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

Prescott Prayer Letter: Halloween’ His Name

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Greetings from Cambridge,
where we are hallowing God’s name, and praying that His kingdom would come!

Reformation Anniversary
It was four hundred and ninety-nine years ago today, in another university town, that a young Christian thinker published an evangelical manifesto that was to unleash revival and reformation on an unprecedented scale. The town was Wittenberg in Germany; the man was Martin Luther; the publication was his Ninety-Five Theses critiquing the corruption of the medieval church. At the heart of the controversy was a theological question: what is repentance?.

It was — and is! — a question that cuts to the heart of the Christian faith. Indeed, the biblical summary of Jesus’ message is this: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matt. 4:17). But by the Middle Ages that simple gospel message had been lost under various layers of legalistic tradition and doctrinal misunderstanding. In the original Greek of the New Testament the word for ‘repent’ is Metanoiete–‘to change one’s mind or purpose’. But it the Latin Vulgate translation used by the medieval church it was rendered Poenitentiam agite, which had developed connotations of ritual penitence, giving rise to the notion that divine forgiveness was something that could be earned or bought. Please pray with us that the simple gospel message of free forgiveness through the Cross of Christ would once again impact Europe!

A new DTS has begun
Meanwhile a new Revival & Reformation Discipleship Training School has begun, and God is at work in marvelous ways. Last week I heard two amazing testimonies. One girl was surprised to find that the physical scars of past self-harm had disappeared — they had been miraculously healed! And another was astonished that when she tried to join in with one of the songs of worship at the end of a prayer meeting and suddenly found herself singing out in a language she didn’t know! So praise God for the presence — and presents! — of the Holy Spirit! (And if you’re interested, here’s my attempt to explain my understanding of spiritual gifts.)

This year's Revival & Reformation DTS
This week the team is in Dunkirk, France, serving at the refugee camp. Pray that the Holy Spirit would help them to demonstrate the love of God in word and deed.

Stepping back for a season
But we ourselves are not in Dunkirk — because we are not part of this year’s DTS team. In good missionary style, having spent the last three years pioneering YWAM Cambridge’s DTS we are now stepping back to allow new leaders to step up.

But that makes it sound like we had skilfully planned this. The honest truth is that by the end of the last DTS we were leading, we were feeling pretty burnt out. God had done some amazing things, but we were overstretched — like butter scraped over too much bread. Like Elijah and Jonah, in their less glorious moments. We returned to Cambridge three years ago with a vision for the sort of revival community you see in Acts 2, a willingness to do whatever we could to bring that into being, — and no kids! And now the situation has developed a little!

So we have stepped back from the thick of YWAM Cambridge madness: we have moved house (send Christmas cards to The Prescotts, Oak Villa–Extension Flat, Madingley Road, Coton, Cambridgeshire CB23 7PH), Taryn is working hard looking after Isaac and Anu, and I have stepped off the YWAM Cambridge leadership team and am spending my time working through the whole of the Bible. Which is a real privilege. Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day long!.

One last thing!
Oh, and I must remember to mention the Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering, that I was at in Indonesia. This was a gathering of a thousand Christian leaders aged 25-35 from around the world–represented in my small group were China, Egypt, Canada, the Philippines, Angola and Malaysia. There was teaching from a broad cross-section of the global evangelical church: old intellectuals like Ravi Zacharias and Os Guinness, younger missional visionaries like David Platt, fiery Chinese house-church leaders; there were opportunities to pray together for the fulfilment of God’s purposes in our generation and to dream dreams of how we might be involved; and there was the delight of Indonesian food! Here’s a short video to give you the flavour (of the Gathering, not the food!)

Much love,
Peter & Taryn, Isaac and Anu

Prescott Prayer Letter: Our New Baby

It’s taken us a few weeks to send this prayer letter, but we are delighted to announce the arrival of our beautiful baby daughter. Emmanuelle Dawn Inge Prescott was born 2nd July at 7:39 pm, weighing 7 lb 9 oz. Her name is Emmanuelle , because God is with us (Matt.1:23). But you can call her Anu (EmmANUelle), which is an Indian name.

Anu

Taryn writes:
God is faithful. I still can’t believe how different Anu’s birth was from Isaac’s; my heart is bursting with gratitude.

So the due date came, and – nothing.

The next day, I woke up early, feeling disheartened, uncomfortable and impatient. My mum (who has come from India to help look after us) was up too, and I read her Psalm 29, which is my psalm for this year, having just turned 29. ‘The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth’, it says. I told Mum, ‘that’s what I want, for God to speak, at just the right moment, and the baby to be born.’ Pretty soon, everyone else woke up and the Day Which Would Turn Out to be Significant began. I sorted out a misunderstanding with Peter that morning. The rubber wellington boots we had ordered to give to Isaac as a gift (to sweeten the occasion of him meeting his little sister) arrived in the mail. I was particularly hungry at lunchtime and ate quite a lot. I took an afternoon nap. I got to spend some quality time with Isaac in our cosy rocking chair, reading stories and practising counting. All these things meant that I felt rested, physically strong, and, most importantly, assured that all was well between me and my loved ones.

