PCC Fostering and care for Refugees.

Pauline was watching the news one day when she saw a clip about a Norwegian ship which had picked up a crowd of drowning refugees off the coast of Australia. The Australian government at the time would not allow them to land and some of them died.

Pauline was very angry about the injustice of it all and wanted to do something about it. To cut a long story short out of that event, with the support of Rainbow Churches, a new company was born called Phoenix Community Care Ltd (PCC). This company then began talking with the local authorities about the possibility of helping with refuges in the UK. We were welcomed with open arms as the need was and still is, great. In our area the Muslims were very supportive right from the beginning, they already had 9 homes, and they were incredibly helpful to us with advice on initial set up.

Ten years ago the PCC began work with its first home, decorated and donated by Carla Mayer. Ten years on we can house 30+ in our own properties with support workers caring for both 16 and 17 year old unaccompanied minors (young people in the UK without parents or guardians). We also care for 18+ year olds who are considered vulnerable, often young ladies escaping from war and rape situations. Alongside this we have added the housing and support care of those who have been in the care system but whom the authority deem not quite ready for total self-support.

Some years ago we recognised that foster care was also needed for youngsters in the country without parents, and after being registered as foster care agency, a long, complex and difficult process, we began to foster a young person of around 9 years old, who could not speak English and had been found by the Police after wandering around in a Supermarket for many hours, now happily placed with good foster parents by the PCC agency.

My cry is can you do something as well? Since the events surrounding Baby P and the latest child death recorded by Birmingham Social Services, social workers are unwilling to take any risks and at the time of writing there are some 4,000 children who need foster carers but for whom there is no foster carer. Could you volunteer? Could you be a foster carer? Many people want to but think they couldn’t do it, well you just might be able to. Usually our first question, as an agency, to a prospective foster carer is, have you got a spare room? That wasn’t a hard question was it? Well can you help? Please phone us on 020 8887 6888 and if not us there is probably another local agency or your local authority. To get a lot done all it needs is for a lot of good people do a little.

Adrian Hawkes
For the Insight Magazine
Editor: A. Brookes
28th July 2010

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Asking the wrong questions

When you ask the wrong question of course you will not get the right answer.
How can the question be wrong, I hear you say. Sometimes people just don’t think; let me show you what I mean.

London Evening Standard Tuesday 27th July 2010 Pippa Crerar says ‘I don’t want to find God to find a good school’. It is, perhaps, a rhetorical question, and she goes on to say she doesn’t want to go to church to get her child into a good school, but she is obviously worried about the local schooling.

Here is a question that she doesn’t ask, and maybe she should, ‘Why are Christian schools or church schools better than the others?’ Answers could include; selection, size, and parental involvement.

Here however are some other answers, things that perhaps we don’t so easily come up with in our sound-bite, cynical age. How about a comprehensive world view, an understanding of a moral base, an insight into good and evil, an awareness of the essentials of not just ‘knowledge’ but ‘character’ and even more than that ‘wisdom’, where does that come from?

Interestingly, plans to set up atheist schools in the United Kingdom could soon be given the green light by the British government, or so it seems according to a report by Assist News July 29th 2010. It says:

Education Secretary Michael Gove says he is open to the idea as part of reforms to his department.
The move comes after high profile anti-faith campaigner Professor Richard Dawkins suggested the idea, Premier Radio said. Ann Widdecombe, the Former Home Secretary who is also a believer, “said it is not something that should be opposed.”
She told Premier Radio: “If you can set up faith schools, then I think quite obviously you must also be allowed to set up a school that will cater for people whose parents are bringing them up specifically to have no faith.”
Widdecombe added: “I think it is a great pity if somebody is brought up that way, but our job is to win those people over, not to look to the law to do it for us.”

It is interesting to think of atheists setting up schools, I am not aware of many hospitals, orphanages, opposition to injustice groups that they have set up so far. Perhaps they do not understand the nature of thought, what we think is ultimately how we act, if I think I am an animal does it surprise anyone that I might act like one.

