What do Archbishop Justin Welby, rapper Guvna B and the NHS choir have in common? They all contributed to an evening entitled ‘Life and Faith’ on 5 September at the Lighthouse Theatre, in the south-east London borough of Southwark.
Rev James Nickols had a vision to see the unified Church in Southwark step out in evangelism. As a unity movement we have had an emphasis on prayer and community transformation, but there was a sense that we had lost our passion in united, focused evangelism.
Through Southwark for Jesus a small working group was tasked with equipping and engaging the Church in evangelism together. The working title of the group became Love Southwark with the aim to reach the lost and build relationships between Southwark churches as we engage in mission together, and to be a catalyst for local evangelism.
Local church leaders gathered to share information and inspiration with congregations who had never participated in shared prayer and action being part of this initiative. In total 12 congregations became partners of Love Southwark and committed to financial giving and follow up action beyond the weekend. Prayer strategy in the borough gained momentum.
Local congregations came to the launch event in May, where worship, prayer, motivational talks and ministry were shared. Everyone was encouraged to name five people they would pray for to come to know Jesus – potentially through the Life and Faith event planned for September.
Over the summer three weeks of training in evangelism was provided and churches gathered together to intercede for the borough in preparation for the Life and Faith event.
There was much hope, prayer and expectation of what God would do through the event with stewardship, hospitality, ministry and intercession teams made up of volunteers from across the churches.
The intercession team had an amazing time of faith-fueled prayer together; such incredible unity in prayer from people who had never met each other before could only mean it was a Holy Spirit initiative.
The mix of styles in rap, song and poetry brought creativity and diversity to the evening and interviews with contributors gave the opportunity for the sharing of stories of faith. A member of the choir spoke of her faith in Christ and how it helped her in some of her most difficult moments with very sick children.
Archbishop Welby gave a clear message about Jesus being with us in the storms of life. A challenge was given to respond for salvation; coming back into the boat, or asking Jesus to be with us through our storms. Many came forward for prayer.
Love Southwark is now considering how we can keep focused in unified evangelism as we sense an openness to salvation and a need to be stepping out in worship, work and witness together.
Written by Catherine Smith, Camberwell Salvation Army and Southwark for Jesus
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