God spoke to us about moving to start a new church in August last year. Since then it has been a painful but exciting journey of transition. We are now living in East Hull and will soon transfer our children to new schools. In only a few months we will begin to meet together on a Sunday morning as River City Church.
I wanted to share a number of incredible things that have happened over the last few months, mostly to record them so we can look back and marvel at what God has done. But also to encourage others that if you say ‘yes’ to Jesus he promises to be with you and to care for you.
1) God speaking to us
The thing I will savor the most in this season is the vast amount God has been speaking to us.
Whether it was through bible verses seeming to jump off the page, messages on the backs of lorries or electrifying sermons – God has made sure he has our attention. Yet through it all His voice has been gentle, loving and reassuring. What a pleasure it is to know Jesus.
2) A Growing Team
We are now gathering around 25 adults and various children as part of the team that will come with us to begin the church. We have been really overwhelmed by those that have said God was already talking to them about East Hull; those that signed up because we were leading the team, as well as those that thought through our invitation and signed up after hearing the vision for what River City might look like.
We’ve moved in! After having offers on two houses turned down we finally completed on a, frankly, ridiculous house!
In the interim period between selling our old house and buying a new one it became clear there was going to be a gap in our chain and we would be officially homeless for a while. However, even before we knew when we would be moving house we had been offered, by a generous friend, a holiday with them in the United States. The holiday ended up falling exactly in between our selling our house and moving into the new one. Who would have thought we’d move from West to East Hull via San Fransico!
While we were away in the states we had the time of our lives visiting Yosemite national park, the Golden Gate Bridge and other incredible sights. On our way to the airport to fly home however, we realised we had properly lost our passports! In fact we had left them in Yosemite over 5 hours drive away! It became clear we were not going to make our flights out as scheduled so we prayed together as a family. Our 6 year old prayed a casual, nonchalant prayer along the lines of “Dear Jesus, please can you bring our passports back to us. Amen”. Within a hour we found out our passports had been located at the cabin we had stayed in the previous weekend. The cabin owners just ‘happened’ to be staying there that weekend. While they were there it ‘happened’ to rain (which it hardly ever does in California), the owners searched the cabin for a coat and found our coats (that we had also left behind), inside one of the pockets were our passports! Then we find out the owners usual address, when not at the cabin, is only 20mins drive away from were we are staying with our friend. They drive back the next day and bring our passports back to us! We ended up coming back on an upgraded flight the next day. There were so many points on this holiday we felt cared for and treasured by our Heavenly Father that I can’t record them all, suffice to say we have learned so much about placing our trust in Him and looking to Him to see what He will do on our behalf.
6) Answered prayer
If the above story wasn’t enough a day after moving into our new house I look down at my hand and realise the only diamond from my engagement ring was missing! As I’d been cleaning and unpacking boxes it had come loose and was missing somewhere inside the house! Again a simple prayer was said by the family and an hour or so later the tiny diamond was found! These times, although worrying, have been invaluable in teaching our children that even in difficult circumstances we don’t have to panic. We know a big God that hears us when we ask for his help.
A number our team since signing up for the church plant have found themselves being promoted and/or receiving significant pay rises, or being offered new jobs they hadn’t expected to get. I am no exemption. Having begun to pray a little that we could bring a little more money in each month I had asked simply for ‘the perfect job’. I was looking for something that only required that I work 1-2 days a week, but paid well and didn’t detract from our efforts with the church plant. I wasn’t holding my breath as it seemed too good to be true. Suffice to say God enjoyed proving me wrong. A high profile photographer turned up in our church and was looking for someone to help with his PR and client relations, he offered me exactly the type of job id prayed for!
8) Hull Kingston Rovers
John ‘happened’ to answer the phone a few weeks ago in an empty church office. That phone call lead to him being offered the chaplaincy of local East Hull, rugby league team Hull Kingston Rovers. The team is beloved in the part of the city we are planting into. The sports club is, in many ways, the heart of local life. His first act was to lead 8000 fans in prayer at the memorial game for their most famous player.
9) Connections and influence
After reflecting on the last two points above I see how God has blessed us with positions of influence – out of the blue! My work means I am now interacting with top national agencies in the UK and in the city, finding myself working alongside a creative who works for the likes of Baileys, Shell oil, Dulux paint and Grants whisky. John finds himself suddenly able to speak to 8000 people about Jesus as his personal friend and comforter. As the role unfolds he will work alongside the first team players and staff at the club. These are only the kind of opportunities we could have only dreamed about. It truly feels like God is going before us and opening doors.
It is astounding that when we step out in faith and take risks for God, he proves himself worthy again and again of any sacrifice we might make.
10) gift day
The latest of Gods many blessings has been the recent gift day at Jubilee church. Gift day is a day once a year where we ask the church to give into a one-off offering. Usually we raise about £20k for the work of the church in the following year. This in itself is incredibly generous of people, considering the church is around 250 adults and contains a large percentage of unemployed. This year the money raised was to be split between the church plant and the work that Jubilee continue to do amongst the poor. The elders prayed about what amount to ask for in faith. They were stretch by God to ask for £65K – three times more than is usually given. All our faith levels were tested. John and I’s futures would be effected by the amount given. It gave us another great opportunity to pray with our children. We’ve been learning about George Muller and how he started orphan homes. There were times that he didn’t not have money or food for more than 300 children. He would gather the children to pray, simply say “Let us see what father God will do”. After which tales of milk and bread trucks breaking down outside the orphanage and donating all their load became common place.
The day of the gift day I asked one or two others to pray that prayer with me.
A few weeks ago jubilee announced they had received over £70k in the one off offering! It is astounding that when we step out in faith and take risks for God, he proves himself worthy again and again of any sacrifice we might make.