The Word on the Street
The Leaven in the Dough
So many amazing and fascinating things go on in Ipswich, as I move around on the streets making friends with people. There are lots of stories I can’t share, for various reasons, but I find there are many that I can.
I hope this series gives a colourful insight into life in the street culture of Ipswich. This is the community into which I speak God’s Word. I love the people, and I see God powerfully at work here.
This morning I sent out my customary SMS encouragement. It was this verse:
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
– Matthew 13:33
Little did I know what God was going to do with it today!
I sent that verse because it reflects what I have been praying over this town for over a year now, at God’s request. See THIS BLOG POST for my observations and predictions, almost 18 months ago. This is a key quote from that post:
For over a year, I and my friends have been sowing seeds in the community, and seeing those “seeds” act like leaven in the community. It is now beginning to spread by itself between members of the community, and the “dough” is starting visibly to rise!
The Kingdom of God is breaking-in to the street culture of Ipswich. Changes are happening! Those who are mixing with the street culture will now inevitably encounter the Christian hope as they move around town.
So this morning it was on my heart to send that particular verse as a reminder and an encouragement to my friends, that this is, in fact, happening.
The Wonderful Affirmation
Imagine my delight when, just a couple of hours later, I had this conversation with a young lady in town whom I have known for a few years:
“Hey Kev, what are you up to today?”
“Oh, the usual… just haunting the place <grin>”
“Well you’re doing an amazing job. The whole town’s talkin’ about the Lord. It’s great, you know, not to always be talkin’ about drugs and sh*t”
Ok, so that was stunning to me! I was so gratified to have this vision – of God’s word as leaven in the community – articulated back to me in this incredibly candid observation. This lady had no idea that what she described is precisely what I pray for.
But wait, there’s more!
That conversation was so uplifting for me, I described it at great length during the afternoon to a friend, in a discussion about ministry. I was reflecting just how blessed it is, for me, that God should allow me to have these direct positive affirmations and encouragements. Little did I know, that was not even the half of it!
God Doubles Down
This evening, the guys and I had our usual Tuesday night meeting in the park. During the evening I decided to share this story, because it was so encouraging to me, and the guys share this vision of leavening the community. It’s really their story…
So I began. I said, “Hey, I had a conversation with [name] today. I’m sure she didn’t realise it, but what she said completely blew me away…”
Right then, one of the guys interrupted me, pointed across the park, and said, “That’s her now”.
Sure enough, this lady was walking through the park. At night. Alone. What are the chances…?
I called out to her, and after the couple of seconds that it takes a lone woman at night in a park to figure out what to do about a group of men calling out her name, she recognised some of us and came over.
I said, “I just mentioned your name! I was just telling the guys about what you told me earlier – that the whole community is talking about the Lord. I was just saying how much that meant to me…”
She said this:
Oh yeah! It’s amazing.
The other day we was just sitting there doing a deal, you know, waiting for the stuff, and the next thing you know we’s all talkin about the Lord! I mean it was wierd. I said, ‘Do youse know what we’s talkin about here??? And we’s about to get on!”
See I feel weird talkin about the Lord when I’m off me head. It was weird, man.
This town is changin’. A lot of the fellas are getting off the drugs, you know, and doin the family thing…
… so then we prayed for her. In the park, at night, she stood in the middle of a group of men and allowed us to gather around and pray. They were bold prayers. They were beautiful prayers. There were tears. It was… you know… pretty much what we’ve come to expect around here.
Anyway, she went on her way, and we were left to marvel and wonder at the goodness of God. What love is this? What undeserved favour of God? What an extraordinary gift our gracious Father saw fit to bestow on us tonight.
God’s greatest delight, it seems, is in delighting His children.
<Stop Press> That weekend I unexpectedly had the opportunity to preach so I told the story! Listen to the message below: