Prescott Prayer Letter: Playing With Violins

Today, January 6th, is the traditional Christian festival of Epiphany, marking the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas and celebrating the Coming of the Magi. I continue to pray that God would give you an ephiphany of your spiritual calling. Here’s a little of what God has been saying to me…

violins

Yep, that’s right, ‘violins’.

When I sent out Habakkuk’s prophetic call to ‘Write the vision clearly, so that whoever reads it may run with it’, I was not expecting my own vision statement to include stringed instruments.

Oh, hang on a minute. Did I just say ‘Playing With Violins’? Surely not.

I said ‘Praying With Violence’. We’re talking about spiritual warfare: asking God with forceful faith and passionate intensity for His kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.

Forgive my international accent, you must have misheard.

***

I sat down on Monday morning at my desk and decided that perhaps it might be appropriate for me personally to do that same exercise which I had just invited all of you to complete: to spend an hour considering my identity, calling, vision and goals for this coming year. I thought I already had the vision: ‘Sustainable Revival’ — inspired by John the Baptist’s picture of the Holy Spirit descending and remaining upon Jesus who promises to baptize all His followers in that same experience of sustained communion with the personal presence and power of God; and by our own eager desire to learn from our time in Cambridge. ‘Sustainable Revival’ — what would it look like to continue passionately contending for revival, but in a way that would be sustainable for us as a family. And I spent a fruitful hour trying to work out how the different desires and dreams that God has been stirring up in my heart might translate into a schedule for the coming year.

But that evening our friend Simon Hales arrived to visit, for precisely 24 hours. Now Simon is one of our closest friends: of all the people on the face of the earth, one of those who knows us best. He was on our DTS staff team in YWAM Cambridge (where he remains), pressing on with us towards the prize of the upward call in Christ Jesus. He helped defuse the sometimes explosive problems caused by my blundering relational bluntness; and was always ready to give us encouragement, edification and comfort. In short, he is a prophet to us (cf. 1 Cor. 14:1-3) — although it is his skill as a pastor of people that probably stands out most strongly when in contrast to my own set of abilities and gifts. And wanting to receive him as a prophet (cf. Matt. 10:41) we wanted not just to eat and talk and see the sights of Liverpool, but to worship together. So I picked him up from the station, we gave him some dinner, and was then itching to go up and sit around our piano and enter into the throne-room of the King of Kings. But Taryn hadn’t spent the car ride catching up with him, and had been putting Anu to bed while he was having his food, and so needed at least a few minutes of conversation first. No problem. They could carry on with conversation. I was going to start worshipping and they could join me when they were ready.

Taryn and Simon continued talking for half an hour or so. And then they joined me and we had a glorious time of singing and prayer. But in the time I’d been waiting, me and the Holy Spirit (with the help of piano and Bible) had been having our own conversation. And now I had an unusual request for Simon: ‘would you buy me a violin?’

***

Worship is not, of course, merely singing. God is no longer interested in us going through religious rituals and offering ceremonial sacrifices. (Was He ever?) Rather, we are called to live every moment of our lives as living sacrifices. Nevertheless, there is a difference between those moments when you are able explicitly and intentionally to give Jesus your full attention, and those other bits of your day when you have to do the things that need to be done (Lk. 10:38-42). And music can be a helpful tool to help our hearts and minds tune into the sound of God’s voice (2 Kings 3:15). But it can also become a distraction and indeed an idol.

God is not looking for us to worship with these instruments or that style of music. The Father is seeking worshippers who will worship in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:23).

***

In this last month or so, I have felt like God is giving me my arrows back. ‘Arrows’ are a metaphorical image for ‘sons and daughters’ (Psalm 127:4), in that you sharpen them and then fire them out into the world. And ‘sons and daughters’ applies both naturally and spiritually — to children and to disciples.

I have hardly spoken the word ‘ABLAZE’ — certainly I haven’t defined it (or, more honestly, interpreted it) — but already a team is rapidly gathering. Last month I mentioned some of the circles of people we’ve connected with, and asked especially that you’d pray for more labourers hungry for prayer, worship and mission to gather as part of an ABLAZE core team. Well, in just a few weeks we’ve had five more indicate that they’re keen to be fully involved: Alison Meek, Mark Nuttall, Mark’s cousin Bethany, Pete Clark (who is moving from York), and Abigail Bramble (who is moving from Wrexham).

What might it look like to sharpen these arrows that I suddenly find in my quiver?

***

One of my favourite Bible stories (unfortunately I have yet to find a children’s Bible that includes it!) is that of Elisha and the king of Israel in 2 Kings 13:14-25. Elisha is on his deathbed, and the king comes to mourn the impending loss of the nation’s spiritual leader.

Elisha knows that what the king is really worried about is the military threat from Syria, so he invites the king to fire an arrow out the window, explaining that it’s a prophetic picture of the victory the Lord will give him over Syria. He then invites him to strike the remaining arrows on the ground. But rather than forcefully taking hold of this prophetic promise of victory, the king half-heartedly taps the arrows on the ground: once, twice, three times. ‘Er, can I stop now?’

Elisha is furious. ‘If you had struck the arrows five or six times, you would have have made an end of Syria; but you will only strike three times–‘ And before the king can apologise for his unbelief, Elisha is dead.

***

Strike the arrows on the ground. Not just three times, but five or six.

The story of 2 Kings 13 is about taking hold of the prophetic word of the Lord with faith and persistence in order to contend for breakthrough, even when the direct relevance of that word makes no sense (cf. Naaman and getting baptized in the river Jordan, 2 Kings 5).

When we were at David’s Tent in 2015, I felt God speak to me about how leading DTS was my ‘striking the arrows on the ground’. And I wondered if He was saying that we should press on to lead five or six R&R DTSes, rather than stopping after three.

But by the end of that third DTS in Cambridge we were finished. Still, I think we were less like the king of Israel apathetically stopping after a few half-hearted taps, and more like the prophet on his deathbed. One could point out that the message of the story isn’t the precise number (do we obey God three times?, or five or six?), but that our obedience should be whole- not half-hearted. And whatever mistakes we made in Cambridge, no-one will suggest that we were half-hearted.

***

This drawing out of extended metaphors might seem a strange and tenuous way of engaging with Scripture. Surely this isn’t a responsible way To Read The Bible For All Its Worth?

But I believe the Holy Spirit wants us to learn to see Scripture (and indeed all of reality) Through New Eyes: “The Biblical worldview is not given to us in the discursive and analytical language of philosophy and science, but in the rich and compact language of symbolism and art”.

“Metaphor-misuse mitigators [comments Phil Pawlett Jackson] would caution us to see all other aspects of the parable as either incidental or hyperbole. But I am not a metaphor mitigator, I’m a parabolic realist, an allusive extremist, a metaphoric maximalist.”