If I think there is no point to life, why should I care, why should I not be depressed and suicidal? If I think it’s just all mechanical like one great machine, why not treat my fellow human beings like a cog in the wheel. On the other hand if I think there is a law-giver, an ultimate reckoning day, and a purpose to my being here that will affect my thinking and my dealings with the rest of humanity.

John Newton, the famous reformed slave trader, preacher and hymn writer and of fairly recent film fame, captured the elemental truths of transformation when he penned “Amazing Grace.” The International teacher and author, Ravi Zacharias (www.rzim.org) hits the nail on the head when he describes man as “lost and dead.” He explained, “Jesus did not come to make bad people good; He came to make DEAD people LIVE.”

I have met modern people like John Newton, I have a friend who was once a rebel fighter, he could list all the women, children and men he had killed, when I met him I thought he was a mad man. Then he found God, bit of an easy cliché to say that, but when you see a messy life changed, new thinking found and actually death into life discovered you know the difference.

The cynic and atheist can say all that they like, but I say, show me! When you see their new concern for others, good citizenship, and a life that is progressive and enriched you know something special has taken place, there is this new passion for the life they now have.

Richard Dawkins said to me that he was more moral than me as I needed a God not to pillage and rape, kill and burn, murder and so on. My answer was “good for you; you need to watch the news more.”

So maybe Pippa Crerar in her future journalism could ask some more questions as to why these schools that have God seem to have better education.

Ask the right questions!

Adrian Hawkes
For Adrian’s Blog
30th July 2010
Editor : A. Brookes
W. 784

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Pioneers or Settlers

Pioneers or Settlers 


Mission stories for Our Lab

Story 10

I wish that I had thought of this title but if memory serves me correctly it was first used by Gerald Coates in a book of the same name, and he certainly used the phrase often.

The reality is that as we get older even those of us who have wanted to pioneer and seek out fresh lands, we opt for settling.

When I was the tender age of 19 I was part of a team of young people who were pioneers, trying to make a difference. We were saying to anyone who would listen, ‘Hey, we’re followers of the way, we’ve met a great person who is our friend and we would like to introduce you to him.’  We had found a new kingdom, and we wanted to bring it down to earth and make it a better place. We wanted to change the world. And I still do.

As is usual with people of that age, they started getting married, buying cars, having children, and worst of all, they got mortgages! When I tried to encourage them to continue of the pioneering path of excitement and challenge, to bring about change in the world, this was their response, ‘We’re married now, we have a car and a mortgage, when you get these things you will understand, you will have to settle down.’   Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ Luke 14: tells story of their excuses.

I got married, I had children and much, much later, I got a mortgage and to my delight I discovered you don’t have to settle, not if you don’t want to, and not if you have excitement about the future, relish what is new and realise the best is yet come; it is still out there to be discovered. The worst enemy of better is very good! I also found you don’t have to maintain the status quo and always do what is expected.  Let me demonstrate, I thought it would be good for my two month old baby, my wife Pauline and I to go out and celebrate one evening, by going out for a meal. Pauline said, ‘We can’t go out this late in the evening, surely the baby should be in bed.’  Unconvinced, I suggested we put her to bed in her carry cot and take her along, where she slept peacefully under the table.  Nobody even knew she was there until she let out a loud yelp in her sleep, and made the rest of the diners jump.  I know that people perhaps do this a lot now, but then it was frowned on, it was ‘just not done’.

As time moved on, I grew older but even my growing family of three children did not deter me, I still wanted to push those boundaries even though doing that doing that often involved hard work and late nights.  I came home one morning at 2:30am and said hello to my drowsy wife, who did not appreciate being woken up and complained about the noise. As I climbed into bed I teased her, ‘You are getting old and boring.’ That was a big mistake!  She threw back the covers, switched on the main light and started to get dressed, ‘What’s going on?’ I said.  ‘We’re going out to celebrate,’ she said as she yanked me out of bed. ‘Celebrate what?’  I groaned.  ‘Celebrate the fact that I am not boring!’  As we lived in London we had no difficulty at finding a place serving good food at 3:00am.  But I have never again accused my wife of being a boring settler.

