May has been a much different month than I expected when I thought of it from the safety of January. May is always a staff season in our team, the month between internships when we have a time of holidays and prepare the beds and tracks for the new set of interns and DTS students that will join us throughout the rest of the year. We go on a staff retreat for our base and for all of YWAM England in May, as well, so it is a time of re-connecting with family that live together and also family that serve together all across this island.
But this May has been completely different.
To begin with, last week, God performed a miracle and an enormous answer to prayer, and part of the staff (including me) moved into a new house. It is only four blocks away from the All Souls house, and it has beds (and showers!) enough for our growing staff and for coming interns. The season of waiting for this house has been a long one, from the time years ago when we would walk up and down the streets of Camden together and pray for a commercial property to the nights of prayer that we had together in All Souls and in Notting Hill Community Church, our host this spring.
As with any upgrade that God gives, there have been new challenges in this season. It is the first time our whole team hasn’t lived together in one place. While the new house is beautiful, it is also a bittersweet time of learning to expand whilst retaining our sense of being a close-knit family. It means drawing together instead of stretching our wings and turning out. It means being generous and open with each other, looking to the needs of the others before our own, and generally, being the sort of Christian that Paul writes Titus about in the New Testament. And it means being vigilant against the little foxes that come into the vineyard to destroy, or the little things that can creep into our team unnoticed and destroy it. Whenever I read Titus and how passionately Paul exhorts them to let go of worldly passions, I am a bit intimidated by it, but that is exactly what God is asking of us. If we are truly going to see transformation in London, which is why we are here, we have to put God and His plans for us above our own plans.
God is teaching us all to grab more things, as well. He has put unexpected resources, jobs, and gifts into our hands, regardless of our abilities. The barista track begins with this internship, and I have watched as several of the staff girls have fought for it for a long time now. They have gone to cafes all over the city for research and inspiration, have become baristas, have researched roasters and coffee machines and all of the different elements of opening a café that I cannot begin to understand. And in two weeks, they have several girls coming to the barista track in the internship. The culmination of this was when they brought home the coffee machine, a huge, beautiful machine that they went to East London to get, this week. It has been a fight for them to start the barista track, but it is finally happening!
This Sunday is also the first birthday of Hope and Anchor Community Church, the church that our team planted in Camden last May. In the past year, Hope and Anchor transformed from a group of people meeting in the basement of a Costa to a full-fledged church that meets in a hall in the centre of Camden Town. If you’d like to follow the Facebook or Instagram, you can keep up with everything that we are up to! It is our heart for the church to embrace the people of Camden, tourists, residents, and Londoners alike, and to see many new people come to this church. But as with any church in the UK, it has been slow going. If you pray for us, please pray that Hope and Anchor Community Church would see growth in regular attendees. We also want to start reaching out to the homeless and needy in our community, for which we need resources.
As you may have gathered, we are pioneering a new base, YWAM London Radiant. I have been working on the website with our leaders, Christian and Johanna, as well as some other websites and facebook pages. I am not a website designer, nor do I code, so it has been a stretch for me. It is amazing to see the people God sends to help when I get stuck, and also to see Him fill gaps where I lack in knowledge.
I am looking forward to the internship and to working with the media and theatre tracks, which are areas that I love to work in. I am also helping to plan the International Arts Gathering, which takes place in Rome from 26-29 October and is for Christian artists to come together, to get to know each other and help each other out. If any of you are Christian artists, you should consider coming!
For the rest of you, there is Bones Camp, one of my favourite times of year. It is the 11-day camp that we have leading up to Notting Hill Carnival, the second-largest carnival in the world, which happens in the streets of Notting Hill (and right outside of Notting Hill Community Church, one of our church homes!). The camp includes preparation for the Carnival, evangelism, worship, teaching, and rehearsing different artistic areas for the parade and performances that take place during the Carnival. We all live together in Notting Hill during Bones, which you can find out more about here. It is a great activity for families, for young people, and for church groups.
We have so many exciting events and daunting challenges coming for us as a team, from the summer and autumn activities and schools to space challenges to steep financial challenges to staying united as a team that lives in two locations. We need prayer and help, as much as we can get! But we also know that the God who has brought us this far is going to be faithful to see the work that He began completed.
Now this update has grown quite long, so well done you if you’ve read it all! If you have any questions or just want to chat to me, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.