Sunday, December 28, 2003

My Emerging Crisis

I have been told that I present mixed messages when discussing the emerging church debate. I know this is true, but I can’t put my finger on why?

On one hand I embrace the emerging agenda yet on the other I push it away and show signs of irritation. My links show that I like to flick around the resources and thought process that are being shared in the emerging arena, yet equally I demonstrate unequivocal exasperation and frustration.

One fear is that as the emerging church debate gains momentum, all that it has to offer that is good and positive will be diluted into something tasteless as it takes on a form that ironically it is against. It will fast become a self-satisfied institution for us all to chase after in order to appear relevant and apposite.

Christmas Eve – 10:45pm: I am walking home in the cold drizzle. We at the church are just about ready for Christmas day. No one is around. The roads are silent. Everyone is at home. Then I see Sister Christine head down pushing a wheel chair still getting ready for the events that she will be co-ordinating the following day. Sister Christine is a remarkable woman as a Roman Catholic sister she has loved this community unconditionally for over 25 years. To me that is what the emerging church has got to look like!

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Graceless Mission – what price to pay?

Interesting how the world sees us Christians.

I fell upon this extreme but telling article Christian Missionaries in the Muslim World - manufacturing Kufr

"…when natural disasters or war affects the Muslims, we will find the missionaries salivating at the mouths at the opportunity to convert more believers to their false religion. During famines, you will find them swarming to our lands under the cloak of 'aid' or 'relief' work. They will bring aid and relief but it isn't given to the Muslims for free - it does have a price. The price is commit apostasy and join the fold of Christianity…"

"THE 10/40 WINDOW In evangelical jargon they call it the 10/40 window. The 10/40 window is the rectangle with boundaries of latitudes 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator. To the modern day crusaders of the Christian missions it is exactly what China is to the Coca Cola company - one billion people just dying to hear the message. The 10/40 window takes in the newly independent states of Central Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Middle East and part of Africa. This region has become the target of unprecedented efforts by Christian missionaries to convert the Muslims to their religion. Like a cancerous growth, we are seeing Christians gain a foothold in the lands of the believers. The first time these crusading forces came with swords and suits of armour, this time they arrive with credit cards and million-dollar aid cheques…."


Graceless mission…? We have the most powerful message the world has ever seen – it is such a shame when we leave grace out of it.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Christmas Day Present

86 people pitched up for Christmas with us. The same mixture of people we always have. Three pictures will stay with me.

Mr Foster. I’ve smelt some things in the past but never had my stomach literally turn. I heaved! Fortunately I’d been too busy to eat during the day so no nastiness! Everything about him was a mess from his head - which included a huge beard encrusted with everything from salvia to - well the mind boggles - to his feet equally encrusted but with human excrement. His trousers were unbelievable and we tried to get him some replacements to be told to "piss off", something he was quite obviously quite capable to do himself freely wherever! However low people get – they still have pride.

Paul. Well dressed, articulate, educated but very very lonely. A frequent user of our charity shop, not for anything in particular but to share in community. We gave everyone a gift as they were leaving, the men scarves, hats and gloves. Alex came back. "I don’t deserve this", "but we want you to have it", "but I don’t deserve it!", "please take it". He looked at my wife his voice cracked as he said thank you. "This is the first Christmas gift I have had for years." Um Grace?

James. An interesting member of our church. Five years ago he came to London and found himself on the streets. He went from hostel to hostel until he went to a SA hostel. He has been coming to our fellowship since he was re-housed in the area. He came with me to help get elderly people on and off the bus. Walked them from the mini-bus to their flats. Engaged with them. As we drove back there seemed to be a new sense of self-worth. "Can I help next year? This has been one of the best Christmas' I can remember." Everyone can offer something.

Oh and the international leaders of TSA, The General came!

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Christmas Day Past…

Christmas Day makes me think.

We are busy. We pick up 80 odd people (in more ways than none!) from our community. The house bound; the lonely; the elderly; the unacceptable; the unaccepted - those for whom Christmas day is a marginalising event, a lonely chore.

We have a carol service then spend the morning together enjoying each others company, drink coffee eat mince pies. Then we have a Christmas dinner, turkey and the trimmings; crackers, hats, pudding the lot. A large extended family doing family things. We sing, laugh and share together. Then we share gifts. At the end of the day we take 80 odd people home again. With a bag of goodies to get them through the next couple of days.

