Archive for the ‘Journey update’ Category

#YouARELOVED! – Valentine reflections

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Today has been a day to pause, reflect, give thanks to God and celebrate all he has done – through our #YouARELOVED! window, cards and gifts this weekend, and through all of the Sanctuary’s work over the last five years… Here are some brief testimonies, and just a taste of our joy, at all God is doing in, among and through us:

loved 16 rose and sanctuary cropped to landscape

As we look back over the last few days we are celebrating:

  • everything going so smoothly practically, being so led by and soaked in prayer, and there being such a sense of love and joy in all the preparations and in our team – especially, ironically in the seven of us who set our alarms for 5:30AM to go love bombing with the roses yesterday morning!
  • being able to source Fairtrade roses from Marks and Spencer so that no one in our supply chain was exploited in order for people here to receive the love we so wanted to freely give.
  • realising how special it is to find you can easily think of 100 organisations and businesses who go the extra mile to care… all in one small town. And being very thankful to live somewhere where love and trust are truly growing.
  • reaching thousands of people who live and/or work immediately around us with such an important message on a day that touches a real point of need through the combined activities of footfall and drivers passing our windows, 100 teams at caring organisations or especially kind businesses around town receiving cards, 100 individuals receiving a white rose and thousands more seeing, and passing on, communications on social media.
  • inspiring quite a number of individuals and churches elsewhere in the country to start thinking about similar activities they could do to reach out in a similar way.
  • going out and about around town and being beautifully surprised to see quite a number of our cards again because they have been proudly and publically displayed in the shops and public services who received them!
  • receiving quite a lot of thank you tweets from card recipients too… including some where people were clearly very touched. One person even said it had made their day and they had shown it to all their customers…
  • …and being amazed at the level of interaction from people on social media (including our highest ever retweet number) around the rose giveaway, with people from all sorts of different backgrounds being touched by the idea.
  • reaching and encouraging lots of people all over the country who also desperately needed to hear the #YouAreLOVED! message by sharing our activities and pictures online and on social media.
  • gaining some really helpful insights and ideas for similar, future activities.
  • hearing the beginnings of answered prayers in stories that connect it all together, all around town in an extraordinarily beautiful way, like this one:

Today we met a lady for the first time who we had heard about previously because one of our other pray-ers had met her at the church next door during our Christmas holidays…

she had gone in there for the first time because she had seen our Narnia window and it was very significant to her because her husband (who only very recently passed away) had loved it and recommended it to her, and she had been so struck by the character of Aslan.

Dial forward to this Valentine’s this year, when she was obviously feeling the loneliness of bereavement, went back to the church and was prayed for to receive a confirmation of God’s love for her…

…she also got permission to take some of the petals that had been used in a symbolic act of prayer away with her and so flowers were on her mind…

she left there and went to a local supermarket (who had an assistant who’d received a rose) and the lady selling her the shopping said she felt led to give her a rose and handed one over.

(When she told us this, one of us even remembered placing that exact rose on the doorstep of this supermarket!)

When she read the message attached she received that confirmation that had been prayed for the previous day, and when she read about who it was from, she made the connection with the Aslan window and was amazed it had come from the same place… she shared this experience with the volunteer in one of the local charity shops who she knows this morning…

Well that lady said she had goose bumps and told the first lady she’d never believe this but she had something to show her…

…and handed her one of our cards, because we’d written individual thank you notes to all the teams of volunteers in all the charity shops in town. This lady then said she’d have to visit the Sanctuary some time!

In the next shop our first lady went into, she told the growing story again and the shopkeeper there – who we’d meant to send a card to but had somehow got missed – was really moved to hear about it.

At this point, she decided she could wait no longer, so she came and knocked on our door. But not before she’d read that message from God a third time in our window in massive letters – YOU ARE LOVED!

When we got chatting and heard her amazing story, we were able to provide some rather special icing on the cake… the petals she’d been given at church had been lent to the church by us – and we’d first bought them for our story window: The Blossom-Maker, another allegory with a type of Christ in it… just like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe!

