Looks Like We Need Another Reformation
“It is time for you to act, O LORD – Your law is being broken” Ps. 119:126
Today the British newspapers announce that “Gay marriage is poised to become law after it was overwhelmingly backed by the House of Lords”. For those of us whose definitions of justice are based on Biblical truth and not just populist politics, this is a sorrowful day. As Jesus said when asked about marriage: “Have you not read that He who made them ‘made them male and female’…”
But I say to you “Rejoice! And again I say—rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4). The prayers we have prayed for God to have mercy upon our country have not been ignored. Though the rulers of our nation are setting themselves against the Lord and against His anointed, still God is in control – and indeed Psalm 2 tells us that he sits in heaven and laughs. And we must learn to laugh – as much at our own hypocrisies (hence the cartoon) as at the ungodly policies enacted in the name of justice by those that have rejected the God of justice. For one thing, let’s not forget that the 16th Century Reformation in England was born in the context of King Henry VIII’s blasphemous exaltation of himself to the position of Head of the Church for the express purpose of redefining marriage so as to permit himself to divorce his wife. For another thing, while it is important that we are able to agree with God’s word in calling sin ‘sin’, it is just as (if not more!) important that we are able to agree with God’s word in confessing that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst!” (1 Tim. 1:15).
Just last week, while doing some street evangelism in Cambridge with a guy from New York, I met two girls who said they were Christians. We began to encourage them with the simple gospel, and with our testimonies. And suddenly conviction came upon one of the girls and she confessed to being in an adulterous relationship – ouch! What do you do with that? We tried to do what Jesus did when confronted with an adulteress (Jn. 8) – refuse to condemn her, but clearly name her sin as sin. I was able to share my testimony of God setting me free from pornography (which Jesus says –Mt. 5—is just as able to send a person into the fires of hell), and we led her in repenting of her sin to God, and receiving His forgiveness, making clear that she must bring her sin “into the light” (Jn. 3) and confess to all involved. We charged her friend with the task of keeping her accountable to do this, and went on our way, astonished by the Spirit’s convicting power, and by the simplicity of the gospel. I hope that all of you will likewise find yourselves astonished – even laughing – with joyful surprise as see that God is at work in our country in a way above and beyond anything we might have asked or imagined. I say this because I believe that in the last couple of weeks I have seen the first-fruits of the Revival that I dare to hope is coming to the UK.
Revival Is Now
Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11:24-25
Three weeks ago, myself and Taryn had the privilege of visiting Victory Church in Cwmbran, which is experiencing what they are calling a ‘Welsh Outpouring’ (http://www.victorychurch.co.uk/the- welsh-outpouring-at-victory) – they have seen hundreds of healings and salvations in the nightly meetings they have been holding over the last two months. It began with the healing of a man who had been wheelchair-bound for ten years – “he picked up his chair and ran around the church with his chair held over his head like a trophy”. And in doing some simple evangelistic outreach ourselves we have begun to see fruit like we have never experienced before! In a week of evangelism in Cambridge our team saw over seventy salvations! To put this into comparative context—in a full year of working ‘as an evangelist’ in Cambridge before joining YWAM I did not see a single person actually make the decision after hearing the gospel to decide to follow Jesus.
And this time, I personally prayed with three on just our first day of evangelism, and three more over the next few days, to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour. I’ll tell you three of the stories as a testimony to encourage you and glorify God:
#1 Char walked past together with a friend holding a giant cardboard cut-out Matt Smith. I asked her whether she believed in God. She said Yes. ‘Do you believe in Jesus?’ ‘Not really.’ ‘ Why would you believe in God if you don’t believe in Jesus? Believing in God isn’t even cool anymore! Believing in Jesus is the best thing about believing in God! Can I explain to you really simply the message of Jesus?’ ‘Um, okay.’ And I explained to her the gospel, using the simple four-point outline that I have found really useful: 1. God’s love; 2. Our sin; 3. Jesus’ death and resurrection; 4. The decision to trust in Jesus. I asked whether she would like to make the simple decision to trust in Jesus. ‘Yes, I guess so!’ ‘Could I lead you in a simple prayer?’ ‘Okay!’ Char prayed and immediately upon finishing declared ‘I feel really—happy!’ Which gave me the chance to tell her that that is the joy of the Lord – for all of heaven rejoices whenever a single person returns to the Lord.