Every year there is something. One year there was Ray, despite his abuse and aggression we welcomed him and gave him a gift. One year there was Anthony, Danny and their dog. The dog ran us ragged. Less than 6 months later Anthony was dead and Danny convicted of murder. One year there was Elsie who got locked out with her dog left inside Working with the council, the fire brigade, the police and the RSPCA we spent the day trying to get her back in. One year I spent all day with Mr Humpries who was so depressed. So much for any counselling skills I may have – a couple of days later he tried to take his life and still remains in hospital. Then there was the year I took Mr Cohen home – when he got out the car he burst into tears and thank us for getting him through his first Christmas without Mrs Cohen. Then there is Debbie and Tommy. Tommy with multiple stab wound scars over his back has just got out of prison for setting Debbie on fire with cigarette lighter fuel.

Christmas Day makes me think – where do these people fit into our churches institutional or emergent? Where do these people fit into our designer churches for designer people?

I wonder what is going to happen today!

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Introducing Ray

Lessons in grace...

He looks us in the eye, breathes filthy fumes of alcohol and smoke into our faces, his drunken hatred and anger poorly disguised. ‘Listen give me a score’. It’s Sunday in our inner city corps. ‘Ray we can’t help you like that’. The ex-boxer with nothing but the trophies of alcohol etched on his face, drops the disguise and growls ‘Just do it’. We fend off wave after wave of drunken abuse before he leaves with a parcel of clothing ‘...well f... The Salvation Army, f... Jesus and f... you’.

We take a deep breath and feel a sense of outrage and burning anger, not at Ray but at the circumstances that throw people into such depravity. We wander home wounded. This isn’t the romantic trendy mission dreamed up in books, articles and conferences, this is bare knuckle in your face mission, an outpouring of God’s love that costs, hurts but fulfils.

You know what? Ray over the years has taught me more about grace than anyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Full Salvation…Narrow Salvation…Inauthentic mission

I stumbled into bechurch and read these thoughts…

"a friend of mine asked me a few months ago something that I've really been wrestling with for a while. It has to do with salvation and the common evangelical understanding of it. (belief in Jesus = Salvation and Righteousness.... No belief in Jesus = Condemnation and Hell)"

"Now.... I totally agree with that definition, but after really wrestling with the following question for a bit I think that I am starting to see that God's view of salvation is probably just a little more complex and less formulaic than the reader's digest version that we throw around in the evangelical church. I still believe that the reader's digest version is true, but I think there is also much more depth and richness to the gospel than we often realise."


He seems to have taken a bit of a thumping, however, has our understanding of salvation been narrowed to the point whereby we have lost the profoundness of the fullness of salvation? NB I’m not purporting to a universalist theology in any shape or form - But the comments above make interesting reading - particularly when read alongside…

"...embrace the whole of salvation and we embrace the whole of our mission..." (Ray Harris).

“Salvation is not about having the right labels it is about becoming truly and fully human – living the way God intended” (Steve Chalke).


As evangelicals we seem to be red hot on the ‘pardon from God’ aspect of salvation – but speak out aspects of wholeness; healing; community; liberation; sufficiency; fullness of life etc.. in the same breath as salvation and I’m afraid you’ll draw ‘wooly liberal’ glances quickly followed by quick condemnation and dismissal.

The impact? At best a patronising 'dumbing' down of mission, at worst a complete abuse of mission through questionable motives. The result? Inauthentic mission

"Boundless salvation" excites me in our context as I discover daily it’s full implication.

…I am saved, am being saved and will be saved… (JI Packer)

Monday, December 22, 2003

Dresden…

I read this in the latest Leadership: -

"On February 13, 1945, 873 Royal Air Force bombers dropped 1,500 tons of explosives and 1,200 tons of incendiaries on Dresden, Germany. On February 14, 1945, the Americans sent 311 B-17 bombers to finish the city off. They turned the city into a firestorm visible for 200 miles. A column of 1,000-degree heat rose from the blaze, sucking oxygen from the outskirts of the city with hurricane force winds.

"Operation Thunderclap," as it was called, destroyed three times as much of Dresden in two days as the Germans destroyed of London in 1940. German estimates placed the death toll at 135,000.