So we gave her a copy of that story to take away along with a new, fresher rose; the goose poem she’d also seen and enjoyed in our last window because she was aware of the Celtic church using the wild goose as their symbol for the Holy Spirit; a card with our prayer rhythm times on it to share with the lady at the charity shop and a card we wrote there and then for her to take back to the shopkeeper who we’d meant to write to all along.

She was overjoyed at – and with – it all! And so were we…

But then, just as she was about to leave, the very person who’d given her the petals and prayed for her to receive a confirmation of God’s love for her at church yesterday walked through our front door returning the whole bag of petals to the Sanctuary.


All of us – Sanctuary volunteers, the heroine of our story, and the blossom-returning pray-er were a bit dumbstruck by this point!

Here at the Sanctuary, we did everything we did for Valentine’s because of listening prayer and then we had prayed and prayed again and again… for the window, for the cards, for the roses, for the people receiving them, for the people they would share with and on and on and on.

And we had especially prayed for the connections between all the related initiatives, we’d prayed for the right people to receive the roses, we’d prayed for the recipients of roses and cards to share the love, and we’d even prayed for this very lady we’d never met because we’d heard about her at Christmas.

This is just one story; one trail; one example of how God led us to do something and we sowed a seed and then he just took it and grew and multiplied weaved this incredible, blossoming story of unmissable loving pursuit all over town and all over one precious lady’s heart and interactions…

We’re thanking and praising him with so much joy.

And we’re trusting him for all the others – the ones where just he and the people involved know all the links – because we’re beautifully well out of the way of most of the special moments of connection between him and people that we just know are happening all over our town!

(Note from editor – added 18 Feb – the #YouAreLOVED! initiative has subsequently been picked up by The Ilkley Gazette on page 4 of their printed newspaper and on their website here.)

And as we look back over the last five years (as it was our birthday too yesterday!) – and especially over the last twelve months – we’re full of thanksgiving to have:

  • been led so clearly at every stage of the journey.
  • learned so much about who God is and grown so much in our relationships with him – and our understanding of his heart.
  • seen our community of pray-ers grow so much in confidence and expectancy to pray, creativity to share what God has shown us through new resources, art and creative gifts, and gentle boldness to go in his name.
  • seen our community grow in their depth of fellowship with God and each other… as well as in numbers.
  • been staggered at God’s confide-nce in us and the incredible answered prayers we have had as a result.
  • crossed the three quarters of a million mark on unique visits to our website this month.
  • witnessed month after month of web stats reporting high downloads of many resources from our 400+ strong free online resource library for outward focused worship.
  • heard from lots of different organisations, churches and individuals all over the world that our resources are making a difference to the way they pray, the way they think about justice and mission, and the way they step out for God in action.
  • developed some wonderful partnerships with like-minded organisations focusing on prayer, justice and mission.
  • reached such an exciting point with the songs project.
  • launched sparrow song.
  • seen one of our newest pray-ers come to Christ!
  • added such wonderfully fortifying new members to our five strong Management Group.
  • overcome so much fear with stepping out bravely with our art of love made known activities to reach out.
  • witnessed a discernible change in the spiritual atmosphere in our area, including a growing interest in who we are, what we’re doing and who we stand for.
  • enjoyed such wonderful ongoing support from everyone connected with the Sanctuary’s community – near and far – and from All Saints’ Ilkley who continue to make our space at 6 Church Street available to us rent free.

Well done for reaching the bottom of this avalanche of thanksgiving! To us it feels like just a taste of the joy we feel today as we look back and scratch the surface of all our brilliant God has done.