When you spend any time hanging around with Andy Henman (a founding member of the YWAM Cambridge team), then you come to realize that bad puns are a healthy part of any Father’s Heart, including God. (If you don’t believe me, read Jeremiah 1.)

***

So ‘arrows’, okay. But to fire arrows you need a bow. Could the metaphor stretch so far as to give some meaning to the ‘bow’?

And the Spirit showed me that a bow is not just a weapon of war, but a musical instrument.

Picture in your mind’s eye the opening scene of Second Samuel. An Amalekite arrives at Camp David with news of the death of Saul and Jonathan, claiming that he was the one who finished off David’s arch-nemesis. In most cultures, such an unsentimental deed might have been commended — ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. But in the kingdom of God, no-one is allowed to stab a leader in the back.

See David releasing a roar — of heart-broken grief, sorrow, rage and fury — just as Jesus would when he was confronted with the injustice of death (John 11:33). See David as he takes the bow and arrows that had been Jonathan’s very own (1 Samuel 18:4), a sign of their indestructible friendship and unbreakable covenant commitment to each other (1 Samuel 20:8, 23:18).

See him putting an arrow to his bow and aiming it point-blank at the Amalekite, quivering with rage as he looks this bloodthirsty charlatan in the eye. Then see him lowering his bow and turning away, spitting on the ground in disgust as he commands one of his younger officers to execute him for treason.

See him firing his arrow into the distance, just as Jonathan did on one of the last occasions they were able to speak together (1 Sam. 20:35-42), and then taking the rest of the arrows out of his quiver and striking them on the ground in violent grief, not just three times but again and again and again.

Finally, when the immediate shock had subsided somewhat, see David as he picks up his kinnor, his lyre. Until then he had played it with his hand (note the literal translation of 1 Sam. 16:23). But that day he took Jonathan’s bow, and gently played it across the strings of his instrument, lamenting that though ‘the bow of Jonathan never turned back’ (2 Samuel 2:22), nevertheless his mighty friend had fallen.

And as he sang for one last time his chorus of prophetic grief — ‘How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!’ — David resolved that from that day Jonathan’s bow would never be used as a weapon of bloodshed and death, but as an instrument to create harmony. So David commanded the people of Judah to learn this ‘Song of the Bow’ (2 Samuel 1:18).

Thus he invented the violin.

***

‘Um, Peter, I don’t think that’s really how the violin was invented…’

–What? Are you calling me a lyre?’

‘Argh! Stop! You’re doing violins to the English language!’

Ahem.

***

On Tuesday morning we took Simon into the city centre and visited the two cathedrals. But before doing that we went into a music shop.

‘Er, hello. I’d like to buy a violin. No, I’ve never played one before…’
‘–Of course, sir. New Year’s Resolution?’
‘Um, something like that I suppose…’

So Simon accepted my invitation to invest in this unusual prophetic parable, and bought me a violin. And then we went and saw the cathedrals. And then we came home for lunch. And Isaac was eager to be allowed to play my new violin.

‘No Isaac, it’s not a toy, it’s a valuable musical instrument–‘
‘–But please Daddy can I play it?’

And the Holy Spirit gave me a little nudge: ‘This word isn’t just for you — it’s for you and your household!’ (Acts 16:31).

So the next morning we were at the music shop again.

***

In our last letter, I explained how I was impressed by John the Baptist, and his clarity of identity, purpose and vision.

In Matthew 11, we see Jesus was impressed too: ‘Among those born of women there has arisen none greater than John the Baptist’. But he continues: ‘Yet greater still is even the least in the kingdom of heaven’ — that is, whoever has been born again through faith in the resurrection of Jesus.

And then, somewhat cryptically, Jesus adds: ‘From the days of John the Baptist, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.’ It is impossible to say for sure whether Jesus meant this violence to be interpreted negatively or positively. John the Baptist certainly experienced his (un!)fair share of negative violence: he was imprisoned by Herod for daring to suggest that the standards of biblical holiness might even apply to a king’s marriage, and was eventually beheaded (Mark 6:14-29). But he is also a positive example of what spiritual violence means: denying the desires of the flesh as he lived in the wilderness on a fasted diet of locusts (Mk. 1:6); fearlessly confronting the corruption and complacency of his contemporaries (Lk. 3:7); willingly dying to himself so that Jesus might be seen as greater (Jn. 1:15,30; 3:30).

***

In an age when the phrase ‘religious violence’ immediately conjures up images of terrorist attacks, some would say that we need to stop using military metaphors. And I admit that I have much to learn about how to graciously and winsomely communicate the blessing of Jesus to those who find the Bible offensive and incomprehensible. On the other hand, I suspect that the devil would be only too glad if we were to lose the confidence to use the language of Ephesians 6 and 2 Corinthians 10 — of waging war and putting on armour.

Jesus prefaces his statement about spiritual violence by saying “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Matt. 11:6).

But maybe the peacekeepers are right. Maybe we should avoid the language of ‘violence’ as much as possible.

So let’s talk about ‘violins’ instead of violence. Let’s learn to use musical metaphors rather than military ones. Let’s talk more about how David poured out his heart in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs; and then how he surrounded the Ark of the Covenant with singers and musicians worshipping night and day — and less about how he killed Goliath.

***

‘But Peter, you’re not really musical! You can’t play the violin!’

When I was at child at school, I was repeatedly encouraged to learn a musical instrument. And I refused.

I suppose there were minor exceptions. At primary school, you of course have to learn the recorder — and try as I might to tell my mother how much I hated recorder class, there was no escape. I did also agree to try and learn the guitar for a term or two: long enough to deeply root within me the conviction that I should never play guitar again and I must never ever let anyone know I had actually had guitar lessons. (Guitar is the worst instrument to be taught through formal lessons, because you spend the rest of your life meeting people who say ‘Oh, I never really had any proper teaching’ and then skilfully and soulfully demonstrating that being able to learn has little if anything to do with being taught). And there was saxophone, which I took up (for the grand total of about two lessons) in order to convince the powers that be to let me drop a subject taught by a teacher whose classroom seemed too small for the two of us to happily coexist.

But then at university, overwhelmed by the pressures of a difficult degree and the challenge of being homesick for a home I didn’t have in a country people thought was my own, I discovered the joy of extended times of worship. Thank-you, Sunday night services at St Barnabas. That next vacation I found my old guitar in a forgotten corner of my bedroom, hiding under a thick layer of dust. I took it back to uni and discovered how helpful it can be to play even just a loop of two simple chords as you engage devotionally with Scripture.

