The Mathetes Trust offers various programmes to churches in the UK, and among these is an offer to take a team for a week of mission. We have just completed two of these, one in Purley near Reading and one in Breaston near Derby. The missions were both fruitful and immensely encouraging.
A highlight of both missions was the door-to-door visiting, with more people stopping to talk and inviting us in than I have ever known, and a surprising number making solid commitments of faith within minutes – we had the feeling almost that people were ready and waiting for us! All team members found a steady stream of people wanting to know more and to pray with them – one man found himself so unexpectedly interested that he abandoned his half-mixed quick drying cement to its own devices in order to hear more…
Each member of the local team held a meeting in their own home to which they invited friends and neighbours. We saw fruit from these meetings too; in particular team member Ian led four to the Lord at one meeting, where the host had been praying for her friends for a whole year.
Thirdly, in each place we had a mission to children which also bore fruit, with 40 children at an after school club, a Messy Church session on the theme of ‘power’ with most people responding to the invitation to receive the power of Jesus into their lives, a family Fun Fest and a Youth Chill-Out evening.
Finally we held open meetings every day. New for me were a Ceilidh where I was cast as the storyteller; we alternated short talks with dancing, and set up prayer stations for people to come to – the team were kept busy praying throughout the evening. Other events included a Gospel quiz with quiz rounds alternating with gospel presentations; a men’s evening where 23 men crowded into a local bistro to talk about God and Science; a ladies’ pub night; a Sunday service on stress (lots of people in tears!); a men’s breakfast where businessman Gary spoke on ‘how to make your first million’; and a choir evening with excerpts from Handel’s Messiah alternating with gospel explanations from me. All of these events ended with people praying prayers of commitment or wanting to know more.
In both places we found people coming to faith, Christians touched in new ways, people wanting to know more. Having a trained home team meant that all those who expressed interest or prayed prayers were immediately followed up, with more help to come over the next few weeks. The teams were large, the events were many; I have no accurate idea of the response in terms of numbers – but one measure is that we gave out about 500 copies of the Decision booklet to people who asked for one. The churches now have their work cut out!
Our experience in both places makes me feel that the tide may have changed in this country – many are ignorant of the gospel but open to it, and I suspect that door-to-door visiting (in which it was good to be working closely with Richard Scott from TFM) should become a key strategy for the future. The home meetings also bore fruit, but were not as successful as I have known before, which suggests that Christians may be less well connected than they used to be. In terms of response by age, we found that young adults were particularly open, perhaps because our culture has now become so secular that it’s all new to them. This is very encouraging as we look to the future – the opportunity to make a real difference is there, if we are willing to step outside our comfort zones!
I met Matthew in the street. He was very friendly, listened to the gospel carefully, and committed his life to Jesus there and then, reading a prayer of commitment aloud in front of his colleagues. The next day Chris and I went to visit Matthew, and met his wife – who also prayed a prayer of commitment.