Last time I left you I was arriving in Harrogate under presssure. Without too much detail, the warning signs resulted in me becoming rather too familiar with the men’s restroom facilities at the Harrogate International Convention centre. Up close, I can assure you that the available units are kept to a high standard of cleanliness and hygiene. Except when they are covered in vomit. But that is not really something to talk about here.
So, despite best efforts, I ended up spending much of the first day of the conference in bed. “Releasing the Kingdom” – indeed. Missed the international networking opportunity and Bill Johnson’s first session. Got some good sleep and caught the tail end of some billiard on television.
I won’t go into great detail for the rest of the conference here except to say that it was a great time with numerous challenges and certainly a lot to ponder on.
We met up with the crew from St Barnabas North Finchley and together we traveled down country together in a mini bus, arriving in London about 7.30pm.
Thursday 1 May
The chronological ordering returns
Took the tube up to the leafy and New Wine significant town of Chorleywood where we met with David and Mary Pytches (founders of New Wine and general gurus). Everything I had heard was true and more. A delightful couple with so much history, passion, heart, humour… Loved every minute of being with them. They showed us Soul Survivor Watford (their home church), St Andrew’s Chorleywood (their old church) – David driving with Mary navigating and turning off the indicator when necessary. David gave me a copy of his autobiography. I almost cried when saying goodbye. I’m getting soppy in my old age.
Returned to London to meet with Henry, vicar of St Barnabas. A great man who came backwards into vicarship. I love it when God does that (and when the church allows it to happen).
Evening meal with John and Anne Coles – head of New Wine UK. John is a man who I already knew has a real gift with words. When he speaks, something special happens. Their hospitality and sharing ended off a brilliant day.
Friday 2 May
Friday had the rare title of being a “day off” in the itinerary. John headed off to central London to meet up with his daughter, so I decided to be brave and take the car we have been loaned up to Watford to catch up with some of the Soul Survivor interns. Great decision, poor effort. Made my way up the A1 with no problems, but when I got to Watford my bearings were all up the creek and pretty soon I was in a big muddle. Eventually found somewhere familiar (Watford Junction Station) and managed to make contact with Jo, and before too long stresses of driving were forgotten as four of us sat down to a fine pub lunch. Discovered that:
- apparently Jo looks like a porn star (according to the front of house staff)
- Jo is a very good evangelist
The trip back to London was even more eventful with myself lost before even leaving Watford. Started the wrong way around the M25, then struggled to find my way back to the M1. Glad to get back to Finchley where I abandoned the car in favour of the tube.
Met up with the UK Costleys briefly before they departed for a weekend in Yorkshire. Picked up the car and got very lost on the way home.
Saturday 3 May
Healing in the Streets. That’s what they call it and that’s what we did. 11am to 1pm we stood on the High Street of Finchley handing out fliers and offering to pray for people for healing. Some take up the opportunity, we sat them down and prayed. Fun. Scary. Mostly fun.
Then went to “Strawberry Vale” (which sounds very exotic, but is actually a council estate) where the church was running a community afternoon as part of Hope 08. Lots of food, bouncy castle, face painting, karaoke, football competitions… lots of fun.
Finished the day with dinner with the discipleship pastor and his wife. Very significant. He has a masters degree in organisational management and a very sharp mind. I loved it. John and I had a lot to talk about on the way home.
Sunday 4 May
A day of three church services. 11.30am, 5pm (HTB) and 7.30pm. Great sermons from John Coles, Archie Coates and Tim Hughes. Had prayer for sore muscles in my leg. Still have sore muscles in my leg but feel strangely at peace. Bedtime now.