For the past few months many of you might have heard me talk about my intention to travel overseas to serve with Downtown Hope as a missionary to Annapolis. I’m going to be sending out regular updates to share what God is doing.
The great revival preacher George Whitefield wrote to his friend in December 1739.
These parts are in a dead sleep. At Annapolis, I preached twice, and spoke home to some ladies concerning the vanity of their false politeness. But, alas! they are wedded to their quadrille and ombre.
Self-absorbed. Preoccupied with their own enjoyment. People wandering through Bunyan’s Vanity Fair. There is surely no such thing as a new vice.
I suppose Bunyan was right to put Vanity Fair in a city. I know when I’m in the city, I am overcome by a kind of blindness to all that doesn’t tantalise and entertain.
In the four months I was there last year I had no idea that 30% of children live below the poverty level. In context that means a household of four living off $23,000 a year (£14,000). I never met the residents of Clay Street, where 49% live below poverty level. My car carried me safely past the peripheral housing blocks of isolated poverty.
In my vanity, I never saw this.
Too enamoured by the Vanity Fair.
Yet just as the trials and losses of the Pilgrim’s sojourn in the city gave him a friend in Hopeful, so too was my journey through the city transformed.
My friend Clarence (pictured) helped me to see the vanity of my ways. A preacher of sorts who was often passed out on the street, his presence broke my heart wide open and removed the scales from my eyes.
I saw the road out of Vanity, even glimpsing God’s city not too far off.
I was awoken to a beautiful freedom.
That’s what my friend woke me up to. That’s what I want others to awaken to.
Imagine what could happen if a community of Christians in the city began to meet and befriend the poor in their neighbourhood. Those who live on the wrong side of the street, who use food stamps to buy groceries, who stagger down the street at midday. Imagine what could happen if Christians drew alongside such people?
Could hearts be changed? Could love grow? Could a city be awakened to hope?
By the grace of God, this will be the fruit of my ministry in Annapolis.
This month is a time of waiting. I’m waiting on my Visa to come through and I’m waiting on God’s provision. It is not wasted time.
My studies have shown me that learning, reading and researching are a vital part of doing God’s work. So though I am not yet in Annapolis, I have endeavoured to read up on the situation of the poor and homeless of the community and reach out to some of the organisations already working with those communities.
I anticipate being in a position to launch overseas in the new year.
Being a missionary through Downtown Hope places me within a community already rooted in Annapolis. Serving with the community is key to what I seek to accomplish and I am thrilled by the prospect of sharing the joy of being a friend to the poor. I can’t wait to see what might become of a church which leaps headlong into this costly love.
Of course there are other organisations in the city who work with these communities and they will have much wisdom to share. By partnering with them I can contribute to their work without threatening it.
I aim to facilitate a pairing scheme, enabling and supporting church members and others to find ways of meaningfully sharing friendship in small, consistent acts of love.
Downtown Hope are a young missionary church, having launched three years ago. They are excited to have me serve through them, but cannot cover my living costs.
I am very grateful to those who have to generously offered to support me monthly or given me a one-time gift. At present I have $300 (£190) of the $2,000 (£1,300) per month I anticipate my living costs and ministry to amount to.
I will be praying every Monday at 1pm UK time (8am EST). Please intercede with me on behalf of the city and the poor.
You can also become a supporter through one-time or monthly giving. Giving is handled by Sent Network, a Missionary and Church Planting agency, who will use donations to pay my stipend and ministry costs. Get in touch to find out more.
In all things join in the hope that God has power to bring about his blessed Kingdom in all places even through the smallest act of faith.
Your brother in peace,