Last Sunday afternoon I took a bunch of lads to Peterborough and had an adventure. We made some very generous friends and were given pizza and cider and came back with a squash and some red onions. Success, I’d say.
Peterborough’s just over an hour’s drive from home, so why did we go there for our fun?
Last month I wrote about my trip to Romania with the Multiply Network. Because I only had a few weeks to prepare for the trip I had to fast track my passport application, which meant travelling to Peterborough for an interview at the passport office. Around that time I’d also been praying and listening to God about outreach opportunities for our household; this year we want to “find our field”, as it were, a shared opportunity for mission that we can all contribute to together.
I wondered if God had brought me to Peterborough for a reason (I’d never been there before) so after my passport interview I spent 45 minutes driving around the town seeing the sights and listening out for God. Like Jesus I want to “only do what I see my Father doing” (Jn 5:19), especially when considering new initiatives and responsibilities.
While driving down a hill to go under a railway bridge I looked left and saw a patch of wasteland surrounded by boards covered in colourful artwork, and inside stood a large geodesic dome in green and white fabric. “Interesting”, I thought, “I bet we could meet some cool people there”. The whole thing intrigued me and it stood out in my memory like God had outlined it with a big fat yellow highlighter pen in my brain.
That evening I looked the place up on Google maps, found the website and watched the video and found out it’s a full on community project run and coordinated by volunteers. A lot goes on there- allotments, conker championships, drumming circles, tai chi, wood turning courses, craft fair, live art jam… What a great way to get involved in a community, much better than handing out tracts or hotdogs on the street, or whatever.
God had been talking to me all year about taking risks and launching out on new ventures but it took a post about outreach to Peterborough by someone in a Facebook group to jolt me into action. So one Friday evening a few weeks ago four of us drove up to Peterborough to meet people on the streets and scout the land. We had one good conversation, prayed around the place and had a definite sense of something coming together in Peterborough. The door didn’t open properly for us that night but we peered through the keyhole and saw God was doing something good.
I found out the project has a volunteering day every Wednesday and Sunday 11am – 4pm so I got some lunch and lads together and we left straight after our morning service to see if we could lend a hand digging a veg patch, or something.
The few people who were around were incredibly open and outgoing and showed us around. We talked for a few hours about them, about us and about composting urinals.
It turns out they usually have between 40 and 50 volunteers on a Wednesday. The fact that hardly anyone was around when we turned up was brilliant because it meant we got to spend nearly three hours with a chap called Rene and one of the main volunteers who turned up later, a lady called Marie.
Marie, a Christian, was very keen on community and we had a jam playing percussion on pots, pans, tubs and a guitar we brought along.
Later they offered us pizza which meant making pizza-pasties there and then, all out of food grown on site (they’re completely off-grid, electrics an’ all). Our three hour stay ended with us praying for them and the project and them giving us a 6kg squash (that’s a type of fruit, by the way!) and a few red onions.
When Jesus sent out 72 (read Luke 10) of his followers he predicted that they would be given either food or the cold shoulder, so either of those two are good signs that we’re doing the right thing when on mission. We got pizza and cider (non-alcoholic), so I think we have an open door