Weekly Thoughts

How did we serve you?

By Elaine Vitikainen

The renewed Space for Grace website is now on its fifth year with 13,580 visits. Visitors have benefitted from the rich resources that Space for Grace has to offer. But what is Space for Grace? How did it start? What do we do?

Here you can read the short chronology of Space for Grace. This very early conversation led to the publishing of ‘Creating Space for Grace’ in 2004. It was through this booklet that I first encountered Space for Grace. This booklet was shared to the organisation I worked with in Cambodia. We also have published a Sketchnote which explains why we exist and what we do.

But how did we serve you? Where are we going? Please send us an email at elaine@ev-visuals.com to share your thoughts on how Space for Grace will shape itself in 2022. We are looking forward to hear from you. If you have Weekly Thoughts to share to the Space for Grace network, please get in touch with us. Here, you can find some helpful tips in Writing Weekly Thoughts. You can also download the Weekly Thought booklets. Thanks!

See, I am doing a new thing!

By Elaine Vitikainen

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Isaiah 43:18-19 is a very popular verse in the New Year. It’s in social media, as a part of church sermons, in devotions and even on greeting cards. Many people equate this verse with the beginning of the year where God brings in new things with great provision and prosperity.

But what does Isaiah 43:18-19 really means? Bible commentaries look back at Israel’s past. It talks about how Isaiah saw God’s new manifestation of redemption through the birth of Jesus Christ. This to me talks about the reaffirming of my faith in Christ and my relationship with God. It is an assurance of hope and peace in the amidst of the turbulent world that I live in. It does not promise of financial gains and prosperity. It speaks to me about spiritual gains where Christ is the centre.

As the New Year begins, let’s listen prayerfully about what 2022 means for our relationship with God. In what areas does our relationship need to deepen and change? Where do we need refreshment, strength and determination?

Have a blessed 2022.

Walking with Jesus into 2022

By Rick James

How are you feeling as you enter this New Year?

For me the end of 2021 felt pretty rubbish with family Christmas visits and celebrations largely cancelled and the sudden death of the 5-year old son of a close friend. I feel very tempted to enter 2022 in fear and frustration. Life is not quite as smooth and comfortable as I imagined.

But what if life is not meant to be easy? Maybe my expectation of life – like a warm summer’s day – is all wrong. What if our time on earth is more like living at night-time, yearning for dawn? There’s certainly a lot of darkness around us, but also glimpses of joy and hope, like stars. There’s sometimes even a full-moon that powerfully reflects the sun.

It reminds me of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24 13 – 33), who went away from Jerusalem downcast in their profound grief and painful destruction of their dreams. But walking with and talking with Jesus, while the circumstances remained the same, their understanding of them was transformed. Joy and hope bubbled up as ‘their hearts burned within them’.

So as we start 2022, think about:
Where do you see God already at work? What is going well?
What is Jesus saying to you as you talk with him through the disappointments of 2021?

New beginnings with roots

By Richard Lister

A 70ft beech tree has tumbled. Its branches lie shattered, its once impressive trunk fallen. The storm won. As I step round the debris, I am reminded that strong roots are vital.

I don’t know what 2022 will bring for you or me. But I do know it will be a mixture of joys and storms. And to handle both well we will need healthy roots, solidly anchored.

I wonder what my roots are for life. And how well will they serve me in the year ahead? I wonder what your roots are.

I guess my roots include the support of close family and friends, nurtured through time together and mutual love and care. Physical fitness, especially outside, brings a sense of balance and vitality. I need to do more on that front! Painting and writing blogs give space for my creative side to grow. I think we’re all creative, just in different ways.

Work, with an opportunity to serve and times of silence and stillness are helpful. I’m learning to take a fast from my phone one day per week. All these roots are important and are part of God’s provision for us.

I think the deepest roots I need are those that connect me with God. The God who loves me, who is unfazed by the storms and is with me in both joys and difficulties. The Bible talks of God wanting us to be rooted and established in his love (Ephesians 3 v17). But how can we develop and cultivate such roots? I find listening to Lectio 365, a mobile App, for 10 minutes a day really helpful.

