A brief interview in which I explain our plans for the next two years:
We have been invited by John & Suzi Peachey, leaders of the YWAM Harpenden Base and also the main leaders of our DTS, to stay on in Harpenden and be involved in catalyzing 24:7 prayer and worship on the base. We have also been asked by Connie Taylor and Andy Henman if we would be involved with leading a DTS (with a prayer/worship and mission focus) that they are hoping to start in Cambridge in September 2013 – and to prepare for that, if we would stay on as staff in Harpenden and get some experience staffing the Discipleship Training School. And we have been asked to stay in Harpenden by the Brazilian couple planting the church in Luton that we were working with for a week of outreach before heading to Africa.
So after praying, and after consulting with my parents and our Cambridge pastor Ian Hamilton, we have decided to commit ourselves to work with YWAM for the next two years: in Harpenden until summer 2013, and then in Cambridge to staff the DTS from September 2013 until it finishes sometime around Easter 2014. At which point we will then decide upon our next step from there.
2. I don’t understand all these acronyms!
— Who are YWAM?
YWAM is pronounced Why-Wham: the acronym stands for Youth With A Mission.
The organisation was started in 1956 by Loren Cunningham, who had a vision of a wave of young people going as missionaries to the ends of the earth. Fifty-five years later, YWAM is no longer just for youth but has “over 16,049 full-time volunteer workers in nearly 1,100 operating locations in 171 nations” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youth_With_A_Mission), making it the largest evangelical missionary organization in the world.
It is also the mission that Taryn’s parents used to be involved with, so when we went to visit the Harpenden Base for the first time we were pleasantly surprised to find that the first person we met was able to greet Taryn by name, having been her babysitter many years before!
— And what is a DTS?
DTS stands for Discipleship Training School.
The Discipleship Training School is a five month, hands-on Christian training program (‘a missionary boot-camp!’ was the comment of one friend when I tried to explain) with a 12 week lecture phase followed by an 8 week outreach phase. The program teaches you how to build an intimate relationship with God, develop personal character, and lead a lifestyle of expressing God’s love to others.
3. But what about all your talk of night-and-day prayer in Cambridge?
At the start of my year of working as an evangelist with CPC, I went and stood on the top of Castle Hill and read Psalm 132, where the psalmist prays that the Lord would remember David, “how he swore to the LORD and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob, ‘I will not enter my house or get into my bed, I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob”. And I prayed that God would make me like David, and give me the grace to work tirelessly until there was 24:7 prayer established in Cambridge. I have not forgotten that prayer.
We are going to Harpenden not because we have forgotten what God has called us to do in Cambridge, but because God still has more work to do in us before we will be ready for Him to do the work through us that He has planned. And, as we have said, our plan is to return in September 2013.
Besides this, it is perhaps obvious but nevertheless vital to say that what God is doing in Cambridge is far bigger than anything that Taryn and I can do on our own. It is exciting to see how God is continuing to gather key people: the most recent being Vishal Mangalwadi, who is just about to be named the John Howard Lecturer in Christian Heritage.
4. And what about your plans to go to India?
India is still very much in our hearts. And it is still our desire eventually to work long-term in India.
But this is not happening as soon as some might have first thought. For two reasons:
1. After the trial of Taryn’s British visa being refused after we got married, we have decided that it makes sense for her to get British citizenship, so that in the future we will not have to face that same nightmare situation. This should be possible after she has been here for three years, ie. in 2014. This was one factor in the choice we have just made to work with YWAM in England for the next two years.
2. It is hard to say at this point how long we must stay in Cambridge before we have finished the work God has given us to do here. Perhaps in two years we will be able to say that we are no longer needed in England and we will be able to immediately come to India, and perhaps then after a few years in India we will realize that these countries were just stepping stones on our way to some other place God had planned for us.
Or perhaps in two years we will realize that to accomplish the task God has given us we need to put down roots in Cambridge for the next fifteen years, and it might be that we are forty years old before we are able to go to India for more than a brief visit—and then perhaps we will spend forty years of fruitful ministry in India.
Moses spent forty years in Pharaoh’s palace before he even made an attempt to deliver his people from bondage to the Egyptians, and then spent another forty years in the wilderness before he was finally ready to be used by God. And if you’d asked him at twenty-four what his plans were, I suspect he would have already had an inkling of the fact that he was called to deliver his people. (For even at birth his parents had seen that he was “no ordinary child”, as the NIV puts it in Hebrews 11:23). But I doubt he had any idea of how long it would take for him to begin the work God had prepared for him!
One exciting thing about being involved with leading DTS is that we will have opportunity to begin leading short-term outreaches to India, even while we are still based in England.
5. You seem strangely sure of what God has called you to do. Doesn’t James 5:13-14 say not to be so confident about what you will do in the future?
The passage in question: Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:13-17
Some brief thoughts:
a) James is specifically criticizing those who are boasting about the profit (4:13; cf. 5:1-3) they are going to make – we are not in this for the money!
b) We happily do confess that all of this is subject to the will of God (4:15)
c) Nevertheless, we have spent time seeking God’s will, and looked to Godly people to test what we feel God is saying to us. And this means that our situation is not that of those criticized in verse 13 for presuming that they will be able to do what they want to do, but rather that of those in verse 17 who know what good they must do, and so must resolve to do it!
6. Okay, you seem to have thought this through. What can I do?
Pray for us. If you don’t receive our not-quite-monthly prayer-letter, then please just ask and we would be delighted to send you a copy.
And please consider supporting us financially. As YWAM missionaries we receive no salary and depend upon the cheerful contributions of those who believe in what we are doing.
But we want your friendship much more than we want your money. We really appreciate all of the ways that you keep in touch: emails, letters, cards. Our address from the 3rd May will be 7 Highfield Oval, Harpenden, Herts AL5 4BX.
Even better though, for those of you who are able, is if you come and visit us. As it is written(!) : “I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write you with pen and ink; but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face.” (3 John v.14).
Anything else you’d like to know about our forthcoming plans? Any more questions that we haven’t answered?
Ask them in the Comments below.