There was no need for me to lead others in worship though — surely that could be left to those with a little more musical skill! And then we joined YWAM. My first time leading public worship was at the London Olympic Burn, where we were leading a short-term outreach. It was late one evening, and I was about to head back to the house we were staying when the organizer came over to ask if our team could help — the musicians who were supposed to lead the next two-hour worship set had failed to arrive. Now it was about 11.30pm and most of our team had just headed home.

‘Sorry, all of our musicians have gone to bed… But I suppose I could do it, if you don’t mind it being really simple. Do you have a few chord-sheets somewhere?’
‘–Simple is fine! That would be great! Here are some chords…’

And thus I was commissioned to be as a prophetic musician and singer, a voice literally crying out at midnight that the Bridegroom is coming (Matt. 25:6).

***

What was our mistake in Cambridge?

That me and Taryn didn’t have the tools to give each other healthy feedback, and we weren’t able to maintain healthy boundaries, and our home stopped being a safe space and started feeling like a war zone.

Eventually it seemed that either our home was too small for the two of us to coexist together, or Cambridge was too small for us to coexist together with our YWAM team. Marriage takes covenantal priority over ministry, so we had to leave. We had to find somewhere where we would have the necessary creative freedom to wholeheartedly pursue our missionary mandate and complete our apostolic assignment without putting any unnecessary strain on the foundations of our family.

Since moving to Liverpool, God has given us some real breakthrough in understanding the relational tools to sustain a healthy culture of revival. One of the keys for Taryn has been Danny Silk’s book, Keep Your Love On. I’m not a great fan of his writing style, and if you are interested in learning what he has to say about healthy relational culture I would say to avoid Keep Your Love On and Culture of Honour and cut straight to the chase with the Foundations of Honour Study Guide — but maybe that’s just me. Anyway pray for me (and Taryn), as we seek to avoid stylistic prejudice and learn all we can from him and whoever else might have the gifts we need.

Maybe we don’t have to make the same mistakes again.

***

‘This word isn’t just for you — it’s for you and your household’. That includes everyone in the household of faith. This might include you.

What might it look like for you to ‘pray with violence’ this year? To pray with clarity and boldness. To forcefully put your convictions into words and fearlessly announce them, in the confident expectation that as you do so, God will respond in surprising and supernatural ways.

What might it look like for you to ‘play with violins’?
– To learn a new skill?
– To break your agreement with the demonic lie that claims ‘I can’t sing’?
– To participate whole-heartedly in musical worship?
– To make space in your schedule for a little more playful creativity?
– To find covenant friends with which you learn how to be instruments of harmony and reconciliation in a world wounded from violence and aching with grief?
– To invest financially in those you know who are called to write songs and sing praise to the glory of God?
– To break out of dead literalism and embrace a little prophetic metaphor?
– To embrace simple literalism and actually buy a violin and sign up for music lessons — see what else God will teach you as you do so!

***

Strike the arrows on the ground. Not just three times, but five or six.

What might it look like to sharpen these arrows that I suddenly find in my quiver?

What might it look like to help them fine-tune the strings of their hearts that we might dwell in unity and pray in one accord and play in harmony?

What might it look like to set ABLAZE these thirsty worshippers with the faith and self-control to sustain the fiery presence of the Holy Spirit?

What might it look like to fire these fiery arrows out into the streets of this city; and into the cities of this nation; and into the nations of this world?

What might it look like to make them into disciples who would make disciples of whatever other people or indeed nations they might encounter?

Perhaps you could pray for us — for wisdom, for revelation, for discernment, for an understanding of times and seasons, for a healthy decision-making process.

***

Then I said, “Ah Lord GOD! They are saying of me, ‘Is he not just speaking parables?'” (Ezekiel 20:49)

I still have many things to share — but that is more than enough for now. (John 16:21)

Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:2)

Your friends in Christ,
Peter, Taryn, Isaac and Anu

Prescott Prayer Letter: New Year Clarity

clarity
Beloved friends and family,

I hope you’ve had a Happy Christmas, and I’m praying for each of you that God would impart a supernatural clarity of identity, calling, purpose and vision as you step into this New Year.

We’ve had a fantastic time of feasting with family over this last week or so. Taryn’s mother has come from India to spend her three-week Christmas holiday with us in our new house here in England. My parents, who are usually in Vietnam, are also in the country and were able to come and spend Christmas with us. As were my (fully recovered!) sister and her husband. We thought it was going to be quite a squeeze, but then it turned out that our neighbour three doors down (a former YWAMer herself) was away on holiday over Christmas and was happy for her house to host my family.

I wasn’t actually planning to write, but this afternoon I was reading John’s Gospel and was so struck that I felt compelled to share this little spark of Scriptural revelation with you all immediately. I was reading about John the Baptist (Jn. 1:19-36). The religious dogsbodies are sent to ask John who he thinks he is. How dare he baptize sinners and proclaim the forgiveness of sins! I was struck by the way John avoids entangling himself in theological controversy or political power-games. Instead he responds with humble simplicity and remarkable clarity.

His identity was clear: ‘I am the voice in the wilderness preparing the way of the Lord’ (1:23).

His message was clear: ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ (1:29, 1:36).

His purpose was clear: ‘for this purpose I came baptizing, that He [ie. Jesus] might be revealed to Israel’ (1:31).

His vision was clear: ‘I saw the Spirit descend from heaven, and it remained on Him… He who sent me to baptize said, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit”‘ (1:32-33).

And equally clear was his humility: “He who comes after me ranks before me” (1:15,30); indeed “I am not worthy to untie the strap of His sandal” (1:27).

I believe the world is in greater need than ever of prophetic voices who would invite people to behold Jesus, and would live lives driven by the purpose of revealing Jesus to their nations, and who would be motivated by a God-given vision of what it would look like for the holy presence of the Spirit of God to rest and remain upon us.

But I also believe that each one of us is unique, with a specific and particular role to play in God’s plans and purposes.

So my challenge to you is to spend an hour today reflecting on your God-given identity, calling, vision and goals. This is an exercise I’ve done in the past with DTS trainees, and I’ve had enthusiastic feedback even from some of the most resistant to such formulaic approaches to such important questions! You don’t have to accept this challenge. But to all who do receive it —

IDENTITY: Who am I?
As human beings we’re all made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), but more specifically we have all been personally handcrafted. As Psalm 139:13-14 declares (my translation):

‘You SHAPED my innermost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it full well.’

Reflect on how God has SHAPED you by considering your identity from six angles:
1. Significant Scriptures.
For John the Baptist (as we’ve already seen), it was Isaiah 40:3 (cf. Jn. 1:23). If you read 1 Peter 2:4-8, it seems that Peter (whom Jesus had given the name, meaning ‘rock’) had spent time gathering and meditating on all the places where the Scriptures talk about rocks or stones (Is. 28:16, Ps. 118:22, Is. 8:14). Even Jesus had a specific Scripture that he chose to announce the commencement of his public ministry — Isaiah 61:1-2 (cf. Lk. 4:16-19).

