I seem to be an expert at fly-by posts these days. October has been a month on the move for me, with a half-marathon, the final performances of "Here I Stand" by Mervyn Weir, the International Arts Gathering in Paris, and now, outreach to Milan. I am so grateful to have gotten to do both the half marathon and the play, because they have allowed me to influence different spheres of society that I don't normally get to touch. As a team, we don't want to just be the church inside of a church building. We love to be the church everywhere that we go, because we take Jesus wherever we go. If people's lives are changed when they encounter Jesus, then we bring the possibility of change just by moving across the different streets and societal spheres of our city.
Most of my team came to support me in the London showing of the play, and it meant so much to me that they gave up a Saturday evening to be there. It wasn't just that they wanted to see me sing and act; the play was about the Protestant Reformation and what the church's responsibility is today. It had a clear gospel message about God's grace, and there were non-Christians in the audience who left the theatre knowing a lot more about God than when they entered. For that matter, I learnt a lot about the Reformation myself!
I am excited to hand all of the things that I have been doing back to God and to make room for Milan. As I was training for the London Marathon today, I had 16 miles to think back over everything that God is doing. In the past year, He has increased our team exponentially. We quote it all of the time: six houses, several churches that work with us, several new vehicles, numerous new jobs and ministries and areas where God is putting us to spread His love. But as often as we quote it, I still have to remember to thank God for what He is doing. The landscape of our team is changing. We don't all staff all of the programmes anymore, since we are involved in the various ministries of the base. We have to be more intentional about communicating the daily details of life and about celebrating together. We have to fight more to be a family.
We are being challenged in the area of finances as well, with six houses to pay rent on as well as utilities and other expenses. Chris said it best last week, "Sometimes you think you want the blessing, and then you feel the weight of the blessing." We look forward to the seasons that are coming in 2018, to the schools and the ministries and the programmes, but we are also having to learn to be faithful with what we have right now. For me, that means being faithful to lead the students well in Milan next week, to love them and walk with them even when I am tired or would rather not have to find solutions to whatever situations present themselves.
The team went to Milan last year, but I haven't been since the outreach that we took in April 2015. I think that God will open my eyes to aspects of the city that I didn't see the last time we were there, and I look forward to it. And of course, there will be the typical challenges of a DTS outreach. But the students have been going after God's heart at the International Arts Gathering in Paris this past week, and they are all so excited to see in what ways they can serve and use arts to reach the people of Milan.
Only half the team is going to Milan; the other half of the DTS students will be doing outreach in Spain. It is the first time we've split a DTS outreach like this, so I think that we will learn a lot. But I am also looking forward to getting to know the ten students on our team more deeply in this time, and to seeing them move in the ways that God encourages them. Outreach always requires a lot of dependance on God, and as difficult as that is to plan for, it means that the Holy Spirit has the space to work in our lives and through our lives. And for that, I truly am excited.
If you could pray for the outreach teams to Spain and Italy, we will be gone until 11 November. After that, the students dive back into lecture weeks, and we prepare for an exhibition that will be held at the end of November. And if you could pray for the team and personal finances of all of us here in London, as well, we would truly appreciate it.
I will see you all after Italy! Ciao!