Some of you may know this song by Matt Maher, “All the people said AMEN!”
To be honest I have been experiencing a bit of writer’s block over the past couple of months (perhaps I shouldn’t flatter myself, you probably haven’t actually noticed I haven’t blogged for a while). However I digress… I had a great week this summer and one which I feel deserves a loud “AMEN”. In fact, I have been wanting to write about it for weeks, but just could not think of what to say, what the central theme should be, what was the main idea I was going to hang this blog on?! (You can tell I have a type A personality by the amount of questions that appear to have been floating through my mind). Anyhow, I can highly recommend a prayer walk because I had the novel idea of asking the Lord to help me with this (!) and as I was out for a walk tonight (it got darker much earlier than I expected and I felt that murder was imminent, so this brought my prayer life to the forefront), the title of this song came into my mind.
“YES!” I thought, that is what I am going to write about. The week I am referring to was a GLO (Global Literature Outreach) mission week in my church at the end of July. It was based around a holiday club for children, called “The Acts Factor”, based on stories from the book of Acts. We also had a pop-up (I know, it was pretty cool) coffee shop running alongside this called “The Green Room” (I can take none of the credit for this, other than to say it was a genius name!) I will give a special prize to anyone who can tell me why it was called “The Green Room” (when I say special, keep your expectations low, I’ll maybe find something for you from the re-gifting cupboard).
Before the week I asked the church to pray for three different things, all of which began with “P” (you can’t have three prayer points unless there is alliteration involved… obviously). I asked the church to pray for the people who would come on the team, for the people we would meet that week and for the plans.
AMEN number 1: WHAT. A. TEAM. They were fab. They were French. They were Northern Irish (Amen 1B). They showed initiative. They used their gifts for the glory of God and they were united with the church and both worked so well together. Amen, amen, amen. I am truly grateful to God for giving me such great people to organise this week with. In fact, AMEN for teams in general, whatever sort of mission team. The impact of teams on the spiritual life of team members was evident from their testimonies and great to see first-hand some team members who had just returned from mission. How thankful we should be for men and women who encourage us in our walk with the Lord and encourage us to be part of the Great Commission.
AMEN number 2: The kids who came to the holiday club were great and it was so good to see their parents join us in the coffee shop, which can I say was run by two pros (M and M). I need to keep their identity secret because I don’t want another church getting their hands on two ladies who did such a fab job in matching the bunting to the napkins and had the ingenious idea of putting aprons on the wall, hence making “The Green Room” look like a real vintage tea shop. Had I been in charge, the poor people would have been getting their tea in a mug that I had no doubt obtained free with an Easter egg. (And by the way, yes, one of them is called Margaret, but then so is half the female population of every church in Scotland). Also, with the smell of freshly baked scones every morning (unbelievably baked by someone called Margaret), it’s no wonder we saw regular faces every day. However, when people take time to talk to individuals over a cup of tea or coffee, over a scone, a meringue or cake (or if you’re from Northern Ireland, a bun), this means a lot. These are individuals who have been created by a relational God, he cares for them, he loves them and calls us to show the love of Christ to them… a loud AMEN for “The Green Room.”
We saw some of these people come to our international evening, where we had a varied programme of cultural highlights from the various countries represented on the team (I use the term “cultural” very loosely… with the Northern Irish Tayto crisps springing to mind at this point… not exactly the high point of culture). And so this is where AMEN number 3 comes in:
Amen for the plans! You see, I am one of those people who gets a bit stressed if things don’t go according to the plan. However I did learn that flexibility within the plan is good and that the work we are doing is God’s work, so I must be open to him changing my plans. (Despite the fact that at times this does give me palpitations). However God really blessed the plans that we made and we saw him answer prayers in ways I didn’t ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). I have to admit that I was a little worried (understatement of the year) about the international evening, but God stretched our faith and to see the main church building full of people was such a joy!
On the team day off we went to the David Livingstone Centre. I have to admit that I knew very little of the story of David Livingstone, however I was struck by a quote on the wall, from David Livingstone, as we went around the museum that day. It said, “The love of Christ compels me”, presumably based on 2 Corinthians 4:14 – 15. David Livingstone was compelled by the love of Christ to go to Africa. What compelled that week at the end of July? I pray that it was the love of Christ. I pray that the children saw the love of Christ. I pray that it was displayed over coffee in “The Green Room”. I pray that it was displayed in “capture the flag” on the parents’ night. I pray that it was seen in our team testimonies, because I can make all of the plans that I want, but if the love of Christ does not compel me, what do my plans matter?
So one final AMEN for the love of Christ and for the cross. Matt Maher writes that “We’re all broken but we’re all in this together, God knows we stumble and fall, And He so loved the world He sent His son to save us all.”
How thankful I am that God uses broken people in his service, to be part of a week like I had this summer. AMEN.