2. Heart’s Desires.
Psalm 37:4 promises that when you ‘delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart’. There are certainly some desires that will have to be uprooted if we are to truly delight in the Lord, and there are other desires that will be transformed — perhaps beyond recognition! But all too often Christians have good God-given desires that they haven’t dared to truly embrace; or worse, have stifled out of the misguided fear that to do something they enjoy would be selfish and sinful.

3. Abilities and Gifts.
This isn’t time for a long discussion of spiritual gifts. Rather, this is a chance to honestly and humbly name your strengths so that you can begin to use them for God’s glory and the good of his people (cf. Rom. 12:3-8).

4. Personality Traits.
Moses was ‘slow of speech and of tongue’ (Ex. 4:10), while Peter was often overly hasty to speak (Mk. 8:32, 9:5-6). Matthew was an analytical thinker who was careful to pass on every jot and tittle he could of the teaching of Christ, while Mark was a active doer impressed more with Christ’s power than the content of his preaching. I dislike talking about ‘Personality Types’ because I have too often seen people use their ‘Type’ as an excuse for not stepping into the opportunities God has put before them (like Moses!). But that we each exhibit different Traits is both undeniable and helpful to be aware of. So (especially if you’ve not done one before) here’s a free ten-minute personality test. Just don’t make it an excuse for disobedience to God’s call on your life!

5. Experiences.
If you were applying for a job, then you’d list all your relevant experience on a CV. And in God’s kingdom, every experience is relevant, positive or negative. Consider Paul and the way his cross-cultural background (a Jew born to zealous Pharisees, but also a Roman citizen) uniquely prepared him to lead the explosion of cross-cultural converts to the Way of Jesus; and the way his education in the Jewish Scriptures empowered him to express in writing the theological truths of the gospel like no-one before or since; and the way his experience as one who hated and persecuted Christianity made him Christianity’s most authoritative apostle. Perhaps you need particularly to reflect on the painful moments of your life so far and ask God how He wants to redeem them.

6. Divine Encounters.
Isaiah had his vision of the throne-room of God (Is. 6). Paul had his Damascus Road encounter with Jesus (Acts 9). But maybe you don’t feel like you’ve ever had a ‘divine encounter’ worthy of the name. In which case, perhaps like Nathanael (cf. John 1:47-51) what you need is less a dramatic personal encounter with Jesus than a revelation that Jesus already sees you in those simple, honest personal ‘under the fig tree’ moments. That moment where you made a genuine response to the grace of God. And maybe it didn’t feel significant enough to tell anyone about. Maybe it didn’t even feel like God really noticed. But Jesus says, ‘I saw you there under the fig tree’. And as you realize that, ‘you will see greater things’ (cf. Jn. 1:50).

CALLING: What/Who/Where has God called me to?
Usually when we think of ‘Calling’, we think primarily of ‘What’ God has called us to. But the questions of ‘Who’ and ‘Where’ are equally valid places to begin. And when you do have clarity regarding one of those questions, you will eventually need to come back to the others. In YWAM we talk about Circles (of Relationship), Circuits (of Geography), and Cycles (of Time). Paul knew he was supposed to preach the gospel to anyone and everyone (Rom. 1:16), but only when he had the vision of the Macedonian man (Acts 16:6-10) did he know where at that time he was supposed to go.

VISION: What might this look like?
If you want to have a meaningful life, then make sure — like John the Baptist! (John 1:15,27,30; 3:30) that your vision is bigger than yourself. The point of this exercise isn’t to ‘develop your life vision’ but rather to develop a specific vision of what it would look like for the world filled with the glory of the Lord, and work out how you can play a catalytic role in bringing that vision to fulfilment. One of my favourite verses is Habakkuk 2:2: ‘Write the vision clearly, so that whoever reads it can run with it’. I pray that God would give you such clear and compelling vision that you people begin to run with it before you’ve even asked them to.

GOALS: What commitments do I need to make to get started?
A wise Christian blogger suggests that goals should be ‘SMART’ = Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timebound. Proverbs 16:3 promises that if you ‘commit your actions to the Lord, your plans will succeed’. So go on! Write down three specific goals, and pray in the name of Jesus that God would make those plans succeed.

And now you’re actually going to do this, it might be more helpful to print out this exercise as a simple worksheet. Please let me know if you found this helpful!

Much love,
Peter

Happy Christmas from the Prescott Family

happy-christmas-from-the-prescotts

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas!

Here a few fun little Christmas links while you count down the final hours:

1. The excellent Bible Project have an animated exposition of Luke’s account of the Christmas story.

2. Or you can watch puppets acting out the Nativity story to the tune of the classic Bohemian Bethlehemian Rhapsody.

3. Or if you prefer real live children acting out your Nativity, then you’ll enjoy these cute Kiwi kids in ‘They Won’t Be Expecting That’.

4. Glen Scrivener’s 4 Kinds of Christmas is a poetic meditation on the various approaches to Christmas on offer. (And if you enjoy Glen Scrivener on Christmas, there’s also Santa vs Jesus and Christmas in Dark Places).

5. Alternatively, if you just want some classic Christmas music then you can choose between
Bethel Music, Keith and Kristyn Getty and Cambridge’s King’s College Choir.

6. Or if you like your Christmas music a little more original then here’s Josh Garrels and Sufjan Stevens.

7. And finally, there’s always our very own 9-lessons-and-carols White (Christmas) Album.

Much love,
Peter, Taryn, Isaac and Anu

Prescott Prayer Letter: Our Fellow Labourers

fellow-labourers
I [Peter writing] have been struck by the lists of other people with him that always feature at the end of Paul’s epistles, and thought this month it would be good to give you a little account of the people we’re working with, so that you can be praying for them, and our relationships with them – “that we may all be one, as the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father; that we also may be in supernatural Trinitarian unity, that the world may believe that Jesus truly is the One sent from God” (cf. Jn. 17:21).

So, first of all there’s obviously the YWAM Liverpool team, which gathers around our dining table for a couple of hours every Monday to connect and pray together.

YWAM Liverpool was actually started back in the 1980s by Rita Leage and her husband David. They then became involved with YWAM’s frontier mission work in North Africa but after David sadly died a few years ago from cancer, Rita bought a house back in Liverpool. She is still very connected with the work in North Africa, but is wondering whether to pass that on and connect more with things here.

