Poem : ‘At Heathrow Arrivals’

The missionary boot-camp that is the DTS is now starting here in Harpenden. (Which — as mentioned previously — myself and Taryn are helping to staff.) Over the last few days all the trainees have been arriving. I thought you might perhaps enjoy a poetic snapshot in free verse of my little role in the process:

Standing at Heathrow arrivals
still somewhat sleepy from the six o’clock start,
big yellow ‘YOUTH WITH A MISSION’ sign in hand,
you wait for someone who though yet unmet
may soon be closer than a brother.
You squint at the tags on travelers’ trolleys
searching for some sign that the flight has arrived.

The flight is delayed–
you strike up conversation
with someone adjacent also awaiting
some particular individual
among the incoming crowds of ‘Arrivals’.
No weather in sight so we struggle initially,
until the arrival
of the question,

At that precise moment
your awaited YOUTH appears,
the conversation is abruptly concluded,
the mystery of YWAM’s nature remains–
but today’s MISSION is accomplished.

Meet her and greet her
by name, but forget
to tell her your own,
and help with her luggage.
Offer her coffee,
& introduce her
to “Kyle, who’s also with

Guide her towards the Heathrow Express.
As you walk,
try to talk–
ask about the journey
from whatever far-flung country
she has just left
to come and seek God
in a modest English village.

How was the flight?
—the inflight entertainment,
the airline cuisine,
the view from your window,
the small-talk with the passenger next to you.

Cut the small-talk and ask
about the journey of faith,
of discovering the goodness
of God & the majesty
of Jesus & the power
of the Holy Spirit.

Get lost in the details of the divine design
that has been working itself out in your lives
and find that the Heathrow Express
has misplaced itself.

“No, we’re not lost.”

Retrace steps,
& finally find the Heathrow Express.
Five minutes to Terminal 3,
where the van is waiting
with enough space to squeeze in
two bags and a teenager.

Smile and wave–
big yellow ‘YOUTH WITH A MISSION’ sign in hand—
& catch the Heathrow Express
back to Terminal 5
ready for the next arrival.

Twenty-Five Years In Three Sentences

My blurb in our official staff introductions for the September DTS:

Although Peter Prescott has the most beautiful wife in all of the world, has been to more countries than he could count on all his fingers and toes, and has a name that sounds like it could belong to a superhero, the disappointing truth is that he is simply a mere human.

The one thing that really matters about him is that, by the grace of God, he is a mere human that loves Jesus.

But he does believe that a group of ordinary humans who love Jesus have extraordinary power to transform the world–and he is looking forward to this DTS doing exactly that.

The World On Our Doorstep

So the final event of a busy summer for YWAM Harpenden has just come to an end: the Global Leadership Gathering (GLG). This was a week-long conference for about three hundred of YWAM’s most senior international leaders. Not being a ‘most senior international leader’, I wasn’t invited to this elite gathering. But YWAM being the open and welcoming family that it is, I was able to sneak my way into a few of the meetings. And I thought I might share a few of the highlights:

A Spectacular Opening Ceremony
The week began with Her Majesty the Queen parachuting in with Mr Bond — as she seems to be doing at every significant national event these days — and giving any YWAMers who had missed it a second chance to marvel at the message of her Christmas speech.

And this was just the start of Carl Tinnion‘s impressive impression of Danny Boyle, taking the Olympic Opening Ceremony’s dramatic history of Britain and turning it into a YWAM survey of British missionary history from St Patrick through Hudson Taylor all the way to Lynn Green and the YWAM Harpenden community from whence I now write.

And to finish we sang perhaps the most rousing rendition of Be Thou My Vision I have ever sung — with military drumming reminiscent of Evelyn Glennie (the deaf percussionist who led the Olympic Opening Ceremony drummers).

Loren Cunningham Himself
On Monday we were released from preparing for the upcoming DTS so that we could listen to Loren Cunningham, the founder of Youth With A Mission. It is fifty years since this man started YWAM while he was in his twenties. And with YWAM now an organization of twenty thousand people he is still looking forward to the future, still casting vision about how people of all ages can be involved in reaching every person on earth with the love of Jesus, still trusting God to multiply the number of YWAM missionaries.

Which should make you think: what can I start that will impact the world and release tens of thousands of people into fruitfully following Jesus? And will the fire still be there in fifty years?

The World’s Greatest Worship Leader
To be honest though, the person I was most awestruck to see on that Monday morning wasn’t Loren Cunningham, but was the man that led worship before Loren stepped onto the platform. “Graham…” was the name with which Lynn Green introduced him to everybody. And when he continued “…Graham Kendrick”, I initially thought he was joking.

This is the man that wrote Shine Jesus Shine, probably the most widely song worship song of the twentieth century. And — because I grew up in churches that used hymn books and not just powerpoint slides — a name that I have known for as long as I can remember.

And here he was leading worship for a YWAM conference. As was my beautiful wife, Taryn.

Which makes me think, could one of her songs be the next Christian anthem for the world? But also– is that what we want?

The Bible Brought To Life
Taryn was leading worship on the Tuesday night, which meant that I had legitimate reason to again sneak into the GLG. And very grateful I was, for this session had Bruce Kuhn performing his one-man rendition of the Gospel of Luke.

Thatis what it means to write the word of God on your heart. Seriously amazing. It’s available on DVD and I highly encourage you to buy it and watch it. And then pick a book of the Bible and memorize it.

I think I might start with Romans…

The Best Bit That I Missed
The good news for all of us who weren’t invited to the GLG is that the messages have been recorded and are available for all of the rest of us to listen to: ywamengland.net/glg

Suzi recommended that I get hold of Patrick Dickson’s message and so I did — and it was indeed well worth the listen. Patrick is a Cambridge graduate and church-planter who through a surprising chain of events has found himself being consulted by companies like Google on what the future holds. His answer?

The future is fast, urban, tribal, universal, radical, and ethical.

And apparently the best way for churches to grow is for their members to have lots of children!

Surprising Reunions
And my brief review of the week wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the surprise and pleasure it was to find friendly faces from South India appearing here in Harpenden.

Dan Bushy, regional leader for YWAM’s work in South India, but more importantly the father of mine and Taryn’s Hebron classmate Esther was there. And it was nice to pray with him, no longer as a student and a parent but as fellow workers in God’s kingdom.

But Tim Svoboda (also the parent of fellow Hebronites, and also long-time friend of Taryn’s family) really knows how to make his coming appreciated: he brought a bag of home-made goodies and other snacks. Brownies, Bombay mix, and chili-spiced mango… Mhmm.

From the more recent past, we also had the pleasure of seeing Andrew & Connie Taylor from YWAM Cambridge. They were just here for the Sunday night, but it was nice to catch up briefly — and to begin dreaming of what we might be involved with together in Cambridge this time next year.


If you’re interested, there are a couple of more official accounts of the GLG here and here.