It’s with a great sense of expectancy that we wonder just exactly what might be coming in our sixth year…

#YouAreLOVED! preparing buckets of love

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

After creating our new window and sending out a hundred cards, a small team of our pray-ers have again gathered today to prepare buckets of love to take out on the streets of Ilkley tomorrow to share the message #YouAreLOVED with even more people…

loved 16 buckets of love

We’re super excited to give these beautiful living messages of love away: we’ll be gathering extra early tomorrow morning to pray together before we go out round the town centre to lay these Fairtrade roses (together with their LOVED tags and badges) on benches, doorsteps, postboxes… and anywhere else where people will see and find them.

Here are some more pics of the gifts and some of our wonderful volunteers making them.

If you’re near to Ilkley, you might want to come into town early tomorrow!

loved 16 rose

loved 16 back of rose tag

loved 16 roses in vase shot

loved 16 rose action shot

loved 16 rose assembline line 2



#YouAreLOVED! sending out the message

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Once our new LOVED! window had gone up, we were able to turn our attention to part two of our #YouAreLOVED! activities for this year…

loved 16 card

Together our pray-ers were able to name almost 100 organisations and businesses who make Ilkley a more loving place to live in that they wanted to nominate to receive one of our specially designed ‘you are LOVED!’ cards.

Since then, we’ve been praying for all these organisations, giving thanks for them and then a small team of us have been writing messages to the teams at each place.

It’s been another labour of love – and full of encouragement and thanksgiving too – as we’ve realised just how many people in our town go above and beyond.

It’s great to take the time and trouble to tell them about the difference they make, and also to let them know just why we place such a high price on love in action.

The message inside each card we’re posting today is completely unique to the people receiving it, but the message on the back reads the same. Here is what it says:

This card has been specially designed, printed and written for you by the Sanctuary’s cross-church praying community to thank you for making Ilkley a more loving place to live in. And to celebrate God’s love – shown through Jesus – for everyone in our town. You are LOVED! Today and every day.

We’re praying the cards will prove to be a huge blessing to everyone who receives one and that they will truly know and believe that they are indeed loved – by God and by us!

loved 16 list cards and envelopes

loved 16 ready to post

meet Barbara and Kevin Macnish

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

Barbara and Kevin Macnish have been highly treasured members of the Sanctuary’s Management Group for several months now, and involved with the project considerably before this through prayer and creative contributions. They have made an enormous difference already, so we thought it was high time our virtual community got to meet them too!

Barbara and Kevin MacnishKevin Macnish, PhD is a Teaching Fellow and Consultant in Applied Ethics at the University of Leeds.

He has worked with the European Commission and several UK parliamentary committees, and has been interviewed on national television and radio in relation to his research.

He has also been a civil servant in the UK and the US, and helped to start a church in Florence which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Kevin has degrees in Philosophy, International Relations, and Theology.

Kevin is thrilled to be able to offer his experience and skills to help develop some of the thinking and ideas that underpin the Sanctuary.

Barbara is married to Kevin and comes to the Sanctuary from a visual and creative arts background.

She is currently a team development coach with the business she founded – Triquester Teams – and loves working with teams and individuals to develop their environments for maximum growth and productivity.

Before this she has been a middle school Art and English teacher in inner city Baltimore; a picture framer; the Office Manager for the executive team at World Relief; and a church planter in Florence, Italy.

She especially loves her involvement with creative projects at the Sanctuary such as regularly contributing original artwork to outreach projects like the window and undertaking creative writing for the Sanctuary’s outward focused worship resource library.

Barbara and Kevin have two human children and a third that’s rather hairier!

To find out more about the rest of the team involved with running the Sanctuary, visit our who we are page.

our songs project – exciting news

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

It’s almost exactly a year since we told you about our vision for the songs project. And now here we are, starting 2016 by putting the final touches to a brand new studio version of Healer of Nations (which will be published on our songs page in the next few days.) And this is exciting because it is the last song on our list before we are ready to release our first album: Songs from the Sanctuary – Moving with his heart.


We’ll be regularly sharing news on this blog in the next couple months about how the release of the album – which will be available as a CD and full album digital download (as well as through continuing individual track downloads on our own site) – is coming together. So watch this space for more information about firm timescales soon.

