Sunday, 8 July 2007

Just got back from a weeks camping at the Kings Hall which could be described in 3 words - wet, tiring and wet! Yes the weather was pretty miserable at times but our guys are a lot of fun and no-one really let the rain get them down. We had to move our tents on Tuesday which seemed like a chore at the time but we got the opportunity to move them indoors which meant all our gear was dry for the rest of the week which was a blessing!

All in all the whole experience was fantastic! The theme this year was SBSUSM07 - 'Stand By, Stand Up, Summer Madness 07'. The challenge being posed throughout was whether we were going to be people who 'stand by' and be a spectator or 'STAND UP' for God and what He is calling each of us to do. The key speakers this year were Bart Campolo and Pete Greig. Bart works in an inner city neighbourhood of Philadelphia with the Walnut Hills Fellowship:

The Walnut Hills Fellowship is just a small group of inner-city neighbors learning to love each other and the rest of the world according to the teachings of Jesus.

Organized in January of 2007, our primary program is a large weekly dinner party which provides both physical nourishment and spiritual encouragement to a growing assortment of neighborhood families and individuals.

Future plans include local service projects, life skills training, academic support, personal counseling, group-building exercises, field trips, and other activities which will improve the lives of those families and individuals and help us grow together into a genuine faith community.

Pete is the founder of the 24-7 prayer movement that has swept across the world in the last 8 years:
24-7 Prayer exists to transform the world through movements and communities of Christ-centred, Mission-minded Prayer.
Bart and Pete both love Jesus and shared practical teaching on how we can all live that love out and affect the communities we are a part of.

This teaching was a great lead in to Streetreach as 2000 young people were scattered in teams around 31 locations around Belfast. Our group of 30 young people were sent to the Willowfield area of inner east Belfast. During the 4 days there we were involved in running a Kids Club, street clean-ups, gardening, visiting the elderly and detached youth work.

This was the first experience of practical mission for most of our young people and they were amazing as they carried on loving and serving people through tiredness and rain even when they didn't feel like it!

Streetreach finished on Saturday when all 2000 people gathered at the City Hall and marched 3.5 miles to the Kings Hall - this was an amazing experience and a privilege to be a part of. In a country where 'marches' have been such a devisive issue it was wonderful to be part of a march declaring God's love for EVERYONE. Of course it was no surprise that the rain came on for a while during the march but when the rain stopped there was a beautiful rainbow across Belfast (you can see it in the picture to the left) to remind us all of God's love and His promises.

So that's it over for another year, or is it? The challenge for us all really is that Streetreach is never meant to be 4 days per year but a lifestyle of showing God's love to others that we seek to live out EVERY DAY in the communities in which we live - with our families, friends, schools, jobs, neighbours etc.

So what are you going to do? STAND BY, or STAND UP?

Posted by Neil Harrison at 19:29 0 comments