Report: YWAM European Evangelists Consultation 2014

Tuesday 21st October
5:30 am

On our way to the first ever YWAM European Evangelists’ Consultation. Had to wake up at 4.30am to get to the airport on time. The only cheap flights were either first thing in the morning or last thing at night, and when the gathering is less than forty-eight hours long (from its start on the Tuesday evening to its finish with lunch on Thursday) missing the first evening seems like a bad idea.

Especially when we’re going all the way to the Netherlands, and especially when I’ve never been to Holland before. An early flight means that we can spend the day in Amsterdam seeing some of the city, before getting the train to Dordrecht in the afternoon, where we’ll be picked up and driven to the village of Bleskensgraaf.

I’m travelling with Connie, who has had less sleep than me, having been speaking at YWAM Reading’s Discipleship Course the night before. But even without sleep she is an unstoppable personal evangelist, striking up conversations with whoever happens to be closest to us.

9:30 am
(or thereabouts, I’m not sure whether I adjusted the time on my watch)

We have arrived in Amsterdam!

Now to get the train to Amsterdam Centraal station. The automatic ticket machines don’t even require you to choose English as an option—they assume most people here are foreigners, and that the locals won’t mind having to operate in a second-language. The Dutch are fantastic with languages.

Connie is again talking to someone about Jesus. He is not interested and attempts (unsuccessfully!) to walk away from the conversation. As Connie scurries down the platform after him, I find myself talking to a lady from Liverpool with a marijuana sticker on her fingernail. Her and her partner have left their eight-year old child at home, babysat by a grandparent, while they come here for a couple of days and get high.

10:30 am
As we come out of Amsterdam Centraal station, it is raining determinedly. We walk a hundred yards out of the station and are distinctly damp. We stop in a McDonalds to work out a plan of action. My main plan had simply been to try and see YWAM Amsterdam’s Prayer Room, which they call the Tabernacle of the Nations. The weather looks like it’s not going to get better any time soon, so we take that as confirmation not to try and squeeze any sight-seeing alongside that #onething.

The Tabernacle is just a few minutes’ walk away from the Centraal train station and so, the rain having eased off slightly, we start heading in its general direction. As we walk down a backstreet lane I am unavoidably reminded that this is the Red Light District of Amsterdam—neither of us is quite sure where to look.

But we make it to the Tabernacle without any trouble. The Urban Presence DTS have just finished their daily two hours of worship and prayer (love DTSes like that!) and are heading back to the big YWAM Amsterdam base (De Poort) down the road. And there is another two-hour prayer meeting just getting started.

The Tabernacle of the Nations is a beautiful long room: there’s a harp and bowl mosaic on the back wall; there are guitar, keyboard, microphones and sound-board permanently in place; there is an abundance of beautiful big maps of the world and its various continents; there are cushions neatly placed around the perimeter of the room to make yourself comfortable.

1:30 pm
The prayer-time finishes and we discover that underneath the Prayer Room is a kitchen and cosy little café. We sit down and introduce ourselves to the musicians who have just finished leading worship.

Robin – who had been playing keyboard – is a tall Dutchman (yes, tall even for a Dutchman!) with a passion for prayer, worship and intimacy with Jesus. As well as being involved with YWAM for a long time, him and his family have also spent some time at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, USA. He tells me the story of how the property which has now become the Tabernacle of the Nations was first obtained, not neglecting to mention the long years of waiting between immediately confirmed divine promise and final fulfilment.

Koryn—who had been one of the singers—is an American girl in her twenties. She has spent several years at IHOP, and is now spending a few months in Amsterdam with the Tabernacle of the Nations. She starts telling us about how they’ve been praying for heavenly justice to break out in the midst of the Red Light District—and then forty-seven of the brothels that are right in the vicinity of the Tabernacle were shut down. Hallelujah!

6 pm
Having had a late lunch with Koryn, and then caught the train from Amsterdam to Dordrecht, we’re now being driven through the beautiful Dutch countryside towards a village called Bleskensgraaf, home to the European office of the Impact World Tour, who are hosting the Evangelists’ Consultation.

The Netherlands is stunningly picturesque. Glistening canals everywhere. Flat and fertile fields stretching out into the wide horizon. Beautiful Dutch farmhouses with thatched roofs. And it turns out we are staying in one. Outside the door sits an impressive pile of homegrown pumpkins.