The YWAM Liverpool team leader is Jude McMaster. She came to Liverpool as a student and then did a DTS and has been here ever since, keeping the YWAM banner flying. Her vision has been particularly to reach out to women involved in prostitution. She had been involved with a church doing a regular outreach on Friday nights to girls on the streets, and then felt the need for there to be more long-term support to see true transformation in their lives. And thus was born Pearls Project. Jude is married to Zac, and has been on maternity leave after prematurely giving birth to Levi.

Another key figure who we don’t get to see as much of as we would like is Joel Greaves, who is only able to be involved part-time with YWAM as he also works for a school. But he does The Accounts — so is therefore a vital part of keeping things running smoothly!

Then there’s Shephen & Caitlin Mbewe, who were missionaries in the Mozambique bush pioneering YWAM Marromeu, until a few years ago when they moved to Liverpool. The move was primarily for the sake of their daughters finishing their education (Nyasha their eldest is now in her third year at Oxford, Sinead is staffing a DTS with YWAM Amsterdam, and Titenda is in her final year of A Levels), and for the last few years Shephen has continued to travel back to Southern Africa several times a year — while also speaking wherever he’s invited (not least on a certain DTS in Cambridge!) on the subjects of Mission and Worldview. But when someone recently offered to buy their family a house in Liverpool, that made them think they should connect more fully with the YWAM work in Liverpool, and so Shephen has been dreaming of what it would look like to again run DTS here.

So when Shephen found out that we were moving to Liverpool he immediately wondered if we would be interested in leading the DTS–to which the answer was definitely No. We were moving away from Cambridge to Liverpool in search of a fresh start where we could work out a healthy rhythm of life and ministry for our family without the challenge of enthusing a team of DTS trainees to fulfil the necessary requirements to be qualified YWAM missionaries. My vision had never been primarily about DTS–it had been about praying and proclaiming the promises of God until Cambridge is filled with night and day worship overflowing in mission to the ends of the earth. And my hope had been that the DTS would be a way of gathering a team to help fulfil that vision. For us as a family that hope was not fulfilled–and so here we are in Liverpool, going back to the drawing board to ask God again what He would like us to do with our lives–though I believe that our visionary seed that fell into the ground and died will yet produce much fruit through YWAM Cambridge and CamHoP and the lives of all those whom we were privileged to train as wholehearted disciples of Jesus. But while we might not be called to lead DTS in this next season, there are a couple that are — Michael and Stephanie Chesterman. Friends of Michelle (we’ll come to her eventually!), they are hoping to come from the States to join the team here sometime next year.

Last but definitely not least, there’s Michelle Brennan, who had overlapped with us during our time at YWAM Harpenden and New Covenant Fellowship. She moved up to Liverpool about a year ago and has been keeping the Pearls Project running while Jude has stepped back to look after her new baby. Michelle’s desire for a weekend of non-stop worship was the spark that lit the fire of the monthly worship gatherings that feel like they could be a catalyst for all sorts of things!

And that brings us on to the other circles of ministry that we are involved with. ABLAZE is currently very much still in its earliest stages, and I would not claim to know what exactly it will become, but currently we are describing it as a partnership between YWAM and Burn 24/7 that involves monthly twelve hour (or more!) worship gatherings. So that means I’ve been connecting with JJ Waters (Burn’s new national director) and William Byng (regional director for the North of England), as we try and work out what this will look like!

Specifically, it looks like gathering a core team of people in Liverpool that are hungry for worship, prayer and mission. Enter Ethan Miller, who has been hoping for there to be a regular Burn in Liverpool ever since his family moved from Norwich two and a half years ago. Ethan finished school last summer and is now doing a gap year, interning with his church. He is a skilful pianist, has already recorded an album of worship songs, and is keen to make sure that our worship gatherings overflow in intentional evangelism on the streets.

We are very grateful for the way God has connected us with Tony Roberts, a retired joiner and sound engineer, who several years actually bought a complete professional PA system specifically to be used for Christian events in Gladstones cafe. But for various reasons, the events didn’t quite take off. But someone connected us with him as we were trying to gather worshippers for our first event in October, and he has been more than happy to lend us his equipment and his expertise! He actually lives just across our local park, and has converted his basement into a three room recording studio. And he eagerly hoping that ABLAZE will become more than just an occasional worship event, but a gathering point and catalyst for all sorts of Christian creativity — new songs, new music, new artistic expressions of the kingdom of God that would capture the imaginations of a new generation!

None of this would of course be possible without the openness of the trustees of Gladstones Cafe, Peter Gray and Peter Buckley, who I join for prayer each Friday morning. They were both part of a house church in the 1980s that took over the cafe with a vision to start a cafe and bookshop that would act as a launchpad for outreach into the centre of the city. About five years ago though, it seemed like that vision had run its course — the cafe was losing money and people were saying the wisest course of action would be just to shut it down. But these two Peters were convinced that the fullness of God’s promise for the building had not yet been fulfilled, and so for the last few years they have given themselves as full-time volunteers to the task of relaying the foundations for Gladstones to be a healthy missional coffee-shop ministry hub. Thanks to their hard work (and I shouldn’t forget the administrative skills of Rada Railton!), that initial season of rebuilding is now complete, and so they asked Shephen if he would be interested in personally taking on the role of overseeing the Gladstones ministry. ‘Personally? No!’ was his reply; ‘but if you’re asking me as part of YWAM, then here’s what we could do…’ and he put some thoughts in writing as to what a YWAM/Gladstones partnership might look like, including the suggestion (inspired by Shephen’s experience of YWAM Amsterdam’s ‘Tabernacle of the Nations’ prayer room) that the Gladstones upper room might become a House of Prayer. So if any of you know anyone with a passion for (in no particular order) coffee, prayer, worship, evangelism and mission — there’s need for more labourers in this vineyard!

I have also been connecting with Manchester House of Prayer. Initially I thought this was the nearest group of people running explicitly with the ‘House of Prayer’ banner — although actually the very week after we had gone to visit MHoP, I learnt at the annual national House of Prayer gathering in Stoke that there was a Warrington HoP. At any rate, we connected really easily with Michael Ball, who has been pioneering the House of Prayer with his wife Becci since 2010. He offered to come and lead two hours of worship at our first ABLAZE event, and in turn invited us to join us for lunch the next week. In the midst of that meal-time conversation, he mentioned that they were about to start a six-month internship — and as we were driving home to Liverpool I felt that still, small nudge of the Spirit say I should think about getting involved. So until April I’m spending Monday evenings and all of Wednesday in south Manchester with the two other interns Enyo and Mark, joining with their schedule of prayer, and specifically helping them develop their strategy for praying for their city.