As you look ahead to 2022, how will you invest in your roots?

(Space for Grace wishes you a blessed Christmas. The next Weekly Thought will be published on Monday, the 10th of January 2022.)

Thank you!

We would like to say thanks to everyone who participated in the Space for Grace Leading with Hope webinar on the 26th of November. It was such a great opportunity to get to know some of the Space for Grace members. Thanks for sharing your lives, what you do, where you are and how you have been during this time of pandemic. We feel very much encouraged to know that you are willing to bless each other and to encourage one another.

During the discussion time, we heard most of you talked about reconnecting to the purpose of why we do what we do. This challenging COVID time had allowed us to reconsider the spiritual part of what we do, why we are where we are and to reset our priorities. It has also given us the time filled with opportunities for soul care, to take time off and to replenish. The importance of bringing hope to people has been even more important. One participant shared how people have been more open during this time.

This week, as you look back at the last year, how has life been? Where do you see God working?
– Where do you get your hope? How do you replenish that? How do you care for your soul?
– How do you try to inspire others with hope? What tips do you have?

If you have thoughts to share from the webinar and as you reflect on these questions, please feel free to get in touch with us. We will help you turn them into Weekly Thoughts that can be shared with this wider community.

But where do you get your hope?

By Elaine Vitikainen

On the 26th of November 2021, the Space for Grace network met together online to find out more about what it means to lead with hope. Participants came from different places – the Nordic countries, the UK, the Netherlands, Israel, Kenya, Uganda, India and Australia. I felt so blessed to be a part of this, to meet new people and to meet again old friends. It was great to hear their stories and be blessed by their lives.

Leading with Hope Webinar

We all need hope. It’s a bit like oxygen for the soul. Yet still in the midst of on-going global crises, hope seems in short supply. A leader’s role involves inspiring people with hope – staff, supporters and those they exist to serve. This is a huge personal challenge for many of us today. It’s certainly not easy, but there are plenty of first-hand experiences to learn from and encourage us.

If you want to find out more about what it means to lead with hope, do sign up for a Space for Grace webinar on Friday 26th November 2021 at 9.00 GMT, 10.00 CET.

Email: Elaine Vitikainen elaine@ev-visuals.com to book your place.
We will send out a Zoom link nearer the time

Leading with Hope Webinar

We all need hope. It’s a bit like oxygen for the soul. Yet still in the midst of on-going global crises, hope seems in short supply. A leader’s role involves inspiring people with hope – staff, supporters and those they exist to serve. This is a huge personal challenge for many of us today. It’s certainly not easy, but there are plenty of first-hand experiences to learn from and encourage us.

If you want to find out more about what it means to lead with hope, do sign up for a Space for Grace webinar on Friday 26th November 2021 at 9.00 GMT, 10.00 CET.

Email: Elaine Vitikainen elaine@ev-visuals.com to book your place.
We will send out a Zoom link nearer the time

‘Learning while working’ through the COVID-fog

By Rick James

The profound uncertainty from the ramifications of COVID-19 is like leading in a fog. A leader’s competence will be judged by their ability to create sustainable new worlds for their organisations. Judgement and vision are key. Yet how can one prove oneself to be an able leader when you cannot show them a simple end goal? This will require leaders to engage in ‘learning while working’ according to David Nabarro from the World Health Organization. When navigating the unknown, leaders will need to learn to constantly take in new information and work with diverse sources of intelligence and expertise. We really have to look to learn from those closest to the reality on the ground.

NGOs have spoken for years about actively listening to the people we exist to serve. Sadly this has largely remained as easy rhetoric. We have rarely let it have a genuine impact on our programming and decision-making. Yet in the face of COVID, even the business sector is acknowledging that “addressing social inequalities by understanding the world from the perspective of those who are excluded will also be a distinguishing attribute for future leaders” (Hope-Hailey 2021).

  • How does your organisation really listen to those you exist to serve?
  • What one thing could you do differently to make it more active and meaningful?