'The sheep found me'
Allan Finnegan, minister of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Netherton, on a baptism due to take place in November
At Emmanuel we are alway looking at ways to engage our local community and leading up to Easter we held an event called ‘Shepherd on the Search’. It involved hiding 12 knitted sheep in various locations around Netherton and setting clues to their locations so they could be easily found. We engaged all the local primary schools and the kids we already had contact with through our various groups that Eden Netherton run. Every child who entered received an Easter egg and a booklet explaining the Easter story just for taking part (eggs given to us by a local charity). We also sourced some family fun packages for our prize draw winners.
The culmination of this event would be our Easter Sunday service, at which we re-enacted the parable of the Lost Sheep and gave an invite to Alpha which was starting on the following Wednesday.
This is where we first came across Natalya (Tal). Tal brought her children to church on Easter Sunday because they had taken part in Shepherd on the Search and had walked across Netherton finding the Sheep and noting their names along with more than 160 others and our service was packed out. Tal later reflected that she hadn’t found the sheep but the sheep had found her.
Tal bravely came along to Alpha on her own and was very nervous, but by the end of the night loved it so much she invited her best friend who then attended every session with her. She wasn’t the only new face on the night: six others came along who we previously had no contact with. Tal was in my discussion group and it was amazing to see her confidence and faith grow each week which, has led her to ask for baptism later this year.
She has set up an event on Facebook inviting all her friends to share in that day and in her own words, “watch me start my new life with Jesus Christ."