I should also mention our local Bethel Church, which is a two-minute walk from our front door (or would be, were it not for the added complication of a three-year old gleefully jumping in as many puddles as possible along the way). The church was born out of the 1934 Liverpool Revival, and is now a warm and welcoming FIEC church with a strong evangelistic emphasis and a healthy horde of children’s ministries.

So: YWAM, Burn 24/7, Gladstones (which is about to change its name to ‘Tree of Life’), House of Prayer (MHoP and WHoP and — dare I say it? — perhaps ‘LHoP’), Bethel, FIEC — how do all these relate together? I have been reminded recently that Christ’s Bride is awesome as an army with banners (Song of Songs 6:10) — which is to say that our various labels aren’t supposed to be boxes dividing us, but banners calling all the people of God to lift their eyes to God and align themselves with the standards of heaven. Even the Ark of the Covenant was never a box which contained God’s Presence — it was merely a footstool (1 Chron. 28:2) over which the fiery cloud of God’s glory rested.

So pray for us, and for all those that we are connected with, that we would be encouraged in heart, knit together in love, and filled with the full riches of complete understanding, so that we may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2).

Much love,
Peter, Taryn, Isaac and Anu

Prescott Prayer Letter: Building An Altar

altar
It was the end of one of those crazy DTS days, sometime near the beginning of 2016. I was uncomfortably pregnant, curled up on our much-loved sofa in Cambridge, clutching my invincible duct-taped Bible. I felt weary, physically and spiritually, less like a lissom deer panting for streams of living water and more like an unwieldy water buffalo groaning for a river to collapse into. I scanned the unreasonably small print, desperate for some comfort and guidance.

Isn’t it amazing how God’s Word is alive, speaking so directly into our situation? All of a sudden, these words from 1 Samuel 7 seemed to leap off the page:

Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. And he judged Israel in all these places. Then he would return to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he judged Israel. And he built there an altar to the LORD.

Electrified, I started scribbling madly in the margin of my Bible. When Peter got home, I was bursting with the good things I felt like God had said to me: ‘We’re going to have a home! There we will build an altar, a place of worship and prayer and constant communion with God. And from that place of abiding, of rootedness, we can go out on ‘circuits’ carrying the love of God, and we will have somewhere to return to, to be refreshed and sent out again!’

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15)

As a young, idealistic, energetic, and childless married couple, Peter and I had heard and responded to the command to go. Now, a little older and more weather-beaten, God is gently reminding us of the call to stay. The sweet reality that we are discovering is that as we abide, remain, put down roots, find rest, make a home in His love, we are fruitful. Our staying will make our going much more effective.

He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
(Isaiah 49)

When we first stepped into full-time ministry, a friend prayed this verse over us, and said something like ‘God wants to hide you away in the secret place of his presence, but also to shoot you out ’. Over the years, it has become our hearts’ desire to dwell in constant communion with the Lord, and from there to overflow: ‘24/7 worship and prayer overflowing in bold evangelism’. And we are starting to see that desire come to fruition in a new way!

I (Taryn) was invited to help with evangelistic event organised by some of our friends in YWAM Wrexham. Realising that a lot of the locals were turning to spiritualists and tarot cards to find identity and hope for the future, they thought ‘if people are spiritually hungry, why not invite them to a Christian ‘spiritual fair’ and introduce them to the true God?’ I had been asked simply to play instrumental worship – I spent two hours in a corner resting in God’s presence as I quietly worshipped and prayed for the people I saw coming in.

When a friend offered to take over for half an hour, I wandered over to speak to one of the girls who had come in. It turned out she was from Pakistan. After a few minutes of friendly chatter, I said ‘I’m from that part of the world too, and I know that the transition to a new culture can be difficult. Is there anything you are struggling with that I can pray for?’ She responded with gratitude, ‘Please pray that I would find friends, I’m lonely. And pray that I would be able to sleep, I am often awake almost all night with anxious and fearful thoughts.’ I responded without overthinking it: ‘you know, I think you need to meet a Friend of mine, the closest Friend you could ever have, so close He isn’t just beside you but inside you. And He can cast out fear from the inside and give you peace, because He is the Holy Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. But He is Holy, so he can’t exist in the presence of sin.’ I explained simply how she could pray and put her trust in Jesus, so her heart would be clean and the Holy Spirit could dwell in her! She was delighted to pray a salvation prayer with me, and I was even more delighted to share the story with the YWAM Wrexham team, who are able to stay in touch with her. Her name is Huma, please pray for her continued walk with the Lord!

And that isn’t all. Peter and I took the kids to a prayer meeting last Saturday, and Isaac spent most of it with his fingers plugging his ears: ‘Mummy, it is TOO LOUD!’ We were just wondering whether it was a mistake to have come as a family when a lady went up to share a testimony, with tears streaming down her face: ‘I didn’t want to move to this city, but as I prayed, God showed me Liverpool ablaze with his glory! Now I know I’m in the right place!’ And as she said those words, we knew we were in the right place too.

You see, just a couple of months before, our YWAM Liverpool teammate, Shelly, had commented casually on Facebook: ‘maybe we should get together and do a weekend of nonstop worship – anybody up for it?’ None of us were prepared for the enthusiastic responses from all over the country! We called our friend Sarah Schrack, who works with Burn 24/7 helping people organise this sort of thing. Sarah was all for it, but said ‘if it’s a collaboration with YWAM, it should have a new name. It’s kind of a Burn, so maybe you could call it – a ‘Blaze’?

We ran with the name and thus was born Ablaze. Gladstones Café (a Christian coffee-shop and bookstore right in the centre of town, who have recently invited YWAM Liverpool to partner together with them) agreed that we could use their Upper Room; someone put us in touch with a friend who had bought a top-quality sound system specifically for events in Gladstones; Peter put together a website; and in no time, word was being spread on social media and through the Liverpool church network, and we had enough musicians signed up to lead two-hours of worship that 36 hours would be possible. We weren’t quite sure who would bother turning up (but if our focus was on worshipping God rather than on gathering people, then how could we not succeed?), but as the first session began suddenly the Upper Room was filled with fifty people, worshipping and praying together!

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3)

We feel amazed and privileged at the way things came so easily together to make Ablaze happen, and are excited as to what might come next. Already it feels like there’s momentum for a monthly 12-hour Burn — if you’re in Liverpool on the 18th November or the 16th December then come join us again in Gladstones’ Upper Room! And we recognise that many have gone before us and ploughed the ground. I was talking to Rita Leage, one of the original founders of YWAM Liverpool 30 years ago, about how they would walk the perimeter of the city (an entire day’s journey) and pray over Liverpool! God never forgets – those seeds planted over the years are springing up all around us. And surely the seeds we planted in the past will spring up too!

