Friday, May 24, 2019

Indefinite Leave to Remain

It is a day of change in Great Britain today. Our Prime Minister has stepped down, and we don’t know who will emerge next week as Prime Minister of our nation. But change is not unusual these days, and if you don’t understand the Brexit, don’t worry. We don’t, either.

It is also a day of change for me. Or rather, a day of realisation as I come back from my scheduled holiday time and sit down to look at the rest of the year. This summer and autumn is dedicated to procuring my Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (the irony of it being the day our Prime Minister stepped down is not lost on me), amongst my regular YWAM and Hope & Anchor Community Church work. 

So what does Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) mean? It means that I will go through a rigorous process that will allow me to live and work in the UK indefinitely. It is easiest to call it the equivalent of the USA’s green card. And it’s what I’ve been working towards the past five years that I’ve been on a Tier 2 visa (my first two years in YWAM were on a Tier 5 visa, which is easier to get, but which does not count towards residency in the UK). ILR means that I will be a permanent resident of the UK, which is difficult for the government to revoke. That means a lot, since we have been through several scares in these past five years when it looked like the government could potentially revoke our visas. The worst of these was in 2014, when all of the religious organisations except for YWAM lost their visas for overseas workers. ILR is a permanent step in doing what God has asked me to do, which is to be a missionary in London. 

To be quite frank, I need your help. 

The minimum cost of all of this (not counting printing costs, the National Health Service fee, travel costs, materials, initial Life in the UK test, etc) is £2400, or about $3000 at the current exchange rate. It is more expensive than any of my previous visas, and rightly so. It is the last visa type of qualification that I will need, and after a year of ILR, I can apply for citizenship (to hold dual citizenship with the USA and UK). Or I can wait as long as I need to in order to apply for citizenship, because I will be able to live and remain in the UK for as long as I like. 

For the past seven years, you have all partnered with me and made it possible for me to live in London as a missionary. But here’s why this is a challenge. Many of you send your support via Paypal straight to YWAM to cover my rent, in order to be able to have a tax write-off. For legal reasons, YWAM cannot receive the money for my ILR. I need to pay for it from my personal account. So if you feel that God prompts you to give towards my ILR, would you please consider sending your support to my personal account so that I can put it towards my Indefinite Leave to Remain application? 

I also need your prayers in this process. I feel the weight of what I (and not just me; several of the other girls on the team are also applying for ILR this year) am doing in saying yes to what God has asked of me. It is like making a further commitment with God to give Him my future indefinitely. I love what God has called me to do. I love telling the people of London about Jesus and discipling them as they get to know Him as their Saviour and Friend. I don’t think that the enemy is happy with the commitment that the other girls and I are making as we apply for ILR.

That being said, there are several different aspects to applying for ILR. The first criteria that I must meet is the Life in the UK test, which I am taking on Tuesday morning (28 May). This is a series of questions on all aspects of life in the United Kingdom, from detailed information on the history of the UK to laws, customs, traditions, and religious beliefs, right down to the sports that were founded here and the famous architects from the past millennium. I have been studying for the test, but as with any official test, I am nervous. Could you please pray for me on Tuesday morning (or the middle of the night, for some of you)? After I pass this test, I have to begin an application that concludes with me paying the fee and sending in my passport for up to six months as I await the government’s decision. 

I know that this is a lot of information, and if you are still reading, thank you. If you have questions for me about this process, please feel free to email me at And if you’d like to send support to me for my IRL, here are some ways you can do it:
  1. Send money using to (it goes directly to my personal bank account.)
  2. If you are in the States, you may also contact, since my mother is a co-signer on my bank account and helps me conduct my finances State-side.She can help you use the apps Xoom (a Paypal method of sending money to my bank account) or Zelle to transfer money to my Bank of America account.
  3. If you are in the States, you can also give cash or a check to my parents or grandparents 
  4. Mail a check made out to Deborah Stevenson to: 
Susan Stevenson
49 Belle Gate Court
Pooler, GA 31322