But we didn’t want to wait to share our excitement at reaching this milestone with you all!

One of our community’s artists – Barbara Macnish – has designed and created a stunning album cover which we’re keeping under wraps for now to surprise you with nearer the release date… but it was inspired by a picture of the songs received in prayer and beautifully brings to life the heart and vision behind them.

Our desire with the songs project – and the album release element of it – was to invest a bit more in some of the key outward focused songs to help them inspire and challenge even more people. We want to keep sending out the call to worship in a way that reflects the depth and breadth of who God is, and the heart he has for each 1 in 7 billion – especially the poor, the lost and the broken.

Our vision for these worship songs remains the same – we want to give them all away. And the album is no exception to this.

Our prayer has been that through investing enough resources and time into higher level production and by creating an album which means we can give the songs away through wider distribution channels than just our own site, we can bless even more of the church.

Please do pray for us as we put in all the strategic, practical, technical and behind the scenes work necessary to get these finished songs out in an album format.

And please do thank God for our producer, everyone who gave funds so the songs could be released in this way but still given away, and everyone else who has worked – and is working – so hard to help these songs fly.



He is on the move: Happy Christ-with-us

Monday, December 21st, 2015

It used to be… Always Winter and Never Christmas…

Narnia window - best door shot
The snow scene that greets Lucy and the other children when they come through the wardrobe doors into Narnia is more than just a beautiful setting for a story…

In Narnia, under the reign of the self-appointed evil Queen Jardis – otherwise known as the White Witch – it is always winter but never Christmas.

Narnia really is in the bleak midwinter – her ground is literally hard as iron… no new life can grow. Creatures are turned to stone. And fear blankets the whole country.

Snow is beautiful, but endless winter spells death – and in this story it acts as a picture of evil’s dreadful, strangling grip; of a world under the wrong rule.

…But now: Spring is coming because Aslan is on the move!

Did you know that C.S. Lewis deliberately wrote The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as an allegory? In it Aslan represents Jesus… When he comes to Narnia – when he is “on the move” – everything starts to change. The ice starts to thaw and evil begins to lose its grip.

Life bursts forth – spring starts to blossom… everything begins to be restored. And we start to know the Witch is losing for sure, because Christmas comes…

Christmas – Christ with us: Jesus with us: God with us – or in Narnia… Aslan with us.

2,000 years ago, Jesus moving – God coming to be with us in our world (with all its wintery brokenness) was the start of a spring of restoration dawning… the start of the whole world’s story changing forever.

We all know more chapters follow this one – in Narnia and in our world – but Advent is all about celebrating the start of the thaw… and looking forward to the day when winter can never come again.

This Christmas…

…it would be possible to feel overwhelmed by just how much winter the headlines testify to being left around us.

But we must remember Isaiah’s words. There is only one government that will never stop increasing – only one power that will last. And that is Jesus’.

And he is on the move – he is always on the move. The evidence is always all around us if we look with faith-opened eyes and Spirit-softened hearts.

So, this Christmas, take time to remember just how much he is transforming.

In the last few weeks alone, Myanmar has seen an extraordinary breakthrough with a new government, the last Ebola patient was discharged in Guinea and extraordinary beauty has come from ashes in Paris.

Every time we used our daily prayer for COP21 during the International Climate Talks, we connected once again with the sense we had first had in the prayer time that inspired its creation – that these would be the talks to come of age. And we meant it every time we gave thanks for the bravery of this city in continuing to host the talks after all it had been through, and of the world leaders who overcame fear to come.

This 21st round of Climate Talks had more prayer surrounding it than any of the others. It was time. And on Saturday night, a breakthrough agreement was reached which not only went further in some areas than even the campaigning organisations had asked for, but which also built in the views of poorer countries like never before.

As many of our partner organisations have already said, the agreement is far from perfect – and it is a step rather than an arrival. But it is a triumph – in and of itself, and also because it is a victory for hope. It reminds us that transformation can come, and is coming, and really will come to every broken situation and seemingly impossible challenge – in his perfect timing.