#2 I went over to Izzie and Anna, two of the teenagers there as part of the Wildfire team, to ask how their evangelism was doing. ‘Not so well,’ they admitted somewhat mournfully. ‘No one wants to talk to us’. Two teenage boys (of which one said he was a Christian but the other not) were passing, so I called out to them: ‘Could you come over here?’ They came. ‘These two girls have come all the way to Cambridge to tell people about Jesus and no-one wants to listen to them. Could you spare two minutes while they share their testimonies with you?’ I asked, putting the girls on the spot. Anna didn’t like the idea of suddenly being put on the spot to speak, but Izzie stepped up to the mark and shared her testimony. I then shared the simple gospel. Noah had joined us and he shared his testimony. We asked them whether they would like to commit their lives completely to Jesus – because Christianity is boring if you’re half-hearted about it. They said yes, and I led them in a prayer of salvation.
#3 Olivia was a teenage girl walking past with guitar. We were guitaring and worshipping so I called her over. She came. ‘Would you like to join us?’ ‘Sure!’ ‘We’re just worshipping Jesus.’ ‘Oh… I’m not religious.’ We told her Jesus wants relationship not religion… ‘Here, let Noah share his story with you.’ Noah shared his (very dramatic) testimony of God saving him from suicidally shooting himself. I then gave her a Good News bracelet and explained its meaning—and therefore the full gospel: [Green=Creation, Black=Evil, Red=Death(of Jesus), White=Forgiveness, Blue=Holy Spirit, Yellow=Heaven]. ‘Would you like to trust in Jesus?’ By now there were tears in her eyes: ‘Yes!’ (You can watch Connie Taylor, our YWAM Cambridge leader, sharing some more testimonies of the week here.
Update on the Revival & Reformation DTS: Possible Site
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2
Speaking of Revival and Reformation, we still need you to pray for the DTS we are starting this September. We’ve been asking you to pray for i. students, ii. staff, and iii. a site for the DTS. Well, we have some very exciting news regarding a possible site—a large (15+ bedrooms, all ensuite) guesthouse in excellent condition, within five minutes of the train station. We would be able to make one of the rooms a permanent prayer room and then fill up the rest with missionaries committed to night and day prayer and the proclamation of the gospel. And it would cost less than a million pounds, which for that size of house is a genuine bargain.
Now – of course! – we do not have that amount of money! But—
i. I saw this place for sale while investigating possibilities for rented accommodation in Cambridge, and as soon as I saw it, I felt God give me faith that to purchase it is possible. And He also gave me a strategy! He gave me the verse from Revelation 5:11-12 (which immediately came to mind), “I looked and I heard… thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb…’” So I felt that we should be asking (in prayer and to whoever might want to partner with us) for a ‘thousand thousands’ – ie. one thousand donations of £1000 (which would make £1 million).
ii. And God has already given Taryn and me a thousand pounds as a seal of a promise for a big community house in Cambridge. The story goes like this: after spending two weeks over the summer leading Circuit Riders outreach in London and living together squeezed into a former vicarage in the middle of London, Taryn and I were talking about our mutual desire to live in worshipping gospel-centred community. ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have a house in Cambridge filled with fiery-eyed DTS students?’ We immediately looked online—just a four bedroom house looked like being half a million pounds. The next morning as I was reading my Bible, the seemingly impossible thought of such a house refused to go away. I was reading Romans, and tried to focus on the text. It was about Abraham, a man who received an apparently impossible promise from God, and who “did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God…being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Rom. 4:20-21). What particularly caught my attention was that God sealed that promise to Abraham with a specific sign – circumcision. ‘What,’ I wondered, ‘might be the sign of God’s sealing this promise to me of a big community house in Cambridge?’ Immediately into my mind came ‘£100 – today’. And immediately unbelief rose in my heart – because it’s easy to belief vaguely that someday somehow it might be possible to have a big house. But it’s difficult to believe that by the end of today someone would give me £100.