We walk in to find twenty evangelists sitting round the table having dinner.

7:45 pm
The evening begins with a welcome from Steve, and then a time of worship. Steve’s wife Willy shares a brief word from Psalm 37:23-24: “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong for the Lord upholds his hand.” She reminds us that God doesn’t mind when we stumble along—he just delights in us stepping out in faith!

Yan Nichols – who it turns out is perhaps the most widely respected YWAM evangelist in Europe – then shares the heart and story behind this first Evangelists’ Consultation coming into being, before asking the different ministries represented to share what they’re doing and the fruit they’re seeing. We hear about Lance share about the Impact Crew in Spain, using dance and hip hop to draw crowds to their evangelistic events; we hear Bart talk about the God-Story in Holland, doing a similar sort of high-octane evangelistic youth event, and also particularly focusing on then connecting people into longer-term multiplying discipleship groups; we hear Yan talk about what he’s been doing with starting the strategically-placed DTS Gathering weeks of evangelism training.

And Connie shares about the Gospel Bracelet, and the way it’s helped us in Cambridge equip each member of our team—students as much as staff—to be effective soul-winners.

Wednesday 22nd October
9:30 am
The evening session the night before had just been held at the guesthouse where we are all being hosted, but today we are going to gather at the Impact World Tour offices. They too have an amazing story of how God provided the space.

I’ve been asked to begin the day by sharing a brief word. I talk about Mary’s anointing of Jesus in Mark 14, and Jesus’ incredible pronouncement in verse 9 that “wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her”. And so evangelism is not complete without whole-hearted worship! Just as it’s absurd and impossible to clap with just one hand, so we can’t do evangelism without its aim and its fuel being worship. For the Father doesn’t desire converts, but worshippers, “who will worship in spirit and in truth”.

The day continues with a discussion of YWAM’s evangelism training, particularly in the context of the DTS, but also as regards spotting and nurturing up-and-coming evangelists.

3:30 pm
After a day of intense discussion, we head out to a local skatepark to try and so some evangelism. I quickly discover that there are two hurdles I must overcome in this location: I can’t skate, and I can’t speak Dutch. Fortunately, there is a football cage next to the skate ramps. This is a language I can speak.

After the game I find myself talking to a seventeen-year old Dutch youth who wants to become a policeman. He asks about what I do and I’m able to talk about the joy of following Jesus and gathering and training people to do the same. ‘Would he like to follow Jesus?’ But open though he was, he was also well aware of the cost of becoming a real Christian: ‘My life would have to change’.

Yes it would. And maybe it will. I pray for him that he would know that the worth of Jesus exceeds every cost.

7:45 pm
After dinner back at the guesthouse we again gather in the living room for our evening session. We are talking about what YWAM Evangelism in Europe could and should look like. Steve has a list of Europe’s 300+ cities with populations of more than 120 thousand. We split up and talk about what the vision is that God might be stirring in each of our hearts.

Thursday 23rd October
9:30 am
It is the final morning, and we are trying to actually get done some of the things that have been talked about over the previous couple of days. A list of people who could be asked to speak and train DTS schools in evangelism—tick! A plan for what the rhythm will be for how often this gathering happens, and when the next one will be. Ways of improving mutual communication and sharing resources.

2:30 pm
We are on our way back to Amsterdam, getting a lift from a guy who is connected with the local discipleship training that the IWT team does. His friend Richard is also travelling with us, so me and Connie are taking the opportunity provided by the close confines of our shared back-seat to try and impart to him a vision for evangelism and multiplying discipleship.

4.30 pm
We arrive in Amsterdam and they suggest that we head to the YWAM Café. It’s just outside Amsterdam Centraal station, and its building has Jesus Loves You written in big blue neon lights across its front. It turns out it’s not longer technically a YWAM Café, having now been sold on, but it still has a verse from the Psalms decorating the wall. And to our surprise, it has Thomas – who did the Chronological Bible Core Course with YWAM Cambridge last year – serving as a waiter!

