Our Fellow Labourers

December 12, 2017

I [Peter writing] have been struck by the lists of other people with him that always feature at the end of Paul’s epistles, and thought this month it would be good to give you a little account of the people we’re working with, so that you can be praying for them, and our relationships with them–

that we may all be one, as the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father; that we also may be in supernatural Trinitarian unity, that the world may believe that Jesus truly is the One sent from God” (cf. Jn. 17:21).

So, first of all there’s obviously the YWAM Liverpool team, which gathers around our dining table for a couple of hours every Monday to connect and pray together.

YWAM Liverpool was actually started back in the 1980s by Rita Leage and her husband David. They then became involved with YWAM’s frontier mission work in North Africa but after David sadly died a few years ago from cancer, Rita bought a house back in Liverpool. She is still very connected with the work in North Africa, but is wondering whether to pass that on and connect more with things here.

The YWAM Liverpool team leader is Jude McMaster. She came to Liverpool as a student and then did a DTS and has been here ever since, keeping the YWAM banner flying. Her vision has been particularly to reach out to women involved in prostitution. She had been involved with a church doing a regular outreach on Friday nights to girls on the streets, and then felt the need for there to be more long-term support to see true transformation in their lives. And thus was born Pearls Project. Jude is married to Zac, and has been on maternity leave after prematurely giving birth to Levi.

Another key figure who we don’t get to see as much of as we would like is Joel Greaves, who is only able to be involved part-time with YWAM as he also works for a school. But he does The Accounts – so is therefore a vital part of keeping things running smoothly!

Then there’s Shephen & Caitlin Mbewe, who were missionaries in the Mozambique bush pioneering YWAM Marromeu, until a few years ago when they moved to Liverpool. The move was primarily for the sake of their daughters finishing their education (Nyasha their eldest is now in her third year at Oxford, Sinead is staffing a DTS with YWAM Amsterdam, and Titenda is in her final year of A Levels), and for the last few years Shephen has continued to travel back to Southern Africa several times a year – while also speaking wherever he’s invited (not least on a certain DTS in Cambridge!) on the subjects of Mission and Worldview. But when someone recently offered to buy their family a house in Liverpool, that made them think they should connect more fully with the YWAM work in Liverpool, and so Shephen has been dreaming of what it would look like to again run DTS here. So when Shephen found out that we were moving to Liverpool he immediately wondered if we would be interested in leading the DTS–to which the answer was definitely No.

We were moving away from Cambridge to Liverpool in search of a fresh start where we could work out a healthy rhythm of life and ministry for our family without the challenge of enthusing a team of DTS trainees to fulfil the necessary requirements to be qualified YWAM missionaries. My vision had never been primarily about DTS–it had been about praying and proclaiming the promises of God until Cambridge is filled with night and day worship overflowing in mission to the ends of the earth. And my hope had been that the DTS would be a way of gathering a team to help fulfil that vision. For us as a family that hope was not fulfilled–and so here we are in Liverpool, going back to the drawing board to ask God again what He would like us to do with our lives–though I believe that our visionary seed that fell into the ground and died will yet produce much fruit through YWAM Cambridge and CamHoP and the lives of all those whom we were privileged to train as wholehearted disciples of Jesus. But while we might not be called to lead DTS in this next season, there are a couple that are – Michael and Stephanie Chesterman. Friends of Michelle (we’ll come to her eventually!), they are hoping to come from the States to join the team here sometime next year.

Last but definitely not least, there’s Michelle Brennan, who had overlapped with us during our time at YWAM Harpenden and New Covenant Fellowship. She moved up to Liverpool about a year ago and has been keeping the Pearls Project running while Jude has stepped back to look after her new baby. Michelle’s desire for a weekend of non-stop worship was the spark that lit the fire of the monthly worship gatherings that feel like they could be a catalyst for all sorts of things! And that brings us on to the other circles of ministry that we are involved with. ABLAZE is currently very much still in its earliest stages, and I would not claim to know what exactly it will become, but currently we are describing it as a partnership between YWAM and Burn 247 that involves monthly twelve hour (or more!) worship gatherings.

So that means I’ve been connecting with JJ Waters (Burn’s new national director) and William Byng (regional director for the North of England), as we try and work out what this will look like! Specifically, it looks like gathering a core team of people in Liverpool that are hungry for worship, prayer and mission.

