The Harvest Is Ripe!

This is the fifth part in a series of posts on The Circuit Riders school.
The fourth is here, the third is here, the second is here, and the first here.

It’s been a crazy few days, with too much happening to have any time to let you the watching world know all that’s been happening. Let’s see what I can manage in this next half hour…

On Monday night, Brian Brennt was speaking from Matthew 10 on the Commission we have to go and preach the gospel. And it’s so good to be reminded of the fact that the harvest is ripe. And though we doubt and become dismayed by the lack of response to the gospel, we can simply remind ourselves that THUS SAITH THE LORD. And if we’re not seeing the response we long to see, the problem’s not a lack of ripe harvest, but a lack of workers.

But Monday night was about more than just teaching on the fact of the Great Commission and the promise of harvest. No! It was itself a genuine commissioning to go and do it. And Brian invited missionary statesman Lynn Green (who’s been with YWAM since its first School of Evangelism, back in the days before YWAM even did the Discipleship Training School) up on stage to encourage us with his story and to pray for us. And his story is pretty cool, so I’ll share a few details:

Arriving in Switzerland for the first School of Evangelism (back in the days before YWAM did the DTS) only to discover that he’d forgotten the to bring the address with him. But he could remember a PO Box number, so he managed to get himself to a Lausanne post office (which by the grace of God happened to be the right post office!) and stuck a note on the PO Box to say that if anyone from YWAM came they should wake up the man sleeping in the corner. And Loren Cunningham arrived a few hours later to check the daily mail and found Lynn! Thus began a beautiful friendship.

Later, Loren invited Lynn to come with him to do some preaching–but barely a week into this, Loren left Lynn to lead the team on his own while Loren headed elsewhere. So Lynn found himself suddenly leading a team: not quite sure what he was doing, and somewhat frustrated at Loren for abandoning him. But they made their way to a little town called Eagle Grove in Iowa, and arranged to lead some youth meetings. And at one of these, as Lynn tried to close the meeting before it got too late with some simple prayer — revival broke out! As the youth group began to pray simply from their hearts, the Holy Spirit came on them, convicting them of their sins and then assuring them of their forgiveness. And the next evening they brought their friends to experience the same power of the gospel that had just become real to them.

And then Lynn and his wife Marty prayed for us all, releasing us to do the same things they have done and greater! So that was Monday. Then on Tuesday, Taryn and I discovered that we are leading the Circuit Riders outreach team to London.

We had the chance to meet up with them yesterday lunchtime for some prayer and worship, and wow! they are an amazing team. Full of faith and joy and zeal. And it is a privilege to serve with them. We’re not quite sure yet about all the details of which churches we’ll be working with and so on.

But we do know that we’ll be on our way to London on Saturday morning, in time to join the kingdom flashmob in Trafalgar Square at 2pm.

Please join us if you can!

Videos For The Visual

This is the fourth part in a series of posts on The Circuit Riders school. The third is here, the second is here, and the first here.

The weekend is over, and the second week of Circuit Riders training begins!

And for those of you who prefer less words and more live action video footage, we’ve got some of the latter specially for you. With just a little brief commentary.


Interviews With Some Circuit Riders

A few interviews with some of the beautiful Circuit Riders, starting with the incredible Paul. Who is going to be one of those guys that has books written about him. And then the joyful Francis from Germany, who was on my DTS outreach! Note too the tents that people have been staying in. (Although admittedly I’ve been in my comfortable little flat…)

The Radical Servant Song

This is the Brian Brennt that I mentioned before, singing the (lyrically simple but theologically profound) ‘Radical Servant’ song. Which is another one of the core values of the ‘Revival Culture’ of these we Circuit Riders. And this was the end of Friday evening’s message about humility. Which you might be able to download somewhere — if anyone tells me where, then I’ll put up the link.

We’re Bananas For Jesus

Sunday afternoon we were in Luton doing evangelism among the crowds that were gathered to see the Olympic torch come through the town, and also to see the Love Luton carnival parade. And here, campaigning for justice in Fairtrade banana costumes are a couple of YWAMers. Who (like all of us in YWAM) are “bananas for Jesus”.

Oh — and I should probably say — while we were doing evangelism, several more people accepted Jesus! Do you mind if I keep mentioning that whenever it happens?

Brief Highlights From The Last Few Days

This is the third part in a series of posts on The Circuit Riders school. The second is here, and the first here.

