Risen Christ Central Chapel – July 2017 to October 2018
Pastor Patrick with some of the orphans in his congregation
A Mustard Seed Of Faith – featuring the Portsmouth Gospel Choir from the album “How Great Are His Signs” recorded and produced by Joffy Girling
Mustard Seed Songs are, at present involved in four different projects- Risen! The Musical, Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education, our new musical Acts- Part One “Fire” and the construction of the Risen Christ Central Chapel in Southern Nigeria.
More on Risen! The Musical next week after we have made public on YouTube the version with subtitles in Mandarin.
I am writing more letters this week to potential sponsors of an Easter 2019 Risen! Theatre in Education tour of Primary schools.
Thanks to Chloe Brokenshire, Gemma Terry and Tim Prestige who on Monday recorded ensemble parts for Acts (thanks also to Joffy Girling our Musical Director recording and production wizard)
This week, however I just wanted to show the fantastic progress that has been made on the building of the Risen Christ Central Chapel in Cross River State, Southern Nigeria. I hope the pictures speak for themselves as to how much has been done in the past 15 months. The next stage is to finish lining the inside of the roof and then it will be the installation of windows and doors, next electricity and then tiling and plastering.
It is still not too late to help with the costs – you could either download the CD “How Great Are His Signs” featuring the amazing Portsmouth Gospel Choir which was recorded especially to raise funds for the build. https://mustardseedsongs.hearnow.com/
Lord I Come to Bathe in Your Glory featuring Lucy Stimpson-Maynard from the album Love is the Way recorded and produced by John Hodkinson
For many years I have read the daily Bible reading notes published by CWR and written by Rev. Selwyn Hughes-“Every Day With Jesus” (EDWJ.) Selwyn’s words have inspired many Mustard Seed Songs, in fact in 2005 we were honoured to have a mini CD of Mustard Seed Songs attached to a special edition of EDWJ which marked the 40th anniversary of this daily devotional. It was our honour that 80,000 of these editions were distributed worldwide. The featured song today comes from that mini CD. Selwyn died in 2005 and it was also our honour for some of our songs to be played at the celebration of his life held at Central Hall, Westminster.
CWR continue to publish previous editions of EDWJ with the September/October 2018 issue named “Ten Words” – an in- depth exploration of the Ten Commandments. The points that Selwyn made were I felt very well summed up in the final devotion of Wednesday, October 31st which had Romans: 13 8- 14 as the day’s Scripture: “Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.”
Here is Selwyn’s summary:
We saw yesterday that every breach of these Ten Words (Ten Commandments) is a breach of love and when love directs life there is no such breach. So important is this simple but magnificent principle that we spend our last day together applying it to each of the Ten Commandments. If we love God absolutely, then we will not be able to find room for another god and the first of the Ten Words is fulfilled. Supreme love for God also means that we will not suffer anything to stand between us and Him and so all idols are broken to pieces. Out of love will spring a reverence of His name and a life worthy of the one who lends His name to us. Love understands the principle behind the Sabbath and will not just cease from work but will also gladly engage with rest and remembrance.
In the second part of the Commandments, love for God means we will honour our parents and will quench all thoughts of hatred for others. Love treats another’s property with respect and keeps our thoughts and conduct towards the opposite sex pure. When love is the filter of what we speak it arrests the faintest whisper of false witness against others. And love of God gives us a contentment with ourselves and what we have that leaves no room in the heart for coveting anything but Him and the greatest thing- love (I Corinthians 13;13) When men and women learn to love then Sinai, the mountain of fire holds no fear. They can stand tall against it, knowing that as Jesus lives and loves in them thoughts will be born, words will be spoken and deeds will be done – in love. Then in thought and word and deed the law is fulfilled.
Quote of the week
If God’s mind was small enough for me to understand then He would not be God.
