I have gone radio silent, and I am sorry for that! The London summer is short, and on our team, it is our busiest season.
July turned out to be a manic month. After searching long and hard for a new house to accommodate some of our 31 students in the July DTS, Rebecca, Meli and I moved to Hackney, East London in the first week of July. As a team, we've been praying to move to and be more involved in East London for a while now, and God came through (as per usual) in His perfect time that felt quite tight for us, which meant that we moved in only a week before nine new students arrived. But the team pulled together and built beds, assembled the makings of a kitchen, and helped us break in our new barbecue grill that came with the house.
I am still completely overwhelmed by the goodness of God - I've been praying for East London for several years now, and I see how He especially prepared me for it throughout the spring. On my birthday, I asked God to use my year straight to the edges. And let me tell you, He has been faithful to do just that! With all of the different ministries that we are up to, the events that we get to host and take part in, the schools and other training programmes, and with Think (our coffee shop) and Hope and Anchor, time is being stretched in new ways. I feel like we shouldn't be able to do it all, but God has been building our muscles over time. We don't want to miss any blessings that He has for us or any ways that He wants to use us, so instead of putting our own limits, we keep trusting.
Our current Discipleship Training School started the second week of July and has 31 students - it is the largest DTS ever in YWAM in London! We have six houses strung like pearls on a necklace across London, from West London to our house in Hackney, East London. When I look back three years and remember how excited we were to get our second house, this feels absolutely mad. Several teachers and pastors that came to visit us in the early years of Radiant said that it was time for us to stretch the edges of our tent, and they were right!
A couple of weeks ago, we held a community barbecue in the alley next to Think, and we had somewhere around 100 new friends come through. They were everyone from homeless to gypsies to families to our regular Think customers. At one point, I put down my camera and looked across the crowd to see all of our different ministries in one place: the barber from Think was giving a free haircut to our homeless friend Nobby, and our regular cafe customer Saranya was chatting to a woman from Hope and Anchor. Our DTS students sat on the dirty pavement in order to have conversations with some homeless that we'd never met before while one of our Hope and Anchor ladies made jollof rice (a Nigerian speciality) for everyone. And the next Sunday, some of our homeless friends even came to Hope and Anchor for the first time since we moved into the cinema location!
In two days, we begin Arise London/Bones Camp, our outreach to the city of London leading up to Notting Hill Carnival. If you've been on this journey with me for any amount of time, you are probably familiar with Bones. I love it, because it is our push all together as a base. We put other activities on pause in order to reach out to our city in a massive way. Could you pray for us as we step into it, that God would prepare the hearts of our team, of the campers who come from outside to join us, and for the people that we will meet in the streets? Will you pray for health, safety and for God to move? We saw many people get saved last year, and we are trusting that many more will encounter Jesus this year as we hit the streets! So that update is certainly coming up!
And finally, my Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is nearly fully funded - thank you so much for giving so extravagantly! I will be applying for it when I return from the International Arts + Sports Gathering in NYC in October. So I will be back in September with an update on Arise London/Bones and to share about the Gathering (which I get to help organise, and which is one of my favourite events that we hold as a team).
But once again, thank you all for your prayers, for your support and for your faithfulness. We are in such an exciting time as God is opening up new sectors of life (business primarily!) for our team to touch, and the places that we find ourselves are always surprises. I couldn't have dreamt all of this for myself, so I'm so glad that God dreams for all of us and enables us to move as a family through it together. So thank you for being a part of this family with me, for loving God and trusting Him along with me. You guys are incredible!