The city's strategic value scarcely warranted the intensity of the attack. Dresden lacked heavy industry or vital transportation routes; rather it was a city of arts and letters and widely considered one of the architectural gemstones of Europe. Whereas bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki stopped the war with Japan, bombing Dresden did not effect the outcome of the war-nor was it intended to do so.

To this day "Dresden" is a symbol of how forces fighting for an upright cause can collapse into the barbarity of the enemy."


History shows us Dresden caused questions; regret; discomfort.

It’s challenged me to think do we as a church ever "collapse into the barbarity of the enemy…" Do we see it in our relationships with each other? Do we see it in the booming ecclesiastical businesses that bombard? Do we see it in the manipulation we call evangelism? Do we see it in our designer church pre-occupation?

Sometimes I feel uncomfortable!

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Being church as opposed doing church

Stephen Court in his Captains Blog talks about a word from South Africa called 'ubuntu'. It basically means, 'I am because we are'. He is right - a great mandate for the church – it got me thinking further about concepts of being church as opposed doing church.

We just got back from carolling. A youth club member followed us back. His dad died this morning. Four hours earlier. No warning. Heart attack. 5 days before Christmas. Only 65. Presents already bought, cards already written. Decorations now seemingly dull, dreary, uninteresting. He wanted, needed to talk.

Our youth workers were able to be.

"Mission Congregations are congregations that proclaim the gospel as much as being church... as by doing church..." (Warren) NB NOT RICK!!

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Dialogue of Grace ….

...or Dialogue that is just Dialogue

Rhuna is a Bengali family worker that comes into our Toddler group. It seems a long time since she shared her grief with me, but the lesson I learnt that day is still as acute now as it was then.

Her pain was obvious, tangible – her cousin had recently died. Memories of her Fathers death were battered her. We talked. I asked her about her Muslim faith – and as toddlers ran around our feet Rhuna and I shared our beliefs. She looked at me, smiled and asked "Do you mind if I ask you what Christians believe about life after death?"

Dialogue of grace.

It was not long before she was looking at me with that "I never knew that" look on her face.

"Can we talk again?"

The world has deconstructed truth. It has deconstructed love. In fact the world has almost deconstructed anything remotely definable! The meta-narrative that it struggles with is grace. How we as a church demonstrate grace is the challenge, cheapen it, is to deconstruct it.

My big lesson? Share grace through dialogue that is just dialogue!

Friday, December 19, 2003

Institutional decisions...

Prior to the first world war the British army up dressed their soldiers in bright red 'naff' off uniforms that were great for being seen from miles around, great for disguising the fact that you’d been shot and were losing copious amounts of blood, great as a status symbol. However they weren’t great if you didn’t want to be seen, not great if you didn’t want to be shot down by the enemy.

But the military institution made their decision and they kept to it.

I wonder how many of the shakers and the movers within the institutional decision making process were wearing their bright red 'naff' off uniforms on the fronts at Crimea, South Africa. 0r perhaps it was safer wearing their regalia behind a desk in Whitehall.

One day they realised.

I remember a prophecy for TSA from several years ago, in part it talked about knowing when and when not to wear our uniforms. Hmmmm?

"The desk is a very dangerous place from which to view the world" (John le Carre).

Unfortunately for the institutional church - that is where most of the decisions are made.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Emerging Church...Submerged church..?

There's lots of talk about the emerging church...the problem it seems to me is that the church of today is submerged?

Submerged by chasing relevance; submerged with chasing the latest; submerged with largely it’s own agenda to chase after the trendy, the glossy and glamorous. And while being submerged with the latest panacea it can’t see the obvious. We flirt with it by calling ourselves community churches, family churches, emerging churches. But how often do we offer authentic community, genuine family which is not a means to an end for church strategy; which is on the terms of those we are called to serve and love, and not own our own agenda’s.

The emerging church agenda sometimes worries me, as it fast becomes a mandate for 'designer' churches. Guess what? Our communities are made up of broken people needing fullness of life, not always the designer people we want in church!! Take the weight of the submerged church and see it bob to the surface!

"The church infects culture with truths not trends. The church must not come down with "trendititis" a deadly disease."

