I took the photo above standing on a bridge near our home. It’s a unique and exhilarating feeling to stand on the bridge with trains speeding underneath you!
We’ve moved our planned visit to OKC up 2 weeks so that we can be back in London by the end of May to present TWO LC.tv Network Church services during June! As mentioned last week, we’ll apply for visas for the 4 of us to live in England while we’re in OKC and will spend 6 weeks training with LifeChurch.tv as part of our partnership with the church to focus on the expansion of the Internet Campus and other potential Network Campus opportunities abroad. We get to spend a week in Phoenix with my family from April 29-May 6 and hope to schedule time to meet many of you as well to share about our ministry here.
Our 501(c)3 application was filed in Oklahoma this week, and we’ll be able to receive tax-deductible donations to support our living here to grow this Network Church sometime in April. I’ll post more news on that as the process progresses.
No doubt these next 3 weeks will sail past quickly as we prepare for the April 6 Network Church service and move out of our flat.
We’ll be seeing many of you soon!
Some of you might remember me posting before we moved to England that Chris hoped to run in a local club. A few weeks back while running through Wimbledon to train for the upcoming OKC Memorial Marathon half-marathon, Chris was spotted by a man who attends our local church and is an avid runner. Our friend from church picked him up early yesterday morning to take part in the Wimbledon Common Time Trial. WCTT is a free 5K held weekly in a local park. Chris had a blast, has a new friend from church, and looks forward to shaving more time off his running using this new challenge!
Chris and I spent our first “nobody’s sick” Friday in 4 weeks in the city yesterday while the kids were at school. It’s only about £2/person to get into the city on the underground transport from our home!
We walked around a few hours to see the famed shopping at Oxford Street (which claims to be the busiest street in Europe), St. Paul’s Cathedral (which is where Prince Charles & Lady Di were married), Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (a reconstruction of the original located on the River Thames – where Shakespeare himself wrote and performed!), and the Tate Modern Art Museum.
Chris and I agree that in the past month we’ve joined the ranks of locals who fail to recall on a daily basis we live in London, near some of the most amazing historical sights in the world. But I was seriously jolted out of taking our new location for granted yesterday when I casually walked from one gallery in the Tate modern into another and stumbled upon Jackson Pollock’s Summertime, numerous Picasso pieces, Andy Warhol’s Hamburger, Warhol’s Gun, and Claude Monet’s Water-Lilies. While I’ve been fortunate to see some amazing artwork in my life, I’ve always wanted to see one of Monet’s Water-Lilies series and was stunned to discover it resides in the same city as me! The detail of the water’s reflection is impossible to capture by photos I’ve seen of the piece – such a gift to see it in person. It almost seems the water is moving as you stand and take it all in. Like all museums in London, admission to the Tate Modern is free. Incredible!
I took a few photos of our day in the city – you can see them here.
Last night we attended one of Blake’s friends birthday parties. The family is American, so it wasn’t entirely different, but we learned a few fun British bday party facts. 1) You always play ‘pass the parcel’, a game where music is played as a circle of children pass a wrapped present around. Each time the music stops, the child with the parcel gets to open it and keep the treat inside. The parcels are wrapped around each other so each child gets a treat by the time the game is over. 2) Birthday cake is cut and handed to children on napkins as they leave to take home and eat. 3) The child either opens his presents at the door as you enter the home with his gift or he opens them following the party when everyone’s gone home.
Local schools place a big emphasis on educating students about a variety of religions and cultures. I know an 8 year old boy here who recently told his teacher he would not accompany his class on a field trip to visit a Muslim mosque. The teacher told the boy’s mother he said he doesn’t yet fully understand how Muslims worship or what goes on in their mosques, so in order to avoid the possibility of doing something he shouldn’t as a Christian, he would be sitting out. This 8 year old boy’s example is one to run with. (I’ve got 20+ years on him and still need to be better educated on world religions myself.)
What would our lives look like if we stood up and said we’ll not venture into shady territory? Shady territory can look like anything from lunch out with a married co-worker of the opposite sex, watching an ‘R’ rated movie, or going to an all-you-can-eat buffet in your stretchy pants.
There are plenty of things we could do that likely won’t harm us – but as we mature in Christ let’s start demanding more from ourselves and pass by opportunities that could do more harm than good.
We had truly an amazing time tonight and were blessed by those who came to the service.
I guess I really wasn’t prepared for God working in such a way as to bring 27 people who we didn’t know at all three months ago…or bring people we first met tonight to join us in worship and in listening to a LifeChurch.tv message. And I really wasn’t prepared for someone to mark on their “communication card” that they had accepted Christ as their Savior tonight.
There might be more to “unpack” later…but isn’t this why we came here? Isn’t this why we sold it all to come to London? Did this really just happen?
Not because of our work, but because of the work of God…
Blessed be His name.