Rev. Christopher Wickland – Senior Pastor of The Living Word Church Network
Video clip from Mustard Seed Songs’ first musical His Story
Triumphal Entry (Shearsmith/Wickland) featuring the Mustard Seed Soul Band from the album His Story recorded and produced by Ross Gill
Last week I mentioned that before Risen! The Musical, Mustard Seed Songs’ produced another musical called His Story. In His Story actors relived the life of Jesus cuing up songs performed by the Mustard Seed Soul Band, enhanced by dancing and a multi- media package. His Story played at the Kings Theatre, Southsea (at which the featured clip was filmed) the Ferneham Hall, Fareham and Central Hall, Westminster, London. There are some songs from His Story that also feature in Risen! The Musical including “Jesus is my Lord,” “Be Set Free” and an up tempo version of “You Are My Rock.”
Members of the Mustard Seed Soul Band have included – Guitar: Ross Gill and Chris Wickland, Bass: Andy Herbertson, Gareth Matthews, Ben Lewis and Harun Kotch – Drums: Darren Lewis and Josh Eaves – Percussion: Ian Johnson – Trumpet: Stuart Fowler and Jo Downs – Saxophone: Rob Richardson, Mike Backhouse and Tim Downs – Trombone: Matthew Sargent and Philip Brockenshire – Violin: Cathy Matthews – Vocalists: Nicola Poustie, Fiona Poustie, Kat Hands, Katy Summer, Lianne Wilson, Lucy Rutherford, Jessica Castillo-Burley, Ross Gill, Harun Kotch and Mike Backhouse.
I highlighted the name of guitarist Chris Wickland because on Friday of last week I heard him give a fantastic talk about his life – only about thirty seconds was given over to his life as a musician – the rest was devoted to his journey from Witchcraft to Christ. I cannot give what was an amazing and totally unique talk justice here but instead I encourage you to take the time to listen to Chris’ talk via this link https://www.facebook.com/501936389/videos/10156645094346390/
Incidentally Chris playing guitar with the Mustard Seed Soul Band is captured approx. 1 min 1 secs into today’s His Story video clip. He also penned the fantastically catchy music of today’s featured song which Chris originally titled Winter Festival. I loved the tune so much that Chris graciously gave me permission to add lyrics and so it became a His Story song – The Triumphal Entry.
Quote of the week
Let God’s peace be the Sentinel that stands on duty at the door of your heart.
“Because Of Your Grace” featuring Harun Kotch from the album “The Season of Singing” recorded and produced by Ross Gill
Mustard Seed Songs have been wonderfully blessed in being able to call on the help and support of so many people who are brilliantly gifted. I often mention the amazing Joffy Girling, our Musical Director and recently have given updates on members of the London Touring Cast who performed so wonderfully in Risen! The Musical.
As I have said we are, at present working on the sequel to Risen! based on the Acts of the Apostles and about eight years before Risen! we had another production called His Story. His Story told the whole story of the life of Jesus through acting, music, dance and multi- media. We had singers, musicians, actors and dancers but no multi- media. The legend that is Mr Mill (Bob Milliken) who is a Trustee of Mustard Seed Songs and who taught with me at Crofton School, suggested I meet at Porchester Baptist Church someone called Darren Bovis-Coulter. Mr Mill said that what Darren didn’t know about all things computer was not worth knowing and he was not wrong! Since those first productions of His Story Darren and his lovely wife Nikki have been indispensable to Mustard Seed Songs, producing the His Story multi-media, countless amounts of artwork and design for CDs, DVDs, brochures, banners and in addition the websites for Risen! The Musical (www.Risenthemusical.com) Mustard Seed Songs (www.mustardseedsongs.org.uk) and His Story (www.Hisstory.org.uk ) Most recently Darren designed and built the stage set for the Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education tour. The children loved the “Minecraft” theme which was another brilliant idea of Darren’s.
Darren read the prayers at Caroline and my wedding so that is an indication of how much I rate him (I nearly said love him – perhaps I should have done!)
