Wednesday, 24 July 2019


20 years free - Chris Coughlan

In 1998 I was homeless and using crack on the streets in London. I met a woman in a homeless centre who witnessed to me about the love of God over a three month period and eventually she got me into Teen Challenge London on 23rd April 1999. I did 12 weeks in London and then moved to Wales. I was very vocal when I was there to the fact that as soon as my programme was finished, I was arranging to leave and never come back as I thought Teen Challenge was too strict. However, midway through phase 3 God had really got a hold of my life and on my knees one night in my bedroom I said to God that I would do whatever He wanted of me. 
The night before I was coming back to London to get a job and get on with my life, when the manager of the London centre called and asked would I help him out for a month as he was short staffed. I did not want to do it but I thought Teen Challenge had done so much for me I would like to give a little back, that was 18 and a half years ago. I am still giving back!  
In 2001 I married the woman who I had met in the homeless centre that had got me into Teen Challenge, she had been a Christian for 10 years and had been praying for a husband for most of that time. She had gone to various Churches over the years hoping to meet someone, little did she know she would meet a homeless crack user who would go on to be her husband. We now have 3 boys, who are a real blessing to us. We have been through many trails over the years but our commitment to Christ and each other has kept us together through our hard times.

Keep praying for everyone at Teen Challenge  and for God to continue to use them to transform lives. 

Tuesday, 23 July 2019


What a blessing to have Lara Martin and her husband Jonathan with us last Sunday.  Lara's worshiping heart was evident as she led us in worship and her honesty in sharing about her life touched many hearts.  She gave us 5 factors which can affect our worship (taken from my brief notes).

What are the influences on us when we come to worship?

1. How do you see God?  Our experience and knowledge of God will influence how we approach him.  Jesus is our friend but he is also our Lord.  God is our Father but he is also our creator.  The Holy Spirit is our comforter and guide but he is holy. 'Familiarity breeds contempt' so the saying goes and we need to be wary of familiarity with God.  We can start to take him for granted, get into the slot machine mentality, try to manipulate him to do what we want.  He is an awesome God and we should stand in awe of him.  Our view of God will determine how we connect with Him.

"For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes." 2 Peter 1:16

"It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple." Isaiah 6:1

2. How do you see yourself? Our view of ourselves will also determine how we approach God - remember we are sons and we can approach him with confidence.

"And you did not receive the “spirit of religious duty", leading you back into the fear of never being good enough. But you have received the “Spirit of full acceptance,” enfolding you into the family of God. And you will never feel orphaned, for as he rises up within us, our spirits join him in saying the words of tender affection, “Beloved Father!”    Romans 8:15 (Passion Translation)

3.  Adversity If our focus is our problem then we could be feeling let down, disappointed, broken-hearted, we might even be giving God the silent treatment because we feel he has been unfair. If our focus is on an awesome God, if we are drawing on the comfort of the Holy Spirit, if we know the closeness of Jesus in the midst of our struggle then we can praise God.  The sacrifice that we bring is our pain, in faith to the 'God who sees' and that worship which is honest is acceptable to God.

4. Doubts Every so often doubts creep in about the existence of God - is he really there, am I just going through the motions.  

"Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have
trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8: 35-39
God wants us to pursue him out of our passion for him, not trying to figure him out but instead enjoying the mystery.
5. Externals Our attitude to external things can hinder us in worship: the music is too loud, I don't like the songs / worship leader, I don't want to see such and such a person etc.  Worship is not for you!  It's not even about pleasing you.  True worship is about pleasing God and engaging with him in truth.
"But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:23-24
We need to remember the effect that we have on our enemy every time we worship.  James tells us to 'resist the devil and he will flee' but we need to take note of the sentence before that because there is a condition.  It is when we humble ourselves before God or commit our ways to God, when we are living to please God and not ourselves that we can see our enemy take flight.
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  James 4:7
We live in a world full of darkness but Jesus the light of the world lives in us.  Our lives can be worship to God as we put on the 'shining armour of right living' and the darkness has to shrink back as we approach
"The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.  Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see."  Romans 13:12-13

Monday, 15 July 2019


You will be surprised how many of Lara Martin's songs you already know.  At NLC we regularly sing 'Voice of Hope' but there are many more wonderful worship songs that she has written.
Join us this Sunday 21st July 10.30 am at the Winding Wheel, Chesterfield as Lara leads us in a celebration of worship and shares with us what God has put on her heart.

