I am so excited that this gets to be the first instalment of my “God” section.
For the past 10 days, I have been hosting a missions team from the American missions organisation Hope Missions. It has been such an amazing week. I can’t put into words how amazing this week has been, but I will try.
This trip has been almost two years in the planning; in 2012, I travelled to America on my own to do a few missions trips with Hope Missions, and struck up an amazing relationship with the founding family Shawn and Patty Doss. The following year (2013), my sister and I went to spend two weeks with them for thanksgiving, and during that time we began talks of planning a trip to England with a missions team.
One of the hardest things about trying to organise a mission trip to England, is that when you think of missions, England isn’t exactly the first place that comes to mind. Most people think of missions being a trip to a third world country where english is not spoken, and they live in mud houses, however the primary objective of a mission trip is to share and spread the gospel, and under that objective, England desperately needs a mission trip. Flash-forward to March, 2015 now, Shawn and Patty were able to bring a team of 10 over from various states in America to serve and share the gospel. Here’s a brief “diary” of their time here.
- Sunday: We worshiped at my family church in Manchester (Good News Assembly) and then spent the afternoon evangelising in Manchester city centre. What was most striking about our experience was the hardness of people’s heart to receive the gospel. By the grace of God, I have been privileged to be able to share the gospel in a few places around the world, and I would say England is the hardest place to evangelise; people did not want to know God or what we were passing out. We live in a culture that has everything materially, and so does not want anything spiritually. This is why it is easier to preach the gospel in a less affluent country – their basic needs make them more receptive to the message of hope that the gospel carries. To be honest, it was quite discouraging for the missions team that came, but we persevered and sowed seed.
- Monday: We had the opportunity to serve with the Eden bus of The Message Trust. Wow. Did I say wow? The work they do is PHENOMENAL. To briefly summarise, they literally take the gospel to the streets. They have a bus that they refurbish and kit out with games consoles, music, and exciting activities and park up in a local community weekly for a number of weeks to invite the local kids to come and hang out in the bus. Each week, they have a “God slot” where they share the gospel with the kids, but their primary aim is to support churches in the local community to develop their youth departments and share the love of Christ in a effective, practical, and culturally relevant way. They go into some of the most deprived areas in Manchester, and are even launching the Eden project in other cities in the UK!
- Tuesday & Wednesday: We served at the Mustard Tree in Manchester. This was probably one of the most inspiring portions of the week for me; the story behind Mustard Tree is like a fairy tale. Many years ago, the Christian founders had a desire to feed the homeless in Manchester and started out handing out sandwiches on the streets of Manchester at night time. Today, Mustard Tree has become one of the largest charities in Manchester that provides “halfway” services for people with various stories who are wanting to become integrated in society. Their freedom project supports people who are homeless, substance misusers, asylum seekers, recently released from prison, or who just need support and experience to find jobs. We met some amazing people whose stories greatly touched my life. We were able to serve alongside with a Christian who had fled from Iran after being tortured and mutilated for his faith and he described to us his struggles with being a Christian in a Muslim country and how it cost him everything he had (literally) to flee to England. He showed us scars and in not-so-many words, made it clear to us that his ordeal was not to be sniffed at. We are so lucky to live in a country where (at the moment) we are free to practise Christianity. We were able to share the message of the gospel with so many people at the organisation, and I was blessed to be able to serve such a great organisation. You see, we went in to help them sort through their basement which was packed full of months of donations, and as we practically met their needs, we were able to share the gospel with them. This was an awesome way to share the gospel with this organisation, because many of the people who worked their were not Christian, but by our service that week, and our interactions with them, the light of the gospel was seen, heard, and manifest in their lives.
- On Thursday, we prepared to travel down to London to do some evangelism in the capital, but we Could not travel down without first making a pitstop in Stratford-Upon-Avon where William Shakespeare was born, lived, baptised, married, and was buried.. If you have not been there, is it GORGEOUS!
Hands down, it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life. We were able to visit the church where Shakespeare was baptised, and buried, and it was mind blowing to read that some parts of the church we built in 1210!!! I will be going back to visit for a weekend, and highly recommend it to anyone else!
- On Friday, we headed down to Trafalgar Square, and Hyde Park in London to share the gospel with any, and everyone who would take a tract from us, or stop to listen. I was personally able to share the gospel with a gentleman who was initially very closed to the gospel, but listened intently as I shared that only through Christ can we have redemption because the wages of our sins are death, and we will stand before God when we die. The conviction could easily be seen in his eyes. I was also able to share the message of the gospel with a Muslim lady who marvelled at the fact that our faith is not by works, it is a gift of God and there are no rituals you need to “qualify” for the gift. I could again tell that the pure message of the gospel resonated with her. The thing I love most about Hope Missions is their use of the actual gospel when evangelising. Most of the time organisations or evangelism teams use Christian tracts that share the message of the hope of the gospel, but not the pure gospel. It is only the gospel that has the power to save. Shawn Doss (the founder of Hope Missions) has been able to develop some great resources to aid in sharing the gospel, but in the mean time check out this youtube video explaining how to use the resources. They have an app that’s available for free download on the apple and android app stores.
- Saturday was a free day and we visited most of the historical sites in London such as the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and the London Eye. Even though I was born and raised in England, I hadn’t made my “tourist” rounds yet, and I can say, this was the first day I felt truly proud to be British. To see hundreds and thousands of years of history preserved so carefully was absolutely breathtaking. Two words: Westminster Abbey. MUST SEE!
- Sunday: I loved Sunday because we got to visit the Metropolitan Tabernacle which is the church that Charles Spurgeon served at between 1854 and 1892. The sermon was one of the most challenging I have ever heard, and I can’t even put it in words, so here is the link if you want to check it out: http://metropolitantabernacle.org/Sermons-on-Romans/The-Law-Etched-in-the-Heart. My favourite thing about this sermon was how it challenged me to discipline my children. Dr Masters made reference to how the standards of God are innately built into our lives, and one the reasons it is so difficult to get people to understand the judgement of Christ to come is because we currently live in a generation where punishments and consequences are disappearing from our homes. This makes the concept of being punished for our sins hard to grasp because of the lack of punishment or discipline in our homes as children. When the bible says spare the rod, spoil the child, I now believe that it is not only in reference to them developing good character, but also because it helps them to be able to understand biblical principles with greater ease as they have experienced the earthly manifestation of that principle.
But I can not wrap up this post without mentioning that no only did God use this trip to sow the seeds of the gospel, but He also used it to do a work in each of our lives individually. By serving, and being in communion with each other, He showed us our pride, selfishness, rudeness, disrespect and laziness. It’s amazing how God uses our service to others to conform us to His image.
So it’s 1:15 am, and I’m exhausted after these past few days, so I’m going to wrap this up.
Please check out the organisations we worked with this week and keep them in your prayers. If you are looking for a gospel centered mission trip, check out the Hope Missions website for their list of trips this year.
A huge thank you to Shawn & Patty for letting me host them, to Ayo for being my co-host, to the ladies in my church to fed us, and to all the organisations we worked with and ministered to!
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The next “God” blog will be posted on May, 11th 2015