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!