story well can have such a positive impact on people’s lives.
We’d love to do more of that kind of stuff from our venue into the future. Feel free to help us go one more mile as we help others to do the same if you can.
To find out more about the campaign and to support it visit https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/zacsplace

An Update from Zac’s Place & Easter Reflection

Warmest greetings to all of you who take some interest in what is happening at Zac’s Place.

Here’s a brief update on our engagement with the local relief effort during the Covid-19 pandemic and an Easter reflection.

Liz brings us a monologue from the perspective of Mary the mother of Jesus, Jayne leads us in a prayer and Sammy & Kylie send a blessing from Wexford in Ireland. We hope you enjoy and are encouraged … ‘may the Saviour watch over you’.

Links referenced in this video also include:

Sammy & Kylie Horner https://sammyhorner.bandcamp.com/

Liz Hinds  https://notanotherwannabewriter.blogspot.com/

Zac’s Place http://www.zacsplace.org

GET INVOLVED

Swansea Together – Tackling Coronavirus: https://www.facebook.com/SwanseaTogether/ Swansea Council:  https://www.swansea.gov.uk/communityvolunteers

SCVS volunteering info: https://www.scvs.org.uk/coronavirus-vols

A Video Update From Zac’s Place

Like so many places, Zac’s Place has had to temporarily close its doors as the Covid-19 pandemic impacts our city. Sean Stillman explains what has been going on in recent weeks to see people supported in the city, especially those who rely on us and others like us, to get through each day. He goes on to explain how you can get involved in volunteering in Swansea during these days, and where you can get support. Sean also brings a refection from Mark’s Gospel and Singer Songwriter Phil James closes with a moving hymn, singing in both Welsh & English. The old red door may be temporarily closed, but the work still goes on. #SwanseaTogether

Zac’s Place is mission church and initiative of Exousia Trust, Registered Charity 1002581 http://www.zacsplace.org

Links referenced in this video also include:

Swansea Council LAC https://www.swansea.gov.uk/coronaviru…

SCVS volunteering info: https://www.scvs.org.uk/coronavirus-vols

Swansea Together – Tackling Coronavirus: https://www.facebook.com/SwanseaToget…

Phil James: http://www.phil-james-music.com/

Sean’s Radio Wales ‘Wednesday Word’ Transcript, 25 March 2020.

Broadcast from home via telephone this time, rather than in the studio due to the Covid-19 emergency, here’s a slightly edited version of Sean’s transcript from 25.3.20 on Eleri Sion’s Show.

Everyone’s life and routines have been turned upside down in recent days and our house is no exception.  There’s skateboards sitting idle. There’s a drum kit that won’t be going in and out for gigs. There’s a school prom that won’t be happening, but to my daughter’s relief, no exams to take either. Like many others in the same boat, my wife and one of our son’s work has dried up.

Many of us are worried at the moment – and that’s understandable. But, do you know what? …  even in the early stages of this crisis, I’ve seen some signs of hope.

As you know, at Zac’s Place we do lot of work in Swansea with people who are vulnerable and often live on the streets.  Last week I had a call from the NHS homeless outreach team, wanting to talk. I was desperate for advice to know what to do for the best in these days, but to my surprise, they wanted our help. Ahead of the game as always, they recognised the need to see every homeless or vulnerably housed person, not just quickly accommodated but also fed.

In a matter of days, volunteers have jumped to action alongside the council and welfare agencies. Already, this week in our area, around 160 vulnerable people have been safely fed each day from a community kitchen, with food delivered to their hostel or B&B. Of course, there’s huge challenges – how do you encourage people to isolate that don’t want to be? But we can try our best.

And there are surprises too. Some individuals who usually refuse support, are seeing the seriousness of what’s happening. They’re reaching out to take the help because they trust us, as we plead with them. And they in turn are reaching out to their mates and persuading them to take refuge.

And here’s the hope. In our communities, people are already working together to make sure others aren’t forgotten. And of course, it’s not just the homeless who are vulnerable. If we ourselves are not vulnerable, then within a very short distance from us, in our street someone will be.

As a Christian, I believe that none of us escapes God’s love. With his mates alongside, Christ reached out to those who would often have been ignored. And that’s how each of us can make a difference today.  Who in our street, our community is in danger of being overlooked?  Have a think – who are they?

None of us knows how long this pandemic will last.

But knowing you’re not forgotten, might be one of the most precious gifts, we can bring anyone in the coming days. 


Sean Stillman. This a slightly edited version of the script from his ‘Wednesday Word’ for BBC Radio Wales, 25.3.20. (Weds Word producer Lisa Hawkins). The original is on BBC Sounds at approximately 1.47 in.