Spring always wins – the increase of his government knows no end. So this Christmas, receive his very good comfort and joy, for he is on the move among us.

the lion, the witch and the sanctuary

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

It’s been so exciting putting together our latest creative outreach window (and door!). What a joy and privilege to bring to life this moment from C.S. Lewis’ most famous and well-loved allegorical story, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe…

Narnia window - lead image

It’s best seen in person as we can’t possibly capture all the different elements in one picture for you – from fur coats, animals turned to stone and Turkish delight through to a tree and forest canopy bursting to life again now Aslan has come.

But here are a couple of close-up shots that might help a bit:

Narnia window - taste of winter close up

Narnia window - taste of spring close up

What’s it all about?

Well besides giving away a beautiful piece of art which brings to life something so well-loved and Christmassy…

We’ve chosen to feature Lewis’ story to provide an intriguing way in to the Christmas story’s truth and beauty this year. The poster in the left hand side of the window explains it all…

Narnia explanation text

Here’s what it says:

It used to be… Always Winter and Never Christmas…

The snow scene that greets Lucy and the other children when they come through the wardrobe doors into Narnia is more than just a beautiful setting for a story…

In Narnia, under the reign of the self-appointed evil Queen Jardis – otherwise known as the White Witch – it is always winter but never Christmas.

Narnia really is in the bleak midwinter – her ground is literally hard as iron… no new life can grow. Creatures are turned to stone. And fear blankets the whole country.

Snow is beautiful, but endless winter spells death – and in this story it acts as a picture of evil’s dreadful, strangling grip; of a world under the wrong rule.

… But now: Spring is coming because Aslan is on the move!

Did you know that C.S. Lewis deliberately wrote The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as an allegory (a symbolic story)?

In it Aslan represents Jesus… When he comes to Narnia – when he is ‘on the move’ – everything starts to change. The ice starts to thaw and evil begins to lose its grip.

Life bursts forth – spring starts to blossom… everything begins to be restored. And we start to know the Witch is losing for sure, because Christmas comes…

Christmas – Christ with us: Jesus with us: God with us – or in Narnia… Aslan with us.
2,000 years ago, Jesus moving – God coming to be with us in our world (with all its wintery brokenness) was the start of a Spring of restoration dawning… the start of the whole world’s story changing forever.

We all know more chapters follow this one – in Narnia and in our world – but Advent is all about celebrating Christmas and the start of the thaw…

Narnia window - best door shot

Special thanks to all our core team for their hard and creative work on this window. But most especially to the amazingly talented Alison Hodson who has brought our dream of turning our front door into the wardrobe into Narnia to life!


a hugely inspiring and encouraging read

Friday, November 27th, 2015

If you haven’t had the chance to read this yet, do download our annual review… ‘Not by power, not by might, but by my Spirit’ says the Lord. We can promise you a faith-building read!

God so loved the world

secret sanctuary

Friday, November 13th, 2015

On Tuesday this week, one of Open Doors’ inspiring volunteer speakers came to lead us through their insightful and inspiring Secret Church resource. We can’t recommend it highly enough – it’s a powerful kinaesthetic experience which both inspires prayer for the persecuted church and challenges you in your own walk. We asked a few of the people who were at our secret gathering to share what spoke to them most about it – here is what they said:

secret sanctuary landscapeFiona:

I found Tuesday morning utterly amazing and incredibly special!

To be drawn into a small, secret cluster with all the trimmings of church – and all the baggage that sometimes comes with that – taken away gave a heightened sense – even more than ever – about what’s important. Our love for Jesus is everything. Our core business, values and even USP if you like – came through with real clarity. We are here to worship; to pray; to support each other.

