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God in Action

 

“This is God, this is real, this is now, this is not just 2000 years ago.  This is today; we are seeing God in action out in our town.  I find that deepens my faith”

 

John Wells and his wife Jan are part of the leadership team that coordinates ‘Healing on the Streets’ and ‘Healing on the Beach’ in Scarborough. Twice a month (on the first and third Sunday of each month) they meet, irrespective of the weather.  Even in the middle of winter, they can encounter people on Scarborough sea front. 

They can pray with 2-3 people on each occasion and many conversations can take place between team members and passers by.  There are about 20 people on the team each doing one session a month and each member of the team has been nominated by their vicar or church leader.

This is an ecumenical project, so team members come from a variety of churches. He explains that there are at least 6 churches involved in the project.

John says: “This is something that is very much close to our hearts.”  He says they have had several comments from people who say “What - this is churches working together is it? About time!”  And he feels that that’s a witness itself.

 

What have the challenges been?

“The first challenge is to keep going.” John says “It does take a while to build up and people have to get a confidence in you; in the fact that that you are going to be there when you say you are going to be there.” He is pleased as he feels that they have met this initial challenge.  “We’ve always been there when we said we would be there, so people know.”

The reliability of the team to be there is what John says “that in itself starts to build up relationships and then the word travels.”

 

Why did he want to be a part of the project?

John and his wife Jan attended a talk at ‘New Wine’* by Mark Marx who leads a Vineyard Church in Northern Ireland where ‘Healing on the Streets’ started.

He says “We were so taken with what we were hearing of God being actually taken out there onto the streets and seeing God heal people today.  That just excited us so much and we felt that this would be a terrfific thing to bring to Scarborough really.”

 

The Team

He is thrilled about the team of people that they have. “If ever there was a group of people called out for a specific purpose that’s it, that team is it.” 

Each team member wears a badge with photo ID that identifies them and they have a large banner that says ‘healing’ so people know why they are there.

“One of the strengths of the team”, says John, “is the preparation that goes in.”  Once a month they have a team prayer meeting.  John describes these meetings as “awesome”.  The team pray for each other and the meetings provide a great source of encouragement for all the members.

The team have really good conversations with people about God and they have noticed that of the many leaflets they hand out, very few are discarded.

 

Memorable stories

John recounts the very first occasion that the team went out.  It was January and the weather was poor.  They prayed with one lady who had come up to them and said: “I’m from York, we’ve come to Scarborough for the day and I didn’t really know why I was coming to Scarborough, but when I saw your banner I knew why I had to come to Scarborough today” and she came for prayer.

On another occasion, the team were approached by a young man who was holding his back.  He was prayed for by the team and afterwards he ran off down the promenade.  “It was just such a lovely sight to see.” John remembers.

 

Faith

John says his work makes his faith stronger.  “To see God actually at work in the streets and beach areas of our town, I find terribly exciting.

“This is God, this is real, this is now, this is not just 2000 years ago.  This is today; we are seeing God in action out in our town.  I find that deepens my faith.”

His faith is also deepened by the work going on across the denominations because it just encourages him to think “We are all Christians, we all believe that Jesus is the son of God; we all believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and we can see that we can work together.”

“It’s wonderful to concentrate on what unites us rather than little things that might divide us.”

 

A year from now

The ‘Healing on the Beach’ project has been running for just over 18 months.

Recent permission from the local authority means they can expand the project by offering ‘Healing on the Streets, as well as on the beach.  They are planning to be a presence in the main shopping street once a month on a Saturday.  John welcomes this. “It gives us another opportunity to get right into the heart of the town”, he says.

“We pray that it will go from strength to strength.”  He would like to get to the position of the team being out every week but acknowledges that it would require careful thought and prayer about how the beach and the street healing fit in together.

He says “The more that we can be out there the better.”

  

*New Wine is a movement of churches working together to change the nation through a network of church leaders, summer conferences, training events and resources.