It took me a little while to work out why the official hashtag for the YWAM UK & Ireland Gathering was #YWAMWISE15, but eventually I managed to work it out — it’s an acronym of Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England. And while there’s generally a YWAM England Gathering every year (last year myself and Taryn were unable to go, as we had more important matters to attend to), this was the first time in  years that the Home Nations had gathered like this. It was repeated several times that this was not a political statement — and in chatting to a few from YWAM Scotland it turned out that there were strongly contrasting opinions on the (currently settled) question of Scottish independence — but with the UK elections coming up just days after the Gathering, it was certainly a statement about our spiritual unity being necessary and vital, regardless of our political situation.
And it was a real joy and refreshment to connect with the UK&I YWAM Family: with those from Harpenden (where the Gathering was being hosted) that we know from our time on DTS and subsequently as staff there; with those in YWAM England that we’d not seen since the miraculous reinstatement of our visa licence; with those from further-afield that I’d met at some European event we’d mutually attended, and whose names I could not always quite remember. Every single evening of the long weekend I found myself chatting with someone after the end of the evening meeting, and experiencing that rare and sudden realization that this particular conversation we were having was not idle chit-chat but rather heart-connection–our simple words sowing the seeds of relationship that you know will one day bear significant fruit. And even in that moment you can taste the sweetness of it! And a moment of simple prayer suddenly shifts into a powerful prophecy of destiny, and you open your eyes and find that you don’t dare to leave the spot you’re standing, for fear that maybe there’s more the Holy Spirit wants to do.
Word of the Lord
Our speaker for the weekend was Alejandro Rodgriguez, leader of YWAM Argentina, and the author of a book about ‘Apostolic Vision’. He was preaching in Spanish, ably translated by Steve Bishop, who spent seven years with his family in Argentina on Alejandro’s team, and from the beginning declared his intention of sharing with us something that would be ‘simple, and yet also profound’. And so it was! His talked about the priority of love, the difference between superficial sociability and real relational depth, the necessity of sometimes losing time to win family, the need for ministries that achieve multiplication and not just addition (even though when you’re beginning, addition seems like the better option: 1+1=2, but 1×1 is just 1!).
And by the end of his final message on the Sunday evening we were on our faces kneeling on a giant map of the nations of the world, surrendering our lives again to obey the call of Jesus upon us.
I do love our regular times of YWAM Cambridge worship in which we have a fairly small group of people squeezing into a room that still always manages to be slightly smaller than adequate for all gathered, and with one instrument and a basic sense of the words and tune of the songs we’re trying to sing, we come boldly (!) before God’s throne of grace trusting that regardless of our musical accomplishment we will find mercy in time of need (and, let’s be honest, it’s almost always our time of need!) But having said that it’s something of a relief to be part of a congregation of several hundred where you can just be caught up in the joyful praise of the multitude. And yet the thing I love about YWAM is that even in the larger gathering, the value of each one being able to hear God’s voice is still believed and practised. And on multiple occasions throughout the weekend the worship was interrupted by a word from someone within the gathered group. In particular, someone shared at the end of the first session a sense they had that the Spirit was marking different people with a call to take the gospel to closed nations of the world.
And I had an image through which I felt God speaking powerfully, and which I was able to share, of a butterfly: small, fragile, beautiful yes, but almost insignificant in its vulnerability, and yet a single flap of its wings can make the difference in the chaos (to our finite minds!) of the atmosphere between there being a hurricane (and the “love like a hurricane” of which the song speaks) or a mere breeze; and God wants those of us who feel small and insignificant to faithfully flap our small, vulnerable, but-to-Him-beautiful wings, and thus release these hurricanes of love!; and God wants those of us who feel like caterpillars to not be afraid that we don’t appear able even to flap, for he can transform us completely.
So I return to Cambridge re-inspired to let my little work of faith and labour of love become a Butterfly effect in the hands of Almighty God.