So, you may have heard that England is in another lockdown: our third lockdown. At first, we were all a bit despondent, especially when it came to light that we may be in a lockdown until the end of March. But now, we are involved in so many different activities that our days are filled end-to-end, and in some ways I am thankful that we have time to do everything!
Obviously, reaching out to people in the traditional sense isn’t possible in a lockdown which has the aim of keeping people from meeting together. However, as a charity, we have leave to continue our charitable work outside of our homes (the nation is under a stay-at-home order, which means you should only leave home for exercise or essential shopping). We have been helping our local food bank to collect food donations and to distribute food to our neighbours who are self-isolating. This has resulted in some amazing conversations with our neighbours. One neighbour overheard us worshiping in our garden, which opened the way for conversations, sharing a Gospel of John, and prayer. Please pray for him as we walk through this lockdown alongside him - there has been a lot of tragedy in his life recently, but his heart is opening to Jesus!
Radiant is also using this lockdown as an opportunity to do a staff leadership school, which we are all taking part in via Zoom. Not only do we get to see our London family twice a week, but we also get to take part in teachings with YWAM leaders from around the globe. As much as we complain about Zoom, there are so many conferences and meetings that have a global aspect now that wasn’t possible in person.
We are also using this time to improve the Barnabas Centre, the community centre that belongs to the base. It is an old building that needs repairs, and while we are a small team, we are doing what we can! We hope that different outreach teams from YWAM England will come to York, both to take part in what God is doing in our city, and also to give us a hand in the building. Luckily, somebody (it was me…and Lucas from Radiant. Okay, it was mostly Lucas. Thank you, Lucas.) built a shower, so the building is perfectly suited to hosting teams.
The challenge of the Barnabas Centre is that, during this year of COVID, it hasn’t been able to be rented out to dance classes, churches, and other activities, so we don’t have the income we need to pay the bills and to pay back the debt on the building. While there isn’t a rush to finish paying off the debt, it is something that we are consciously trying to be faithful in and to pay off. There are also different improvements needed - if we are going to continue cafe work, the espresso machine needs to be updated or replaced, the dance floor needs to be sanded, etc. If you could pray for us and send us any ideas you have for how we can raise funds for this, we would appreciate it. We have definitely thought of bake sales, but it would take a lot of bake sales, and COVID has made them quite impossible! But we so want this building to be a blessing to our community, to be a place in which people are welcomed and safe and can meet each other and, most importantly, Jesus. It is the only building of its kind in our neighbourhood. We are so blessed to have it! And we are looking forward to seeing how our God is going to move in this area - since we can't comprehend it in our logical minds, I think we're well poised to see Him come through in one of His amazing ways!
Another thing that we are starting in this lockdown is online workshops. We are all artists, so we are beginning workshops in our different art areas - Yvonne and Renee are doing dance workshops for children, Raya is doing story and character development, and I’ll be teaching photography workshops. The idea is to start them online and to create a little virtual community, and then to move them to real life when restrictions are lifted. People are desperate for community, so we want to reach them however we can. In order to do this, we do need a professional Zoom account, which is £120 a year. We have also begun hosting weekly Zoom prayer times with people in our community and across Yorkshire, and so far we’ve been using a basic plan, which is fine, but it does limit us to just 40 minutes. Having a professional Zoom account would definitely give us more freedom in our various online community activities!
A way that you can be praying for us is that we are currently in the process of becoming our own charity. Right now, YWAM York is a daughter charity of YWAM Radiant in London, which is amazing for getting us started. But in order for us to have a bank account, property, or anything of that nature, we need to be our own charity. I have begun the paperwork, and it is complicated to say the least. Luckily, Carrie from Radiant has been guiding us (thank you, Carrie!). Raya has also been tackling some budgeting stuff for the base property, which means sorting through vast quantities of paperwork from the past decade, and it is not easy! We are trying to put on our professional brains for all of this, but let’s face it. We thrive when we are with people, telling them about Jesus and walking through life with them. Paperwork is not our strength. So please pray for us as we do this, that our brains would be alert and that small details wouldn’t trip us up.
A final way that you can be praying and fighting on our side is for finances. God is a God of provision - we have seen this in every way. Just this past week, a piano was given to us. I have been praying for a piano since before we moved, since it is my main instrument and having worship times with a guitar has not been going well. We looked at different options online, but nothing was really working. We were finally about to settle for a partial keyboard for beginners, since it was in our budget, when we were told that a lady from church was clearing out her mum’s house and had an electric keyboard that we could use. It has 88 weighted keys and a built-in stand, and it fits perfectly in our office. God has provided for us again and again, and this is only the most recent way!
That being said, some of our team are still waiting to see full support each month. I’m just going to drop everyone’s Paypal info here, and if God puts it on your hearts to support them, they will definitely be blessed by it! I will also put mine there so that you can donate towards the Zoom account if you’d like. And if you can’t give financially (COVID has touched us all), prayer is not a second option. It is a first option, and one that we have seen change circumstances in our lives incredibly. We are blessed by the way that you fight for us in prayer!
I would just like to finish this off by sharing that it is snowing in York today. That isn’t abnormal (we are in the North now), but it does remind me that God is doing a new thing in this time. He won’t let this season be wasted. There are some things that won’t come out of this pandemic. There are old ways, old mindsets, dead traditions that we will leave behind. And there are new things that He is teaching us that we will take out of it. It is so exciting to be able to follow God through this: our first year as a base here in York and in a global pandemic. I am constantly reminded of Isaiah 43:19: “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” He is the God who guides us, who provides for us, and who will bring us through this season more covered in His glory, if we will continue to listen and follow Him. What a privilege it is to see His new way and to work with Him to make it our reality!