Another relatively new talent in which Darren is excelling in is photography – his work is absolutely stunning and is gaining international recognition – check out https://gurushots.com/BadlyFittingHat/
Darren is now a Pastor in Coventry – which reminds me -he also instigated the first live professional performance of Risen! The Musical at the Coventry Pentecost Festival in May 2015. We also co- wrote today’s featured song “Because Of Your Grace.”
On his recent birthday he posted this mini bio:
What a blessed day… I don’t want this to be a long post… But as it’s my birthday and so many people have said such lovely things I wanted to share why today in particular was so special.
Some will know my full story and others not, but looking back on my life and reflecting on how far I’ve come, today has just been the most amazing day.
I wasn’t brought up in a Christian home but had a loving family, unfortunately when my parents split up I found myself in a difficult …place which ended up with a period of homelessness, and as a result of that homelessness I went on a journey where I met my biological father, Paul, who at the time was journey through Faith and he was part of my story that led me to Christ. Many other wonderful people were also part of my journey which was full of stories, twists, turns and life can be so ‘exciting??’ sometimes.
I went to uni where I met my wife Nikki and we lived in Portsmouth for about 14 years. Now my journey to Faith started a few years earlier when I was listening to a preacher one night speaking about all the things you want in life, the house the wife, the boat the car the whatever, but at the end of the day it all turns the dust and the one thing that doesn’t is the love of God.
So here I was 40 years old with the house, the wife, the boat, the car, the family, the kids and cats, a thriving business etc., when God said to me, pack it all up and come and follow me, the things that you do, the skills that you’ve got, don’t take them to the grave without serving me first, so I uprooted my family in obedience and came to Coventry to work in what I thought was the dream job where God wanted me and my family to be. This was not to be and after a short time, the role came to an abrupt end.
We found ourselves living in an area we didn’t know, and it seemed all our new family and friends of church had gone. We felt very lonely and redundant… Not required!
But it was Nikki that had the wisdom and said there’s a church just round the corner Limbrick Wood Baptist Church, and long story short, having looked for many different jobs the church and I agreed to dip our toe in the water and see if God is calling me to serve there… Well… We’ve been there for nearly 3 years now, and today, my birthday is the first time I have ever been part of taking a church on mission! To #GO! into the community and to preach the good news with lots of prayer and fasting!
This has been the most amazing birthday ever… 48 years old and the privilege of leading a church on mission, that we might see God’s kingdom come and God’s will be done and I just want to thank everybody who wished me happy Birthday and for those that are praying and continue to pray.
I said it might be a long post, but I really wanted to share my joy and to say thank you to everybody that’s been part of our journey!
Quote of the week
Dreams always come a size too big so that we can grow into them
“Heart and Soul” featuring the Mustard Seed Soul Band with Mike Backhouse from the album “His Story” recorded and produced by Ross Gill
In response to thousands of requests I have attached another photo of our lovely new Labrador puppy called Genna. (Well to say thousands may be a bit of an exaggeration but there has been a least one – from Caroline my wife!)
It has been a great week with Risen! The Musical now with subtitles in Mandarin thanks to translator Katherine Olivia Hobbs and film editor Alex-Emanuel Şerban. More of that next week I hope when it goes live on YouTube. Also we had Alex Knox recording some more of Luke for our next musical ACTS – Part One. Oscar Batterham recording Theophilus and my old friend Ron Long recording Simon the Sorcerer- all course all recorded by Mustard Seed Songs’ brilliant Musical Director – Joffy Girling. Again more of that next week as today I wanted to share a real message of encouragement from someone who had seen Risen! The Musical on Revelation TV and who then contacted me to purchase DVDs of Risen! for his friends. He wrote:
I sat down and watched the DVD with a couple of Christian friends earlier today. Their comments were along the following lines – excellent quality, been very thoughtfully and prayerfully crafted, tremendous enthusiasm (are the cast Christian?) and energy, comes across as very sincere / authentic – connects with the emotions, simple but very effective staging, sympathetic lighting, great camera work, its simplicity of presentation (i.e. costumes) gives the production relevance to today’s society, didn’t expect to be as impacted as much as they were! Brilliant!!
