Last week our campus hosted a ‘UK & Ireland Family Gathering’ for all of the YWAM locations in the United Kingdom. YWAM representation from Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and all around England came to YWAM Harpenden, for 4 days of teachings, worship, food, games, and sharing. Over 500 people flooded into our hospitality building, trainee buildings, and even into our own flats. After every bed was filled, 60 tents were set up in the back field. This was the first time, since 1994, that all of the United Kingdom YWAM campuses had gathered together like this.
For months we had been building up to “The Gathering” to happen May 1st through the 4th. It was a chance for fellowship, a chance for old friends to be reunited and new friendships to be made. It was a time to be inspired, to be refreshed, to be encouraged, and to see and hear the amazing things that the Lord is doing in Europe and around the world.
The preparations for it took a lot of hard work, but it was worth it. Right in the middle of the Oval was a HUGE circus-like tent where we had worship times and teachings. On the first night, I walked into that tent, not really knowing what to expect. Entering the tent, I quickly got a seat towards the side as the chairs were being filled fast. We began by recognising each region of bases. The Welsh bases stood and shouted out the countries they were from, followed by Ireland, Scotland, and finally England. As each region of bases stood and shouted out the countries that they were for originally from, I was struck by how awesome God is. Venezuela, Ecuador, Switzerland, Argentina, Denmark, Ethiopia, Brazil, The United States, Germany, France, Papua New Guinea, etc… as the list of nationalities lengthened, truth came to light: Who, but Christ Jesus, could have united all these people? I’m reminded of Ephesians 4, and especially verses 15 and 16, “We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”
Over the next few days we were encouraged by the teachings and seminars. Teachings were done by Alejandro, from Argentina, who spoke about family, community, love, and living out the great commission. The options for seminars ranged from subjects like Frontier Missions to Arts to Spiritual Development in Children. We worshipped God together, ate food together, pressed through the not-so-great weather together, and drank loads of coffee from the Oval Cafe, together. It was such a privilege to be able to host everyone. It truly was a time of having fun and furthering the Kingdom together.
Writer: Lauren Malpass
Photos: Lauren Malpass