Monday, February 17, 2020

February 2020 Update

So I promised to tell you more about what we have going on right now, and a chilly, wet February evening seems like the perfect time. So here's a February 2020 update!

Right now at Radiant, we have two training programmes going on: the Leadership and Urban Ministry Development internship and a winter Arts Internship. I am a part of the leadership team of the internship, which has eight ladies from four nations: Germany, Canada, the States and France. It's only been two weeks so far, but we've already explored London, had two teachings and several days of arts ministry time as well as times of evangelism and serving at church.



We are also seeing Hope and Anchor continue to grow, with several new families joining to round out our children's ministry. Yesterday, we even had our first baby dedication! My Connect Group has also grown, and now we have over four nations represented, and nearly all of us own puffy black jackets, so we look like a girl gang when we leave Think after our Tuesday night time together. As the church grows, we are starting to have Friday night activities for the church in the Upper Room, the hall where we met until last year. Our evangelism times have also grown so that we feed and clothe the homeless on both Friday and Saturday nights, and people from the community have even begun joining us. I love it, because as we reach out to our community, we can share the love of Jesus with both those who need the food and clothes and with those who want to be a part of serving.




We are also planning an event called OneFest for 19 July 2020 in Trafalgar Square. That is the centre of London, and this is no small undertaking. It will be a free festival that is not overtly religious, but will champion young entrepreneurs and allow them a place to have a stall that reaches many different people whilst simultaneously allowing them mentors who are already (Christian) businesspeople. One of the main aims of the festival is to create a place for the church to meet with Londoners and for us to influence many different areas of society (religion, business, and arts/sports) in the centre of our city. We believe that 2020 is a year that will bring awakening in London, and while this is a massive undertaking requiring funding and planning that we have no experience in, we are so excited to see how God is moving. Everybody that we have spoken to are skeptical about the size, but we have been following where we feel God leading, and last week the Trafalgar Square management team put us down for 19 July! This is a massive prayer request (and something quite hard to explain), especially because we submitted the application last week and are waiting to see what more we need to include. So please pray for us, that God continues to bring us the right contacts and people to plan and host this event!

We also need a new house, because we have over 25 new students arriving in March, and we have begun the search in earnest. There is a housing crisis in London that makes it difficult to find houses, especially in the size and location in which we need one. And Think, our cafe, has been doing well recently (especially our hairdressers, who are booked full-up thanks to Groupon), but we still had a hard time in the autumn, from which we are still recovering. But we know that business is hard, and we see God move through Think. People meet God as they have their hair cut or as they enjoy a latte. When one woman inquired about holding a meet-up at our cafe, she said that she felt safe and at peace there. That's a high compliment for Camden!

Several new staff have joined the team recently, and it is amazing to watch ministries grow and reach into the different parts of society. Our fashion ministry dressed the models in one of the shows in London Fashion Week just last night, and Ina, the leader of fashion ministry, helped the designer finish up the collection in time to hit the catwalk! Tidal, the band Eric and Federico formed last year, is in the process of filming their first music video, and Chasm Magazine is almost finished with its fourth volume. On top of all of that, Micah spoke at a prayer meeting in Parliament last week!

At Hope and Anchor on Sunday, Chris talked about how we are meant to be all things to all people, from the homeless to the Members of Parliament, because God doesn't make distinction between them. I love watching as God moves us from Parliament to the streets of Camden in the rain, from classrooms to fashion catwalks. We live life at a crazy speed, it's true, because when God is doing so much, you have to run to keep up!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Cappuccino, please

We have a regular customer, called Nick -

No, wait. Customer isn't quite the right term.

We have a regular friend, called Nick, who has come to the door of Think and asked for a "Cappuccino, please," nearly every morning since we opened last May. I have no idea how he found us, but whatever the weather, whether we are busy or slow, he comes around, asks for a cappuccino, and downs it as he smokes a cigarette on our patio.

Nick isn't quite homeless. He has a place to stay. But he still begs, and his mental challenges mean that he has a social worker and can't keep a job. It was rough, at first, to explain to him that he can't come into the shop and beg. But slowly, our conversations with him changed from, "Sorry, Nick, you can't beg inside the shop," to something deeper. It's all of us together, whichever of us is on shift, morning after morning, who have grown with him, and now he stops for more than a cappuccino. When we bring it, he says, "Sit down. Will you pray for me?"

This past Monday morning, as I brought him his cappuccino, he asked me how I know that I can hear God. Then we talked about hearing God, about heaven and what that might look like, and several other deep musings that I only share with my close friends or, in a bizarre twist, with people that I meet on the streets of London. And it's amazing to get to share them with Nick, who some days can't remember my name, and sometimes says, "How do you know that you're hearing God?"

I thought that maybe you'd enjoy hearing about Nick, who is just one of the dozens of men and women we see every week. It's become so normal to me, but it's why I love Think so much. Every day, people encounter God at Think. They get to know the One who loves them so desperately that He gave His only Son. And they only expected a coffee!

In other news, we have an internship and a leadership school running at the minute, and Hope and Anchor is growing, and we are planning a massive event in Trafalgar Square for the summer. We need your prayers, not only for this, but also for the team (I am the latest in a string of us who have had the flu epidemic that is going round) and our health. We can feel the opposition against us, but we also know that when you follow God, opposition comes.

I will share more, post-flu, about the internship and Trafalgar Square and Hope and Anchor, but I wanted to take a few moments to share about Nick, and to say thank you, again, for all of your prayer and support. London is changing. Hearts are more open, and the church is working together across denominations and organisations. 2020 is going to be a massive year, and we are so happy to be here in the centre of it!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The best last night

As a charity, we receive food donations from grocery stores who have surplus food. On New Year’s Eve, we received food from Marks and Spencer’s, a posh grocery store. We decided to push back all of our plans in order to pull out our giant yellow tent and to spend the last night of the year giving back to our community by handing out the food donations that we received.

In the end, I know that the food helped those who were homeless or who don’t have enough, but I think that it impacted the people who were on their way to New Year’s parties even more. They stopped to see what we were doing (we had enough sweets and bananas to hand out to everyone, not just to the homeless), and we ended up having conversations with them about what they were doing, what we were doing, and why we want to give back. We spoke to everyone who wanted to talk, from the homeless that we see regularly to the police officers who were brought into Camden specially for New Year’s Eve. Some people we spoke to about Jesus, and some we just listened to as they shared. It’s amazing the things people will open up about if you’ll give them space. Some of them need that more than they need food.

And also, I think that it impacted us to give the food away. We were focussed on winding down the year together and on what is coming in 2020, but it gave us a few hours to think in the present about the people around us. I love the holiday season, and I think that it’s great to have a chance to reflect, but sometimes we get caught up so much in reflecting on what has happened or will happen that we forget what is happening right now. And on New Year’s Eve, before we counted down to a new year, we got the chance to give away what had been given to us. We closed the year by reaching out to the people who live (or party or work) shoulder to shoulder with us in Camden Town. 

We still had plenty of time to celebrate the New Year together, but I think the real celebration began the moment we put out that giant yellow tent. 

(Also, a special shout out to my mum, who is in the third picture and who came along to help!)