A few highlights from the last few days:

Brian Brennt arrived Thursday morning and was teaching on ‘The Unoffendable Heart’, perhaps the most important piece of what these we Circuit Riders call ‘The Culture of Revival’. What is the unoffendable heart? In a nutshell, it’s the heart-attitude of Jesus: who even when he was being crucified, was still forgiving his enemies and excusing them to God the Father on account of the fact that they didn’t really know what they were doing. And in a series of uncomfortably insightful illustrations, Brian explained what this might look like in our lives.

One of his examples: You’ve been on outreach, you’ve been sharing the gospel with lots of people and you’ve been praying for the sick to be healed. But with no result. And another guy on your team comes and tells you that you’re lacking the power of God and you need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And because God is sovereign, and His purpose for you is to learn to be more and more like Jesus, the guy that tells you this is the guy who struggles with body odour and has few social skills. And after telling you that, he immediately (without waiting for you to give permission) slaps his hand against your forehead and begins shouting in your face for the Holy Spirit to come upon you. And what do you do? Well, because you have an unoffendable heart, you don’t critize. No! Instead, you admit that you had really been wanting to see more of the power of the Holy Spirit in your ministry, and so you thank him whole-heartedly. Simple 😉

Then, Thursday afternoon and we were going out again on outreach. I had a few lengthy conversations with some Muslims in Bury Park. While meanwhile Taryn was the one doing the work of an evangelist. And I have her permission to hijack her story, so here goes: She’d endured a few rejections from people uninterested in her offer to tell them about Jesus. And then was walking past a Chinese man sitting on a bench, when she felt the Holy Spirit urge her to talk to him. But he looked downcast and even angry, and so she continued walking. The Spirit’s urging continued however, so she turned back and walked again past the bench, but again he looked so unreceptive that Taryn didn’t dare interrupt his grim quietness. However, another man sitting on an adjacent bench suddenly stood up and told Taryn to sit next to him. Surprised, she did so — and tried to tell this other man about Jesus! But he wasn’t interested and so immediately made a hasty exit from the scene. Now sitting on the bench next to the Chinese man, Taryn finally plucked up courage to talk to him.
— Do you have five minutes for me to tell you about Jesus?
— No.
But she was undeterred.
— Do you have one minute?
He grudgingly agreed, and Taryn talked him through the simple gospel tract.
‘God loves you so much that He gave His Son to die for your sins’.
Suddenly, and for the first time, a flicker of joy lit up the man’s eyes.
‘Does that sound like good news to you?’ He nodded.
‘Would you like to give your life to Jesus?’
To Taryn’s surprise, again he nodded. Momentary shock on Taryn’s part ensued, but luckily the tract was still there in front of her, and she was able to lead him in reading off the Prayer of Repentance from the tract.

And when we got back to the Factory it turned out that that was just one of about two dozen stories of people coming to faith in Jesus.

The Byrd Has Landed

This is the second part in a series of posts on The Circuit Riders school. The first is here.

Tuesday morning came and although not quite the Man that we’re all waiting for (Jesus), Andy Byrd arrived, overflowing with zeal for the pregnant Bride of Christ to give birth to a ‘Gideon army’ of “mighty men of valour”.

If that sentence was too full of outlandish biblical metaphor for you to make any sense of it, then let me point you to Ephesians 5:22-32 for the analogy between Christ and the Church and a husband and bride, to Romans 8:22-23 for the image of the Church groaning in labour pains for the full redemption of all things, and to Judges 6-8 for the story of faithless fearful Gideon being renamed a “mighty man of valour” by God and then going on to defeat the enemy with a tiny band of three hundred unarmed men. And just to top it all off, Andy’s own bride has just given birth to a son called Valour. Or rather, since he’s American, ‘Valor’.

My attempt to sketch the inimitable Andy Byrd

And he’s most definitely American. Loud, unashamedly enthusiastic, filled with visible urgency for the gospel to be heard by everyone alive — but wait, why shouldn’t that final description be true of any Englishman? And what we have been learning in these last couple of days is that if we are to be Circuit Riders who embody the call to revival and reformation, then we must be people who influence rather than being influenced by the surrounding culture.

What does that look like? Well, if you had come into The Factory at around 11 o’clock yesterday morning, you would have seen not quite three hundred people shouting at the top of their lungs. For over ten minutes. Which some would say is irreverent. And unfitting for a service of Christian worship. And most would certainly agree is unusual in British culture. And perhaps even completely culturally inappropriate.

But I have a Bible that tells me that at least once in history God commanded his people to shout at the top of their voices to bring down the power of the enemy (Joshua 6:20), and that obeying the commands of God (1 Corinthians 7:19) is always more important than being culturally appropriate — even when those cultural marks are good and God-given.

