Our first blog of the autumn sees York Vineyard’s Joanna Allen share five lessons God has taught the church’s ReVive team as they partner with the Besom in York.
As a church we love coming together with the Besom in York through our monthly practical outreach project, ReVive. It’s great knowing that, through working with them we, as just one part of the body of Christ in York, are joining with other churches as we all contribute to the larger story of God’s kingdom coming in our city.
It’s important to us as kingdom people, to be in on what God is doing in and through his people in York, not least because we know that unity bestows a blessing and we want to see our whole city blessed.
In addition we love that serving practically through the Besom each month brings people from right across our church together, in unity with each other, helping to develop our love for each other and bringing a sense of family and togetherness and blessing through that.
Not only do we get to develop our relationships with each other, but we have learned that what God is calling us to is not primarily to do something for people, but rather to come alongside people in relationship with them.
The most important thing that we have to offer is not the excellence of our gardening or decorating skills, but our willingness to truly listen and open our hearts to relationship with people.
On top of this, we have learned that we too are the project! God is concerned with the state of our hearts and what unconscious judgements, prejudices and unjust thoughts and feelings we store in them. He wants us to see that others are not worse off than ourselves, that some are not more deserving than others, or any number of other judgements we might make when we go out in to the city, but that rather, we are all equally broken, equally in need of His grace and mercy, and equally loved by Him.
Doing ReVive with the Besom’s help gives God the opportunity to point out the areas of our hearts that He wants to work on. We may have signed up for ReVive thinking that we were going to be doing a project, but our being God’s project is the much more important issue.
We have also learned that the spiritual battle over our city is very real and that people we come alongside are more aware of it than we might have known. We have had many conversations with people about the, often negative, spiritual experiences that they’ve had, or are currently having, in their lives and their homes. They are often open to, and interested in talking about God and so we are able to share the good news about Jesus with them. People are much more open to being prayed for than we might have imagined too.
In this context we have learned that, as we go out as Jesus’ hands and feet in the city, we are waging war, bringing light into the darkness and love and hope into desperate places; and as we paint or garden we are making straight in the desert a highway for our God. We are sowing hope and love and kindness into people’s lives and though we may not often reap the harvest directly, we pray that others who come after us may well do so.
Finally, we have learned that though we might have thought we were going to be blessing someone by coming alongside them, often we are equally if not more so, blessed by them. I have experienced great kindness, generosity and genuine love from people I have met though ReVive.
In addition, each time we go out, no matter how tired and unwilling to go out I might feel beforehand, I always come home grateful to God for His ways, which include being obedient to His call to go out, because by my doing so He blesses me directly and I wouldn’t want to miss out on that for the world!