Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Strangers at Carnival

These are the strangers that I met and spoke to (and occasionally prayed for) at Notting Hill Carnival.

This couple is from San Jose, California. The woman was a bit wasted, but we spoke to them for a while and explained how we love Jesus differently from traditional religion.

This is a man from England and his daughter. He brought her into the middle of Carnival, in the middle of drugs and drunkenness.

I did not speak to these girls; I just saw them falling about.

This woman is from England. 

These women are from London.

These women are from Lincolnshire. 

This couple is from Japan. Mats and I explained that Jesus loves them, and the girl pulled out a camera and recorded what we were saying. We are praying that she will watch it again and realize the truth of Jesus' love for her.

This man is from Italy. He seemed to be under the influence of some kind of drugs.

This man is from Essex. He thought that what we were doing was great, and I told him about how Jesus loves everybody at Carnival, including him, in spite of everything he has done or could do.

These girls are from London.

This group is from New Zealand, Australia, and London. Two of the girls are already Christian, but don't seem to have intimate relationships with God, so I talked to them a little bit about the relationship with Jesus that is available to them. 

I did not talk to these people; they were eating outside the restaurant next to the church.

This is Eva and Linda; they're from Switzerland. Marta and I spoke to them for a while. I got to tell them a piece of my testimony, and Marta explained how we worship Jesus and how it's different from the Catholic church that they were raised in. I also told them about how Jesus brought utter joy to my life, and about how He has filled the empty spaces inside of me. This was the best conversation I had all of Carnival. There was a connection with the girls and us that could only have been from God.

This couple is from Spain. They are atheist, but we still explained Jesus' love to them.

This couple is from South Africa. 

These girls are from Richmond, in Southwest London.

This is Szimone from Estonia. I spoke to her and prayed for her.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

souls on parade

Notting Hill Carnival is over!
For the past week and a half, my DTSers and I have been living in Notting Hill Community Church, participating in Bones, and arts camp that prepares for Notting Hill Carnival, the second largest carnival in the world. I was in charge of the drama group, which meant that I directed and wrote (or helped with) dramas, as well as acting in them. It was really a group collaboration, and my group members and I worked hard for a week to get ready for Carnival, which was on Sunday and Monday.
It was an exhausting week. I developed a hug on the second day of the camp, but we couldn’t slow down. We had late nights every night, fixing props and preparing set pieces for the parade that we had.
The best part of all of it was that the preparation was completely worth it. God called me to London to street theatre for Him, and that is exactly what I did. I had time and people set apart to work with me, and together, we made some pretty edgy dramas about the controlling nature of addictions, loss of control, and the fight between flesh and a spirit that yearns for God.
On the morning of Carnival, we all got into costumes and make up, and at 1 pm, we went out and did a parade. We were not a part of the official carnival parade, because it cost £6000 to join. We had our own parade with 15 12 foot soldier puppets, people on stilts, about 15 drummers, and dancers. I was a dancer representing a river.
The parade drew a lot of people, and we proclaimed God’s victory in the area and told them about Jesus’ love for them. The video is on Youtube, if you’d like to watch it here
When we got back from the parade, my team and I took off our make up and put on make up for our dramas. We waded through the three million Carnival attendees to perform on the corner of the street. We performed for about 4 hours, changing off with dancers from the Bones camp, and when we were not performing, we spoke to people in the streets about our dramas and about God.
On Monday, the Carnival was much darker than it had been the day before. We got into costume and went out to do our parade. Soon, a policeman stopped us. But instead of preventing us from doing our parade, he asked us what we were doing. Christian, the head of Bones, told him that we were just walking. He then invited us to be a part of the official Carnival parade. We got to be a part of it for free! We followed the route for a while, then came back to the church. The atmosphere was oppressive, so we sent our drummers out, and we went out to evangelize. I took my camera and took pictures of the people to whom I spoke.
Today, we found out that three stabbings took place yesterday at Carnival, and all three people died. It seems that the oppressive atmosphere wasn’t just in our heads.
But God’s name was proclaimed at Carnival, in the midst of everything else that happened, all of the drugs and sex and drinking. Two girls accepted Christ, and many more received prayer and had Jesus’ love explained to them.
Thank you guys for your prayers. They were so needed in this time of chaos and spiritual warfare.
I have also been asked if I need continued support, and the answer is yes. We leave for outreach in three weeks, during which time we will be traveling to Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Newcastle. We have to pay for travel. I am also praying about doing the arts internship here at YWAM Urban Key, so I will need support to make that possible. God has made it clear as a next step, though, and it will enable me to do what He has called me to London to do for His kingdom.  You can email me at if you’d like to support me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

viva Mexico!

On Saturday, the last day of the Olympics, our DTS leader, Mats, surprised us by taking us to Wembley to do evangelism. Wembley is the next town to ours, and it was the location of the Brasil/Mexico football final.

The whole team was tired, since we had gotten back from Soho around 4 am, but we were excited to be at an actual Olympic event. We broke into teams to evangelize, and Lexie and Jason held up this sign right in the main pathway to the stadium.

Meanwhile, Amy and I went around the area to speak to people.

