I have returned from 12 hours of handing out bibles in the 4th largest city in Greece, Larissa. I have been the driver of a team of 4 young people and their love of the Lord, energy and commitment to getting the job done was inspiring. We handed out, hung on doors or left outside homes 35,000 bibles. The day reached 38 degrees and if you know me you would laugh as I am not good with the heat AT ALL! Praise God for air conditioning, it kept me going, that and the Greek coffee drink, frappe.
The team would hand out bibles and I would follow them slowly in the car, having more bibles ready for them as they needed. We were all in zones and when we had finished an area we would call other teams and go and help them. I had one of the zone team leaders in my car and by the afternoon he was on the phone constantly directing teams to other zones to help with the final push. I became his personal chauffeur as he sat in the back directing people around the city!
One team were arrested, another had bibles thrown at them, some got lost, people got sun burnt, gallons of water was drunk but all in all the day was epitomised in one picture, when we came round the corner of a house and saw a ya ya (grandmother) in her chair reading a NT Bible.
The significance of this is that not only has she been given her own bible, but it is in modern Greek so that she is able to read it. Also, the Greek people believe that you are saved through being baptised through the Orthodox Church and that what we are sharing, that you can only come to God through his son, Jesus, is heresy.
I arrived anticipating just being a participant but with the sneaky suspicion that I would be asked to be on staff and to help out. I was right, as I got here and was immediately drawn into the wonderful Hellenic Ministries family and asked to help out. The vision for Greece is not just to give out bibles but also to change a nation, to share the living God with them. However, on this, the 10th anniversary of the start of the project, Operation Joshua, they have distributed 1 million bibles. PRAISE THE LORD!
We have 3 days to go and by then another area of Greece will have received the word of God. Jonathan Macris, president of Hellenic Ministries, is off this afternoon giving a TV interview about the project and we are preparing the evening programme. Thank you for your prayers. Please do continue to pray for divine appointments, protection, soaring heat, safety and particularly for the priests that they will be open to receiving a bible for themselves that they can read in modern Greek and that we stand with them in reaching people for God!
A couple of weeks on from Pentecost, it's refreshing to be able to reflect on a fantastic season of prayer as part of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. Things have grown significantly since Archbishop Justin Welby first called the national church to these 10 days of prayer in 2016. Every time we pray it carries significance, but on reflection, there a few things that particularly stand out from this year’s ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.
When the church stands together in prayer, in agreement, it carries a particular anointing. The events of the last few weeks have brought a great deal of turmoil, pain, uncertainty and even fear. At times like these, it is powerful when the church finds their voice.
The morning after the attack in London was Pentecost Sunday. Right in the midst of the painful news coverage that morning, the BBC live-broadcasted the Pentecost Service from Folkestone Church. As the church began to worship, to pray, asking for God’s Kingdom to come; God spoke to me movingly of the power of prayer and the importance of the message of hope the church carries into even the darkest moments. Throughout the week at the House of Prayer, it was so encouraging to join with others in unity as we prayed: young and old, families and students each representing different churches and communities. There is a strength in unity.
If you've been at the House of Prayer for a 3am prayer slot before, you'll know that sometimes prayer can feel like hard work! In moments like that, God has been teaching us to persevere and that God listens to every prayer - even when it feels hard. Part of the joy of a week of 24/7 Prayer is that for many people it might be the first time they've stepped into the House - or prayed for an hour alone. For some that can seem quite intimidating, but it was so encouraging to hear stories of people encountering God in the prayer room: loving their time with Him and discovering prayer is something that can be enjoyed. Prayer is both a duty and a joy, and so we press on - looking forward to all that God has for us in this next season!
After a week of prayer and worship, on Pentecost Saturday, we took our prayers out onto the streets as we had the privilege of helping lead a whole day of prayer, worship and evangelism on the Minster steps - right in the heart of the city. We prayed and ministered to dozens of people throughout the day and touched the hearts of the hundreds more who gathered as we declared truth over the city and proclaimed the name of Jesus. One of our team had the privilege of leading two young men to Jesus who had never been prayed for before! Prayer carries power - and it was brilliant to see some of those prayers answered across that Saturday. In the final hour of the day, the band began to sing the worship song Ever Be, ‘you’re making me like you, clothing me in white, bringing beauty from ashes, for you will have your bride…’ Just as they sang that exact line, a real bride and groom walked right through the centre of the Minster square, dressed in white, stopping everyone in their tracks. It felt like a significant prophetic moment. God has a beautiful plan and purpose for our city, through the church - his bride - he will bring beauty from ashes, joy for mourning, praise instead of a spirit of despair.
As we look to the Summer and the next season God is leading us into, one quote from Thy Kingdom Come has stuck with me: ‘Prayer changes things: so if you don't want things to change don't bother to pray. But, if you want to change and you want the world to change, then pray.’ Let’s pray!
Start Lent with us at The Belfrey on Wednesday 1st March for our Ash Wednesday service at 7pm.