Faith Moving in London

Finding a church community abroad was something that I thought would be very difficult to do. However, I really wanted to experience how churches in a different country operated, how they were the same, and how they were unique. So I made it a personal goal of mine to seek out churches in London. I wanted to see the impact culture had on how things ran. As of writing this I have come across two churches, one recommended by a mentor and the other by chance, and  experienced Jesus in two drastically different ways.

The first was at a start up church called Trinity Central London formerly known as the London Underground Church. Started around 5 years ago, Trinity Central is a very small church with an average of around 20-30 members. It is planted in the heart of the city centered between three main tube stations on the outskirts of Trafalgar Square. Honestly, I loved it. There is an intimacy that can be hard to find in mega churches, but with a church this size you get to know everyone very well and very quickly. They embraced me and got to know me, and that’s something I really appreciated. Opening up with them was easy because the environment was so inviting, and they were very kind in letting me in on all the activities they had planned. I even got to play the lead worshipper’s guitar after the service which I had been craving since I left mine back home in the states. Something the head pastor asked me at the end of the service that really stuck with me was How can we serve you? What can we do to help you and make your time in London the best it can be? Loving to serve others is one of the most impactful things I have learned in following Jesus. It is so filling and makes massive impacts in peoples lives. To find a church that fully embraced that and lived it out was extremely heartwarming. One thing that was evident while being at a church of that size is the urgent need for Jesus in London. So many people still need to hear about the life God has in store for them if they want it.

My other experience was completely opposite from the one I had at Trinity Central, and how I found it was extremely random and lucky. It was a Sunday and I wanted to explore London a little more, mostly go shopping and find a new coffee shop. My plan was to check out the area around Trinity Central, but I got very mixed up on the tubes and ended up pretty lost. On my way out of the station I passed a huge sign that said Hillsong London Church. Now I have heard of Hillsong Churches but never been into one. As I passed by, I saw that a service was just about to start. A few greeters at the front were quick to welcome me in and point me towards where the main service was taking place. Like I said, I had heard of Hillsong Churches but never experienced them. I knew they were a big church with massive services and awesome worship. Immediately when I walked in, I felt the base from music and heard the faint sounds of worship already starting. As I was walked down the hall there were more greeters and people who looked like security guards smiling and guiding me. My excitement started to sky rocket as the music grew louder and I heard more and more voices singing. The hallway came to an end at two huge double doors and a young woman standing in front of them said Hello, and welcome to church and she pushed the double doors open and I was flooded with singing and music. I stepped in to overlook a sea of hands raised in worship all leading up to a huge stage with brilliant lights and a worship team giving a concert-like performance. Waves of joy and excitement washed over me. My arms filled with goosebumps rippled with tingly elation. I was paralyzed with awe and wonder at how many people there were and the energy in the room. I stood there for a moment trying to process everything I was seeing before me. Eventually the same woman that let me in came up to me and said Let me help you find a seat. She brought me up to the front and from there I could see that not only was this huge theater filled with people, but there were two balconies with people as well. I was just so amazed by the whole experience, and so astonished that so many people had come together to worship Jesus in London. It wasn’t as intimate as Trinity Central, but it was powerful. Afterwards, I talked with the woman who let me in and found out that they weren’t even supposed to be at that location. There normal building had to go through some renovations on short notice and so they ended up finding that theater for the day. It blows my mind how things like that happen— That I would get lost and that their church would be relocated right on the path that I stumbled upon.

What I learned from both churches is that yes, there is a massive need for Jesus here still, but at the same time God is moving London. He is working in big ways and subtle ways but his love for us is active. I also learned that no matter the culture, the environment, or the community if people truly are followers of Christ there won’t be to much difference between them. I felt welcomed, accepted and loved in both churches. I saw communities ready to share His story and I experienced his love in new ways, and that makes me incredibly happy.

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The Truth about Affirmation

Affirmation is a powerful thing. However, I think our mindsets are a little off on what true affirmation looks like in life, and I think that it is very important to understand what it really is. Through this post I want to share with you three stories of recent affirmation in my own life and then explain the truth about affirmation.

1

I work at a restaurant as an assistant server, more or less a busboy, and I love my job. I get to serve people and most of the time that is behind the scenes, doing things that nobody knows. It is only human to want to be recognized and acknowledged for the work that you do. Sometimes, it was extremely difficult to convince myself to keep working so hard for what seemed like no reason. So one night I was working with a server I had never worked with before, and I was battling with feeling like I was unnoticed, unimportant. But I decided to keep up my spirit and keep doing my work. In the middle of the shift she comes up to me and says, “Do you love Jesus?” I smiled and told her I do, and I asked her why she asked me or how she knew, and she told me, “Because you are really happy and really kind.”