Please invite your friends and family to come with you - everyone welcome.

Lara's song 'How Amazing'  with lyrics

Monday, 1 July 2019


On the first Monday of each month we gather together to pray. At the moment the meetings are at the Alfreton venue which is Firs Gardens Community Centre off Rodgers Lane in Alfreton DE55 7FU.  It is a prompt 7.30 pm start and 9 pm finish.

We are praying specifically for revival in the church, for the increase of our influence in our community and for spiritual new birth to increase our numbers.  

Everyone is welcome and if you come early Janet will have a cuppa ready for you!


Marcia with her year 6 six class

What's Happening This Summer?

Well, we are so glad you asked!   Here is a quick run down of some of UNiViDA’s activities in recent weeks and what’s ahead for July and August.

Year 6 Class

Marcia is a new teacher who started volunteering at The University of Life. She was such a great addition to the team that we decided we didn’t want to lose her.

Fortunately the opportunity arose for us to create a new afternoon class for year 6, meaning we could divide the previously joined 6th and 7th year group.  Marcia is doing a great job and did we mention, she speaks some English too!

Journalists on the Loose

Year 8 and 9 have taken their learning outside the classroom with a journalism project. This has been a part of a strategic effort by teachers to create hands on learning and language development.

Reading and writing continues to be a struggle for children growing up in the slums who never really develop a love for reading simply because books are so difficult and expensive to come by.

The students have already interviewed Ruth on the subject of project work and have been catching other staff members  off guard for some on the job words of wisdom.

Looking Ahead

Students return to The University of Life in August and even though they don’t know it yet, they will have a visiting mission team to welcome them back.

Hot on the heals of their return we’ll be holding a special event for Fathers Day when we’ll be sharing the Gospel with Dads and holding a football tournament.

I don't like photos (really?!)

Elaine with two of her teachers at The University of Life

Sit Down Elaine

It’s a challenge to keep 12 year old Elaine in one place for very long but with the help of two University of Life teachers, we sat down with her recently to ask a few questions about what the project means to her. This is what she said.

“I’ve been here since I was 6 years old and before that there were so many difficult moments in my life. If I had to talk about my life it would be impossible to do it without talking about The University of Life because it means everything to me.

Here I have found friends and love like I have never known. They have adopted me, care about me and always work with a smile on their face and by giving their best. I’ve found Christ’s love for me and I am eternally grateful.

The University of Life is a real example of unity - it’s a family. I love everything here except or running during PE lessons! My passion is theatre and music. I’ve written 4 songs for the student band, Kadosh. One of the songs is about living a holy life because God is holy. When I grow up, I want to be an actress.

The University of Life is absolutely the best thing that has happened to me in my life. Outside there are a lot of problems but I forget them here and feel like another kind of life is possible. I’m so thankful to the people that had the idea of making this place, it’s given me breath in my lungs.”

Elaine is a bright, energetic girl with many talents. We are so thankful to have her at the project.

Please pray that she will continue to apply herself in her schooling and make good decisions about her time and activities as she enters her teenage years.


A Picture of the Favela

Favelas are characteristic of nearly every major Brazilian city. They are informal housing settlements which are unplanned, un-healthy and un-governed. This means that they are under-served by public services such as healthcare. education and law enforcement.

These communities have learned to govern themselves and become a breeding ground for crime because they are easy to hide in.

Sanitation is poor and disease is rampant. Barefooted children walk in homes and on streets shared with animals, sewage, rodents and waste. Homes are simple and small. Two or three dark rooms house extended families with nowhere else to go. Unemployment is high, as is alcoholism and domestic violence.

Children are exposed to stress, trauma and family breakups, multiple times. Many parents are still teenagers themselves. Hunger is common, and many families survive on a government hand out and food parcel which barely provides rice, beans, oil, coffee and gas to last the month.

Can you imagine the confusion an average teenager here has about their self-worth and citizenship?

Your support helps answer the questions of 260 students each day, equipping them with the skills and character they need to succeed.
We couldn’t do this without you. Thanks for your support.
Become a Dreambuilder - click here to set up a standing order
Become a Dreambuilder - click here to set up a standing order
Please visit and 'like' the UNIVIDA Facebook Page
Please visit and 'like' the UNIVIDA Facebook Page



Dreambuilders is the name of our monthly giving programme because through your support we are able to build the dreams of a child living in the favela.

To set up a standing order and become a Dream BUILDER, download our Giving Form

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