It is early in the morning here in York, and we are in the throes of a double pronged Christmas outreach (meaning that every day, we are reaching both the city at large through evangelism and our local community through specific community events), but I wanted to take a moment to share what we are doing!
Every week, we as a team have committed to do evangelism outside of the Minster (the Cathedral in York) and the Belfrey (the smaller Anglican church that is next to the Minster). Local churches know that we are there, and they occasionally come along to join us as we reach our city. For our Christmas outreach this year, we decided to do evangelism in front of the Belfrey every day and to invite all of the churches that we know along. On Wednesday, at One Voice, the pastors' unity meeting that we attend weekly, they commissioned us to go and reach our city this week. Several of the pastors and ministry leaders have also signed up to come along and join us over these days.
Yesterday was our first afternoon out. The sun sets around 3:30 pm these days (that's how far north we are!), so we finish as the sun is setting. We have live music, carols, dance, testimonies and of course bubbles on hand to engage the throngs of tourists that have descended on York to visit the famous Christmas market. Whilst Laura, a local university student that I've had the pleasure of getting to know, played Christmas carols on the bazouki (an Irish folk instrument), I got to speak to several people, including a Chinese student who is studying in Leeds, the biggest city near us. She had gone into the Minster and encountered the Apocalypse Window, which recounts the stories of Revelation.
Whilst talking to her, I had the privilege of being the first person to explain Jesus to her. I got to explain why Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter and what that means. Then we walked into the Belfrey, where I gave her a Gospel of Luke and told her a bit more about Jesus. I returned outside to continue the evangelism, and when she came out 45 minutes later, she told me that she'd already read about a quarter of Luke and that she would finish it at home. She has since messaged me on Instagram, indicating that she'd like to meet again.
It is amazing to me that God orchestrated it so that she went into the Minster, encountered stories of Jesus, and that I got to meet her afterwards to explain who He is. It can be difficult to explain Jesus to people who have no concept of Him, but it is also so good to remember why I love Him and how extraordinary faith is! It was even better to be able to give her a Bible, something that she doesn't have access to in her nation. We have been praying for weeks for the conversations that we will have over these next few days, that God would send us people who are ready to find out who He is!
Tonight we are hosting our community Christmas party in the Barnabas Centre. We have Covid precautions in place, but as the government is warning people off of meeting, we are praying that God still sends the right people to our party, and that they encounter love, community and God in our building. We are also praying for no Covid to be in that place, as the girls are meant to travel to their families next week and my parents are travelling here.
Would you join us in praying for the people that we meet during this Christmas outreach? We want to see people meet Jesus and come to faith. We want to see the lonely caught up in family and the joy of Jesus fill our streets. And most of all, we want God to be glorified in York this Christmas season!