2

One night after I had just finished up meeting with some people, I was walking down the sidewalk on my way home. I passed by this place called “WOW” which serves bubble tea and other drinks, and something just came over me to go buy two drinks for people in my house. I went in and the place was empty except for two girls who were waiting for their drinks to be made. I walked up to the counter and ordered the two drinks. As, I was standing there I noticed the two girls look at me and then giggle and whisper to each other. This went on for a little and then eventually one of the girls came up and explained how they weren’t trying to be rude, but they thought I looked a lot like this guy from a show they watched. I laughed and ended up talking with them for a while and explained how I just felt a random urge to come in and buy drinks for my friends. The other girl noticed my bible and started asking me questions about my faith, and I got talk to her about Jesus. Afterwards, they gave me a hug and told me to “keep doing good things.” I got my drinks and headed out.

3

I was in a waiting room, hanging out before an appointment and I noticed that the room was pretty empty. It was just the receptionist and me. This thought crossed my mind to start a conversation with the her. It was early in the morning though and I didn’t really feel like talking but I decided I should. We started talking about random things, mostly small talk, and I had actually thought the conversation was over but then she asked me more about my life. We talked for a few more minutes and then she paused and said, “What did you do to end up going in the right direction?” and I laughed because I hardly feel like I know where I am going. But I got to explain to her that my faith has led me to where I am, and I definitely don’t know if it’s the “right” direction but I love the path that I have been on ever since I started following Jesus. She scrunched up her mouth and looked up over my shoulder, somewhere into the distance, and after a moment looked back at me and told me thank you.

I think that it is very easy to let our focus turn to pursuing gratitude and affirmation in life. But what we need to do is focus on Jesus, because when you do that you won’t even care about being affirmed by the world because you are affirmed by the God of the world who sees every second of work you have put in. Affirmation from the Lord will leave you feeling encouraged and inspired and through that you will give into others selflessly and without concern for your own acknowledgement. Also, when you pursue Jesus and let him affirm you it becomes so much more evident all the little ways we are affirmed each day. We have come to believe that affirmation must be a big event that will leave us in awe, but the truth is affirmation is in the smiles that we see from others, the simple and sincere words they share, and the small acts of kindness people do for us. In the stories I shared it wasn’t until I was really doing things for others, without my own desires leading me, that people said something. It wasn’t by my own strength or desires to do something and try and be acknowledge, but a prompting from the holy spirit that led me to affirmation. When I step out of my own way and let Jesus lead, people see that and respond. I also think that it is important to consider that these are what I would call “big” moments of affirmation. You have to realize that these happened after years of following Jesus. They don’t happen every day, but the small things do. If you let your thoughts become focused on being affirmed in huge ways and spend your time and energy living for those moments, you will always end the day feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. The truth about affirmation is it’s simple, effortless, and everywhere if you focus on Jesus.

*Image is called Picture My Thoughts by Myra Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Do I Write?

 

I think this is a question anyone who writes should consider, and something any reader should think about when looking into a writer’s work. Writings can be great and intriguing, and sometimes that is all you want as a reader. However, I think that the reasoning behind the words and the story, play a critical role in how the experience can impact the reader. A good story or message is awesome, but if there is no concern for how it effects the reader, or it doesn’t present them with an opportunity to apply what they read to their own life, they aren’t getting all they could out of it. Having a clear intention for why you are writing helps connect the writer to the reader. Now some writings are solely for the therapeutic pleasure of the author. Sometimes, it is nice to just put the pen to the paper with no direction, and go at it. To me, this can actually be relieving and calming. These writings, that are usually not meant to be shared, don’t fall into this category of serving a purpose to the readers. They only benefit the sole reader who is also the author. There are a lot of different motives for writing, but the point is, someone who knows why they are writing, whatever the reason may be, can take their material to the next level and create something that truly moves those that engage with it. When an author knows why they are writing, it is apparent in their language, and their heart can be seen behind the story, influencing every word.

Every time I write something, I think about why I am writing it and I end up with a more or less unique reason for each individual story, blog, poem, etc. However, there are usually two main driving forces behind almost every word. The first reason I write is to encourage and reach out to others. If what I write can reach one person and have an impact on them, then I feel accomplished. Whether it is a funny story to entertain and bring joy, or a serious and deep message in a post/essay, or anything in between, if the reader comes away feeling better, assured, or asking questions about themselves then I am achieving my goal. The second reason I write is to help myself. Sometimes writing helps me work through things weighing on me. Sometimes it assists me in untangling complex ideas in my head and answering tough life questions. It also reminds me of the important things in my life. It reminds me of who I am in Jesus. I write to keep in touch with others, yes, but I also write to keep in touch with myself. More often than not, these two reasons will cross over in my writings.

I wrote this post so that you can know where I am coming from, and know more about me. I also wrote this for the purpose of connecting with you, the individual reading these words. I am not a machine, a series of digital letters, or a cluster of paragraphs on a screen. What you are reading makes up me, a person. I hope that this writing has reminded you that when you read someone else’s words, you are reading about who that person is and what they want to share with you. As always, thank you for reading this and have a great rest of your day!