We are grateful for this new season, and for all of you who have run with us. This is a team effort! How wonderful to be a part of the Body of Christ. How wonderful to be called to communion with the One who satisfies. How wonderful to be a part of great story of redemption. We pray over you rest, sweet communion with the Lord, and a new courage stirring in your heart.

Love, Peter, Taryn, Isaac and Anu

Prescott Prayer Letter: Unbelievably Blessed

unbelievable

Unbelievable. Some miscreants have stolen not just one, but two of our blue recycling bins.

Apparently, a friend tells us, in this city it is common on bin day for bored teenagers to run off with your bin and light a fire in it in a nearby park, reducing it, most entertainingly, to a blue plastic puddle. The penny drops: we have moved to Liverpool.

Liverpool, famous for being home to the Beatles, to two fiercely warring football clubs, and (perhaps less famously) the church that produced the 4 Points tracts. Liverpool, infamous for poverty (at least by western standards), unemployment and crime.

And do you know what? This might just be the most blessed place in the whole of the UK to be. We feel so blessed to be here. Yes, ‘Bless-ED’, with the stress on the second syllable.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:3-5

Yesterday, as we started our team meeting with the standard ‘few minutes’ of worship and prayer (from which we emerged, spirits soaring, about an hour later) we found ourselves meditating on the Beatitudes, and on Jesus’ mission statement in Luke 4, where he was reading from Isaiah 61:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives…

(Isaiah 61:1)

As we sang and prayed these verses, we felt our hearts inflate with hope and anticipation for the new thing that God is bound to do here, the healing He will surely bring, the tears He will wipe away. For Liverpool is a city aware of its own poverty and need, and therefore, perfectly poised to receive help from Heaven. Water flows to the lowest place, and a river of Mersey is coming to wash these streets. The seeds that YWAM Liverpool (and many faithful others) planted many years ago that had fallen to the ground and died will spring up as God’s redemption rain falls.

On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.
Ezekiel 47:12

Yes, it is great to have moved to the ‘pool. Beautiful Liverpool, may you receive healing and then give it as generously as my neighbours buy my kids ice cream from the Mr. Whippy van.

4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.[b] 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.

John 5:1-8

So I say to those rowdy rascally youths: “Be blessed. Rise, Jesus is calling your name — and also, would one of you come and take my recycling? Because I now have nowhere to put it.”

Much love,
Peter, Taryn, Isaac & Anu
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Prescott Prayer Letter: She’s Out Of Hospital!

rebecca-in-wheelchair

Thank-you for your prayers–I know you’ve all been waiting for this update. Anyway, I can at last tell you that:

My Sister Is Out of Hospital!
After three weeks in hospital and three operations – one for her pelvis, one to put plates in her jaw, one to stitch up a bad wound on her right leg – she was able to return home at the weekend. She’ll be in a wheelchair for the next month while her fractures heal, and then she’ll just need some physio to get back on her feet! My parents pushed forward their return from Vietnam to the UK so that they could help look after her—they’ve been hosted in London by some people from Rebecca’s church. Pray for a continued full recovery.

We’re Settling Into Our House
Meanwhile, we’ve been settling into our new home. It takes a while to unpack when you don’t at first have any furniture into which to unpack! But we have been blessed with a genenerous supply of people willing to help construct flat-pack furniture and able to contribute various household necessities.

And We Celebrated Anu’s First Birthday
At any rate, we felt set up enough to invite everyone we knew in Liverpool to come and celebrate Anu’s first birthday with us. On Sunday she turned one, and we had about thirty friends and neighbours eating cake around our dining table and making castles out of Duplo. Pray that as we continue to get to know our neighbours that we would shine as witnesses of Jesus. And pray for Anu, that she would be empowered by the Holy Spirit to know the height and depth of God’s love for her.

Much love,
Peter & Taryn, Isaac and Anu
anu-prescott

Pray For Peter’s Sister

rebecca

This is my sister, Rebecca.

Like me, she was born in the Philippines, educated at international schools in Malaysia and India, before coming to England for university. She read Natural Sciences at Durham and then did a PGCE teaching qualification.

Like me, she married someone from school in India.

Like me, she and her spouse are trying to reach people for Jesus. Her and her husband Andrew are in east London connecting with Bangladeshi Muslims. They have been talking about going to Bangladesh to help them properly learn the language so when they return they can communicate more effectively.

On Wednesday evening, I was writing a newsletter asking for prayer as my family moved house.

On Wednesday evening, my sister was cycling home from work and was hit by a truck.

woman-cyclist-cheats-death

Right now she is in hospital with various bones broken and fractured.

But she is alive! The picture is from an article in the Evening Standard: Woman Cyclist Cheats Death.

Please pray for full healing. Please pray for many Bangladeshis to hear the gospel. Please pray for protection for the many cyclists on London’s streets. Please pray for the rest of my diaspora family, trying to keep in touch via WhatsApp, scattered to the four corners of the earth as we try and be disciples who make disciples: parents in Vietnam, brother in Pennsylvania.

But mainly, right now, please pray for full healing.

On Tuesday it is her birthday.

Thanks,
Peter

PS. Sorry this wasn’t sent out sooner. Wednesday night seems a long time ago. I heard the news just as I was sending out our prayerletter and thought I would send out this urgent prayer request, but my free Mailchimp account wouldn’t allow me to send the second email in the same twenty-four hour period.

PPS. I appreciate that as you’re praying you’d probably like updates. I will try and let you know when she gets out of hospital, but I think that’s the most I can manage as Taryn and I try to set up home here in Liverpool with two small children running around.

Prescott Prayer Letter: Moving—to Liverpool!


That’s right, you read the subject correctly! The Prescott family is on the move: we’re leaving Cambridge and moving to Liverpool. There’s a small YWAM team in the city who have been running the Pearls Project (see link), and are hoping to start a nine-month DTS similar to that which we’ve been doing in Cambridge.

In the course of these last few months of sabbatical, Taryn and I have been reflecting together about what God is calling us to next. Or perhaps it would be more true to say that we have been trying to work out how to continue to do what God has already called us to—given that we are no longer just a fresh-faced married couple, but a family of four. It seemed clear that the rhythms of life that we had been working to for the last few years were no longer going to work—something needed to change. But what?

Our friends Hamish and Nic Findlay had moved from Cambridge to Liverpool in the autumn, and seeing that we were at a crossroads, suggested that we do the same. We had laughed and said we’d love to—except that we felt called to Cambridge. Then we saw them again, and again they suggested we move to Liverpool. This time we said to each other as we drove home that, perhaps, we should actually pray about it.