There is something very attractive about passion, many people lose it, become settlers. Don’t!

Scripture describes it this way, if we are a follower of the way we are in a race, and there is no point in starting a race if we don’t complete it. 1 Corinthians 9 it’s great to start, better to continue, but best to finish. Be a passionate pioneer, not a sedentary settler!


Adrian Hawkes

For our Lab Stories


Editor: A Brookes

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Angry Young Men !

Angry young men
Mission 9
Story 9
For me, understanding the principals of the Kingdom of God was a bit like Paul’s Damascus Road experience, I fell off my donkey and a bright light came on. Only I fell off the donkey very slowly and the light came on very gradually, rather like slowly turning up a dimmer switch.
I had grown up with the idea that the Kingdom of God and the church where one and the same thing; now I understand that the Kingdom of God is not the church and the church’s job is to seek the Kingdom, while God worries about the building of the church, though I doubt he worries.
As a member of the church it stands to reason that my job, also, is to seek the Kingdom of God. Not seek church or denomination or even conversions, but to make seeking that kingdom my number one priority.
I had paid lip service to the fact the Christ will build his church, but then I got on with building a local church community, thinking that the job had somehow been delegated to me, although I am not sure when that happened!
I guess that is the mission, and that is what I was asked to write these stories about. I recognize now that the kingdom needs to be everywhere in God’s big wide world; we are to seek it in the church and also outside of the church. I believe if you seek the church you might not find the kingdom, but if you seek the kingdom you will find the church.
Salt purifies and preserves, light eliminates darkness and gives direction. We seek the kingdom by being salt and light influencers in all the pillars that hold up and mould society; the culture, the politics, the business, the education, the media and arts.
An interesting analogy can be seen in the Old Testament scripture, when the kingdom of David was at its height it had influence on all the surrounding nations. It constructed a David fortress in each of those territories although it did not take them over or rule them. I assume the local countries did not want to offend this rather strong neighbouring kingdom, and when they wanted to pass a new law or make a decision although they were free to do so, they felt it was a good idea not to offend this rather strong kingdom and would first check with the local influencers at the David Fort.
Let me tell you two stories that illustrate what I mean by seeking the kingdom. But first let me ask you a question, what does the Kingdom of God look like? The Lord’s Prayer gives us an indication, ‘your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,’ says Jesus, recorded in scripture.
What is God’s kingdom like? From scripture we can deduce that it is a place of justice, righteousness, peace and joy plus many more good things. If we find these things on earth we will have found a bit of the kingdom. When Jesus was on earth, and he put a wrong right he would say, ‘the Kingdom of God is amongst you’, that must mean he had brought the Kingdom of God to the earth.
One evening, when I was running a youth club in the north of England, a crowd of disruptive lads came in and began causing a ruckus. They bullied the young people who were already at the club, then they started throwing chairs around, and smashing anything they could lay their hands on, it was all getting rather dangerous. In the middle of the mayhem I walked in and swiftly became very angry and made it clear that they should leave. They moved out of the club and onto the street, with me in hot pursuit. I singled out their leader, a very tall young man, and marched up to him to give him a piece of my mind. He was head and shoulders taller than me, accompanied by a pack of his feral mates; if they had turned on me I would not have stood a chance, but I was annoyed and perhaps not thinking straight.

