Hello my faithful readers! I promised that it wouldn’t be so long in between each of my posts, and I am just barely making the deadline at two weeks. The past few weeks have been jam packed with activities and I will try and give you an update of what is going on.
I left off my post last week telling you of the exciting opportunity we have to do a photography club. We spent that week prayer walking the greater South Acton area and the South Acton Estate (SAE). Since the area that we were covering was large, we decided to split it into three days, two days spent in South Acton, and one day on the Estate (SAE).
What is prayer walking you ask? It is something that I was not unfamiliar with, but had little practice till coming to London. Prayer walking is just that, walking and praying at the same time. Specifically, we are praying for the area that we are walking in, and the people that we come into contact with. Prayer is a vital part of our ministry and without it we can do nothing. It can be a bit odd at first walking and praying without closing your eyes and formally sitting, but it brings to mind that we are to be in a constant state of prayer. We are talking to our Heavenly Father, and it’s just like talking to a very dear friend. While prayer walking, we also made it a point to go out and try and meet teens and pass out flyers for photography club.
Our focus while we are here is to be SAE. The Estate is comparable to public housing in the States. London is divided into different boroughs (kind of like different parts of the city; in Jacksonville it’s like you live in Jacksonville, but you are in the Mandarin area; in the 727 area, you live in St. Pete, but you are in the Old Northeast area). Acton is in the borough of Ealing and the SAE is on the edge of South Acton. The council (like city governments) owns these huge apartment complexes, which are all in the same area. The estate is a bustling place. There are people from all walks of life; recent immigrants, lower income residents one-step away from being homeless, single parent families, families that have been there for a few generations and families that are in transition. Our field supervisor, Chris, truest desire is to be able to get forms of church that are relevant to that area, reproducible, and are mission minded and can be multiplied throughout the city. Our focus specifically is the teens on the Estate. From our conversations from some teens on the Estate there seems to be a prevailing sense of hopelessness and a feel that they can never rise above their circumstances.
One way that we are trying to connect with teens is through the Photography Club. We meet on Saturdays and then go into central London to take pictures. Our first week we had one girl come, Daniella. She is 17 and has lived in London for 10 years. We were able to go to St. James’ Park (right by Buckingham Palace) and take pictures and have good conversations with her. While out taking pictures we were able to converse with her and start to build a relationship. We were able to initiate a faith conversation with her, but she like other Londoners doesn’t see a need for God in her life.
This is where culture shock has hit me the hardest, the post-Christendom society in which I now live. Coming from the States, and from the south at that, there are churches on every corner, and often multiple ones to choose from. There is a host of options to choose from, and if you can’t leave your house, you can turn on your TV a given Sunday morning and have a plethora to choose from. It is quite hard to go thru daily life without hearing or having been exposed to something ‘Christian’. In London, the opposite is quite true. There is a HUGE population of Muslims. Not only your traditional Muslims, but there are Somali and more strict Muslims. There are also Sikhs, Hindu, and others of the like. Those beliefs are very connected with the culture from which they come from. Londoners are quite content with having never thought about God, and His place in their lives. It is a hard reality to face, and something that we, as Americans have to face in our sharing of the Gospel. It brings to light the need to share of Jesus and the power of His love and how that Jesus is more about ‘religion’, it’s a relationship. The way that people are going to want to change is to see how Jesus changes lives. That is our goal, to share life with people and in sharing life, sharing Jesus.
How do we go about sharing life with people? That is something that can be a bit hard to grasp, but with perseverance it can be done. It means going out of our comfort zone and meeting people to build relationships. It can be a bit hard because people can be skeptical of what you are doing. Being upfront and honest with who you are and what you are doing is the key. We are sure to tell people that we are followers of Jesus and that we have come to share that with others. I ask that you pray that we can continue to be bold and have no fear in sharing Jesus.
This post has turned into something entirely different that what I started out for it to be, but that is ok, because I feel it is important to share with you the heart of our purpose here. I ask that you continue to pray for the work we have here.
Praise and Prayer requests:
1. Hillary arrived yesterday! She received her visa on Thursday and was on a plane Sunday! We were able to pick her up from the train station yesterday (she flew into Paris and then took the Euro star into London). Pray that she can quickly become acclimated to London. Pray that Team London can bond well and that we can become focused on the task at hand. Pray for unity and that Satan is kept away.
2. Pray for September 26th. We are participating in a huge street Party on the South Acton Estate. There is a team from Canton, GA coming on Sunday and will be here for a week. We are in charge of helping out that week and leading them while in London. I’m a bit nervous about leading a group into central London, but I know God will see me thru!
3. Pray for me to further acclimate to the weather. Today we had our first rainy day and it was cold and rainy. It was a bit depressing because it rained ALL day. Not only that, but it was cold, and there was no sun whatsoever. I know that I have been blessed with good weather these past few weeks and for that I am grateful. Now I must prepare myself for the cold, blistery weather, but I know that God has called me here for a purpose and the cold will not be a hindrance.
4. Pray for our relationships that have started. Dave, Daniella, and Anthony specifically. We hope to be able to start a Bible Discussion group with them; they have all showed a positive response to studying the Word.
I thank you for taking the time to read this. I thank you for your prayers and ask that you continue to lift up my team and myself.