Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
YWAM San Francisco…what can I say?? You’ve been INCREDIBLE! Thank you to everyone for all you’ve done to make our time here over the last 5 weeks so special. We’re so glad that we’ve been able to share together for this part of all our journeys. You’ve touched our hearts and will be in our thoughts and prayers as we head back across the pond! Keep going for Jesus. You’ll be great!
England!!! We’re excited to see you soon! Moorlands, we can’t wait to hear what’s been happening with everyone in the last 5 weeks and all that God has been doing with you. Especially to all our friends who like us, return to college for the final straight in this 3 (or 4 or 5!) year journey, we’re excited to join with you and to finish well what we started back then! Let’s trust God who makes it happen. Who knows what will happen next?
As I was journalling this evening I just got this sense that, although I don’t want to leave San Francisco, it is right to do so:
This morning, being in the Ellis room for the last time didn’t really feel any different to the times we have been in there for the last 5 weeks. I mean, it was the last time that I am going to see the majority of people that I have spoken to for the last 5 weeks and normally that would create a sense of sadness and maybe grief in my heart, but I have a sense in my heart of completion in my time here. Although a big part of me doesn’t want to leave because of the friends that I have made here and the fact that God has been teaching, challenging and encouraging me so much since being here, I feel that it is time to go, it just feels right.
This afternoon, Pete and I cooked Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Pie and made Victoria Sponge Cake. This was fun to make and I am pleased to say that the Americans now appreciate British cooking. Whoop!
Sadly our time is coming to an end but tomorrow still brings exciting adventure for us as we try “In and Out” a California burger restaurant and head to the beach for a bonfire!
We want to really thank God for our time here and ask that you continue to pray for us but also for our friends out here in San Francisco; those that live on the streets and those who continue to work in the very challenging ministry here at YWAM San Francisco.
Thank you and God bless you all.
I think part of me is still in denial about the fact that we’re leaving San Francisco on Saturday. The sun is shining as we walk down the streets here, a blessing compared to the predicted cold and rain which is more normal for the bay area at this time of year. Temperatures are still in the mid to high teens here, so the prospect of landing at Heathrow on Sunday morning to potential lows well in the sub-zero’s does not fill us with huge excitement!
That much said, we are excited. We’re excited to be able to come back to the UK, to reflect on all that we have seen and experienced here. We’re excited to see family and friends and to share with them some of what we’ve been part of. We’re really excited to see our co-students at Moorlands College, many of whom have been doing other placements in different places all around the world. We’re excited to hear about all that God has been doing in and through them, as well.
We are sad though. We’re sad to be leaving people who in 5 weeks, we’ve come to know as friends. We’re sad to be leaving a ministry that has taught us a lot, and woken our hearts in a fresh way to God’s love for the last, the least and the lost in his world.
But as we go, we’re determined to go in his strength, to listen to his voice and to follow his lead in every detail of wherever we end up next!
Thanks for your prayers, and please keep praying for us as we wrap up a busy final few days here, for strength as we keep going right up till we leave on Saturday afternoon. Pray for safe travels both back to the UK and then on to Moorlands within 24 hours of our arrival there. Pray that we can process well, and effectively put into words some of the lessons that we have learnt through our time here.
Most of all, pray for the people we have met here: the staff at YWAM San Francisco, who face such huge challenges with incredible boldness and faith, every day and the people that we have been working with them in ministering to. We ask that God would bless them, that he would lead them, that he would watch over them and that most of all, he would draw them to himself.
The following is an account of an encounter on the streets of San Francisco today. I wrote this for my study journal and have changed some details to protect privacy. I hope it demonstrates some of the dynamics of the work that we are part of here.
Jason was just another man on the street. As we stood by Powell Station offering prayer to people passing by, I caught him out of the corner of my eye. He sat quietly in a doorway, an empty cup at his feet to collect loose change.
I approached him and asked simply: “how are you?”
I saw his eyes tear up. He told me that he had cancer in his blood (Leukaemia, Lymphoma, Myeloma?), that he was undergoing chemotherapy but that the treatment outlook was not good. He was living on the streets and did not have friends or family in the city.
2 questions immediately came to mind for me.
“What if he’s lying?”
This is always an issue that we encounter when we do street ministry. The majority of people on the streets will make up stories in order to attract ‘contributions’. The issue with this for us as outreach workers is that it becomes incredibly difficult to tell the difference between someone who is genuinely in need and someone who is not.
The way in which we deal with this is important and is an issue faced by Christian workers all around the world. Blanket giving (except in some situations, like emergency relief) is one of the most common symptoms of un-constructive (even destructive) kindness. Yet equally I’m aware that there’s a danger of becoming so overwhelmed by the extent of people’s suffering or so suspicious of the possibility of deception that we tune out, becoming de-sensitised. We reach a kind of ‘compassion fatigue’ and we neglect to do anything at all, even for those we are equipped (and called) to assist. For that reason we need to have a strategy for how it is we care for people and we need to have our hearts open to God for direction in this.