I often talk in terms of possibilities: suggesting ideas, casting vision, laying out a verbal blueprint for a hypothetical future. Taryn has learnt to hold back from too easily indicating approval of these various schemes, lest she discover too late that I had interpreted her gently attentive nod as full contractual acceptance of my suggestion. But on one particular Wednesday morning in December, as for the first time we began to talk about what the implications might be of genuinely moving to Liverpool, it seemed like we were both fully on the same page.

What would the implications of moving to Liverpool be? The little we knew about the small YWAM Liverpool team also appealed: it seemed established enough to give us some structure and support, but small enough to allow plenty of freedom to dream big outward-focussed dreams for the city. Everyone knows it’s the city of the Beatles, and the city of Everton and Liverpool football clubs. But honestly, we had no real idea at all–we had only been to the city once before, for less than twenty-four hours, for an administrative appointment related to Taryn’s settlement visa. But that in itself appealed: it would be a blank canvas, a fresh start, a new challenge. It would be disingenuous not to also mention the financial implications–houses in Liverpool are a fraction the price of any in Cambridge. Rather than struggling to afford to rent, we could instead actually buy a house of our own.

Taryn had been saying through the autumn that she had a feeling that things would change somehow around Christmas. And this was the day of the YWAM Cambridge Christmas dinner. As part of the festivities we played a sort of ‘musical chairs prayers’: when the music stops, you pair up with the person nearest to you and pray for them. Danny prayed for me and shared that he felt like God was going to touch me and bring sudden clarity. I laughed to myself because God already had, that very morning.

We decided to wait and let the idea settle a bit. There were Christmas celebrations with extended family; and then the New Year meant invitations to speak on DTSes in Wales and Spain, with all the preparation that a week of teaching requires. We agreed that once we were back from Spain we would try and make an inconspicuous visit to Liverpool and see how it felt when we were actually there.

God however seemed intent on speeding us on our way—while we were still in at YWAM Torremolinos in Spain we were introduced to Rita Leage, who we learned pioneered YWAM Liverpool with her husband in the mid-1980s. The ministry has waxed and waned since then, while Rita has become more involved with YWAM North Africa. But she was more than happy to spend her morning telling us the stories of what God had done in the city with YWAM.

God then gave us the ideal opportunity to surreptitiously visit Liverpool and connect with the YWAM team. The Small Teams Network, which gathers all the single-figure teams in YWAM England every few months for mutual support, sent out their email asking who would be able to attend the next gathering. We’ve actually only connected once, just before we returned to Cambridge–after we started the Cambridge DTS, the team immediately grew too big to be a Small Team! — but we’ve remained on the email list. Anyway, this time it so happened that the Gathering was being hosted by the Liverpool team, the week after we got back from Spain. So we were able to visit Liverpool, connect with the YWAM team, stay with Hamish and Nic — and it felt to both of us like moving to Liverpool was definitely the right next step.

So over the last three months we have been saying our farewells to individuals in Cambridge, and we have been going through the trials and tribulations of buying a house. And the purchase finally reached completion last Thursday, so we are now the proud owners of 71 Sutton Street, Liverpool, L13 7EQ.

71-sutton-street

We move up today! Please pray for us as we step into this exciting new season. Pray for us as we set up house in these first few weeks, and as we settle into the city over these next few months and beyond.

Grace and peace,
Peter & Taryn, with Isaac and Anu

Prescott Prayer Letter: Sabbath is for _______

sabbath-is-for
Sabbatical. Sabbath. Or, rather, Shabbat. That once-in-seven fractal rhythm of rest and resurrection that is woven into the very fabric of creation.

The holy seventh day (Lev. 23:3). The holy seventh year (Lev. 25:4). The especially holy seventh seventh-year (Lev. 25:8).

A time to look back and rejoice in the work that has been accomplished. A time to look forward and see what might be approaching ahead. A time to look up and enjoy sweet communion with our Maker.

Peter had stepped back from the daily grind of YWAM Cambridge leadership responsibilities to focus on some in-depth biblical study. Taryn had stepped into the daily grind of mothering two small children and was wondering whether this ‘Sabbatical’ idea applied to both of us–? And we began the delicate dance of trying to work out how to manage our time in a way that would be sustainable and re-energising and worthwhile and fruitful for both of us. What, after all, was this sabbatical year meant to be about?

The rhythms of Sabbath will help rest your body and relax your mind, but rest is not the primary thing. The primary thing is not to stop doing the things you usually have to do, but to stop doing those things so that your soul can return to what is meant to be its natural state: communion with God. The primary purpose of Sabbath is Worship.

And then we were invited to teach on that very subject: Worship & Prayer. Both of us, together, for a full week of YWAM Wrexham’s DTS. Peter has taught each year as part of our DTS here in Cambridge, but this was the first time there had been an invitation to teach on a DTS elsewhere. So we went, with the kids and our friend Hannah, who generously gave of her time to look after Isaac. It was exhilarating to be teaching together, and prayer and worship is a topic that is very dear to our hearts. We felt like God was bringing us back to our roots, our first love, our Psalm 27:4 One Thing.

And then there was another invitation to teach on a DTS – this time for Peter to teach on Evangelism for the first week of the North Africa DTS being held on the southern coast of Spain. ‘I would love to!—but can I bring all the family?’ And they said yes, and paid for our flights, and so it was that we spent two weeks in Torremolinos, on the Costa del Sol! We were so grateful not only for the refreshment of being at a stunning holiday destination, but also for the privilege of being with a DTS on their very first week, praying and worshipping and doing street evangelism with them and letting our zeal rub off on them–and vice-versa! The leaders of the DTS were also a young couple with two small children, a boy and then a girl – what joy to be able to mutually encourage each other. We even got to take the ferry to Tanger, Morocco, on one of our days off, visit the Kasbah, and eat authentic lamb tagine. What a treat.

When we got back from Spain, we had just few days before we headed off again, this time to the Small Teams Gathering in Liverpool! We led worship, prayer-walked, shared vision, and prayed for one another. It was also great to catch up with Nic and Hamish, our friends from Cambridge who recently moved up to a deprived area of Liverpool so as to be salt and light there.

So what was God doing in opening these doors to travel and teach? Well, in being given the topics of prayer, worship and evangelism, we felt as though God was honouring our having run hard after these things for the past three years in Cambridge. It was a joy to be able to share from a place of some experience, and to inspire people with testimonies and glory-stories. In being allowed to come as a family, we felt like God was giving us opportunities to practise being in mission together. One of the questions we have been asking on this Sabbatical is: what structures does one need to set in place to enable not just ‘me’ but ‘me and my house’ to serve the Lord? As we look to the next season, our prayer is that we would serve Him in a way that is faithful, fruitful and sustainable for our whole family.

There’s so much more to tell you, but we’ll save that for the next prayer-letter. Thank you for your support and prayers!

With love,
Peter & Taryn, Isaac and Anu