And once again, thank you for your faithfulness for so many years. I have been completely supported here by all of you, and it is the reason I’ve been able to be a missionary in London for so long. I feel that God is asking me to grow in trust in this process, since I immediately quail at the immensity and want to scheme and pinch pennies and try to make this work in my own strength. But I can’t. That isn’t trust. I can only obey and keep doing what He is asking me to do! So thank you, each of you, for everything that you have done, from praying for me to squeezing my neck when you see me to inviting me to your homes to stay when I am in town to supporting me financially to sending me clothes and cinnamon chewing gum. You are all the best.

Oh! You can also email me if you’d just like to chat about what I’m up to in London. If you prefer texting, I also have WhatsApp. I love sharing about what God is doing here in London. It’s pretty incredible!

Bless you!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

as a man Thinks

“What does Think mean?”

Introducing Think, our new cafe! The name is inspired by Proverbs 23:7, which says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.” We want it to be a spot that encourages people to stop for a moment and think about their heart. We want them to find God in their searching, to realise they were created intentionally for something great.

But let me rewind a bit. We began building Think (referred to on this blog as “the cafe”) in the middle of January, and on the first day of May, we held our grand opening. I have the absolute privilege of being a barista at Think, which means that I went from construction on 30th April and the morning of 1 May straight into on-the-job training. We didn’t stop for a moment, but we discovered that our three months of building developed muscles and authority in the space that we will need to steward this space well.

My roommate, Liz, at the till
Part of our beautiful machine

Think is located on Camden High Street, just a few blocks from the Horse Stables that attract thousands of tourists each weekend. It is right in the middle of the neighbourhood where we’ve been praying and investing for years, and it marks the third leg of our ministry there. The first is the base house, where Chris and Johanna, our base directors, live with their family. The second is Hope and Anchor Community Church. And the third is this cafe, a place where we not only welcome the community in, but where we hope to build community. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I haven’t worked in the hospitality industry in a while, but I haven’t forgotten those plastered-on smiles or how efficiency was the most praised practise. Think is entirely different. We are encouraged to have conversations with our customers, conversations that go deeper than the surface. And if one of us is in the conversation, the others cover and handle the practicalities of the cafe so that we can stay in the conversation. It is the opposite to every business model I’ve seen, but of course, this isn’t a business for us. This is a ministry. We talk openly about God. We offer to pray for people. We invite them to church. We hold our Connect Groups for church at the back tables. The coffee culture in London is booming, and we are welcoming people into our space. And our space is Kingdom space, so we don’t play by the normal rules. We get to play the King’s way.

Neil, the first customer I made a coffee for and my mate who runs the homeless drop-in I volunteer in on Tuesdays

But we aren’t just a normal cafe space. We want to give back to the community, as well, through using our hairstyling space to give the homeless free haircuts and eventually enable those coming out of prison or off the streets to learn a skill and hold down a job. Whenever one of us brings in somebody off the streets to talk more deeply, they get free coffee. Eventually we hope to use the outside wall of the shop to teach graffiti workshops so the youth have something to do other than sell drugs or play on smartphones. And more than anything, we want everyone who walks through the doors to encounter Jesus Christ.

The view from outside our shop, looking in.

Liz making coffee on opening night.

So would you please pray for us, family? We’re in a whole new game here in the business world. We need favour with the borough council, because they aren’t keen with what we’ve done to the outside of the place. Our hot water boiler has also just broken (turns out it was 15-20 years old), and it will take around £6000 to replace. We’re also keen to build up regular customers so that we can have deep relationships with them and disciple them as they meet Jesus. Basically, this is an all new endeavour, and we need a lot of wisdom from God on top of His grace.

And thank you, as well, for the prayer that you spend on us. Thank you for your faithfulness. We see the fruits of it here in London.

and finally, me!