The stage was set, and the action began quite suddenly. At 6:13, I had turned my phone on and seen a text from a close friend of ours. It said: ‘How are you? Praying for you and the little girl.’ And as I saw it, I suddenly had something that felt very much like a contraction. Had the voice of the Lord spoken, was this ‘deer’ about to give birth? We sat down to dinner at 6:15, and I said, hesitantly, not wanting to cause too much of a stir if it wasn’t the real thing, ‘I just had quite a strong cramp’, and we began to eat, but within minutes, another contraction followed and then another in quick succession – maybe three or four minutes apart. I was having to stop eating and concentrate on my breathing. Isaac watched me in fascinated concern: ‘what’s Mummy doing?’ Then, when he discerned that something was obviously up but Peter and Mum didn’t seem to be doing anything about it, decided he would sort me out himself – ‘Come with me to the next room, Mummy.’ I love that kid.

I left my half-eaten dinner and went upstairs, thinking I would need to lie down/get in some warm water and wait it out, because it took days last time and they were reluctant to let me come in to the Rosie Birth Centre. The contractions were coming hard and fast, so Peter called the Birth Centre.

‘Hello, my wife’s gone into labour.’
‘Okay, put her on the line. Now, Taryn, how long ago did these contractions start?’

I was dreading this part, where they try and ascertain over the phone how much pain you are in, but a nice long, strong contraction obligingly showed up, which meant that after squeaking out ‘about half an hour ago’ I was unable to say anything very coherent to the lady. This was precisely what needed to happen.

‘You better bring her in!’ she said.

It took us a while to get down the stairs and into the car because I kept having to throw myself down on all fours to breathe my way through another contraction. Peter managed to be omnipresent, getting the hospital bag, the wellies and the newborn car seat into the car and still be beside me for each contraction. My mum took Isaac out for a walk, and we set off for the hospital.

Things started feeling pretty urgent at this point. It seemed like every time I had a contraction we were at a red light, but they were starting to feel like ‘pushing’ contractions. We pulled up in the Rosie parking lot and a cluster of midwives ran to the car:

‘How far along is she?’
(Contraction)
‘Oh, I see.’
(Contraction!)
‘She’ll need a wheelchair.’
(Contraction!!)

I think it was about 7:30 at this point.

They wheeled me hurriedly in to a birthing room. My waters broke as I entered the room. I just about managed to get on the bed and take a gulp of gas and air (also known as laughing gas! — everything kind of slows down and gets quite surreal as you breathe it in) and then as I pushed again, my mind thought groggily ‘He will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is fixed on Him… no wait, that’s not how it goes… something’s wrong with that sentence… I’m a ‘her’, that’s what it is, ‘he will keep in perfect peace HER whose mind is fixed on him…’ I felt so overwhelmed by a sense of peace and wellbeing and that the midwife actually had to ask me to put the gas and air down and concentrate! One last push, and then there was the sound of a baby crying lustily. It was 7:39 p.m. Before I knew it, I had the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen wrapped in towels and lying on my chest. Peter and I were looking at each other, vision blurred by tears of joy, and he kept saying ‘You did it! You did it!’

Labour started at 6:13 and ended at 7:39. One hour and twenty-six minutes. Apparently 2% of women have an active labour of less than three hours – it’s called ‘precipitate labour’. God cut that in half – mine was less than one and a half hours. We could barely believe it.

Anu came out with one hand raised over her head, apparently. That night, I kept thinking,

‘This is how I want to live and die
With a song of praise and my hands lifted high’.

Thank you for praying and standing with us. Can’t wait for all of you to meet little Anu.

Lots of love,
Peter & Taryn, Isaac and Anu

Prescott Prayer Letter: Let’s Rejoice Together!

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“For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20

One of the great joys of being part of the family of God is being able to boast in each other, because, after all, we are one Body. Our DTS outreach team has returned from the refugee camps of Greece, sun-bronzed and joyful, overflowing with testimonies of God’s faithfulness. We wanted to share a few of these stories with you, because you have been a part of making this possible!

According to the team leaders, one of the biggest highlights of the outreach was seeing the team move in Spirit-led unity to bring the Kingdom in what is arguably one of the most difficult situations on the earth right now. We had mentioned in our last newsletter that the team had gotten to baptise an Iraqi guy in Lesvos who then baptised others. Apparently, the ripple effect didn’t stop there! When the team got to Athens, they met another Muslim young man with whom they shared this testimony, and his initial reaction was ‘I am saddened that someone would turn away from Islam and choose Jesus’. However, as the team spent time with him, something changed in his heart: ‘I feel like I see the face of God in you’, he admitted. One of the team members felt a special burden to pray very hard for this young man, and, minutes before the team was due to take the last tram out of Athens, he also decided to give his life to Jesus!

