Building Church In Unlikely Places
“I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
As Christians we are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, love everyone freely, as God has freely loved us and share the hope we have with others. Through following these commandments, we can witness God build up His church across the world. Churches are amazing hubs of encouragement and love, as people who love God gather together, in order to love and serve each other. At CCM there are many amazing initiatives going on to take God’s love out in to the world, which challenge us to trust the Holy Spirit to move powerfully in His way, and not rely on ourselves. I have been so blessed during my time at CCM to have been involved in door knocking, tea and toast for students and homeless outreach, and would encourage everyone to investigate what you can get involved in and how you can be lights into a broken world.
In July, I finished my degree in Manchester, and moved to Edinburgh and then on to Amsterdam, to work in Christian hostels for travellers. Here I live as part of communities with a team of Jesus loving people, keen to build a place where all people will enter into the love, community and acceptance of Jesus. We do this through running the hostel for travellers as a missional business. As staff we serve our guests by cleaning, cooking meals for them, hosting events, welcoming them and conversing with them. But most importantly we do all this with Jesus at the centre.
Firstly, these hostels are part of God’s church. The church is a community of people who love Jesus and also love and serve each other in a community, relying on God to provide for them. It is a place for broken people, seeking answers and love. The Holy Spirit is actively interacting with His creation across the entire world, and when people who have the Holy Spirit in them, meet together, His richness can overflow so lavishly.
As staff, we pour prayer on to this hostel, on to every guest, on to the city we live in and on to the wider world everyday. We serve every guest through hospitality and conversation and are challenged everyday to love them. Many guests I have spoken to would never choose to enter a traditional church building due to bad experiences of religion and have decided that “God stuff” is not for them. However when guests choose to enter these hostels for a night, they are witnessing his church in action, and a staying in a space where the Holy Spirit has been invited to dwell.
Over the last 2 months I have seen God move powerfully and had the joy of seeing lots of people begin to question their misconceptions about what it means to live a life dedicated to Jesus. Everyday you’re meeting a huge variety of new people, who come from places all over the world, choosing to stay here for a number of different reasons. Some people come from places where people’s human rights are not upheld, and other ideologies and corrupt systems dominate. As staff we get to listen and learn more about how God’s children are living. Some people in desperation have asked for prayer for what they are facing and we are then able to pray for them and able to share with them the simple truth of love that is for all people.
Furthermore as a group of international staff, we get to see the diversity of spiritual gifts from God and how valuable each piece of us are as part of the body of Christ. Some people within the staff are less confident at sharing the gospel but just want to serve people by making meals or cleaning, and they are able to dedicate more time to that. Other times we can rely on each other to talk to guests in their native language, so that guests can express themselves more freely within discussions. Sometimes you can need rest from an emotionally tiring conversation, and other staff members will come along to support you in that conversation or pray for you during it.
God can use whatever gifts we give to Him, to transform lives and communities. Let the love of God spill out of our buildings and into the streets, and may we be constantly challenged to know God deeper and love His creation more.