How Was Your Journey

From an original post written by Sean Stillman for the SPCK blog.

After having ridden, what is fast approaching, half a million miles by motorcycle, the road has become more than just a means of getting from one place to another as quickly as possible. The road has become both a friend and an enemy. It has provided the necessary space to think in isolation, uninterrupted by the demands of gadgets. It has created the lens through which to marvel at the natural world and also the challenge to battle against its elements. The heightened risks that come with riding a motorcycle are never far away though – there’s an edginess that keeps things real and keeps your focus sharp.

The road has also become a place of learning to welcome unexpected interruptions along the way. Moments that could so easily be missed, stories so easily untold if it is all about getting somewhere as quick as you can. Over the decades, I have learned to welcome the interruptions. Far from being inconveniences, they have become milestones of significant insight, often from the most surprising sources.

Sometimes I’ve literally been sat in the gutter sharing soup with a homeless friend, who pointed out something that everyone else was missing. On other occasions, it may be a chance conversation that uncovers a captivating story of marginalised indigenous people, being prepared to risk their lives to save their oppressors. It could be the easy to miss grave of a twelve-year-old girl, whose death brought peace to an entire nation of warrior tribes or, it could be the guy who grabbed the opportunity to tell his story of growing up in the shadow of Chernobyl, because he thought the world had forgotten him and his community.

So often the perfect journey, is thought to be the one without interruptions, wrong turns and side-tracks. As I reflect back over the years and miles, some of the most valuable experiences of my life have been exactly at these moments. Ambushed by disaster, frustrated by delays and disappointed in my own stupidity. Often my own broader journey has been far from perfect – yet somehow amid the chaos, the questions and the heartache, it has become a beautiful adventure.

We live in a climate when the perfect selfie is sought and with an obsession for filters to enhance the image, we strive for perfection. We are fearful of our own imperfections, blemishes, fractures and flaws amid the brokenness of our lives. There’s a tendency to fall apart when we realise we cannot place a sunny warm-up filter over every blemish, every stain, every missed opportunity or every mistake. I am reminded of U2’s lyric concerning grace making beauty out of ugly things and this concept has become a significant part of my own story. I have come to discover that moment of liberating surrender; letting go of putting on a perfect performance, and finding, and embracing beauty in broken places.

Next time someone asks, ‘How was your journey?’ – wouldn’t it be great to say, ‘You wouldn’t believe what happened on the way!’

Originally written for and published by SPCK here

God’s Biker Book Tour

Thank you for the recent support and encouragement on the tour of dates following the release of God’s Biker. Here’s a few snapshots from along the way. It really was such an encouragement to connect and sometimes re-connect with so many people. I shall be making a return to Australia for a few dates there, after a long absence, and listen out for some features on UCB radio here in the UK and other features in the press regarding God’s Biker: Motorcycles & Misfits. Grateful to Wynne Evans at BBC Radio Wales for a recent interview who gave room for some stories from Zac’s Place. In all of this the ongoing efforts at Zac’s Place continue with a great team of volunteers and community connections./ Thanks for your ongoing interest and support.

Fully Loaded for the week on the road

Signing at the Reading event

Swansea at The Hyst

Back at the BBC

God’s Biker needed to go into it’s first reprint prior to release date due to the high numbers of pre-orders thank you! Zac’s Place will be benefitting from all of Sean’s royalties.

At Kennet Valley Free Church, Reading

Pleased to get their copies!

With Wynne Evans at BBC Radio Wales in Cardiff

Book Release

We are pleased to announce that Sean Stillman’s book ‘God’s Biker: Motorcycles and Misfits’ is being published by SPCK and due for release on 20 Sep, 2018. It is now available for pre-order in local bookshops or via all the usual online book stores internationally.

Now available for pre-order

 

‘Sean has shown me constantly what lies at the heart of the Christian community.’ 

– Lord Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, in his Foreword.

 

For more information please go HERE.

Sean writes from Ukraine

Visits to the Ukraine have always been rich experiences for me. There’s always an air of unpredictability about them.
 
 Back in 2006, I found myself locked in a police station, saw the A&E hospital department after a travelling companion was mowed down by a drunk driver and thought I was eating rat soup!
 I go there to encourage others, primarily my God’s Squad mates and their connected mission church community, (God’s Garage in Zhytomir), but I always return home richly blessed by them and their community. Their generosity, fortitude, resourcefulness, creativity and faith shine. Even more so on this visit with the dark shadow of what is happening on their borders with Russia. I spoke with guys fresh from the frontline, (still with ringing in their ears from blasts), others whose homes had been obliterated, heading west to safety and many more with a deep fear for what may come.
 This place and its people have crept into my heart over the years. I continue to pray for them and their nation and also be deeply moved by the work of God’s grace among them.


Here’s a pic with some of our friends there after a gathering at God’s Garage on Sunday. It’s a mission work significantly influenced by our efforts over the years and one that you as friends and supporters of the trust have had a part to play in.

The Day I Went To Zac’s Place

We recently hosted a Fresh Expressions Vision Day at Zac’s Place – below is the text from Andrew Roberts’ reflection from his experience of his time with us. Andrew heads up FX training and development

A heart for God and Harley Davidsons (Andrew Roberts)

Andrew Roberts reflects on a visit to Zac’s Place in Swansea.

Some days we are reminded of why we do what we do. I recently experienced one such day. It was the day I went to Zac’s Place.

On arrival my first reaction was, ‘It’s just like the film!’ Having played the Zac’s Place clip from “expressions making a difference” DVD many, many times it was great to meet the people and see so much of what appears on the dvd. All of the characters who speak on the film were there.

If you ever meet anyone who is cynical, sceptical or dismissive when it comes to fresh expressions of church, may I suggest that – in love of course – you bundle them in the back of a van and drive them to Swansea. If meeting the ‘Zaclicans’ does not transform them then I don’t know what will.

I encountered a community of self-proclaimed ‘ragamuffins’ that is one of the most authentic Christian communities I have ever met. In my weaker moments I would gladly destroy many a church noticeboard that says ‘All are welcome’ because it is simply not true – unless the visitor totally conforms to the whims and wishes of the controlling powers.

At Zac’s, I instead met people really trying their very best to make all welcome and it doesn’t matter whether you arrive in a limousine, on a pushbike or simply walk in off the street. Of course, as we know from the film, there are bikers – big guys in leathers and combat trousers who love their Harley Davidsons. Please Lord, if there are any internal combustion engines in heaven may they growl like a Harley.

It’s well known that Zac’s Place offers an open door to the battered and broken and those with serious addiction issues but it also offers a real welcome to middle class professionals. There is no inverse snobbery, no resentment of those who have some of the nicer things of life – just real people trying their best to be real disciples of Jesus.

And then there is Sean. This was the second time I had met him and again I came away thinking he is one of the most Christ-like people I have met. Let’s be fair, he looks the part for starters but then he feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, heals the hurting, turns the other cheek and gets a beating when other bikers want to punish someone for the crimes of paedophile priests. Unashamedly centred on God’s Word, he likes nothing more to open up the Bible and offer to others the Bread of Life. He offers a striking reminder that we should give proper prominence to the role of the Bible in forming disciples.

I was there to do a vision day in partnership with Associate Missioners Alicia Baker and Sean, both of whom were superb in presentation and conversation. We had asked to go to Zac’s to try doing a day in a bona fide fresh expression of church and it worked extremely well. Zac’s went to town on the hospitality. There was coffee, cakes and sweets galore and a fabulous lunch of homemade soup, baked potatoes and salads. The standards when it came to timings and technology were very high – ragamuffin culture and the professional standards we aspire to worked very well together.

Perhaps most importantly, the learning was added to and enhanced by the venue – partly because:

people there were living and breathing a fresh expression all day;
Zac’s Place people joined in. So when we presented our learning/theory/models, we could test it straight away against the realities of that community – and I’m delighted to report that most of it fitted extremely well.
Discussion of values was particularly interesting, with the Zaclicans highlighting the importance of the value of transformation – both personal transformation (including conversion and discipleship) and the transformation brought about by the struggles for social justice. I came away challenged that we need to do more to explore, encourage and be part of prophetic witness and the struggle for social justice.

We talk about the need for culturally authenticity and this was a culturally authentic vision day. If we had been spouting nonsense we would have been told in no uncertain terms that we were doing so! Instead, it was a delight to see the members of Zac’s being affirmed in who they are and what they do.

At the end of the day Sean said how helpful it had been for the community to think through who they are and realise they are a valued part of this thing called the fresh expressions movement.

For future reference, work and planning, this way of learning in situ would be really good to proliferate. Sharing co-produced experiential learning takes things up a level! The Zac’s folk highlighted the value of transformation. Their living of the value transformed me. It was a wonderful day.

The original article can be found here: http://www.freshexpressions.org.uk/views/heart-for-god-and-harleys
Also explore the other pages of the FX site to see where we fit in, our contributions and stories.