How many times am I going to start a blog post with the words “WELCOME BACK, I KNOW IT’S BEEN A WHILE”? I haven’t been very consistent with my uploads at all but now that Soul61 is in full swing, I hope to make it a secure part of my fortnightly routine.
I want to begin this one by reflecting on a part of my fundraising for this course. I ran an event at the end of August which consisted of a quiz night, a tombola and a bake sale. I had an extraordinarily large amount of help from my church, youth leader and family to run it and it went so well. In the back, as I tried to calm my nerves toward hosting before the masses started arriving, I was praying frantically. Then Darrel, my co-host, asked me what might be a reasonable amount to ask God for. I said I had no idea and I couldn’t work it out because we didn’t have anyway of asking how many / who were going to turn up. Darrel plucked the amount of £600 out of the air and I said it seemed like a lot to ask from a small event, but sure. We left that evening with £600.10. Crazy. In today’s morning service, a few months later -now in Soul Survivor Watford-, I felt God say to me “follow my voice and you’ll never need to worry about money”. Crazier. I recognised a long time ago that lots of money wasn’t going to be in my future. However I’ve always been strangely at peace with the fact. Perhaps this word explains why. This first week at Soul61 has been the craziest experience ever. Who knew being thrown into a new environment with a new family of 22 individuals like myself would be so intense!
Over the past week, we have all bonded so well by eating together, sharing all our testimonies and life stories, worshipping and ministering to each other, let alone doing ordinary life together (shopping, travelling, looking after one another etc). I just want to share with you a few key moments. On Sunday, we were being introduced to each congregation except the 9:00am. This meant that we stuck around the church for most of the day listening to the same talk from Mike 3 times. The amazing thing was, God spoke to each of us about something different each time. A different part stuck out to each individual, and during the worship, it was so evident that God was already at work in us. I’ve prayed/sung in tongues before, but there was one point in the 4:30pm service where I began to sing in tongues and I suddenly realised that the entire church had begun doing it too! ALL AT THE SAME TIME! It really felt like I was in the middle of the book of Acts! The most surprising thing about moving here is how naturally and expected it is for the Holy Spirit to work in each and every service. Not for a particular age group. Not for a particular time of day. Not even because anyone does anything super spiritual. They just make space and God turns up in full force! In one of the services, people were being ministered to and Mike (Pilavachi – Senior Pastor) only ended up having 10ish minutes for his talk because he valued what God was doing over what he had to say.
Another event happened the same day at the 7:00pm service. Before Mike started preaching, God gave him some words for a few of his congregation. Because of the following events, you won’t be surprised to know that I don’t remember what their words were – but God spoke into each of their lives, as He did into mine. Sat amongst my Soul61 LEADERSHIP course mates (talk about pressure…), Mike turns to me and says the following:
I wanted to say this before I knew you. You have leadership on you and God wants to encourage you that you’re in the right place and that this year is where you’re meant to be. I don’t remember your name but I recognise you from [the S61 interview, a Saturday Celebration, a time I visited the church for a service and a few more occasions we’ve met], where I had the same word for you. You often don’t put yourself forward for things because you’re unsure whether or it’s you or God. But God’s given you big dreams that you’ve often dismissed as pride or arrogance but He wants to tell you that it’s Him. He’s put them there, you’re not proud or arrogant and He loves your heart for Him. There’s been some anxiety in your past but He just want to encourage you to really go for it this year.Mike Pilavachi (filled with the Holy Spirit)
WOWOWOWOW. Not only did this affirm the calling to leadership that Matt gave me from God 2 years ago (which prompted me to take the gap year in the first place), but every part of the word was so accurate about how I felt about myself and what my life has been like. On top of that, in all the times that he mentioned that he previously had the word, God had TOLD ME that Mike had a word for me, but just as he prophesied in the quoted part above, I didn’t trust that it was God; thinking it was just me, I never asked. I approached Mike after and I told him all that it meant and he agreed to meet with me at some point on the course to talk about it more in depth. I couldn’t stay in that service after that, I was such a mess of tears, nerves and joy that I had to call my parents.
The last key moment that I will share with you from this week is the flower conundrum. My new friend Pip and I met for lunch at the McDonald’s inside ASDA ( I know 😉 Watford can be really wonderful) after I’d been for a quick shop. As we were leaving, God spoke to both of us telling us to buy some flowers because someone needed them. We both bought some and began praying and looking around frantically and excitedly for who we felt God was calling us to give them to. Pip found His person very quickly. He had heard God tell him to look for someone getting into a car. The woman began to tear up and was touched at his message for her (which unfortunately I can’t remember). As for me, I was carrying around my flowers all day looking for a person who fit 3 quite different and seemingly incompatible words. The first was laying the flowers down somewhere, the second was a pair of black school shoes and the third was of a coral/neon orange hoodie. I was so disheartened all day. I thought I had gone insane, yet I was so sure it was from God. After a day of explaining the story and asking for help from all the S61ers I bumped into, I walked home audibly arguing with God – looking crazy to all the strangers I passed by. I was so annoyed and it’s the first proper argument I’ve had with God. I actually thought at one point that He purposely gave me a false word in order to keep me humble! He kept saying the same thing: Listen. That just annoyed me more cause I had listened and had 3 really random words that didn’t make sense together. Then the rain started to chuck it down; far too hard to walk in. I ran into the nearest shop for cover. I took my hood down and suddenly found myself surrounded by neon orange high-viz jackets and luminous hoodies and jackets for visibility. Amongst them was a table of school shoes – which made no sense in being there. There was no one in this strange shop until the store owner came from out the back. I explained that I was just sheltering from the rain but he just dismissed me with his hand actions and sat with his back to me at a computer. I don’t think he spoke much English. I was there waiting for about 15 minutes and all I could do was pray. When the rain got bearable, I decided to lay the flowers down where I was standing and leave without saying another word. I will never know what effect it had on the store owner or why it was necessary but all three words were fulfilled and I feel like God was teaching me a lesson in obedience. I was filled with a strange peace and I didn’t feel the need to argue with God anymore. He’s always right anyway, but I think the struggle is necessary for our growth. Since then, I have had 3-4 more words for people which have been correct and meaningful to the individuals each time. So the lesson in being obedient to words I don’t understand seems to have payed off so far.
So much is going on all the time; I will only ever be able to give you a few glimpses into life here without writing a small book. This coming week, we are starting our teaching and sorting our placements. In two weeks time, I will have a lot more to share with you again but I am so excited – if things continue the way they are (unpredictable and incredible) I will not be disappointed! …just slightly exhausted.
Please keep me in your prayers!