Anyway, that and some evangelism training in the afternoon — Find a partner… now you have sixty seconds to preach the gospel to them — GO! — meant that by the time it came to do outreach this afternoon most people were raring to go. I had the privilege of taking forty-nine (seven sevens!) evangelists to St Albans (where barely a month ago, just me, Taryn and a pretend bishop’s mitre were on our way to prepare the evangelistic ground), where we headed out into the fields to bring in the harvest! (Oops, more impenetrable biblical metaphors. Matthew 9:37 this time.)

My small group was supposed to be headed to St Peter’s street, but by the time I got there they’d all vanished in a blur of instantly obedient gospel enthusiasm. So I headed over to the same spot where I’d done some street preaching back at the start of June. But being a little bit tired (culturally appropriate and biblically justified or not, all this shouting does make you a bit tired) just sat down for a while. And found myself in the middle of a couple of groups of teenagers, rolling cigarettes and talking among themselves. I struck up conversation and was able to spend about an hour explaining really clearly the simple gospel.

Meanwhile, Sidney came and started sharing with the other group her testimony of hearing the voice of God and coming to know Jesus. One of the girls questioned whether God could really speak to anyone, and Sidney replied that indeed He could. At this point the Holy Spirit prompted Sidney to invite the girl to take a little walk with her. Sidney heard and obeyed and asked the girl if they could walk and talk. The girl accepted, took three steps and burst into tears. And the girl gave her life to Jesus.

Anyone else feel like singing Hallelujah with me?

Faith In The Factory

The first day of The School Of The Circuit Rider has just come to an end, and in all the excitement I have managed to leave my appointed duty of blogging about all of this until the very end of the day. But let’s talk about the excitement—because that is the predominant emotion filling the air of ‘The Factory’.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, ‘The Factory’ is the run-down building that you pass on the driveway to the YWAM Oval. Back in the days when this place was a Methodist orphanage, it housed a printing press, and was intended to give the teenage orphans a vocational skill to take with them when they left. Any printing equipment has long since disappeared, but the idea remains that the place should train the youth of the Oval so that they are equipped to go out into the world. But whereas that used to mean giving them something orphans could use to get themselves a respectable job, now that means training youthful lovers of Jesus to go and fulfil the Great Commission and — let’s all say it again — save the lost, revive the saved, train them all!

Anyway, after spending Friday afternoon setting up two hundred chairs in The Factory (and wiping off the bird droppings that had accumulated on some whilst in storage) it was a joy to see those chairs now (cleaned and) filled with young missionaries from — imagine a room filled with two hundred worshippers and when you ask them where they’re from they respond — England! France! Austria! Belgium! Germany! Spain! Norway! Holland! Columbia! Tahiti! India! Korea! Rwanda! South Africa! Egypt! Australia! America! Canada! Not quite every tribe and tongue (Revelation 7:9) but we’re working on it…

So Amy Sellars started off the morning with some stories of the incredible things that have been happening in the other Circuit Riders Schools – we in Harpenden (‘London’, if you believe the advertising) are the third of five this summer, and the first outside of the USA. In one instance, an afternoon’s evangelism in a shopping mall leading to 40 people giving their lives to Jesus; in another, a woman who turned out to be the madam of a prostitution ring came to faith.

Not wanting to be the one who got left out of the action, when the lunch-break arrived I grabbed the first fiery-eyed evangelist I could find – his name was Larry, he’s here from Pennsylvania – and we headed down to Harpenden High Street, with hearts full of faith for what God would do. We offered to pray for the first lady we saw, and she graciously accepted. I tried to talk to three teenagers as they passed, but at soon as the name of ‘God’ came out of my mouth they hurried away. We prayed to ask God for some direction, and Larry felt God show him a picture of a crown. A lady with such a crown on the crest of her jacket passed by, and Larry offered to pray for her – but no, she was too busy to stop. I then approached another passer-by, explained that I was there because I believed God wanted me to tell him something. He responded with that old chestnut, ‘I’m not religious’. Nevertheless he didn’t refuse my offer to explain in thirty seconds the essence of what Christians believe, and so I had the chance to briefly share the gospel with him.

And then we were heading back up to the Oval for the afternoon session, getting into small groups and repenting of any ways in which unbelief had taken root in our lives–but all in the joyful knowledge that God has already accepted us as we are, and that even our faith is the gift of his glorious grace.

Stay posted.