We have incredible fellowship and community at the Sanctuary – it is one of the most precious things about it. And the sense of that was really reinforced on Tuesday morning as I looked around at each precious person there… and then I thought about what it would be like to risk it all to continue to prioritise meeting together if we were being persecuted…

I had to leave early to go to another meeting and I found that very upsetting – there was no time to check in with people and to share our lives and stories as we usually do… but then I realised, if we were being persecuted and really meeting secretly, probably we wouldn’t have had time for that anyway.


‘For the first time in three years of coming to the Sanctuary, I experienced real fear…

‘I couldn’t speak, my tongue wouldn’t move, my heart was racing… I felt sweaty and anxious.

‘Who was going to come in next? Were they going to ‘raid’ our Sanctuary meeting? There was a lady sat next to me I hadn’t met before… what were her motives… was she safe?

Thank you God for opening my eyes – which have been ‘wide open shut’ for so long – to the real dangers that millions of persecuted Christians face for simply wanting to know you, wanting to just hold your word, your truth, your Bible in their hands, thoughts and hearts.

Sweet Jesus, please bless and protect them and encourage them, sustaining them in the midst of their tremendous faith and courage in you.’


Experiences like this are so rich – thank you Open Doors.

Of course none of us can empathise with what it really feels like to be in the situation so many of our brothers and sisters are in. But taking part in secret church provides a powerful taste which brings revelation, builds connectivity with our persecuted family and fuels heart-felt prayer for them, for us and for the church in the west.

There is too much to say really, so I just want to share two brief things that struck me particularly given our context and story at the Sanctuary:

1 – While our visiting speaker set up, I was charged with putting the sign pictured at the start of this blog outside the front door. Even just in play-acting for an hour or so, it was very painful to see it there. God has been so gracious to us – and we have worked so hard – to overcome our fear and to blaze out his love and life through our window.

Thousands of people now see all that it contains… and the thought of losing the chance to be an open witness, such a short time after finding the courage to really be one, well I have no words for that feeling, but it gave me new resolve to make the most of every opportunity our location gives us. And to do all God asks us to do where we are for as long as we can.

I also worried about stupidly prosaic things of course too – like would people think we were actually shut and be very confused!

2 – Half way through the meeting, a man I had never met before entered the space. He came in and called out in a loud voice (which broke across our whispered conversation and prayer, where we were gathered in the far corner of the space behind a blackout curtain) ‘I’m looking for a secret vigil’.

Later, after the meeting had officially finished, he introduced himself. He was from a local church and had heard about the meeting from others connected with the Sanctuary.

Normally, we are thrilled to welcome new people, and after the meeting – when he introduced himself – of course we felt as usual… but a new person coming into the earlier context was not comfortable. It reminded me of past experiences of people who had come into our space but not been for us. The memory, and associated feelings of fear, were hard to deal with in that context.

I have faced comparatively minor persecution in my journey so far. But even the small stuff (on a global scale) can be very difficult to deal with. Am I ready for more?

And now just one more, third thought which is universal to everyone’s experience… we started of holding hands and singing Amazing grace in whispers so we wouldn’t be heard, and then finished by singing it at the top of our voices. And it was so very powerful. Wherever you are, whatever you’re facing; the truth is the same and his beautiful, transforming presence is the same.


I was struck by how nothing is secret from God (see Jeremiah 23 :23-24).

How wonderful to know that wherever we pray from, wherever we gather, in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in – God is with us and knows our hearts and our desperate situations.

So I felt encouraged rather than depressed as we listened to stories from North Korea where people die, are tortured and speak of nine years spent in prison for their faith as if it were an every day part of being a Christian.

 I know the voice of God in the Bible is powerful, comforting and encouraging but this was emphasised when we were asked to think of passages we know by heart to share with others (as this is how many people on the persecuted church teach one another).

How infrequently do we, in our comparatively easy situations, commit bible verses to our memories and hearts – even though we are taught to do so in Deut 11:18-19 or in Joshua 1:8 -9.

As I thought of verses that I could use to encourage and comfort Christians in difficult situations two portions of scripture came to mind: Zephaniah 3:17-20  and Isaiah 43:1-3.

