A Mixed Up Minister?
What insights does the book of Jonah have for ministers today?
Led by The Revd Tom Stuckey, a former President of the Methodist Church.
The post-modern generations have often been described as some of the hardest to reach. Whilst we look at a culture that accepts everything, as long as it doesn't offend the beliefs of others, we can see there is a radically different generation emerging across the church. Whilst most churches are in decline there are a few which are exploding; the modern church that not only embraces the post-modern generation but is embracing some of its values with a mix of Celtic Christianity. Across these churches we can see a major unifying factor, the growing realisation that the tide cannot be turned by any human plan but instead we need God's divine revelation to know how to turn Britain and Europe back to God. This is a generation that is emerging that is willing to pray the prayer, walk the walk and live dangerously on fire for God.
One such example of this generation that is prepared to live on the edge for God is the '24/7 prayer movement'. In the space of little over two and a half years it has emerged as the fastest growing youth prayer movement on the planet, its simple philosophy being to have a room where people can cry out to God 24 hours a day for a week or more. This movement has gone from having one prayer room to an average of twelve a week, and has had prayer rooms register in over thirty countries. 'If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear them from heaven and heal their land' (2 Chronicles 7:14) has been a verse that reflects this movement. As young people across Europe have humbled themselves before God prayers have been answered, lives touched and miraculous events happen. For myself during the past week my school's Christian Union was radically transformed with the Holy Spirit breaking out into the lives of people there. There are reports of marriages being healed, miraculous healings, and increasing openness amongst friends after prayers have been posted on the walls of a prayer room.
I have had the privilege of being involved with numerous prayer rooms over the two and a half years this movement has been running since its launch in February 2000. All of these rooms have had different flavours as God has sought to impart different things to either my home town of Guildford or the area I was in. These rooms are areas where creativity is encouraged, with art materials being freely available. There is a philosophy that prayer doesn't have to be simply spoken prayer but instead can be expressed through art, music, dance, and written words. Each room I have been into has had areas on the walls where prayers can be written to allow others to pray for these. Some of these have been in church buildings, youth cafés and nightclubs. All of these have the one theme in common of a place to seek God's face, seek his will, and a place were the Holy Spirit is tangibly felt. 'Tonight's been the most emotional, Spirit filled night of my life' was a comment by one of the members of my school Christian Union after spending a night in prayer during Guildford's last 24/7 week.
The movement was started in Chichester in the youth congregation of Revelation Church. The movement's founder, Pete Grieg, originally had the vision imparted to him after spending time in Herrnhut. The village where the Moravian movement was based in is still a place where God's presence is felt, after the village has spent 100 years in continuous 24/7 prayer. Amongst its numerous stories of God's glory is how the Moravian movement affected John Wesley, who spent a month with the community after being dramatically impacted by the faith of the Moravians on his return journey from the USA. Herrnhut is still a place where God's presence is felt and continues to be used as a place to seek Gods face.
One such example of this was summer 2002 when there was Pan-European young prayer leaders' conference that I was invited to. There in the Herrnhut prayer centre fifty young people gathered to pray, seeks God's face and build friendships with each other. The time was a dramatic time of intercession and asking God for his divine strategy on how to pray for Europe. There in the midst of a place where there was a 100-year prayer movement, God started to bring to birth again the dreams that need to be dreamed, and started to melt the people's heart together. In this conference there were people from twelve of the European nations gathered to spend the weekend praying for each other, our nations and Europe as a continent. Certainly there have been deep friendships forged there.
I came back very encouraged about what God is going to do in the continent having gone out there with a heavy heart over the state of Europe. A quote I have found that sums up where the church is heading is: 'The church in the West is dying or is dead, but what is left behind is a small, vibrant core from which only revival can come'. Here I saw part of the core of young people, who dare to live 24/7 for God, who are so utterly abandoned for him that their greatest pleasure is just to serve him, who do not care if they are labelled freaks for the King.
I believe that we are beginning to see a revival generation starting to step into its own, that it is begging to claim what is its in the Spirit, and that surely revival will follow soon. I feel the prayers that have been prayed down the generations for revival are starting to bear fruit and that revival is only a short matter of time away. The tide is turning and indeed may have turned. I long for the day when I will be able to walk down the high street and see people worshipping God rather then materialism, and am becoming more convinced that that day will be coming soon.
For more information on 24/7 visit: www.24-7prayer.com