I looked him in the eye and berated him about what he and his mates had just done to the club, and then, I have no idea why, I said ‘Are you afraid of me?’ He sneered at me, looked around at his mates for support then announced, ‘No way!’ I then said, ‘Okay, then you won’t be afraid if I pray for you will you?’ He looked at me as if I was mad and said, ‘I ain’t afraid of you or anything you can do, including praying.” I took his hand and without closing my eyes began to pray, ‘Lord Jesus, this young man does not know that you are with me; that you are strong and powerful and that you actually want to do something in his life…..’ I didn’t get any further, I saw that he had tears streaming down his face, and then he snatched his hand from mine and ran away as fast as he could. The rest of the gang looked at me as if to say ‘what have you done to our boss?’ and then they all ran after him. I never saw him or his gang again. We rarely know exactly what to say in these situations, but all we need to know is the Kingdom of God is amongst you. Those of us who know God can find his kingdom in the strangest of places, even in the middle of the street surrounded by a gang. We just need to seek.

Recently, at our office in north London, a young Pakistani Muslim guy came in to speak to one of our staff, he was very angry, so angry that the staff member was afraid and asked one of the other staff members to come and sit in on the meeting for support. Gradually, as he raged on , it emerged that he had been at the airport, on his way to catch a flight to go and visit his sick mother when the police arrested him as a suspected terrorist. For some strange reason, his mates had suggested he should come and see us, telling him that we would be able to help. As the staff listened they became more afraid, for all they knew he could have been a terrorist, and they had no idea how they could help him. In desperation, one of the staff members offered to pray for him, as she didn’t know what else they could do.
At this suggestion he became even angrier and shouted, ‘I have already been to the mosque today and prayed, there is no point in praying, do something else!’ The staff members apologised but said they didn’t know what else to do; the only thing they could offer was prayer, eventually they persuaded him and grudgingly he agreed. Both members of staff shut their eyes tight, not out of reverence but out of fear, and they began to pray, and they prayed and they prayed, they didn’t want to stop because they didn’t want to open their eyes and look at the angry young man. Eventually they did stop and when they opened their eyes they saw a very calm and peaceful young man, who smiled and said ‘I don’t know what you just did but thank you! I have never experienced anything like that before.’ And with that he left. He returned twice more and was very keen to express his thanks, ‘I don’t know how you did it but everything is sorted, I am flying to see my sick mother, thank you, thank you, thank you!’

What we want to do is find that kingdom everywhere on God’s earth. That then is mission. Seeking his kingdom here on earth.
For Ourlab mission stories
Adrian Hawkes
Editor A. Brookes

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Do You Want Grass With That Bacon?

Do you want Grass with that bacon”?

Port Talbot

Mission 8

Story 8

The wind was blowing hard, the canvas snapped and strained as the rain beat down; I was half asleep listening to the howling wind when I heard a loud crack, the canvas went slack and began billowing wildly. I struggled out of my sleeping bag, ‘Mark! Mark!’ I yelled, ‘one of the ropes has gone!’ It was 3am, we returned half an hour later, soaked to the skin and sat there drinking hot chocolate to warm us up before we climbed back into our sleeping bags. It was 1967; Mark Drew and I were living in a marquee, pitched in a car park underneath a motorway flyover.

Living like that for three month had its challenges, one of them being that Mark was self-appointed chef, and every time he dropped anything on the floor, like the breakfast bacon, it was always my bacon sandwich that had the grass and gravel in it, never Mark’s!

The aim of this strange living arrangement was to be the security personnel as well as general dog’s bodies for a mission organised by George Canty.

The mission had two aims, to introduce the people of Port Talbot, Wales, to the living God and to establish a community of believers in the area.

George had a very interesting process of gaining peoples attention. I thought that a huge marquee positioned in a car park would be an obvious draw to the crowds, but this was not enough for George. He produced a flyer in the style of a single sheet of newspaper; after he had written the copy he would sit there pouring over it for hours, eliminating every word or phrase that was in the least bit religious or churchy. He wanted the language to be the kind that normal people used every day. He was striving for a ‘red top’ newspaper style of advertising.

Stage two was to print and distribute the advertising newspaper. Mark and I blitzed the place, pushing them through doors, handing them out on the street and talking to anyone we met about the mission. There was already considerable interest since the marquee had appeared, people were curious to know what it was all about, all they knew so far was that it was in the car park and a couple of young lads were sleeping there. I say sleeping, but that was a euphemism, bear in mind we were underneath a busy motorway, in a huge draughty tent, in Wales, where it rains, a lot! If we weren’t shivering in our sleeping bags, we were running round in our pyjamas tightening guy ropes in the dark and generally keeping the meeting place from blowing away.

The evenings developed a pattern, hundreds of people turned up each night, Mark and I showed them to their seats and George stood at the front beside an easel with a large white blank canvas placed on it. As George spoke, he produced an oil painting from scratch; he was the Rolf Harris of the mission circuit. When it was finished, it would be awarded to the person who had brought the most people that evening. After he had chatted to the crowd about how good God is, he would then offer to pray for anyone who was sick.

George came in for a lot of flack from the religious people in the area. The accusation levelled at him was that to give away an oil painting each night to the person who brought the most people was a ‘gimmick’ and not in the least bit ‘spiritual’. I asked George how he would deal with this criticism, his astute and sharp response still sticks in my mind, ‘One persons gimmick is another persons good idea!’ It reminds me of a similar quip from General Booth, when someone said to him, ‘I hate the way that you evangelise!’ Booth responded, ‘Yes, and I don’t like it much either how do you do it”.’ The truth of the matter was that the critic was not doing anything to share should the good news.

During the three month period I saw some amazing things, one night a lady who was deaf came forward for prayer. I had showed her to her seat earlier in the evening and had been almost hoarse trying to make her hear, she was so deaf. She did not ask for prayer for her hearing, but for her sore throat. George, in his inimitable maverick style, ignored the request about the sore throat, stuck his fingers in her ears and prayed that the gifts of healing that God gives to his followers would be granted, and that she would hear again. He then moved to the opposite side of the marquee and began to have a conversation with this ‘deaf’ lady; he spoke in a very low, ordinary tone. ‘Where do you live?’ he said, ‘About three streets away’ she replied, ‘How long have you been deaf?’ he asked, ‘About 25 years.’ She replied. ‘How much can you hear?’ he said, ‘I can’t hear anything at all, I am pretty much stone deaf,’ she said. George continued this conversation with her for some time, the audience began to giggle sporadically, and then, as the conversation progressed, the whole place was falling about laughing. Gradually she became aware of the merriment, looked at the laughing crowd, then back at George, ‘How come I can hear you and answer all your questions?’ She said her face a picture of curiosity and astonishment.

Another lady had a very badly twisted leg; she couldn’t straighten it and therefore was badly incapacitated. God healed her, her leg became straight and she was able to walk again. I went to visit her at her home and asked if she would like to come to one of our church community meetings, she told me in no uncertain terms that she wasn’t interested in such things, all she had wanted was for her leg to be straight and now it was and she was happy with that. She bid me good bye and closed the door. I was reminded of the words of Jesus when he said, and I paraphrase; “It’s not really me or my message that you are interested in, you come and follow me because you have heard about food and you love to eat bread and fish.”

When the three months of mission was concluded, a small church community had been established. Mark and I stayed on for another three months to help it become established. Not, I hasten to add, living in the marquee!

Adrian L Hawkes
For our Lab Stories
Editor A. Brookes
W. 1123

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Social Care Is Not My Problem?

Social care is not my problem?

On the way from Middlesbrough to London

Mission 7

Story 7

 I lived in Middlesbrough for five years and during that time I got very involved with the students in the local college.  Gradually the number of students coming to our church community increased substantially. A number of the students were doing degrees in social work and we often had long conversations about this issue.  Some of them had reached the conclusion that pastoral care was their area of expertise and anything that I did out of care and concern was, in their opinion, outdated and in need of replacing, and I should not be crossing over into their perceived domain.

I thought a lot about these discussions; I did not feel intimidated by their attitudes but did believe I should give it some consideration.  Since that time I have developed my knowledge considerably in the area of social care, and also my perceptions, some of which I will now share with you.