It is so encouraging when one receives a message such as this and it reminded me of how important Barnabas was to the ministry of St Paul. Barnabas in fact means “Son of Encouragement” and Barnabas Ministry of Encouragement is the name of a charity based in Mindanao, Philippines which was founded by my two very good friends Jim and Evelyn Palmer.
Barnabas is first mentioned in Chapter Four of ACTS:
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
So Barnabas was obviously very generous- on another occasion he stuck up for Saul (later to be known as Paul) when the disciples were understandably afraid of him as he had been persecuting followers of Jesus and had, in fact condoned the stoning of Stephen the first Christian martyr.
When he (Paul) came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.
So in a nutshell being an encourager is a great and very important gift – one we all have – but one that we, and I include myself in this, – just need to use it more.
Quote of the week
We must be content with what we have but never with what we are.
Father Help Me Acknowledge You featuring Lucy Stimpson-Maynard from the album ” I Look Up To The Heavens” recorded and produced by John Hodgkinson
I need to check that in my earliest blog posts I mentioned growing up in Gillingham, Kent and not moving to Portsmouth until I was nine years old. But anyway when I lived in Gillingham I went to the most fantastic Primary school ever- Forge Lane. The teachers were just so unbelievably kind and I had the most wonderful time there. I have, on quite a few occasions returned to visit Gillingham, the old street where I lived – East Street and Forge Lane School- I was so very fortunate to have had such a wonderful childhood.
One of the pupils at Forge Lane was Clive Reader – I remember him being brilliant at art. Well about a year ago I received a Facebook message from him asking if I was the same Ken Shearsmith that he had known from his schooldays. I replied that I was and sent him some class photographs. I did not hear back from him and left it, but then a week or so ago I thought I would try again- again nothing so I contacted one of his Facebook friends – his daughter in fact who told me that Clive was useless with social media and had about three Facebook accounts, none of which he ever used. However she gave me his telephone no and I rang him. We spent about an hour on the phone reminiscing about those schooldays which were a very, very long time ago. If I said 50 years that would not even be close!
So you might think this is all very nice but what is your point Ken? Well I have heard one argument for not believing the Gospel stories is that they were written too long after Jesus’ death to be accurate. There is some debate as to which Gospel was written first and when but it was about 40 years after Jesus’ ascension. Some would say that is such a long time that memories of what happened during the lifetime of Jesus are bound to get distorted. Not so! Stories of WW2 are usually regarded as authentic if told by first hand witnesses and that was nearly 80 years ago. And in the case of Clive and me we remembered and agreed on what happened at Forge Lane School because we were actually there and because we were first hand witnesses our stories can be believed without question.
The disciples Matthew and John were eye witnesses of Jesus’ ministry, Mark heard the stories first hand from the disciple Peter and Luke was a respected doctor and historian who many believe heard about Jesus directly from His mother Mary. Their Gospels of Jesus can be believed in the same way that Clive and myself can be believed- passage of time is not important if the testimonies come from eye witnesses.
Oh Lord Hear My Voice featuring Lucy Stimpson Maynard from the album “Where Would I Be Without You”? recorded and produced by Ross Gill
I am delighted to announce that the Shearsmith family has a new addition – a beautiful girl Labrador puppy (I do not like the word “bitch”) who today is 9 weeks old. She joins our menagerie of two rabbits -Wispa and Fluff ball and two tortoises Fred and Betty – yes Caroline and I are animal lovers!
So after settling in and feeling safe and secure the training has begun – well attempted! Genna wants to experience the whole world through her mouth and, as there is so much that could go into that inquisitive space that would do her harm we constantly have to say “No Genna!” Of course she does not understand and probably thinks that we are out to spoil her fun – but then she does not know what we know – does not know what is good for her and what is not. What we hope she will gradually learn is that Caroline and I can be trusted and even if she does not understand why we sometimes say no she accepts that it is for her own good ( well that’s the theory anyway!)
