Category Archives: youth

People Finding Jesus Again, Just Like It’s Supposed To Be!

Life is full of seasons, and at the moment in my church community we’re in one of those exciting seasons of blessing, of harvest. Stuff’s cracking off all over the place!

About seven weeks ago two lads turned up on our doorstep. One spoke for his friend: they were from a couple of local villages and his friend needed a roof over his head for a few days, could we help? As it goes the chap who needed help, 21-year-old Elliott, stayed at his friend’s house for a few days after that but eventually turned up again and started stopping over with us.

Roadtrip
On a roadtrip

We found him to be very open, ready to get stuck in and thankful so we soon realised he was someone worth giving a chance. His honest questions about our way of life, faith and many big subjects came thicker and faster. Every now and then we’d see clues to his openness, whether it was teary eyes during a house church meeting, asking for prayer or his pointed questions. Someone gave him a copy of ‘Mere Christianity’ and he read it twice in one week! He became a tentative sort-of believer.

Three weeks ago he asked Simeon and I to pray with him for God to forgive him and to thank God for what He’d done in his life. What happened that evening was pretty incredible as he was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues for the first time. He said afterwards “I feel like a kid in a sweet shop; like I thought Haribo was all there was but now… look at all this!” It was the kind of God-happening that makes you pinch yourself and wonder if it’s really happening, seeming too good to be true at the time.

Bonfire
Around the bonfire

He’s with us now and doing brilliantly and really keen for more of God, organising a prayer meeting seemingly every over day! Last Sunday he decided he wanted to get a few lads together to pray together after supper that evening, so we picked a time and texted a few friends. At 10:30pm 16 guys turned up at our home from various house churches nearby and we crammed into our relatively small prayer room. What followed was a few engaging hours of prayer, worship and ministering to one another. It was such an engaged and alive atmosphere at a level I haven’t been in for a long time.

At one point someone spoke out a word of knowledge from God and one lad acknowledged it was for him, so we gathered around him to pay for him. What happened after that was pretty amazing, it was like one of those moments when God suddenly drops a Holy Spirit bombshell and the place erupts, the neighbours must have heard the noise! Needless to say this second lad, who’d long been wandering, was filled with the Holy Spirit too and is now taking about baptism, his life now being set on a very different course.

Supper time
Supper time

I get a sense in all this that this is just the start. When a group who are desperately hungry for God and up for Kingdom action get together to pray and go wherever God leads, it’s not going to just end at the door, is it? When we feel the first few drops of rain on a dry day we look up at the sky and wonder if more is on the way, maybe anticipating a deluge. These few happenings are like big drops of rain to anyone prophetic and tuned in to what God has up His Almighty Sleeves.

We’ve had quite a few semi-impromptu prayer meetings over the last few weeks. There’s a bit of a momentum building. All it takes is for a few hungry men to listen to the Spirit and get together deciding to get on board with what they hear Father’s doing.

There’s much more going on but I don’t have time to tell you about the other 3 young people around from Switzerland and Hungary and our trip to Norwich, that will have to do for today.

Thank you Jesus.

Fire

What a great few days

A friend of ours from Switzerland, Etienne, stayed with us for nine months last year. Recently he asked if he could visit us with a friend for a few days. He said he’d told his friend all about us and he was interested in our community and way of life. Eti and David are typical Swiss teenagers: they’re loud and bouncy, ultra young in bearing, dress funnily and they’re very affectionate.

I picked them up from Luton airport a day early on Saturday morning, which was brilliant because it meant they were around that evening for our impromptu bonfire and sing-song. Here’s a video:

On Sunday I promised them I’d take them for a tour of our community houses and businesses so we trundled off to eight locations around us, including a couple of Farms, Cornhill (formerly a grand hotel) and our Food Distribution Centre. They’re a right handful but it was simply a joy to show them around community, to talk about stuff like the kingdom, baptism, dating, that sort of thing.

IMG_20140331_172603
Etienne, myself and David

They turned up at my office at 4:45 on Monday asking if there was anyone going to London who could take them: they wanted to see the capital of Europe. I’ve heard the Swiss are typically a punctual and people lot so if these two were anything to go by the nation’s in serious decline! I made a few calls and got them a lift with our folk from Acton.

It was such a shame to see them go but the last 20 minutes we spent together were quite precious. David left me with something I won’t forget when he said “We love you because you are real. Many other christians we see seem to be really God for Jesus but it’s just nothing.”

Many social commentators say the things the Millennial Generation most crave are community and authenticity because they’re the self-made social network generation and the most advertised-to generation (hence the longing for authenticity rather than razzmataz). I’d say that’s true. Millennials are also often afraid to commit too but that’s another subject.