It struck me that ‘the followers of Jesus’ in their kingdom seeking, were the main instigators of much good in the areas that I now call the four pillars that hold up, influence and effect change in culture and ultimately his world. The four pillars, I would argue, are what people of the way need for strategy and influence as they pull down kingdom values to affect change for good in society. I seems obvious to me that Paul in the scripture understood the powerful effect of Rome and hence wanted to ‘seek the kingdom’ in Rome!

What are the four pillars?


Media including TV, radio, advertising, hoardings, the web, books, newspapers, magazines, theatre, film and art.



Let us look back on education especially in the UK and consider Robert Rakes from the eighteenth century, (A statue of Raikes was erected on the Victoria Embankment, London in 1880, sculpted by Sir Thomas Brock, R.A., to celebrate the centenary of the Sunday school movement. A statue of Rakes was erected in GloucesterPark fifty years later, in 1930. It is a copy of the Brock statue.) Rakes founded Sunday school, and let us be clear, the origins of Sunday school was not as many know it or imagine it today, it was in fact an educational programme to teach children to read and write, and Sunday was the only day they could attend.  Of course he wanted them to understand the bible, but primarily it was an educational programme.

In politics who could forget William Wilberforce in 1805 and the abolition of slavery in the UK by parliament; trend setting, ground breaking, kingdom values being put in place.

In media there was a tendency to discourage young Christians from getting involved, what a tragedy. The media is a powerful moulder of our culture, influencing far beyond what we give it credit for. People of the way need to get involved and stay involved. I take my hat off to people like Dan Wooding and Assist News who constantly disseminate good honest information for the whole of the press world.

In business there a numerous fantastic trend setters, people who were ahead of their time, seeking justice and presenting a value system that hadn’t been seen before. Take the Cadbury brothers for example, they constructed their factory in a garden to enhance their workers well-being and invited workers to have a voice on the board. This was unheard of and radical at the time. Where did such ideas come from?  I would argue kingdom values.

When the new factory was built at Bournville it had many facilities which were unknown in Victorian times – properly heated dressing rooms; kitchens for heating food; separate gardens for men and women as well as extensive sports fields and women’s and men’s swimming pools. Sports facilities included football, hockey and cricket pitches, tennis and squash racquet courts and a bowling green. Country outings and summer camps were organised. Special workers’ fares were negotiated with the railway company and 16 houses were built for senior employees.

 Morning prayers and daily bible readings, first started in 1866 to preserve a family atmosphere, were not abandoned until 50 years later, when the size of the workforce was too large for such an assembly. George Cadbury was a housing reformer interested in improving the living conditions of working people. In 1895 he bought 120 acres near the factory and began to build houses in line with the ideals of the Embryo Garden City movement. Motivation for building the Bournville Village, George Cadbury wanted to provide affordable housing in pleasant surroundings for wage earners.  http://www.cadbury.co.nz/About-Cadbury/The-Story-of-Cadbury/The-Story-of-Cadbury—Continued.aspx

 What has all this to do with my chats with social care students in Middlesbrough? A great deal, those discussions were, I believe, a catalyst for molding much of my thinking since then.  I remember when I moved to London, I was driving down the M1 and talking to God, I said ‘I would really like a million pounds or so Lord, I would like to see those early things re-established, I want your followers to move into those influential areas that change our culture, I want to be ‘salt’ and ‘light’ seeking to influence and show new directions in some or all of these important strategic areas’.

 ImageI had a passion to be involved in these areas, and I wanted to encourage people who knew God and had similar passions to seek to draw down God’s kingdom into these areas.  I had almost forgotten that conversation with God, but he listened and answered and the millions came and we spent it on buildings, employment, business start-ups, housing and schools.  How the money came is another story, or perhaps many stories, but I am still seeing the influence in the areas of the four pillars.  I want to see others catch the vision, and realize that that is where we need to seek the kingdom.


