I think God is up to something! All over the country particularly during the last decade, leaders of churches and Christian ministries have been getting together to pray. The result of course has been the laying aside of competitiveness, the forging of friendships and the enjoyment of a new trust.
In York that is certainly our story as we remember when in 1999, a handful of church leaders committed themselves to meeting together weekly to pray for revival, in our city and our nation.
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, we found ourselves joining an existing charity, One Voice York. Though having a fine history of mission This charity was no longer as active. The group of praying leaders joined, finding a warm welcome, and a new place in the life of OVY began.
Apart from the initial service series of mission meetings with J.John and his “Just Ten” programme, various events, programmes and general fun at working together followed.
OV has come to be a network of leaders, based around prayer and relationship. It has now become a model that others are being inspired by.
I have been invited to speak to a number of leaders groups about OVY, including doing a presentation with David Casswell (my co chairman) at the National Resources Exhibition ’07 at Harrogate.
This time the invitation came from Ipswich. This is my report.
Various Christian ministries in Ipswich had been in some sort of relationship. As the relationship has grown they looked at various locations for models to help in their thinking in planning. They looked at Love Southend, One Heart One Voice (Doncaster) and Together for the Harvest.
A significant step, which I think they took from us, is that they now meet for prayer weekly.
The group has chosen a name “Heart for Ipswich” which they believe will be a useful brand in the same way OVY has proved to be. My visit was to contribute to the launch of “Heart for Ipswich” on Saturday evening.
I met with the HFI committee and we enjoyed an excellent curry together. I then spoke about OV to a group of church leaders, and then spoke at a gathering of churches.
I found myself speaking on two scriptures I have returned to a number of these recently.
The first is 2 Kings 3 when the word of the Lord through the prophet is to “fill” the valley with ditches. On that occasion the task was too great without cooperation. The word of God had to be heeded, regardless of whom it came through, the response was to be lavish and the task involved agreement.
The second scripture in Gen and the account of Abraham and Lot. The land was not sufficient to sustain them both so Abraham allowed Lot to choose what area of land he would like. Abraham was a “giver” and Lot a “Taker”. Abraham was, in effect, saying “take what you like, my God will provide for me”. Church leaders need to be able to give. No other church can steal members from me if I have already decided to give. I remember when I first learned this lesson. I gave a lift to someone who had stopped attending my church and seemed to be returning to his or her criminal habits. I was not too surprised to find out that he had taken my gloves which I had left in the seat. Initially I felt irritated and annoyed, and then remembered what I should do. I said, “Jesus he can not steal them because I declare to you that I give them – they are not stolen from me but given”. That dynamic has helped me many times over the years.
I stayed overnight and spoke at two churches on the Sunday morning.
On the way back my car broke down. I thanked God for his mercy. The car juddered and started losing power I was able to turn off into a garage I was passing. As all went dead in the car I was able to free wheel into a parking bay. I used the shop with its loos and coffee while a waited for the rescue company. Beyond the garage was dual-carriageway, without a lay-by or hard shoulder. I would have been in a dangerous situation, in the dark, rain and cold. So glad people had prayed I would have a safe journey!
Graham Hutchinson (Co-Chair)