In the beginning of January, we got the keys to an empty shop in Camden. For years, we have been praying and seeking God's heart for a coffee/tattoo/hairstyling shop in Camden. And over the past year, we've seen several different properties. Peri and Chris have been scouring the internet and the streets for locations that could work. We've even gotten close to having a few of them, but they kept falling through. But this former hairdresser on Camden High Street? It didn't fall through. So Chris and Johanna signed the papers and got the keys, and we got to work.
The building that we started with is not the one that we are working in now. We tore down walls and two false ceilings to reveal over an extra metre of height. We also found a leak, shoddy electrical wiring, a false front, and more. We've been spending our days in the shop together, clearing the old out and beginning to build the new. The layout has changed multiple times, and some days are slower than others, but I love that it is team-building in the most literal sense. We don't need games or ice-breakers. We just tear down ceilings and build new walls. It is also a time when I am thanking God for the men that He sent to the team - I remember building projects where the girls had to wield the drills and carry the heavy objects, but this time, we have several guys who are really good at construction at the helm. What an absolute blessing.
Many of us will be baristas in the shop (me included!), so we've also begun coffee training. And hygiene and food training (which I also needed for Lazarus Project and our homeless feeding programmes, so it's a win/win situation for me). I really love all of the training, because they are tangible tools for reaching the people of Camden. Chris always says that more blessings bring more responsibility, and he is definitely right. We have a lot of responsibilities now that we've not had to think of before, but God is training our muscles to carry these dreams.
If you'd like to know more about our cafe, Think, check out the Instagram or the Facebook. They share our heart for making a space for community in the centre of Camden and the different dreams and plans that we have for the space that God has given us. Please also pray for us, because this is our first time navigating the treacherous terrain of council permits and the like. We trust what God is asking from us, and we can't wait to see the cafe opened to the public soon!
Tearing down ceilings in Think.
All of the Radiant staff in the shop!
In January, we also signed the contract for Hope and Anchor Community Church to move into the Odeon Cinema. We use a 175 person screen for our Sunday meetings every week now. I know. It's massive. But we outgrew the Upper Room (which we still use for other activities), and after looking around Camden for a venue that was big enough for us, we were thrilled when the Odeon was keen to host us. When God said that it was time to expand the edges of our tent, we had no idea how much!
This past Sunday was our first in the Odeon, and while we had many empty seats, we are excited to be intentional in our community as they are filled. Because they won't fill by magic - they will fill as we share God's heart with the people of Camden. And we love doing that. We are already reaching out through the Camden Town Community Choir, which is searching for a rehearsal venue in the centre of Camden Town in order to be near the local residents. Our Connect Groups are also moving to the Camden area so that we can share together mid-week as well. So between the two church venues, the Radiant base flat, and the shop, we have four locations in Camden within a year and a half. It took seven years of praying in Camden and seeing no results, but God is moving in a massive way!
This week is also the first week of our February Arts Internship and our School of Leadership and Urban Ministry Development. I am staffing the leadership school and also getting to walk alongside and mentor two of our arts interns, so I've had the excitement of a lot of new things this week. But those aren't the only new things in the works - Chasm Magazine is releasing issue two in the next few days, and it is available for pre-order already. They ship to different countries, so please check it out! And the guys (plus Sara) have been working on recording the first EP for Tidal in our recording studio. I had no idea how much work goes into making on EP, but holy cow. I can't wait for them to release it so we can play it constantly.
So this has been a long post, but a brief overview of a crazy month. I will be back soon to share what's going on with Lazarus, more updates about Think and Hope and Anchor, and more. But thank you, thank you for being on this journey with me. Your prayers have hands and feet here in London.