So I spent 45 mintues earlier today writing big long entry about my adventures in London, only to have my computer freeze on me and lose everything. I'll try to remember it all. I'll do the first half today and the second half tomorrow.
I arrived in London on Saturday, completely wiped out and exhausted. I was picked up at the airport by the youth pastor, Andrew, and assistant pastor, Bernhard after an unheard of 20 minutes in customs. They were so nice and gracious and even bought me a bottle of water and some gum.
It was about a 45 minute drive from Heathrow into the district we were staying and I was all discombobluated about driving on the left side of the road. It is a good thing I didn't have to worry about it! I loved looking at all the old architecture around the city. Nothing is new there!! You just felt like you were living history while you were there. So very different from the newness of things here. Everything squished and crammed together. I started to understand the love of the US and our wide open spaces.
I arrived at the house I was staying: The vicarage. Julie and I got to stay with the vicar's (pastor) personal assistant, Jess, who was house sitting for the vicar and his family while they were away on "holiday." (vacation). We were to spend five nights at the house. This house is a huge one by London standards (four beds, two bath) with a huge garden/yard.
I took a brief nap before heading off to a BBQ to meet a lot of the team that we would be working with during the week. The BBQ was a lot like US, with tons of food, hamburgers and my first introduction to the love the Brits have with sausage. I met a bunch of neat folks that I just fell in love with immediately. Andrew and his wife Rachel (the BBQ was at their flat), Bernhard and wife Bridgette, Jo and Dave (married couple I was smitten with from the beginning), roommates Thomas and James, Dom, Nikki, Simon and his wife (can't remember her name), Ali (worship leader), and Jane.
Woke up on Sunday morning to go to church, which was right behind the vicarage! And met a bunch more people! After the service I got to go to a couple's house who live in a very "posh" neighborhood in London. They were Tim and Katie and their baby Jonas. Jonas' middle name is Rocket; isn't that a hoot? Tim is very into politics since he works for the BBC, and we spent a LOT of time talking US politics. This would not be the last time this subject came up during the week, as I found that a lot of folks in the UK are interested in US politics. I guess "The West Wing" is a very popular show over there. Kind of ironic to me. People had a lot of opinions on US governement, President Bush in particular.
Tim drove us back to the church in time for the evening service, which reminded me a lot of newsong....younger crowd, slightly faster and newer music, etc. Julie and I got to pray for our first of many people after the service and he was so blessed at the end that he let out a holler that must have made Julie and I jump about five feet into the air. Don't think I have quite had that reaction after a prayer time before. The prayer ministry at this church is still quite young, and many members of the church took advantage of having four of us from Newsong there and available to pray. I think I prayed for more people in one week than I did in the last ten weeks after church at Newsong. Also got to pray for another gal after church and see her set free from some major burdens about her family that she had been carrying with her.
I even got to pray on my last day there for a man who is involved with a pretty significant overseas ministry and I found myself almost mentally saying "I can't believe I am praying for this man! Me!"
Monday morning, woke up and headed back to the church to pray for Andrew and gather the team together to make sure we were clear spiritually to begin our week. Got some last minute "bits and pieces" taken care of, and the four of us from the US and Andrew headed out around the area to invite kids to the camp the next day.
What was really cool about doing this was that Julie, a youth kid named Luke, and myself ran into a couple of kids on a tennis court doing drugs. I remember them very clearly because one of them, Carly, we thought was a boy until she showed up at the camp the next day and we could see that she clearly was NOT a boy. What was neat, is that the two, Carly and David, David ended up accepting the Lord during the week, and Carly was very affected by the week's events and I believe for her salvation soon! Just neat to see how breakthrough in fear in myself and the others was evident. I think even a year ago I would have let the fear that they were doing drugs keep me from approaching them, but I was not at all put off by what they were doing!
What was so brilliant about the week's events is the way that they were set up. We did not outright invite the kids to church. We invited them to come and play football (soccer) with us in the park and got to know them before inviting them to church. My eyes were really opened this week to just how broken, rejected, abandoned, and parentless (not just fatherless, but completely parentless) this generation is. What these kids needed from us was to be there for them day after day. Loving them, caring about their lives, and being there for them. Not just another notch on our church belt, but really showing them that we'd be there for them all week. A lot of kids didn't come to church until later in the week. So many of them will not come on a first time invitation, but will come when you prove yourself to them throughout the week. Just brilliant.
So, the way it worked from Tuesday through Friday is that we would pray in the morning (more on that in a minute), set up and play football in the afternoon getting to know the kids playing, their friends and families, and through our talking with them, invite them to the church service held each night at the church. It was really bringing the church to them.
So that first Tuesday morning we began to pray over the week, and what the Lord really revealed to us was that for anything to be done that week, we really had to be broken over the way we have viewed and treated youth in our own hearts and with our own actions. To really repent over how we have forgotten the youth of today and neglected them ourselves. That we couldn't blame others, we needed to look inside ourselves. VERY powerful prayer time.