May 16, 2019
Grace and peace!
Tomorrow we drive to YWAM Harpenden to join in with 24 hours of non-stop worship – we are grateful to Chris Mudd for repeatedly inviting us :)
And before we go I need to share some news:
I’ve been given the place and the funding to do this 4-year PhD in Data Analytics and Society, specifically in researching ‘The Geodemographics of British Streets’. I applied in a sudden moment, frustrated that the doors I was knocking on didn’t seem to be opening up. I wasn’t particularly expecting to be successful, but had nothing to lose in just applying. I was invited for the interview two weeks ago and was told on the spot that the offer was mine :) So thank you Andrew for your reference!
But the last two weeks have then been spent wrestling with the implications – does this fit into what God has called us (and me) to, in terms of prayer & worship, evangelism and mission, church-planting and social enterprise? And if so how?
In accepting the invitation to be a catalyst for people praying Together For the Harvest across the Liverpool City Region, I have said yes to playing my part in a vision to reach every man, woman and child in the Liverpool City Region with the gospel by 2026 – it therefore feels like now until 2026 is a clear season stretching ahead of us.
I believe doing the PhD does fit with the vision to do what I can in these next seven years to help mobilise people to pray for labourers to reach the city region, and the how is about stepping back and seeing how these four years of learning how to use cutting edge technology to map human needs are going to be a launchpad for the next three years (and indeed the next four decades) of using those skills to bless people and glorify God.
I believe too that God would even have us invite our financial supporters to continue investing in our ministry, so that when the four years of doctoral study come to an end I will not only be able to step straight back into full-time faith ministry, but also even have been able to save the four years of £15thousand/year doctoral stipend towards buying outright a shop (say something like this) that would allow us to spend the next three years already with a building which we could use to engage the city with a missional bookshop and establish a space of overflowing worship, and in that context produce music and writing and art that would captivate people with the beauty of Jesus and the truth of Scripture. If people have just been giving to us out of a sympathetic desire to keep us above the poverty-line, this is of course an opportunity to do a Gideon and release them to pull back without any pang of conscience. But hopefully there might be some who would continue to partner with us out of a sense of holy excitement and shared vision.
I believe that God hasn’t called us out of the YWAM movement, but that He called us to step out the team of YWAM Liverpool, into the wild of learning to establish new things, and discovering from first principles what it means to ‘be apostolic’. I believe the call of the wild is a call to *wil*ling *d*iscipleship, to hear God asking ‘Whom shall I send? Who will go?’ and to say I’ll, and to run like a bride down the aisle (/I’ll) towards the bridegroom ‘standing beside the altar’ (Amos 9:1), and join in with what is happening as God ‘raises up the tabernacle of David’ (Amos 9:11). ‘The wild’ isn’t just the hedonistic rush of do-gooder voluntourism in exotic locales, but the rugged grind of daily learning to tame the desires of the flesh and bring every thought into submission – but there is a something profoundly Scriptural (Luke 10) and provenly catalytic about stepping out of your comfort zone in Spirit-led mission across cultural boundary lines that accelerates people into a revelation of our apostolic authority to bear witness to Jesus, share the gospel and make disciples of nations.
I believe that in becoming a university student again there is an opportunity to really engage with the task of reaching students with a big full-blooded gospel vision of reaching the alls and the everys: every tribe, tongue, people, nation, sphere. I believe that I should be a part of The Call of the Wild for these next five years, and perhaps each summer spend July taking a team on outreach to India (or wherever the Lord would have us go)–we could go to the church in South India that CT Studd pastored, where I was baptized!; we could go to the Himalayan city of Leh where there is a Moravian church; we could go anywhere. I wonder even this summer if I might be able to be part of the training camp on 29 June and if I might be able to have some people then come straight on to do evangelism in Liverpool in the days running up to our first public church meeting as Covenant Family in the meeting room at the top of the Liverpool Central Library Building.
I believe that academically the PhD will be difficult and stretching and I will need discernment to know how to prioritise and focus, while remaining open to unexpected kainos opportunities (I believe this is one of those). I believe that with a Trinitarian God it is possible somehow to focus while still saying YES to everything you see the Father doing (often by enacting some symbolic sign Now, in patient acceptance that it can happen Not Yet).
I believe that I need brothers and sisters to stand with me in faith, and to cover me in prayer, and to offer their encouragement and support and Spirit-led wisdom. I’m open to whatever feedback or advice anyone may have, in the spirit of 1 Thess. 5:16-24:
“16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
Hope to see some of you this weekend! And we can speak more face-to-face.
Much love, Peter