The final thing that topped it off the great few days was last night when Mark brought his new toy, a double bass, to our Tuesday evening house-meeting. He’s the sort of guy who can 1) get hold of pretty much anything from a friend of a friend really cheaply and 2) pick up any instrument and vaguely learn it within an hour.

Good fun.

Mark with his double bass
Mark with his double bass

Last Night’s Cell Group – "Pass the Power" and "Masks"

I co-lead a group for teenagers every wednesday night. Last week we decided we could do with a sabbath rest so we lit the first fire of season in our lounge’s hearth, prayed, worshiped, listened and chatted.

This week saw a bit of a relaunch with eight of us at my house (two absent):

  1. We played fox and hounds (group hide and seek) with a twist:
    The hunting team had a whistle. When they blew it everyone on the hunted team had to move at least 20′. The whistle could only be blown twice in a game. It was called the ‘ants in yer pants superpower’ and meant things were kept active, rather than letting people just go to ground and hide for ages. We got through two rounds.
  2. A cake and hot chocolate interlude.
  3. In the office at home we played Pass the Power, which was the name I gave to a game I’ve read about where everyone stands in a circle holding hands and when you feel your right hand squeezed you squeeze the hand of the person on your left, so the hand squeezing goes round the circle in a wave, like an electric shock. We tried to see how fast we could “pass the power” and we ended up with quite a fast rhythm.
  4. I compared the invisible but tangible wave of power to the Holy Spirit and we prayed together, still holding hands. A couple of the lads asked for prayer.
  5. We watched this video:
  6. We went into the lounge and discussed the theme of masks (from the video) around the fire. More prayer and cake followed.

50 On A Trip To Wales

Well well well, what a crazy few weeks.

Our lad’s trip to Wales from Wednesday 29th to Saturday 1st was an incredible time, to say the least. About 50 of us trecked off to Snowdonia with just under 40 12-17 year olds and 11 leaders to stay in an activity centre.

What happened well exceeded our three main aims- to meet God, to make friends and to have a ton of fun in the sun. We couldn’t have had enough faith to plan what happened.

Each day had a different theme (God, identity, adventure, then relaxing on the Saturday) and a packed schedule (including scheduled free time) kept us focused. Each daytime activity, night walk and mountaineering excursion in some way fed into the day’s theme. After tea on the Wednesday and Thursday evenings we split the lads by age group and had an hour long ‘Word’ session then all came together for ‘The Boiler Room’ (in the lounge, confusing, I know), in which we loosened up a bit with praise songs, worshipped and generally chipped in as God led us. Each evening was finished with a night walk or singing, hot chocolate & marshmallows around the campfire.

Friday’s Boiler Room was where it all really happened though. We’d been dancing, singing, speaking stuff that God gave us to say and about an hour in we called an optional response time for anyone that wanted to stay. The lights dimmed right down (to make it less daunting to step out) and us leaders went to the middle of the room, ready for anyone to come forward who wanted to pray or talk with us.

Some left and with about 30 of us in the room we started praying in twos and threes, some still quietly singing songs as it continued. It was after one lad who we wouldn’t have expected prayed out quite vulnerably that people around started crying, very gently and quietly. The presence of God was tangible; heavy, rich and beautiful.

And so some good christian teenage lads wept, convicted of their sin. Needless to say it was a time of breakthrough. I counted twenty that we’d prayed for or were praying for each other and the typically “cooler” lads were worshipping like they meant it. The fire fell, quietly and unmistakably. It really was a boiler room.

After nearly three hours in the Boiler Room we adjourned to a late campfire to continue, jamming around the fire. Jake got his saxophone out and others drummed, strummed or danced around the fire or just chatted.

Near the end of the campfire Chris (one of the leaders) pulled me aside, saying “hey Aidan, come check this out!” He led me back towards the activity centre and we looked in through one of the windows to a downstairs room. A group of lads were sitting in a circle talking. “I saw them in here and assumed they were up to no good.” Explained Chris. “So I stuck my head in and asked “what you up to lads?” John said he’d decided to get them all together for a prayer meeting!” Most of the lads he’d got involved had missed the long response time and he wanted them to experience what God had done in him. Amazing. That’s what I call movement.

Now there’s a momentum of teenage lads finding Jesus and praying for each other, with some getting baptised every few weeks, I know of 6 so far. We’ve started a Facebook group for the lads to keep in touch and their comments make for thrilling reading.

Love it.