Anyway, that day I was in St Alban’s Cathedral with the September DTS. While there I sat down in a pew to pray, and again the thought of this house came into my mind, and the awaited seal of £100 – ‘would it come by the end of the day?’ I put my hand in my pocket and took out my wallet – and opened it to find a cheque for £100 that I had been given some time earlier, but hadn’t cashed. ‘Does that even count?’ I wondered. It felt like God had given me a note on folded paper, and I’d unrolled it to read the words, ‘You might already have the resources…’ I resolved to go to the bank and cash the cheque as soon as we got back from St Albans to Harpenden. However, when we did get back, it turned out that the bank was closed – this being a Saturday, it closed at midday. Again I had the mental picture of God giving me a note on folded paper, and this time the sense was that I was discovering I’d only read half the message: ‘You might already have the resources… but I want to do this another way’. I walked home, puzzled. Sometime that afternoon, no-one having yet given me any money (!), I decided to check my online bank account, just in case. And as I opened it I was astonished to see that the most recent gift was a gift for £100 from someone who is not among my regular supporters. I looked again – it was not £100 but £1000!
I called up the generous giver to express my gratitude. They told me that they had given in response to a dream from the Lord: “God told me I should give it to you ‘For the baby’ – not necessarily a physical ‘baby’, but some project that you’re beginning”. So we are hoping that within the next week we will have everything in place to begin asking in earnest for contributions towards a YWAM Cambridge house (our sense is that whether or not we are able to buy this actual house, that God has now shown us the sort of houses that we should be looking to purchase as permanent properties for YWAM Cambridge). More information will follow, but please do pray that God would raise up those thousand £1000s. We have already had two more thousand pound gifts towards the house, before we’ve even begun to actually ask for anything.
And in other news
Taryn celebrated her birthday on Monday.
I had a wonderful birthday weekend. Peter and I had just finished an *extremely* busy month with the Fire and Fragrance team doing outreach in Harpenden, Luton, London and Cambridge. There was lots of (all night) prayer and worship and lots of gloriously fruitful and exciting street evangelism. And so we arrived at the weekend of my birthday, having bid the team farewell, glowing and ready to celebrate. We went to my friend Asha’s community house on Saturday night, and then to Phil and Sarah’s flat on Sunday night.
Peter and I spent the afternoon of my birthday wandering around central London. We dawdled from Phil and Sarah’s house (right next to the Kennington Oval) along the Thames, basking in the sunshine, stopping every few minutes to lean over the wall and remark on the strange objects floating past, or sit down on a bench and watch the joggers perspiring by. We had lunch at a Chinese restaurant with a convenient lunch deal and a view of Big Ben (when in doubt, eat rice!). We then went up on the London Eye, on what must have been the most perfect day to do so in the whole year! The city stretched as far as the eye could see under a sky like a blue field filled with gambolling, fleecy sheep. Gorgeous.
Peter prayed a birthday prayer for me right at the very top of the ride. I got to call India, and then we attended a transcendentally beautiful evensong service at St. Paul’s, and then topped it off with dinner at Phil and Sarah’s. They asked me ‘what does one do on one’s birthday in India?’ and I said ‘gather family and eat a big meal together’, and then Phil said ‘well, here we are!’ as we tucked into the heaped plates of rice and Thai curry before us. I realised in that moment that God really does give me the desires of my heart!
Grace, peace, and much hope, Peter & Taryn