 As I read the bible passages I’ve used in this blog and pray for the persecuted church across the world I am challenged to try and commit them fully to memory.

I am attending Open Doors’ day of worship in Birmingham on Saturday (to celebrate their 60the anniversary). As I stand there in solidarity with Christians who have no bible and risk all by owning portions of it – or those who smuggle paper or electronic versions into countries where there is no freedom to read the word of God, I feel as though I should ingrain the words I’ve used in my heart.

I actually feel closer to the word of God as I imagine having to depend on my memory rather that taking for granted the ability to open a bible whenever I need to.

 I thank God for all the words of worship songs that come straight from the bible that encourage me as I sing them randomly throughout the day! And I thank God for the freedom to sing them at will.

The greatest prayer I found myself praying on Tuesday though was not directly for the persecuted church at all; but for the church in our country…

Our comfortable, open, easy-to-attend church that is in decline, where values are slipping and people feel unwelcome.

My hope and prayer is that the people in persecuted churches pray for us as much as we do for them; that we learn and are inspired by them. And that through praying for each other ashes will be transformed into beauty across the world as we realise anew how dependent we need to be on the transforming power of Jesus in our lives and become reliant on the words of the bible for bringing new believers to Christ rather than on gimmicks and activities that are two-a-penny in our ‘free’ society.


I think the thing that struck me most again was the seriousness with which we must take our faith – and how much our brothers and sisters in nations like North Korea show this to be true.

If we truly believe that Jesus is our Saviour and that a life in him is the only true life, then that surely has to be the most important thing in our lives. A daily commitment to follow…. Everything else flows out from this.

The persecuted church have to choose every day to take their faith this seriously – because the cost to them is a constant reality that they can’t forgot or just gloss over; because it’s literally life or death.

For us, the lie of our comfortable, non-threatened lives tells us that we can forget and we can gloss over it. But actually in doing that we lose one of the greatest joys of our faith. The chance to experience now the fullness of Christ – his grace, his hope, his light in our lives and an awareness of his presence with us at every moment.

So I’m challenged and humbled again to take my faith more seriously, to rejoice in the freedoms I have (that mean I can access as many versions of the Bible as I want, meet with fellow Christians publicly and without fear, sing songs of praise at the top of my voice) and to truly live the life of faith that Jesus offers to us all.

If this post has inspired you to take part in Open Doors’ Secret Church resource – you can find everything you need to get started here.

If it’s inspired you to pray for the persecuted church:

– Visit our search by issue page and take a look at the list of resources provided there to help you – you’ll find written prayers, creative prayer ideas and songs.

If it’s inspired you to think about your own faith:

You might find this resource, reflecting on the beatitudes, a particularly helpful follow-on.


GLOWing reports

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

We had a brilliant time giving away gifts bearing the message of #MadeToGLOW on Saturday, and received delighted responses from the children and parents who received them… And then, early on Sunday morning, we did a rapid changeover in our window… from before to after:

GLOW 16 pic lead 2 night

Our gallery of stars features 27 famous ‘saints’ – and a 28th catch all to represent the huge cloud of witnesses who might not be as famous to passers by – who have shone so brightly in the sphere they were placed that they transformed it with the light they carried.

You can read about everyone who’s featured below… and we recommend you do. It’s an incredibly inspiring and uplifting experience, and we’ve been thrilled to see so many passers by doing exactly that yesterday and today.