Sweet, L. (1999) Aqua Church: Essential Leadership Arts for Piloting Your Church in Today’s Fluid Culture. Group

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Value for money…

I’ve been collecting today while playing Christmas carols - it is a big financial support that helps us to love our community. I saw a group of lads that I first met about a year ago, again while collecting, this time for TSA homelessness appeal. Today no response from them, but a year ago it was different. My encounter stimulated thought. Here is my reflection....

“…I hear them first, then I see intimidation in the eyes of the commuters walking that bit quicker. Seeing an opportunity for some cheap laughs the gang make their way over to me. They tease; my cap disappears, now a prop for mock marching. Bemused passer-by’s look on – as I join in, soon the laughter changes. No longer at me but with me. We talk, then they move on but they all dig out some change, the box gets heavier. “Safe” they call out as they move into the crowd. I smile pretending I know what they mean!”

“Their urban wear is the same as George's, a hooded, baseball cap wearing, mumbling, six foot 18-year-old gangling street youth. In our time at Poplar we have come to recognise the shame of our culture that only expects bad of this member of our society. George is a member of our church family. Our community. He comes to our youth club and from time to time he comes for a cup of tea after the meeting.”

“I start to think of well meaning visitors asking if our new building and programme is value for money. I think of the shame of our church culture that is caught up in trying to measure success in terms of processing people through our church culture. Value for money? In our time at Poplar we have come to recognise that it is only kingdom values that matter.”

“The teenage lads are long gone as I smile and recall a hooded and baseball cap clad George taking the eldest member of our congregation home. I think of the value for money tag as I remember him mumbling how he’d gone into the flat tidied it up, made his bed and left him with a cup of tea. Value for money? Kingdom values? Immeasurable.”

Monday, December 15, 2003

Reflecting on Broken Dreams

Broken Dreams are hard to let go of.

cryptic? - but therapy!!?

My reflection? It's God's Mission not yours... missio dei everytime!

Move on!

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Inner City Church and Christmas….

“We’re not doing Christmas for the community this year, we’ve cancelled it…!” Talking about his inner city church I was surprised at the note of triumph and delight in his voice.

If there was ever a time when the lonely are more lonely; the marginal more marginal; the depressed more depressed it is Christmas day. If ever there is a day on which to demonstrate the fullness of Jesus through community and family it is Christmas day.

Some churches seem to like the inner city tag – it offers a sense of kudos, status. I wonder if Christmas day is a missional litmus test?

When the song of the angels is silent
When the star in the sky is gone
When the kings and princes are home
When the shepherds are again tending their sheep
When the manger is darkened and still

The work of Christmas begins --

To find the lost
To heal the broken
To feed the hungry
To rebuild the nations
To bring peace among people
To befriend the lonely
To release the prisoner
To make music in the heart.

Howard Thurmond

Saturday, December 13, 2003

How small is that…?

“in the Kingdom of God significance does not flow from size, but from faithfulness…” (Robinson and Yarnell 1993)

Not far from where we are there are two churches. Both within a stones throw of each other. Neighbours. They made me think. One a Church of thousands meeting once a week on a Sunday but doing little for the community except clog local parking - how small is that? The other small with a struggling congregation but open everyday of the week loving its community in the name of Jesus – how big is that?

If your church disappeared overnight would your community miss it?

Friday, December 12, 2003

Spin….Success...Significance

Barclay Bank’s new tower in Canary Wharf is nearly finished. I used to lay awake with the pulse beat of Canary Wharf tower flashing into our bedroom. Now courtesy of neighbouring HSBC tower I can almost read without putting the light on. The last few years has seen bigger and brighter towers going up as some statement of success.

Last year the HSBC chairman flew into London and over Canary Wharf and was stunned that his tower was not as bright as it’s neighbouring tower Citigroup. The story goes that he had the lights in the top of the tower doubled! All in the name of being bigger and brighter.

BBC’s Hand Of God this week looked at Religion and Politics. One political commentator observed on the whole it wasn’t a good thing to have religious leaders govern but pointed out the advantage that “at least religious leaders would be less prone to spin…”

C’mon religious leaders are the kings of spin! Ask any minister, pastor how many are in their congregation and you’ll get, "if everyone was there!!!” Visit another church to preach and you are greeted with “there are quite a few away today!”. Then there are the more blatant forms like keeping a blog or a website for the world to look at!! ;o)

“Many churches are seeking to become great churches. Entire ministry industries exist to help the process. In every community there’s at least one great church measured by numbers and facilities….but there is a troubling secret, size is not enough…churches now want to move from ‘success to significance’. Acts 10:38 ‘Jesus went around going good’ We need to trade chasing greatness for doing good. Swanson (2003).

