Before the summer we heard incredible reports of thousands of people responding (in some way) to the good news of Jesus on the streets of Reading! We are accustomed to hearing such reports from far-flung places, but down the road!!! If you are anything like me and have been so blessed through coming to know the love of God our Father through His Son, if He has brought joy, freedom, peace and profound meaning to your life as He has to mine, then you, like me, probably pray for our nation from time to time. I hope you join me in regularly asking Father to do the incredible things in our land that we hear are happening in other places. So, if you are anything like me, you would have been wondering, “Is this it? Is this what we have been praying and hoping for? Has revival finally come to England?” So a few of us decided to take a look and went to Reading to join in their outreach for a morning.
First impressions of ‘The Turning”, as it has been named, were that God was doing something remarkable in a very ordinary looking church with very ordinary looking people… that’s just the kind of thing God does all the time! He uses the weak to shame the strong and the foolish to confound the wise. They had run a mission week with some American evangelists and had seen 60 or so folk respond every day, so they decided to continue and over 2000 had responded when last I heard. What started on the streets led to members of that church growing in confidence in sharing the good news so that they started to lead friends, neighbours, schoolmates and colleagues to Christ. Wow!
So is this what I’ve been looking for? My honest answer is yes and no. Yes, in that it is wonderfully encouraging to see that level of openness to faith in Jesus in our land. No, in as much as the method used didn’t sit entirely well with me, even though I’m thrilled for our friends in Reading and continue to pray blessing on their work. We all had to use a written script to speak to people, leading them through a set of questions and answers to a point where they pray by repeating a prayer we say. Being an inquisitive sort, I’d like to ask more questions about what is going on for them! Did they pray out of an earnest desire to know God, or was it just easier to pray than to interrupt and divert the evangelist from their desired goal. There’s no denying something remarkable is happening despite my own discomfort with methods. The challenge to me is to be as passionately committed to proclaiming the good news of the Father’s love for mankind and creation as our friends in Reading! The challenge to us is to find ways of communicating the Good News that speak to our culture, answering the sincere questions of our friends and loved ones. I’m currently writing a preaching series called “What is the Gospel?” where I attempt to stir us up to this task… please watch out for it, listen carefully and let me know what you think and any ideas you may have.
There is no doubt that God is doing great works in the UK. We have seen the church grow in the gifts of healing, tongues and prophecy. We have received a deeper understanding of the Father’s heart for the world, churches are working more together than they have for a long time and there have been significant outbreaks of heavenly activity in places like Reading, thousands receiving prayer in Coleraine in Ireland and over 300 kids responding to Jesus in one day in a school when Lindz West of LZ7 preached to them. These are all signs that the kingdom of heaven is coming, that the spiritual climate in our nation is changing for the better.
So what is our response? Let’s persevere in doing good wherever and whenever we can. As the apostle Paul says, “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not lose heart” – Galatians 6:9. You see, God is at work, but He works in partnership with people. So let’s continue in the work with renewed faith, understanding from the signs of the times, that something wonderful is happening!