Saturday, October 22, 2016

learning seasons

Several years ago, we began receiving words from people about multiplication. There were only a few of us in the ministry at the time, and for a while, we sat around the kitchen table and dreamt about what it would be like to have more people join us, to have more ministries and houses and locations.

Years later, we are in the season where we are learning to live out that promise that God gave us. And let me tell you, it certainly looks different from what we expected.

On 19 September, the team received our third house, which is in Kings Cross, the centre of the city. A few of the girls went to training with an organisation that works with women stuck in prostitution and sex trafficking, so we are going to start working with that in Kings Cross, as well.

Homelessness is also a big problem in the Kings Cross area, and indeed, around all of London. Last week, all of us had training with an organisation that works with the homeless to help us with our dinner club that we run at Notting Hill. The government is cutting benefits and help for the homeless, which means that more people are ending up on the streets. As winter approaches, it is dangerous for them to stay there. In London, there are a lot of hoops to jump through in order to get a spot in the winter shelters or to get other types of housing. It is something that weighs heavily on all of our hearts, and we wish that we could help them more than with just one meal a fortnight. But God is opening more doors for us to be involved with others working with homeless around the city.

In three days, we leave for Rome, where we are hosting this year's International Arts Gathering. We began working on the Gathering a year ago, but it took until last week for us to find a place to stay and to host the event. We must have talked to all of the evangelical church pastors in Rome by now! We had so many closed doors that we realised that God was going to have to do a miracle, and He has. It was certainly not in our preferred timing, but it was in the right timing.

Now we are running around to finish the final details before we go, from preparing videos and decor for the church to coordinating details with the participants. The participants are Christian artists from all over Europe, and meeting with them and hearing how they are influencing their countries for God is one of my favourite things that we do as a team. The more I travel around, the more I understand that proximity is not what is important in friendships. Having the same heart and desire, which we have with these artists, is much more important. Also, Europe is so small that we end up seeing each other throughout the year in different locations. On the one hand, I hate how small the Christian artistic community is in Europe, but on the other, I enjoy running into my friends in random nations, as well.

This is such a rushed update in the midst of everything else, but I wanted to let everybody know what we are doing so that you know what for what you can pray. Please pray for the Gathering, which is from 26-29 October in Rome. Pray for Melody and I, who are coordinating, along with the team that is going ahead of time to prepare the venue, and for our whole Discipleship Training School, who are attending this year. Please also pray for us as our base grows. God is opening more doors with us, and we are learning how to move in new ways. Walter, a friend from YWAM Argentina, spoke to us about having new wineskins for the new wine we are being given, and we want to learn to be flexible as God shows us what His will is in London.

Cancelo chatting with some of our homeless neighbours in the square outside our house.

Everybody's shoes in the front hall of the house on Friday, the day everybody comes to us.

St Pancras, the massive train station just down the street from the house

Saturday, October 1, 2016

shining brighter

When I heard that we were going on outreach to Brighton directly after Bones and the June internship graduation, I had mixed feelings. The first was one of exhaustion – I just wanted to go home to a bed. But then I remembered that I didn’t have a home yet (We received our third house, a house in King’s Cross, on 19 September, and that is the home that I am currently living in), and I also remembered that I love Brighton. Brighton is a seaside city just an hour south of London. It is full of artists and cafes and people who are keen to stop for a chat. Juliette and I led an outreach there in 2014, and it was the time when the team became a cohesive unit rather than a group of 12 individuals.

The week that we spent in Brighton this year ended up being warm and sunny. We stayed in a small church in Fishersgate, a town just to the west of Brighton and Hove (the technical name for the two cities who run into each other on the seaside) and worked with a church from Hove that was having an evangelistic outreach week. The church has spent a lot of time in prayer and doing evangelism in the area, and the difference in the city now, as compared to two years ago, is noticeable. They have been so faithful to do what God told them to do!

One of the most surprising parts of our time in Hove was the openness of the people to hear about Jesus. Whilst we were lingering after a time of evangelism, two people approached some of us to ask us about Jesus. We thought that evangelism was over, but they had questions about Jesus that they wanted answered. Several people were also saved during the evangelism times that we did with the church, and others were healed or committed to returning to church.

There is revival happening in some parts of the UK. People are returning to church in large numbers. While we have not seen this yet in London, it was so encouraging to get out of London and to see what God is doing across this nation. We have been praying for the hearts of the British people for so long, praying against the apathy that our generation has towards God and religion in general, and God is answering that prayer.

London often feels very self-important. There are so many different nationalities and religions here, and it is the centre of the UK (and, in some ways, of the world) for finance, business, fashion, politics, arts, etc. But a move towards Christ in the UK doesn’t have to start in London. In fact, it seems as if it isn’t. While we see growing numbers of Muslims moving to London daily, a church in Reading has seen over a thousand people join it since late spring. While we hit the streets of Camden weekly to invite people to church and celebrate when one of them shows up, churches around the UK are seeing dozens come home.

God is so faithful to us. In Brighton, He reminded me that He is the God of my seasons. He knows me. He knows what revives my soul. He knows that I pray for the hearts of English people to be transformed, to be radically changed by an encounter with Him. And He knew that, as much as I wanted to sleep in a bed, what would really restore me would be to watch people come to know Him. At one point during evangelism, I watched as the pastor of the Hove church led two women to Christ. I turned to the side and saw Carrie praying for a man, then turned further and saw Anna, one of our DTS students, praying for another man. Behind me, several of the other staff and students were playing worship and improvising dance. The presence of God on that shopping street in Hove was so great that all I had to do was turn in a circle to see Him moving. 

Anna talking to a woman in evangelism.

The pastor, Mario, praying with a guy who met Jesus.

The traditional beach huts of Hove

Carrie and Juliette leading us home from a DTS teaching we had by the sea.

Me with one of the girls I mentor, Brennan.