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Shot

It all came to a head last night.

It had been building up for months. Drug dealing. Vandalism in the park opposite. Fire brigade outside every night putting out fires. Neighbours either side - windows broken. Another neighbour a firework rocket through their letterbox. Another neighbour given a good kicking.

As I look out over the park I see the blue and white Police cordon tape flapping in the breeze. Last night someone in our street decided they had had enough of the juvenile barracking and abuse. Last night someone took a gun from their car and shot one of the kids that have nothing else to do but hang around, getting their kicks from being lairy.

Ro 8:19-20. All creation is waiting for God to show who his children are is... waiting to be set free from decay to share in glorious freedom of his children…

Sometimes it’s challenging; sometimes hard; sometimes scary to "participate in the liberating mission of Jesus the good news of God's love…for the sake of the world" (Bosch 1991).

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Church Left Man to Die in Cold

“He was nothing more than a nuisance….”

Did you see that this week? The Times on 6 December reported:

“A CORONER has expressed amazement that a 60-strong church congregation left a naked man to die of cold outdoors while they feasted inside. The churchgoers refused to let the man in despite his pleas for help. Kenneth Clarke, 62, wandered around the Central Methodist Church in Dudley, West Midlands, for five hours before dying of hypothermia….The Rev Ivor Sperring told the inquest : “He was nothing more than a nuisance. We felt we weren’t in a position to deal with it because of his behaviour, his nudity, and there was something sinister about the way he was breaking things.”

Before we get all judgmental about it all - look at the programmes we run; look at who we target; look at who we want in our church; look at who are held up as leading examples, the voices of church; look at our success driven mentality; look at our motivation of mission.

Ephesians 2:10 - For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I don’t want to question God’s workmanship but I wrestle with the question - is the work that he has prepared for us to do a simple case of coming up with the latest, trendiest way of presenting church. A simple case of finding the latest worship styles? A simple case of running the latest courses that are a sure-fire way of winning the world for Jesus, the latest panacea, universal remedy – that is going to save the church? A simple case of being seeker-sensitive, purpose driven, emerging? Is that it?

All this time there are people on our doorstep who are broken that the church should be reaching out to – not in some trendy patronising way that is this years fad – but in a way that is real, solid.

I read this on Chaffinksblog:

“I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me.” “They turn up at the churches; they mouth words to the hymns; they pray piously to the Lord to help them. But do they take ANY notice of what Jesus taught? Do they bollocks.”

How many people do we leave outside in the cold because they’re nothing more than a nuisance?

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Introducing Patrick....!

(or When Words are not Enough)

We're learning evangelism has to be more than words. Did Francis of Assisi really say, 'Preach the Gospel always and if you need to, use words'? I hope so. To be authentic, mission has to be grounded in the same mission principles of Jesus. It has to be grace centred, unconditional, no hidden agendas. When mission is authentic, try keeping the name of Jesus down.

Patrick defies definition. There is no one else like him, yet he is one of those individuals that every church needs. He is well known in our market as he scavenges and causes havoc as he chortles, mutters and converses with everyone whether they listen or not.

Patrick is always at the corps/church for breakfast and lunch; not only because they are cheap, but also because we are family to him. He brings to us all his problems and it is a privilege to be able to help and even sometimes fight his battles for him. In response, he brings us lovingly his many trophies from the refuse from the estates that surround us.

There are times when Patrick makes you want to scream; yet I thank God for him and the lessons he has taught us.

What I love most about Patrick is the way our corps/church embraces him as an integral part of everything it does. There is something special about the way people in the corps sit and give respect to someone the world rejects. There is something special in the way parents in the corps trust him to befriend their children.

These relationships give authenticity to God's message of love. Once talking with one of the parents at our daughter's school she said, 'That Patrick, he comes into your church . . . ' 'Uh huh.' I replied carefully. 'I'm glad he has a family in your church, it's good that he has people like you lot.' Then she completely surprised me as she continued. 'When are you services, I'd like to come to a church like yours. Can I come?'