Following that we head towards the actual YWAM Amsterdam base. We don’t have long to stay, as we need to get back to the airport in time for our flight home. But it turns out that the forty-five minutes that we’re there coincides perfectly with their community dinner-time. So we decide to sneak ourselves some soup—and before we know it we’re being introduced to the whole community. Across the room I catch the eye of Mirjam, who did her DTS in Harpenden while me and Taryn were staffing there. Another unexpected rendez-vous! And I also got to meet Ranier, who is leading the base and the afore-mentioned Urban Presence DTS.

And then we were off, speed-walking back to the train station, and then on our way to the airport. It was a fantastic few days—but we have work to do in Cambridge!

Jesus: The Focus of Revival

Both this and last year, I’ve had the privilege of doing an extended series of teaching on JESUS. These slides don’t include my own stories and testimonies, but give a good idea of what I was trying to cover. If these are helpful to you, please feel free to use them. And if you would like me to come and teach (on these or any other topics) then please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

We Want To See Jesus

Plus:
Poem: The Vision
Audio: We Want To See Jesus (from the previous year)
Message: The First Commandment

The Meaning of the Cross

The Truth of the Resurrection

Handouts:
Biblical Testimony to the Resurrection
Non-biblical Evidence of Jesus
Plus:
Video: Life of Brian’s Sermon on the Mount
(I didn’t actually use this, but I think it’s a hilarious and thought-provoking launchpad into the whole topic of the Historical Jesus.)
Message: The Undeniable Evidence of the Resurrection

God, the Trinity, & the Divinity of Jesus

Plus:
Video: That’s My King
Video: St. Patrick’s Bad Trinitarian Analogies

The Implications of the Humanity of Jesus

Plus:
Blog Post: More Incarnational Implications–‘The Dignifying of the Ordinary’

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I love preaching. I love the privilege of declaring the glorious truths of the word of God. I love the joy of the Spirit that courses through me as I do so.

But the moment after you’ve just finished preaching can be tough. You’ve just waged war in the heavenlies with all the might you can muster, you’ve just poured out your heart and soul, you’ve just bared your darkest secrets so that the light of God’s truth might shine as clear and bright as possible–and you can’t possibly immediately see the long-term fruit of God’s word taking root in people’s hearts and minds.

This is the case even with just a sermon–how much more with seven and a half hours of preaching to the little team of people that have signed up to spend nine months running together with you for the kingdom of God to come in power?

So it was an incredible blessing on Wednesday afternoon, just after I had finished my final teaching session, to then be able to hear our trainees begin to share their testimonies. If anything they were more raw and vulnerable than I had been in my sharing from the front. But the best part was the moment at the end, after we’d concluded with a few songs of worship, and I’d said that the scheduled time had finished and people could leave if they wanted–but no-one did. Such was the hunger for Jesus, the desire to have eyes opened for a greater vision of him, that everyone stayed for another hour and a half of passionate worship. There were tears, there was dancing, there were new songs–and in the end it only finished because me and Taryn were going out to have dinner together, and so people needed to leave our house.

So to everyone on the Revival & Reformation DTS — and those from last year, who got to hear my first attempt at teaching this subject — THANKYOU!

Glory House Unplugged

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Sing unto the Lord a new song! Sing unto the Lord, all the earth! Ps. 96:1

Almost every afternoon, I have the privilege of spending two hours in worship and prayer with about a dozen hungry worshippers, desperate to experience the transforming presence of the Spirit of God. And as we have spent this time together in God’s presence, the new songs have come–not out of any concerted effort to write them, but simply out of the over-spilling free-flowing well of worship released as we lifted our hearts before the throne of grace, and let our tongues begin to follow.

At various intervals it has been suggested that some of these songs might be recorded, but this had never quite happened. Until it dawned upon us that our beloved sister Haley was about to fly home to America, and suddenly we decided to do whatever possible to make something happen. Except nothing seemed to be falling into place: the Hub studio where Taryn has previously recorded was completely booked up, and even Chris with all of his Cambridge connections seemed to be having no luck in finding a place for us to record. I thought we’d have to call it all off, although Chris remained confident something could happen.

Finally on Friday he texted to say recording would be happening–in our house!

And with the help of some talented technicians from ARU, who used our kitchen serving hatch to feed cables through to a very professional set of microphones and assorted recording equipment, the sound of the worship of our house (recently christened the ‘Glory House’) has now been captured. Release date to be announced, but I’ve already heard the first mix of Pour It Out, and I’m very much looking forward to the rest.