Our last concert was held at Christ Church St. Alban’s in Chiswick. This congregation has a special story of how they came to be in this building which was erected in 1887. The church existed in that facility for many years but unfortunately dwindled away slowly, and for the twelve or so years prior to 2014, the building sat empty and in disarray. Plans were underway to turn the structure into nine luxury flats, but the people of a nearby congregation, Christ Church Turnham Green, as well as the local community had different ideas. The vicar, Reverend Richard Moy, felt called to establish a new church plant in the old building as his congregation had been growing and needed additional space.
I had the chance to speak with a church member, Barbara, who gave more details. She said just before the final decision regarding the re-development of the building into apartments was supposed to occur, the Turnham Green family as well as Christians in the community had a 24 hour prayer vigil, seeking God’s will and direction for their plans. Thankfully, the decision was overturned and in September 2014, a new group of believers began meeting in the old building. A tremendous work of reconstruction and renovation has been undertaken to restore the property (they have spent two winters in the stone building with no heat!) and recently the roof was completed. During the roof construction each member of the church, children included, wrote prayers, blessings, and their vision for the church on the tiles used for the roof.
This final worship service was one of the most moving. When we first arrived some of us were a bit skeptical because of the scaffolding on the outside of the building and the construction going on inside. However just before the concert we had a short prayer session with the young assistant minister of the congregation, and his enthusiasm and heart for the Gospel renewed our energy and set the stage for a sweet time of worship with the congregation. He came and encouraged us and prayed for us even though his daughter had just been admitted to the hospital with pneumonia! The service truly was one of worship, with a packed audience who participated and sang along with us.
Sylvia Charton spoke to a younger lady at St Albans who said what an inspiration our choir had been to her and the people listening. She said, “you do not sing or perform, you worship and we can see it in your smiles and faces.” Jan Matthias had a similar conversation with a sweet young lady named Marie, who is serving as an intern at the church. Marie told Jan and Stacy, “during the concert the air was thin–like there was a union between heaven and earth. God’s glory was poured out in our church tonight because of you.”
Thank you so much for reading along with our progress this week! We have felt your prayers and have seen the Lord working in many ways. We may have another few posts over the next couple of weeks as we collect more stories that merit sharing, but for now, the daily updates are ending! Please pray for the people we have encountered over the last week. Pray that the Gospel takes root in their hearts and bears fruit! Pray for the group members who are traveling home over the coming days. A large portion of our group flew back to Charlotte today, so you may get to hug a few of them tomorrow morning! Those of us who have been on this trip truly do appreciate and love every one of you rope-holders back home and you have been with us in our hearts! Our calling has been to to fill empty lives with the good news of Jesus’ empty tomb, but this calling does not stop for any of us as believers until Christ calls us home.
I’ll close with one more personal story for now, and will share more as I learn of them!
During the impromptu concert at York Minster, I noticed a young man standing alone under a tree, wearing an apron. I went over to speak with him and learned that he is in school at the university and is working on the side to support himself. I asked Nicholas if he went to church. A look of anger flashed across his face as he said “I’m not religious.” I agreed with him and said “Nicholas, you’re right, none of us needs to focus on being religious. But we do need to be spiritual.” We talked for a few more minutes and I explained to him that the whole reason our choir had come to the UK to sing was to share the love of God with others. We had very little time because he had to get back to work and we were about to leave York. I promised him that I would be praying for him daily, that he would do well in school and that he would find someone who could tell him about Jesus. I ask you to join me in praying for this young man. -Pete Charton
“Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore him! All that has life and breath come now with praises before him. Let the amen sound from his people again! Gladly for aye we adore him. ”
“Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus! Just to take him at his word; just to rest upon his promise just to know thus saith the Lord. Jesus Jesus! How I trust him! How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er; Jesus Jesus precious Jesus. Oh for grace to trust him more.”