For what it’s worth, I don’t believe that this man was lying. I saw him try to hold back his tears, his skin was pale and his limbs were swollen. His head was bald suggesting recent chemotherapy and significantly, he did not ask for money or food.
Irrespective of the answer to this first question, the second is far more important.
What can I realistically do for him?
The passage that comes to my mind is Acts 3, where Peter and John pass the crippled beggar at the beautiful gate and he asks them for money. Peter’s response resonates deeply in my mind. “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Acts 3:6.
This is a big deal. My goal is not principally to meet peoples physical needs, although there will be times when I am resourced and called in order to do so. My primary purpose is to present imperfect people before the perfect Christ, in whose name all needs may be met.
I pray with the man, speaking peace, protection and healing into his life. I also offer him further support, through our centre at YWAM, if he chooses to accept it. I stick within our mandate and ministerial boundaries, trusting him into God’s hands.
The man thanks me and, embracing my hand, goes on his way. I return to my group. It’s likely I’ll try to see him again and I hope he takes up my offer of help at the YWAM centre. Here others can continue to walk with him, providing him friendship, comfort and encouragement to whatever end. Most of all we will continue to present him with intercession before God, believing that it is in the name of Jesus that all brokenness, but most importantly our brokenness of spirit, was crucified with him at Golgotha.
Thank you God for your gift of life and for your sovereignty where we are so broken. Please take my friend into your hands. Amen.
It was 9 o’clock in the morning. The sun was shining down on a beautiful San Francisco day….
I rolled over and went back to sleep.
By 11, though, we were on the move. We’d sorted a picnic, packed our bags and were making our way up to Fisherman’s wharf. We rented bikes and, following a brief navigational blunder (sorry!!), were on our way to Golden Gate Bridge.
They call it the most beautiful bridge in the world. To be honest, I’m not sure. But it is very cool! Our ride took us along the bay on the San Francisco side and after lunch, up a sharp incline to the starting point of the bridge. More confusion over signposting followed but we soon found ourselves rattling along San Francisco’s most iconic landmark, weaving in and out of the hords of un-predictable tourists, who were seemingly oblivious to markings intended to keep cyclists and pedestrians apart. The views, however, were fantastic and on reaching the other side we looked back on the beautifully sweeping city, our home for just another 12 days.
Our journey continued into Sausalito, a stunning fisherman’s town. Here we were glad to find icecream, without which no real bike trip would ever be complete! We continued to follow the bike routes along the north side of the bay, soaking in the sun as the afternoon drew to a close. Finally we returned to Sausalito and eventually (after a ferry cancellation and some frantic scrambling to find alternative transport) via bus into San Francisco, as the last of the light faded from the evening sky.
Once again, we are thankful for rest! Although, actually, we’re now quite tired!
Most importantly, we thank God for this incredible city, knowing that it, or rather the people it contains are each, individually, indescribably precious to him.
We cooked some food, ate some food food, met some super cool high school students and did a wicked youth group. And Pete turned into a light.
I couldn’t think of a title! This will be a quick post, I promise! Several amazing things happened today:
1) The sun came out!! It’s now 15 degrees with clear blue skies and sunlight glimmering off the high rise buildings that sprawl across San Francisco’s tightly packed city blocks. For those unfamiliar with UK weather conditions, we’d regard that as a pretty acceptable beach day!
2) We’ve had some great conversations in the Ellis room. It’s amazing to see ice breaking down and people starting to open up to us. Praise God!
3) We headed out to North Beach again where we joined in with a project called ‘End Loneliness’. It’s early days but the project essentially aims to do what it says on the tin! By being available in a Coffee bar at the same time each week, the team hope to build up relationships and encourage people who have found themselves for whatever reason, on their own. It’s was great to see people, including the coffee bar staff, so encouraged by us being there. I also got a nutella latte. It was awesome!
4) Finally, realising we were down to our last round of proper tea, we took intervening action and headed to Safeway, where we picked up some Tetley (It’ll do for now!!) and a huge bag of some kind of marshmallow infused concoction claiming to have something to do with breakfast cereal. Nice.
At the same time, today’s had it’s challenges. One of the guys we’ve gotten to know in the Ellis room told me today that he was involved in a fight last night. He was really shaken up. It brought home to me the harsh reality of life on the streets. There’s stories all the time of people who are attacked and even killed. Please pray for all of our friends on the streets, especially Louis (Not his real name!!).
We believe that greater things are yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city!
Sorry it has been a few days! We’ve had the weekend off from working (It’s now Monday evening here, although most of you won’t get a chance to see this until Tuesday morning, cos it’s about 3am in the UK right now!!).
We’ve had a packed weekend! Saturday consisted of getting up late and having a late breakfast followed by heading to Castro, the area of San Francisco where the Lesbian, Gay and Transgender communities tend to congregate and live. We were invited here for a late lunch by Jan and Trevor, who are from Pete’s home church and now members of the staff team at YWAM. The meal was nice and we also walked around the area to get an idea of what it is like.
On Sunday we headed to Reality church, where we took time to reflect and wait on God, listening to what he is saying to us and worshipping him.
The remainder of the day predominantly consisted of copious amounts of pizza (lunch and dinner!!) and joining the DTS students and YWAM team to watch the New York Giants devastatingly defeat theSan Francisco 49ers in the football playoffs. It was great entertainment (as well as an informative cultural experience!). We remain, however, confused by the differences between American football and football as we know it in the rest of the world!! For starters, they don’t use their feet for the ball very often and the ball isn’t actually a ball. Technically it’s more of an egg.
Today (Monday!) we’ve continued building relationships in the Ellis room. In the afternoon we had another a meeting with one of the YWAM team, which involved hijacking a glass elevator at one of the local hotels. We catapulted to the top of the 32 story building, before plummeting back to the ground below. We got some fantastic views, so we did it a few more times. Pete should shortly recover from the nausea the experience induced, and we’re likely to head back to try it again before long!
On a serious note, we continue to really need and value your prayers. Pete has been unwell for the past few days, so please pray for healing and renewed strength physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Thanks for your support as always.
Pete & Hayden
We started the morning by doing a lot of cleaning and helping the Hospitality staff, Jan, clean some of the rooms ready for guests to come in! We continued the day by making Fish and Chicken Tacos (a first for Pete and myself, so thank you Lindsay for helping us or actually doing it and us helping her as the case actually was). This involved getting used to a new recipe, getting used to the YWAM kitchen and following orders. It all went well and no one has died yet (as far as we know).
This evening we were supposed to be out on the streets serving the homeless Hot Chocolate and chatting and praying with them, but because of the rain, the teams that come to do this pulled out and a lot of the homeless go into hiding when the rain comes in.
Instead we spent the evening building relationships with the staff here at YWAM San Fran and the DTS students, who are a great bunch of people and I look forward to working with them and getting to know them better over the next few weeks.
Today has brought up a lot of questions for Pete and I about, experience and calling and what truly is a calling? Is there only two responses to a calling, yes or no, or can there be many areas that can fulfil a calling from God? Is a calling the same thing as the passions and desires that God puts on our hearts? What determines a calling compared to God’s leading our lives in certain directions or are these the same thing?
I am processing these questions and a lot more… if people have any thoughts I am up for reading them.
Thanks for your support by prayer and thanks for reading and listening to our blogs. We love hearing your responses so do comment if you want to.
God Bless you all
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Eph 2:8).
What, on earth, motivates you to keep on ministering in this place? What drives you to serve selflessly, a people who more often that not will throw it back in your face? How is it that you continue to keep holding out hope in the midst of a situation that will probably never really change?
This was the essence of my questioning directed at a YWAM team member as we sat sipping coffee in one of San Francisco’s many shopping malls, rain pounding the streets outside. I was trying to get to the route of the vision, the driving force for a mission like this.
The answer is this: humility. This is perhaps the most important characteristic for someone who is to remain capable of ministering to those in need. We cannot remain effective apart from a full recognition of the power and absolute necessity of God’s grace, first for our own lives and then for the lives of those we are ministering too.
The truth is that the depravity and brokenness which we are aware of so strongly in this city is powerfully symbolic of the way in which God sees us. We are all broken people and we have all fallen short of God’s glorious standards. None of us have a reason to expect anything of God and yet he pours out his grace upon us. As soon as we begin to see ourselves as in any way greater than the least of our neighbours we have lost sight of the essence of the Gospel. As Dietrich Bonheoffer asks “How can I possibly serve another person in unfeigned humility if I seriously regard his sinfulness as worse than my own?”.
I am aware of my own need to grow in my knowledge of this truth, with every increasing humility and awe. We, too, live as the result of the scandalous reality of grace.
For it is grace that has saved me from the pit of squalor and despair. It is grace that gives us the call and the strength to minister in His name. It is grace that has the power to redeem the brokenness that we see in this city. And it is grace that allows time for that grace to be revealed. Ultimately we know that our fallen world may never be utterly restored, but we know that is the grace of God alone that holds the key.
Though I may not have all of the answers, I know that the grace of God does. Indeed, in the words of the great song, though “Through many dangers, toils and snares we have already come, t’was Grace that brought us safe thus far and Grace will lead us home.”. Amen.