***Warning! I just finished typing out this post, reviewed it, and feel I should tell you it’s quite sappy. I mean it’s dripping. If you aren’t in the mood for hearing loads of my personal flowery thoughts, then check back for the next blog post around 5pm tonight! You’ve been warned.***
…for tonight’s London LC.tv Network Campus service! I had the opportunity to speak in this morning’s service at Hillside and was approached afterward by people telling us they intend to attend tonight. Chris is out giving invitations to our neighbors right now, and Hillside has a large sign we’re putting out this afternoon to draw last-minute people walking by on the main road. We’re anticipating attendance of 20-30 people and are certain everyone’s lives will be enriched by hearing Craig’s Hostage message about “Worry”. We’re using a recording of Stephen Cole in worship for this service as well. The local pastor will briefly introduce Chris and me, then I’ll share a brief history/introduction of LifeChurch.tv with the congregation, and Chris will lead everyone directly into the service by walking them through what to expect since no one yet knows much about a video-teaching experience. Following the service Chris will offer an invitational prayer asking for a show of hands from people wanting to break free from worry as well as a show of hands from people at the service who may not be saved but want to pray and seek Jesus’s forgiveness.
Nothing is so fulfilling as taking a plunge into uncertain waters when it’s the Lord who’s asked you to take the dive. I know in my heart of hearts that God had tonight in mind when he created Chris and me. I like to think He looked ahead to tonight on the day we were married. I met Chris when he was 19, and he told me he believed God would allow him to be in ministry when he was 30. (Before you think he has the gift or prophecy, Chris also told me he’d not get married for many years, and he was incorrect, thankfully!!) Since last September, God has been changing the man I married before my very eyes. Chris turned 30 in November, and though we never intended for this to happen as it has, the responsibility of this entire network campus, it’s services, and it’s attendees fall in our laps with Chris at the helm. Our local pastor is very hands-off and happy to allow Chris the opportunity to lead with his gifts. So tonight I am certain that among lives changed will be Chris’ life – as he steps into the shoes of pastoring a developing congregation. (His mother is already crying as she reads this post, I can promise you. I’m not poking fun at her – I’m just capable of knowing when Pam might be crying because the same things draw out my happy tears, too!)
If you are reading this post before 1:00pm OKC time, please pray right now that…
*God directs His chosen people to attend tonight
*Lives are changed for eternity as a result of this service
*We connect with people who begin attending the Internet Campus service or Sunday Nights @ 6 regularly
*For the Holy Spirit to speak through us to those who come, causing us to work by His power and not our limited capacities
It is worth leaving everything we own, spending our savings, and facing the uncertainty of our entire move here to know that God can work through our presentation for His glory and eternal purposes. Thank you for your prayers!
We learned last night that the couple we met our first Sunday in Surrey County – while visiting a church over in Sutton – is coming over to Wimbledon this evening to attend the service. The realization that it’s been 4 months since we met these people at a time we had no clue of God’s plan really stirs up my emotions. To know they will be at tonight’s service to support us and learn more about the church we so love comforts me almost as if our own parents or Life Group from OKC were there in the chairs during tonight’s message. I praise God for details that so deeply speak to our hearts in communicating His love for us all.
For the purpose of simplicity, we’re not offering LifeKids or childcare during the March and April pilot services, so we’re setting up an area in the back of the sanctuary for children to play during the message. Blake asked me immediately upon waking today when the time will come for him to greet children at the service and show them where they can play. I’m surprised he’s upstairs taking a nap right now as he’s so excited about his volunteer role at tonight’s service. It appears Mackenzie’s volunteer role will be sampling flapjack, a favorite treat we’ve discovered since moving here that we’ll have at church. It’s made with oatmeal (“porridge”), mueslix, and dried fruit – some have yogurt or chocolate icing.
This morning’s Internet Campus service was great. We had similar attendance as weeks past, and we noted that a much smaller percentage of viewers were from the US with more logging on in from a variety of countries! Great progress! I was able to pray with people from the Philippines and Nigeria. Miles, an Australian campus pastor, brought excellent international flair to the church’s teaching today on anger.
I also want to publicly comment that as we see God changing us week by week, I’ve had a thought continually running through my mind. Knowing that our prayers given for our children will only be answered in some cases in decades to come, God is now fulfilling promises and answers to our parents’ prayers made years ago. I want to encourage you who are praying for your children, nieces, and nephews that seeds sown will eventually bloom. And I want to thank our 4 parents who likely wondered some days (my parents especially!) as to whether their requests of God and hearts’ longings on our parts were getting through. Moms and Dads – we love you four so much and honor your investment in us as our life together is taking a turn onto the path God’s laying out before us. Thank you.
Okay. Blot the eyes, Dana. Your children are sick and tired of seeing your happy cries all the time, and dried streams of mascara on one’s cheeks is not a good look.
Back to the service…we’re heading out soon to change the sanctuary’s set up, change up lighting, and set the mood. All very fun. I end this post knowing I will nearly feel your prayers for the service as it’s happening, and I thank you for that! Either Chris or I will post something about the service once we’re home, likely after 4 or 5pm OKC time.