I’m sure you have all read the story of Paul in Acts 17 using the altar ‘to the unknown god’ to proclaim the gospel. Well, one really moving experience for the team was spending the night worshipping in the very same place, the Areopagus (or Mars Hill), and building an altar ‘to the known God’ there! One of the team leaders testifies: ‘God is totally at work in the refugee camps… [we met] new Iranian and Kurdish believers who had had visions of Jesus in Thessaloniki. So much more I could say: endless drinking chai and playing with kids, tearful goodbyes that made us realise that genuine friendships had been established, mind-boggling generosity from refugees towards us.” We have read about people in the Muslim world having visions of Jesus, but it was incredibly exciting for the team to actually have a conversation with a young man who had dreamed of a man on a white horse, whom they were able to identify as Jesus from Revelation 6!

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Rejoice with us as we rejoice in and honour our outreach team! They have done so well in walking in obedience, unity and joy, and we are proud of them as we shoot them like arrows from our quiver into to whatever God has for them next. As they stood up to share testimonies of the past nine months at their graduation last Tuesday, there were tears of joy in their eyes, and they were unanimous in declaring that they are not the same people they were nine months ago. Praise our glorious God who really does change hearts and bring his Kingdom through ordinary people!

Much love,
Peter, Taryn & Isaac

PS. And it’s now just two weeks until the due date of our little baby! Taryn’s mum will be arriving from India on Friday to stay for a few weeks and help us manage life with another little person in the family. Please pray for a safe delivery.

Prescott Prayer Letter: Barrenness&Fruitfulness

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Dear Friends,

April and May are strange months for us, as our team is away on outreach. Speaking in parables, we have ‘planted the seeds’, ‘launched the space shuttle’, ‘created the baby’, and now? Now, we wait and pray hard that our efforts will be fruitful. After three years of leading the Revival and Reformation DTS and six years of full-time ministry (the whole of our married lives!) we find ourselves stopping and asking whether it has been worth it. So we’ve been seeking His face, and He has been meeting with us in our times of Bible study and prayer. We pray he will lift your spirits as we share the journey He has been taking us on, from discouragement and weariness to hope and even elation.

‘By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.’ (John 15:8)

‘Yes!’ is the cry of our hearts. We have wanted nothing less than ‘night and day prayer in Cambridge, overflowing in mission to the ends of the earth’! We have caught hold of the vision of not just planting one house of prayer, but of ‘multiplying discipleship’, of disciple who make disciples who make disciples who make disciples… –We don’t just want some fruit, we have wanted much fruit.

‘Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.’ (Ecc 11:1)

We have ‘cast the bread’ and ‘scattered the seed’ indiscriminately, just as the farmer does in the parable in Mark 4. We have been out doing evangelism at least a hundred times on the streets of Cambridge, and have given our time and energy to train twenty-two young missionary leaders (that’s just our three R&R DTSes) to imitate Christ, as we ourselves seek to do. Through our efforts, literally thousands of people have heard the good news of Jesus! We’ve hosted house-church for two and a half years almost non-stop; that’s more than a hundred meals, Bible-studies, hours of people encountering the life-changing power of the Word and of Christian fellowship. We have given away six albums for free download, and shared our hearts vulnerably on our blogs, hoping to impact unseen internet-users across the world.

‘And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children… She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.’ (1 Sam. 1:2b, 10)

‘What strikes you from this passage?’ I asked Peter as we were reading 1 Samuel the other day, and his answer surprised me: ‘I really relate to Hannah’s feeling of barrenness.’ Even more surprising was my answer, considering how heavily pregnant I am: ‘Me too.’ It is hard sometimes to quantify or even see our fruit, and yet we feel ‘poured out like a drink offering’ (Phil. 2:17). Peter puts it, ‘Maybe it’s good when you get to the point where you feel like you have nothing left, because that must mean you’ve given everything!’

‘He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows: he knows not how.’ (Mark 4:27)

‘He sleeps’ –so there is a time for the farmer to rest, step back, allow things to take their course. Meanwhile, ‘the seed grows: he knows not how’ – there is a necessary powerlessness; he cannot make the seed grow. ‘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 15:5) It is humbling to come face to face with our own dependence – ultimately, it is the LORD who brings about the harvest.

“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the LORD. (Isaiah 54:1)

There was a moment of silence after we shared our sense of barrenness. I picked up my guitar and started singing a line Peter had written from his meditations on Job:

A new dawn is coming
We’re standing at the break of day
Though I die, I will live
I declare in Jesus’ name

We sang it over and over, at first softly and almost tearfully, but by the end, loudly and with joy. Then we stopped, and Peter grinned and said, ‘Yes. God is good.’

We have seen the first tender seedlings springing up. We hear exciting reports from our team in Greece that one of the young Muslim men they shared the gospel with and baptised has now baptised two of his friends–and a few days later another message tells us to ‘make that four’. Multiplication! Another of our past DTS trainees (one who found evangelism a real struggle when she was here) reports with great joy that she has been out sharing the gospel with people on the streets of New York and saw a Jamaican girl accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour! Another who did a DTS with us and then spent two years with us in Cambridge, has just written from Mexico, where she is now doing a School of Biblical Studies in Mexico, encouraging our Cambridge team in the faith and telling us of her plans to go long-term to Bolivia. Yes, the seeds are growing. Yes, the harvest will be plentiful. Yes, the Lord is faithful.

With much love,
Peter, Taryn, Isaac and the Bump