So I expect you know where this is going! It is so easy to believe that God does not want us to have fun and for that reason he has created a whole list of things that we can’t do – the Ten Commandments being the “Big List” of “Thou shalt nots.” However the Ten Commandments can pretty much be summarised as “Love God and love your neighbour” – oh what a different world we would have – a world that was always God’s original plan- if all humankind practiced those two things- Love God and love your neighbour.
Some say that the Ten Commandments are a restriction to our freedom but in fact they create freedom by giving us a framework in which to live in a world founded on love and not hate and fear. I seem to remember the Alpha course giving the example of young children playing a game of football which would be chaos if there was no set of rules and a referee to ensure that the rules were adhered to.
Of course if Genna is to trust in Caroline and me we must be consistent in the way we treat her. So is God consistent in the way that He treats us? It may not always appear so but God is love and “As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts ( Isaiah 55.9)
Genna may not understand all that we do but she will hopefully trust more and more that we love her very much and so would only do the best for her – well if we can do that for Genna how much more will God do that for us?
Quote of the week
I have no fear of what the future holds because I know who holds the future
Katie Forge, Max Panks and Lindsey Sarah Jane Preston
“The Gospel of Christ” featuring the Mustard Seed Soul Band from the album “Heart and Soul” recorded and produced by Ross Gill
So in the blog of a couple of weeks ago I mentioned the exciting news that Jodie May Quirke, who played the part of Mary Magdalene in the film of Risen! The Musical, is now teaching Performing Arts in Dubai.
I am in touch with all the other 17 members of the London Touring Cast and was so pleased when last week Katie Forge and Max Panks came down from London to record the sequel to Risen! which, at present is called ACTS – Part One ( we keep changing the working title but then I suppose that is what working titles are there for!) Our brilliant MD Joffy Girling recorded Katie playing the part of Mary Magdalene for ACTS and Max the part of Saul/Paul.
Katie recently toured with Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education which played to 4000 children in 17 Hampshire schools. It was while playing the part of Mary Magdalene and delivering musical theatre workshops that Katie realised how much she loved working with children and now, when she is not engaged with theatre work ( or recording for Mustard Seeds!) she is delivering musical theatre workshops for the company “Perform”.
Max, when not acting, paints – He is extremely talented so please check out his website – maxpanksart.com Here is an extract from his bio:
Max Panks is a London based artist and actor that grew up in the rolling landscape of Stroud, Gloucestershire. When Max isn’t treading the boards, you can find him in his studio in Ealing with a brush in his hands, or on the streets of London with his easel. In January 2017, Max committed to completing 1 watercolour painting every day for a year. He fell in love with the medium so much that he is still going strong today; making 2, sometimes 3 paintings a day, and having travelled as an actor around Europe, experiencing beautiful scenery in Italy, France, Corsica & Spain, Max has plenty of imagery for inspiration.
Lindsey Sarah Jane Preston, who played the part of Mary wife of Clopas in Risen! The Musical, will return in November to singing with Silversea Cruises. In the meantime she has been appointed singing teacher to the Read Theatre School.
Quote of the week
There is not enough darkness in the whole world to extinguish the light of one small candle. So let your light shine.
The Risen Christ Central Chapel in Southern Nigeria – under construction
“How Great Are His Signs” featuring the Portsmouth Gospel Choir
Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education
“Where Would I Be Without You?” recorded and produced by Ross Gill
I have just realised how much is going on with Mustard Seed Songs at present and so thought an update would be appropriate
Risen! The Musical is now available to view on YouTube – https://youtu.be/wYUX1CQEjoY There is also a version with sub- titles in Romanian- https://youtu.be/ICSAlaI6YZ0 – and a version with sub- titles in Spanish- https://youtu.be/vwAEjloTtfQ Mandarin is on the way! It would be wonderful if you could share these links so that Risen! can be viewed throughout the world.
The Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education Easter 2018 Tour – A London Touring Cast of 5 performed a one hour adapted version to 4000 children aged 7-11 in 17 Hampshire schools. We need £10,000 in grants in order to be able to tour again in 2019.
