Happy new year!! Life on Soul61 is back and off to a rapid start and I don’t want to miss a second of it. Two weeks into 2020 and I have already seen the Lord do SO much! I am definitely happy to be where I am and be with who I am with. By that I mean, where God has put me, and in His presence. It’s a bonus that I am with the wonderful community who are also here.
Going home for the Christmas break, for the first time I witnessed the transformation that God has done already in me. I felt different; cared more and less about different things. It was strange to walk around a place that I was familiar with but perhaps wasn’t so familiar with this version of me. Nevertheless, I loved being reunited with my family and caught up with a few friends over the time that I had. One of the major differences in me was the love I have for the Bible now! I mean, not that I didn’t love it before, but now I just can’t get enough! The more I dig through it, the more gold I find, and my life is richer for it. As the two weeks drew nearer to a close, I felt rested but with a great anticipation for my return to life in Watford. Coming back was a lovely experience. Everybody looked revitalised and ready for the year and we were all a bit more chilled out with one another – not needing to make any good first impressions this time. After all, we’re practically family now! Back in teaching, we’ve begun learning how to put together and present a talk with Ali Martin. We all have to give a 10 minute talk (which we can’t really do well or badly in) where we will be given some feedback on what our clear strengths are and where we most struggled. My talk is on the 26th January and depending on how it goes, I might upload it to this blog page!
On the 6th January, Karen (our course leader) put on our private Facebook page that Mike was speaking at a leader’s meeting at a church called Holy Trinity Brompton, and that if any Soul61s wanted to go and help him with the ministry time, we could go and join him there. It was very late notice, but luckily a small group of us hadn’t planned anything for the evening and were very eager! After a fun rush through the London Underground, we arrived at this amazing and church (which I was later to realise gave birth to the internationally recognised ‘Try Alpha’ course) and were welcomed very enthusiastically by the attending staff, being led to sit with Mike at the front and side of the stage. The worship was so thick and raw. The only other place where I’ve seen it like that is at Soul Survivor. Mike was introduced with a mention of his MBE (which I bet he hated haha) and spoke very well on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Then, as he always does, he invited the Holy Spirit to move among us. The group of us that had been invited, went around praying with those who felt the Spirit moving in them and those who we felt the Spirit wanted to reach, all the while Mike had accurate prophecy after prophecy. People were healed from past hurts, encouraged in their plans, guided to fresh ideas; but most importantly I saw people meet with Jesus in a very real way. While I was praying for people, I witnessed these things and felt so privileged to be a part in it all. The idea that God would let me join in by speaking through me into the life of one of His children, is extraordinary. It’s always so much fun and so uplifting to do because He is so good.
Often times, God will give me something to say that I don’t understand, and only by telling the person I am praying for, will I ever find out whether it’s my crazy mind or His unbelievably good and kind word. Another example would be the Saturday Celebration event that Soul Survivor put on this week (like a smaller, home version of the festivals – still 1000s of youth show up). During the ministry time there, I was praying with a guy who had come forward and the word ‘building’ along with a picture of Noah building the ark, came to mind. I hesitated on whether to say it or not because it looked like the guy might be deep in prayer and I didn’t want to disturb him. Soon enough, the meeting began to come to a close, so the guy opened his eyes. I thought to myself “it’s now or never”, so I decided to share with him what I felt God had put in my head. I said to him: “Forgive me if this is wrong, but by any chance are you building something? It may not be a physical thing…” He started nodding quite quickly, looking a bit startled. I said “well I’m not sure what you are building but I just had the word ‘building’ come to mind, with a picture of Noah building the ark. I feel that God wants to encourage you that His hand is in the process of whatever you are building, just like how he guided Noah on how to build the ark.” Then the guy told me that he and his dad had been trying to build this web tool for ages and that the reason he started to do it was because he’d had a previous God-moment like this one. Due to the difficulties of the process he was beginning to give up, both on the project and on the idea of God. He had prayed in a difficult moment previously that God would show him that His hand was on his life and today God had delivered on that prayer! He went away very encouraged and I had witnessed, once again, the Lord’s kindness.
A more difficult day, but nonetheless, one where God has allowed me to play a part in his goodness, was yesterday. A few of us had taken up an opportunity (given to us by another member of the congregation) to join a team on the streets of London, talking to the homeless and giving them a sturdy backpack full of essentials inside. My group had six bags to give away which had things like a £10 Gregs voucher, a blanket, warm clothes, good snacks, wipes, and plenty more items bought generously by some donors. We sat with 7 wonderful strangers who were glad of our company more than anything. A few opened up to us with their stories and we were struck dumb at some of the cruelty that they had endured. One lady in particular had been on the streets 3yrs and was very glad of our presence. She looked very vulnerable when we approached her; she was crying because that night she had been attacked and some of her hair had been pulled out. We sat with her and learned that she had been the victim of an abusive relationship and was on the streets because she had moved away from it to live with her sister. On arrival here, she learned that her sister had died and now all she wants to to is get back on her feet and see her 7yr old daughter – one of the only things keeping her alive. She had been to prison and rehab where she said she’d found God’s love even though she was far from perfect. She was on a two-year waiting list for a council house and had a plan to sleep in a shelter for the coming night if she could get the coins together. It cost £15 to get in there but she was getting shrapnel for coins from the passers by and was fearing for her safety, so we decided to give her the money. Afterward, she let us pray with her and was very moved.
I could tell you story after story of ordinary people on the streets like this, but God seems to have really put her on our hearts. Therefore, sooner rather than later as a small group, we are going to try and find her again and bless her in another way that is yet to be decided. We pray for each one of them by name now but more than anything, the Lord has filled us all with the compassion and heartbreak He has over the homeless; we are now regularly praying about what we can do to help.
I’m only 2 weeks into this year and I have already learned and done so much. Wow, I haven’t even mentioned that I’m a co-small-group leader at this term’s ‘Try Alpha’ that the church is running! We’ve only done one session so far, but hearing the questions that are already buzzing around their minds, I just know I’m going to learn heaps of stuff. As much as I probably like to think I know some of the answers to life’s questions, God has humbled me and I am constantly running back to the Father for guidance and in awe – absolute surrender. All I know is that He is good and He never stops working.