Enter Ethan Miller, who has been hoping for there to be a regular Burn in Liverpool ever since his family moved from Norwich two and a half years ago. Ethan finished school last summer and is now doing a gap year, interning with his church. He is a skilful pianist, has already recorded an album of worship songs, and is keen to make sure that our worship gatherings overflow in intentional evangelism on the streets.

We are very grateful for the way God has connected us with Tony Roberts, a retired joiner and sound engineer, who several years actually bought a complete professional PA system specifically to be used for Christian events in Gladstones cafe. But for various reasons, the events didn’t quite take off. But someone connected us with him as we were trying to gather worshippers for our first event in October, and he has been more than happy to lend us his equipment and his expertise! He actually lives just across our local park, and has converted his basement into a three room recording studio. And he eagerly hoping that ABLAZE will become more than just an occasional worship event, but a gathering point and catalyst for all sorts of Christian creativity – new songs, new music, new artistic expressions of the kingdom of God that would capture the imaginations of a new generation!

None of this would of course be possible without the openness of the trustees of Gladstones Cafe, Peter Gray and Peter Buckley, who I join for prayer each Friday morning. They were both part of a house church in the 1980s that took over the cafe with a vision to start a cafe and bookshop that would act as a launchpad for outreach into the centre of the city. About five years ago though, it seemed like that vision had run its course – the cafe was losing money and people were saying the wisest course of action would be just to shut it down. But these two Peters were convinced that the fullness of God’s promise for the building had not yet been fulfilled, and so for the last few years they have given themselves as full-time volunteers to the task of relaying the foundations for Gladstones to be a healthy missional coffee-shop ministry hub. Thanks to their hard work (and I shouldn’t forget the administrative skills of Rada Railton!), that initial season of rebuilding is now complete, and so they asked Shephen if he would be interested in personally taking on the role of overseeing the Gladstones ministry. ‘Personally? No!’ was his reply; ‘but if you’re asking me as part of YWAM, then here’s what we could do…’ and he put some thoughts in writing as to what a YWAM/Gladstones partnership might look like, including the suggestion (inspired by Shephen’s experience of YWAM Amsterdam’s ‘Tabernacle of the Nations’ prayer room) that the Gladstones upper room might become a House of Prayer. So if any of you know anyone with a passion for (in no particular order) coffee, prayer, worship, evangelism and mission – there’s need for more labourers in this vineyard!

I have also been connecting with Manchester House of Prayer. Initially I thought this was the nearest group of people running explicitly with the ‘House of Prayer’ banner – although actually the very week after we had gone to visit MHoP, I learnt at the annual national House of Prayer gathering in Stoke that there was a Warrington HoP. At any rate, we connected really easily with Michael Ball, who has been pioneering the House of Prayer with his wife Becci since 2010. He offered to come and lead two hours of worship at our first ABLAZE event, and in turn invited us to join us for lunch the next week. In the midst of that meal-time conversation, he mentioned that they were about to start a six-month internship – and as we were driving home to Liverpool I felt that still, small nudge of the Spirit say I should think about getting involved.

So until April I’m spending Monday evenings and all of Wednesday in south Manchester with the two other interns Enyo and Mark, joining with their schedule of prayer, and specifically helping them develop their strategy for praying for their city. I should also mention our local Bethel Church, which is a two-minute walk from our front door (or would be, were it not for the added complication of a three-year old gleefully jumping in as many puddles as possible along the way). The church was born out of the 1934 Liverpool Revival, and is now a warm and welcoming FIEC church with a strong evangelistic emphasis and a healthy horde of children’s ministries.

So: YWAM, Burn 24 / 7, Gladstones (which is about to change its name to ‘Tree of Life’), House of Prayer (MHoP and WHoP and – dare I say it? – perhaps ‘LHoP’), Bethel, FIEC – how do all these relate together? I have been reminded recently that Christ’s Bride is awesome as an army with banners (Song of Songs 6:10) – which is to say that our various labels aren’t supposed to be boxes dividing us, but banners calling all the people of God to lift their eyes to God and align themselves with the standards of heaven. Even the Ark of the Covenant was never a box which contained God’s Presence – it was merely a footstool (1 Chron. 28:2) over which the fiery cloud of God’s glory rested.

So pray for us, and for all those that we are connected with,

that we would be encouraged in heart, knit together in love, and filled with the full riches of complete understanding, so that we may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2).

Much love, Peter, Taryn, Isaac and Anu