We Are David. Safety- The Enemy of God pt4

This is pt4 of the ‘Safety- The Enemy of God’ series of posts that I’m writing to express several threads of thoughts that God’s weaving together in my spirit, a growing conviction. Read pt 1- man to monument cycle, pt 2- skunkworks & pt 3- a Jean Vanier quote.

God made me realise something recently, or to use christian jargon- “I had a revelation”.

My generation is David struggling to put on Saul’s armour before battle.

child-armour

The teenager David’s dad gave him the day off tending sheep to deliver a lunch of bread, cereal and cheese to his elder brothers in the paralysed Israelite army (see 1 Samuel 17).

Horrified that the army sits motionless in fear before this giant who’s daring to curse God David offers to take down the warrior, who’s breastplate alone weighs 9 stone, maybe not much less than David.

King Saul sends for David and remarkably hears him out and offers David his own armour, which proves too heavy for him.

There is a generation stepping up to fight in the battle, stepping up to take their place in extending the rulership of the kingdom of heaven on this dark earth. Of course, individuals graduate from this rising generation but this generation always exists, it’s perpetual.

My generation is the young David.

When the David generation unelegantly heaves their elder’s helmet over their head some older onlookers in the church may say “look at them, are they really strong enough to fight for what’s dear to us?”

When the David generation strains under the weight of a heavy breastplate some will say “give them more, they must grow stronger.”

When the David generation discards the clunky armour with relief some may cry “they don’t want to get their hands dirty!”

Just give us five small stones and send us out.

David Lion

No, we don’t trust our own strength either, but there’s a giant in the land and we know a God who loves to stack the odds against Himself and His people so He can win through for them.

That’s a word to my elder friends, now a word to my younger friends.

That giant is our future on this earth and beyond him is what we’re fighting for- the future, eternity, our promised land. We’ll never defeat the giant with our hearts set solely on him, we must keep eternity in our hearts.

Now, it can be easy for us youngers to feel encumbered by the administration and heavy provisions of the church, the slow moving beaurocratic systems that aim to keep us safe. It’s easy for us to despise what we haven’t built. It’s easy for us to want to throw off the heavy, restrictive helmet. But can we echo David when he told the King of how he’d learnt to trust and rely on God?

“Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.’
Saul said to David, ‘Go, and the Lord be with you.’
1 Samuel 17:34-37

Those of us who are young, can we say we know God’s heart, that we’ve been communing with Him like David did, psalming with his lyre while tending sheep in the hills? Can we say we love scripture, that we love the word of God, that His word runs and grows in our hearts and we’re filled to overflowing and passionate about living out His call on our lives?

If we can then we can drop the armour and go with a few small stones of faith and take the future.

Let’s know God and let’s be bolder than lions.

Wales Trip Developments – Running Through Sprung Doors

Hello.

A few weeks ago I wrote about my amazing mission to a man on a mountain, which ended with a pretty flabbergastish encounter. We were on a reconnaissance mission checking out locations for an upcoming trip with 40 teenage lads to Wales and God gave us a pretty splendid sign of where we should be (read about it).

Methodist chapel from driveway
What? Did I hear someone say ‘Skunkworks’? Surely not…

After Kevin (the “man on the mountain”) gave my friend and I each a brew he suddenly remembered something- “Ooo, there’s something I want to show you, if you have time? It’s a place up the road I’ve got ideas for.”

Still in his jimjams he pulled on a pair of boots and we walked with him to a splendid old Methodist church on the mountainside, on sale for just £80,000.

Methodist chapel windowsHe told us all about it- quite run down but with massive potential. He has ideas to work with a few local groups in the community- putting on open days, green living classes, dance classes, that sort of thing. He’s put in a bid of £50,000 for the property on behalf of the agency that owns the hostel he runs and we’ll see what comes of it.

My friend and I left the visit buzzing- God had spoken to us through a random man wearing pyjamas on a mountain in a far flung corner of Wales, a man who doesn’t have much money but has plenty of vision.

A couple of weeks passed.

I called Kevin to book the hostel but he apologised as another group had booked the hostel in the meantime. Poodles. Kevin knew them quite well as they’d visited the hostel before so he rang them up to see if they could rearrange, but alas, they couldn’t.

I guess it was a lesson in not being complacent. When God clearly blasted a door open and said “GO!” we chilled out and left it for later. Sometimes a door God opens is on a strong spring so you gotta run at it before it slams. I should have said to Kevin on the spot “we’d like to book this place”. Of course, I’m sure we’ll be able to go there in future years as it’s a very good all round bunkhouse.

Anyhow, the place we’re going to now was our next stop on the recon trip, and I dare say it’s nearly as good- splendid scenery, great facilities and lots of space.

Live and learn, and run through any door God opens.

Peace.