The sequel to Risen! The Musical which has a new working title of “Blaze! -The Acts of the Apostles- Part One has been written and is, at present being recorded.
We are building the Risen Christ Central Chapel in Southern Nigeria. Recent fund raising events in aid of this project include the EP “How Great Are His Signs” featuring the Portsmouth Gospel Choir https://mustardseedsongs.hearnow.com/ The Portsmouth Gospel Choir and members of the London Touring cast also featured in a concert held at Kings Church, Portsmouth – you can view the concert on YouTube https://youtu.be/OwxHU5f26aU For more details of the Risen Christ Central Chapel please visit https://mydonate.bt.com/events/portsmouthgospelchoir
Quote of the week
True joy comes only to those who have devoted their lives to something greater than personal happiness
Jodie May Quirke playing the role of Mary Magdalene in Risen! The Musical
“Yours Is a Jealous Love” featuring Lucy Stimpson-Maynard from the album “Precious” recorded and produced by Ross Gill
Jodie May Quirke of the fabulous London Touring Cast is todays featured pic. She played the part of Mary Magdalene in Risen! The Musical which is now available to view on YouTube with sub – titles in both Romanian and Spanish . The link to the English version without sub-titles is https://youtu.be/wYUX1CQEjoY
I specifically mention her today as she has just returned to teach Performing Arts in Dubai. That made me think of what the other 17 members of the cast are doing and next week I will give you an update. Today however I would like to take a walk down memory lane and remember how, by God’s grace. Mustard Seed Songs were able to have such a talented and professional cast perform Risen! The Musical
Joffy Girling, our Musical Director and an ex- Crofton student had been working with me on the double album of Risen!-The Musical for four years. We were considering who to use to master the album when Joffy thought of his ex-Lecturer from Birmingham University, Dr Andrew Bourbon – now a Senior Lecturer at the London College of Music (LCM) in Ealing – part of the University of West London. Andrew agreed to meet Joffy thinking it was just a catch up with his old star pupil. However he agreed to take on the mastering project not really realising how big a job it would be- 38 tracks! It was during the mastering process that he began to love the music so much so that he talked about it to his friend, the Head of Performing Arts at LCM. From this another Lecturer from the department, Niamh McGuckin became interested and I met with her during a mastering session at LCM.
I had a plan by which I was looking for students of Musical Theatre to learn the Risen! songs in order to perform Risen! in concert format at a forthcoming Coventry Pentecost Festival. I also had in mind that the same group, having learnt the songs, could then be involved in a summer vacation workshop with a view to Risen!- becoming a stage production- hopefully at the New Theatre Royal Portsmouth which was scheduled to re- open after two years of extensive refurbishment. As my conversation unfolded with Niamh I could see that she was really interested -she had heard the music and gave me the impression she would like to take part in the production herself. In the end I bit the bullet and asked if there was any chance of making the proposed Coventry Festival , not a concert but a full stage production – and even though there was little time left to rehearse the answer from Niamh was an emphatic “YES.”
Anyway Niamh then recruited a cast of 12 performers, either post graduates from LCM or students in their fourth and final year. So I drove up to Ealing to meet them at a rehearsal in one of the LCM studios – I was greeted by Niamh and on the way to the studio could hear the cast singing “Jesus is My Lord” and it sounded awesome. I was then introduced to Leah, Claire, Jodie, Mikey, Johnny, Andrew, Kieran, Jacob, Benny, Ennio and Adam. Leah sang for me the opening to “Jesus is my Lord” then Claire “My Beloved King” and Jodie “I have seen Him” – I knew straight away that these guys were going to be something special!
They all rehearsed so hard and in just a few weeks were ready to perform at the Coventry Pentecost Festival. They were fantastic and received a hugely deserved standing ovation: and that was the start of an ongoing and wonderful relationship between them and Mustard Seed Songs.
Quote of the week
If you can worry continuously then you can pray continuously – just change your focus.