Towering spires of old stone churches look out over colorful house fronts like somber guards keeping watch over the city. Businesswomen click by in heeled pumps, on the way to some office job, while street stands advertise crepes and hot tea. Down in the suburbs skateboards clap against cold concrete, adding yet another layer to the indistinguishable city noise. This is Bristol, center for English culture, employment, and education, and home to people from all over the world.
Our DTS team is here in this beautiful city to attend a gathering of English YWAM schools. Hailing from Cambridge, Newcastle, York, Scotland, and several other locations, we make up a large and enthusiastic group. The purpose of the gathering is to learn from speakers, encourage each other, and show God’s love to the people of Bristol. Our housing consists of roughing it on church floors and showering at nearby pools, but the mild hardship only brings us closer together.
During the mornings we worship and pray together, rejoicing that God has given us the opportunity to come before Him with joy and freedom. It is amazing to hear so many different languages and accents all combined into melodious song. We then move into lectures. Yan Nicholls from Harpenden brings before us the motivation we should have to reach out to hurting people with true love and wisdom, not out of an agenda. On one of the last days of the week we hear from Connie Taylor, who helps us to identify and combat our fears with the powerful love God has for us. We learn that God wants our heart to count for eternity, and that’s why our command is to love Him with everything in us.
Our days are wrapped up by going out onto the streets and trying to encourage the people of Bristol. We realize that the church has not been seen as humble, accepting, or forgiving, so we decide to apologize with cardboard signs. After standing with them in the park many people come up to us in wonder and surprise, provoking good conversation as we explain our reasoning. We take part in several other encouraging outreaches, our goal being to show people God’s love and the amazing identity they have because of Him.