But meanwhile, here’s a photo of the accompanying larger poster which introduces people to the source of the light all the people featured in the window are glowing with:

GLOW 15 pic 12

And, just as we promised, here’s a bit about each one of our featured stars…

C.S. Lewis

Inspired by THE LIGHT to write stories and books that lead others to THE LIGHT. We are all: Made to GLOW

William Wilberforce

Inspired by THE LIGHT to end slavery in his time. We are all: Made to GLOW

John Newton

Inspired by THE LIGHT to leave running slave ships and write Amazing Grace. We are all: Made to GLOW

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Inspired by THE LIGHT to write poetry celebrating the beauty of God’s creation. We are all: Made to GLOW

Martin Luther King JR

Inspired by THE LIGHT to fight for the truth that all races are equal and made in God’s image. We are all: Made to GLOW

Mother Teresa

Inspired by THE LIGHT to leave everything behind to care for the destitute in Calcutta. We are all: Made to GLOW

George Frideric Handel

Inspired by THE LIGHT to compose The Messiah and to give the proceeds to orphans. We are all: Made to GLOW


Inspired by THE LIGHT to paint God’s loving welcome in the Return of the Prodigal Son. We are all: Made to GLOW

Elizabeth Fry

Inspired by THE LIGHT to make prisons more humane. We are all: Made to GLOW

Eric Liddell

Inspired by THE LIGHT to run his very best at Olympic level, and feel God’s pleasure in it. We are all: Made to GLOW

Edith Cavell

Inspired by THE LIGHT to care for soldiers from both sides in WWI and to help allies escape. We are all: Made to GLOW

Florence Nightingale

Inspired by THE LIGHT to ‘do good for him alone without reputation’ through nursing. We are all: Made to GLOW

Deitrich Bonhoeffer

Inspired by THE LIGHT to stand up for the truth and care for others in disobedience to the Nazi regime. We are all: Made to GLOW

Abbess Hilda of Whitby

Inspired by THE LIGHT to lead a community committed to prayer, hospitality and spreading the word about THE LIGHT through Yorkshire and beyond. We are all: Made to GLOW

Abbé Pierre

Inspired by THE LIGHT to become a priest, join the French Resistance in WWII and found the Emmaus movement to help homeless people. We are all: Made to GLOW

William Tyndale and John Wycliffe

Inspired by THE LIGHT to translate the Bible into English so that everyone could understand it. We are all: Made to GLOW

Nelson Mandela

Inspired by THE LIGHT to fight for an end to apartheid. We are all: Made to GLOW

Blaise Pascal

Inspired by THE LIGHT to use his outstanding scientific mind to write about THE LIGHT so others could understand more. We are all: Made to GLOW

John and Charles Wesley

Inspired by THE LIGHT to write new hymns set to the pop tunes of the day so people who didn’t go to church could hear about God’s light and love. We are all: Made to GLOW

J.S. Bach

Inspired by THE LIGHT to write ‘reverent music’ through which God’s ‘gracious presence’ could be felt. We are all: Made to GLOW

Nicolaus Copernicus

Inspired by THE LIGHT to ‘seek the truth in all things’ as far as ‘God granted that to human reason’ which resulted in the first pronouncement of the earth orbiting round the sun. We are all: Made to GLOW

J.R.R Tolkien

Inspired by THE LIGHT to write allegorical stories to reflect the battle between good and evil, and to lead C.S.Lewis to faith in Jesus Christ. We are all: Made to GLOW

Corrie Ten Boom and her family

Inspired by THE LIGHT to hide Jewish families in a secret room in their house when Holland was occupied by the Nazis. We are all: Made to GLOW

Lord Shaftesbury

Inspired by THE LIGHT to pioneer free education for poorer children, reform factories and asylums and fight for better housing for everyone. We are all: Made to GLOW

Johannes Kepler

Inspired by THE LIGHT to pursue astronomical and scientific and to ‘think God’s thoughts after him’. We are all: Made to GLOW


Inspired by THE LIGHT to bring to life many biblical stories and to believe that ‘spiritual value could be found in all natural beauty’. We are all: Made to GLOW

William Temple

Inspired by THE LIGHT to write Christianity and Social Order setting out a vision of love and justice reflecting Jesus’ teaching which became the British Welfare State. We are all: Made to GLOW

Billions of ordinary people

Inspired by THE LIGHT to do amazing things, small and big, seen and unseen, here and all around the world, today and for hundreds of years before us. We are all: Made to GLOW

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