Nice one Patrick!

Monday, December 08, 2003

Authentic Mission....no more encyclopaedias!

“In the post-Christian era, the medium is the message, and the medium of evangelism is regarded with extreme distaste by the surrounding culture….evangelism easily becomes the marketing ploy for Christianity akin to selling encyclopaedias. Various techniques are used in a highly manipulative agenda designed to get prospective customers to “sign up”. This is about as far away from the story of Jesus of Nazareth as it is possible to get.”

[Riddell, M. (1998) Threshold of the Future: Reforming the Church in the Post-Christian West. SPCK]

Nice one Mr Riddell! I find comfort in knowing at least there is one other person on this planet about God's business who thinks the same as me.

'Fraid for too long the churches evangelism has been a bit too much akin to blanket bombing, give 'em both barrels of our best apologetics and move on in the knowledge we've done our bit for the kingdom. Where we are "Authentic Mission" is what gives us the right and credibility to be more precise. We're trying to understand that more and more and more!

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Pre-occupied church - dinosaurs and kingdom values!!

Just every now and then I get a little mad at the institution that is TSA. I get a little mad when we find ourselves wasting time over issues that show that we are a church pre-occupied with ourselves and not what God has called us to.

I am mad that somewhere someone is wasting time making decisions about what uniform officers can wear and when. I am mad that somewhere someone is wasting time making decisions about blocking certain web sites on TSA UKT server. I am mad that somewhere someone is wasting time making decisions about blocking certain telephone numbers so that they can't be used by officers and staff. I am mad that somewhere someone is wasting time making decisions about how to make us all look more appealing to donors.

I am mad because it represents a waste of time that doesn’t help me get Mr Hopgood into our local SA hostel because he is not the right clientele. It doesn’t help the 94-year-old woman that we found dying with plastic bags on her feet because of the oozing gangrene infection of her lower legs. It doesn’t help us bring cohesion in the name of Jesus in our fragmented inner city community.

Incidentally I am equally as mad at those who take on the institution and fail to notice that the issues they bleat on about are dinosaurs that are fading away. I am mad because in their bleating they have given the dinosaur a shot of adrenaline. To be told what I have to wear as uniform and when is an affront to me – what makes it worse is that the uniform debate was on its way out, I could stomach it, the dinosaur was lying down ready to be fossilised! Guess what – the dinosaur is up and fighting and it represents a monumental waste of my time.

Someone somewhere point out to me where being pre-occupied with anything less than Jesus is a Kingdom value?

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I saw John today...

John is one of the many characters who come into our church looking for community. His life has not been easy and he is a captive to his own failures. He sees no way out. Frequently we help him with food, sometimes clothing. Mostly we just sit and chat, and give him the respect he feels he does not deserve.

One day John limped in. Outside it was raining, it was cold, and he had obviously been walking for some time. As we shared coffee and talked I could see that he was in pain. I noticed his limp so I asked him if his feet were alright. 'You want to look?' he said, almost daringly. 'Sure.' Shivering, he struggled for sometime with his boots. As the boots and then his socks came free, I saw his feet were a sodden mess, rubbed raw by wet leather.

We had a good conversation. We talked about his life, his adventures on the road, his mother (whose death had seen him turn to alcohol) his young family who he left because of his shame. Eventually his boots were dry and we had found some clean socks; he was ready to move on.

Seeing him struggle to put his boots on again, I knelt to help. Looking down at me, his face screwed up in mockery, he said, 'The trouble with you Christians and the church is that you are full of bullshit!'. For several moments we simply looked at each other. I was winded. I said, 'I'm sorry you think that, John. But tell me one thing I have got to bullshit about . . .' I was insistent: 'C'mon John, one reason . . .' No reaction. He just got up and limped out.

I went about the rest of my day with mixed emotions, sorry that our conversation had ended in such an abrupt way. Thrilled that I had learned the lesson of "grace centred mission". Mission with no strings attached.

A week later, having finished my stint of market ministry selling the War Cry, I wandered back to the hall. Crossing a street, I saw John. He looked awful. 'Heh! John, are you alright!', I called. He looked me and then simply said 'No! I need the Lord.' We sat and drank coffee and John gave his heart to the Lord.

I saw John today and he was sober....!