This is a group to whom we spoke briefly. They were Brasilian, and they asked me to be in a picture with them.

This is me with Amy, my roommate and partner at Wembley. Together, we talked to a Bosnian athlete and her coach and prayed with a British guy about our age. Then we stood by the "We want to pray for you" sign as the match let out (Viva Mexico! They won!), and while there were a lot of mean things said to us, it was also exhilarating to be so open about why we were there. I spoke to two more people and prayed with them, and many others thanked us or took pictures.

Our leader, Mats, found us all, and we followed him through the massive crowd to where the Arts House, our sister base, had set up drums. They began drumming, and loads of Brasilians came to dance. They danced for about an hour, and everyone going to the subway stopped to watch. It opened up a lot of conversations. I surprised myself by dancing with them - the latin dance lessons I had really paid off!

I noticed a woman watching, and I went to speak with her. Her name is Andra, and she married a Muslim man, but she was a Christian. For a while, she had been doubting whether or not she was still a Christian. But we talked, and I ascertained that she still believes that Christ is her Saviour, as she accepted Him years ago. She said He is still her Saviour, and that she loves Him, so we prayed for a while and exchanged contact information. Please pray for Andra, that God's love will be evident in her life, and that she will enjoy a prosperous relationship with Him.

Now the Olympics are over, and we are getting ready to move into a church for 3 weeks to be a part of Bones, an arts camp that prepares for Notting Hill Carnival. I won't really have internet access, so I may go quiet for a while. The camp is pretty intense, though, so please pray for us. Bones is basically worse than Soho as far as sex and drugs and alcohol go, and it takes over Notting Hill for a whole weekend. We are going to be there as Christ's lights in the middle of the vast darkness.

I will see you guys during Bones!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

loving broken places

I took my camera to Soho, London, this past week when we went to spread Jesus' love. God worked through the camera and let me use it to speak to people and pray for them. God also worked through the images, because while I am there, I am often unaware of the extent of the debauchery happening around me. I saw these pictures the morning after I took them, and I was appalled. But at the same time, my resolve to spread Jesus' love throughout Soho was renewed. 

I am posting them here so that you can see Soho through my eyes.

These are just some shots of the streets of Soho, full of trash and clubs and prostitution and sex shops.

These are two Georgian girls I met and prayed for. I took the pictures for my strangers' project, and it opened up a conversation with them. Their expressions explain a lot of what I see nightly in Soho.

This is the inside of a sex bookshop, the shop outside of which I met the girls from Georgia.

This is right across the road from the entrance to Soho: Chinatown

These are Aleksandra and Anna, two girls from Estonia with whom I briefly spoke.

Amy had a conversation with this Muslim man, who eventually came back to the coffee shop to talk with her further.

This is Jonathan. Alexa and I met him while he was doing window art at a restaurant. He met us at the coffee shop later, and we had a really good talk.

These men were going upstairs to visit prostitutes.

And this is what we do in Soho. We run a coffee shop where we perform live music and paint and generally try to help out people and show them the love of Jesus.

Monday, August 6, 2012

on the palms of His hands

"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me."
Isaiah 49:16

It's amazing to think that Jesus had all of our names written in the piercings on his hands while He was on the cross.

Everyone's name. He died for everyone, regardless of whether or not they ever accept Him as their Saviour and Lover of their soul.

That revelation struck me especially hard this past weekend, as my DTS and I joined the Arts Internship in the cafe they run in SoHo. SoHo is just north of Piccadilly Circus, and during the night, it transforms from a shopping area to a seedy underworld of prostitution, sex shops, adult clubs, and other illicit activities. YWAM Urban Key is also present, though, several evenings a week. A church lets us use their coffee shop, and we have coffee on the street level and live music in the basement. Every evening, we go out to the streets to start conversations with people, and if they are willing, we bring them back to the cafe to chat further.

On the first night, Jason and I were on the line up to perform. We didn't have anything prepared, but luckily, when we did evangelism here in Harlesden, we busked for about an hour, so we have created music together. Before we went, though, we went out to the streets to find people.

Within the first two blocks, I saw several prostitutes (and even brushed against one who tried to get to the three guys who were with me), drunk people, and even some people who were undoubtedly on drugs. I also saw dozens of young people just like me queuing to get into clubs.

They were just like me because Jesus also had their names engraved on His palms when He died.

On our second night in SoHo, I talked to a homeless man, Daniel, for about an hour. I was surprised to find out that he was 22, just like me. He let me pray for him, and although he turned down an invitation to come to the cafe, he showed up later. I'm pretty sure that I'll see him again. I pray that, through more encounters, his heart will open up to the Saviour's love.

One of the most heartbreaking things that I see in SoHo is the desperation and pain that leaks out of people when they don't realize it. Drunk people are terribly honest, and terribly desperate. I saw a woman lying on the pavement, crying. The man that she was with wouldn't let me help her or even talk to her, so I stood on the corner and prayed. I saw a woman's boyfriend leave her as she cried, "If you leave me, I'll have nothing! I won't have a home! Please don't go, please!"

We left at 3:30 am and passed case after case of broken hearts. All I could think was, "Who will help them?"

We will.