Adrian Hawkes

W 1002

For Ourlab Stories

Editor A. Brookes

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There was a Large Yellow Dancing Duck

There was a large yellow dancing duck

Mission 6

Large Yellow Duck

Large Yellow Duck

Story 6

My new wife Pauline and I moved to Middlesbrough, new area, new situation, new problems, but the same need for people to hear the good news, and the same challenge of how it should be communicated. I am always willing to try something new, but you have to have the idea in the first place before you can try it. At that stage I didn’t have any new ideas so I forged ahead with my tried and tested methods.

Grangetown, where we were living, did not have much for young people to do, or places for them to go. So I revisited the ‘60’s’ coffee and chat idea, we had a hall that we could use attached to the main meeting building. We set it up as a coffee bar, we had no singers as there was only me and Pauline, we dished out the invites and waited to see if anything would happen. We used taped music and we made the coffee, youngsters came but it was hard to have one to one conversations as we were outnumbered 30 to 1, instead a talk from a central point seemed the way forward.

In this part of town they also had the tendency to throw things if they didn’t like what was happening, similar to my experience in Birmingham at St Martins when they threw vegetables at us. Here it was rather more aggressive and destructive; bricks through windows were a regular occurrence.

It was a rough and tumble type town but even so many of the youngsters that we met wanted, truly wanted to know God, in fact I have heard from a few of them recently and it is now over 30 years ago.

I was puzzled by the fact that many of the local kids managed to find the hall where we were holding the coffee bar; it was not located anywhere obvious being right at the end of the town. One evening I was chatting to one of the youngsters and asked him how he had managed to find us and why he had come to listen to me. He told me that the local vicar had been going round the schools with a stern warning to all the young people, ‘Stay away from those new people in the church at the end of town, they are weird Americans and they will corrupt you.’ We could not have had better publicity; telling youth not to do something is guaranteed to ensure they will!

Gradually many of these young people became part of our church community, although they took great pleasure in playing tricks on me. We also had to deal with gangs of them invading our house night after night. In that area at that time the culture was ‘open door, come right on in’ If we forgot to lock the door, we would be washing up in the kitchen, and come back into the living room to discover 6 to 8 young people had appeared. This was quite a pressure for a newly married couple just starting out in their first leadership role, but they wanted questions answered; they wanted to understand the meaning of their existence.

One day we had a very special speaker who was visiting the church building. They all turned up and were on their best behaviour; this was often not the case and I was regularly getting complaints from the ‘established churches’ that these youngsters were too noisy, too young or did not observe religious etiquette.
As I stood at the front, leading the meeting I was pleased that they were so well behaved, and there wouldn’t be any complaints about them this evening. Then to my surprise, I noticed some of the older ladies were looking decidedly wobbly and flustered, and one or two of them left the building half-way through the meeting. I also noticed that there was suppressed laughter rippling through the rows of youngsters.

At the end of the formal part of the meeting I found some of the ladies sitting in the side room, looking quite ill and sipping water. ‘What’s the problem?’ I asked. They all spoke at once but I eventually gathered that they had been having hallucinations and it had made them feel faint. The hallucination, it turned out, was a large yellow duck behind me and the speaker; it was obviously a very spiritual duck because it danced in time with the music, it had deeply disturbed them and sent them scurrying out as they just couldn’t take it any longer

I smelled something fishy, and quizzed the teens to try and get to the bottom of the mystery. They had stolen my daughter’s bath time toy, a large yellow plastic duck, broken into the building and placed it on the top of the large unused organ which was situated at the back of the platform. They had then tied an almost invisible nylon cord around its neck, which they threaded along the ceiling and dropped down into the rows where the youngsters were sitting. By sleight of hand they made it dance in time with the music of each song.

I feigned great disappointment at their actions, but deep down I was hoping that over time their creativeness and hard work could be turned to more constructive use as their passion for Jesus grew.

Adrian L Hawkes
For Ourlab
W. 916
Editor: A. Brookes

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