On the BBC1 last Sunday (23 September 2012) Songs of Praise asked the simple question, ‘Why Pray?”
To answer this they asked a number of people connected to national ministries which include prayer to comment. Three of them are people who have had some connection with Thurrock over the past decade, and whom the borough can consider as friends.
Pete Grieg, founder of 24-7 Prayer, spoke of his experience of extreme struggle during the time of his wife’s illness with a brain tumour. He said that his prayers had been childlike, such was his desperation, and he testified to the fact that his wife has come through against the odds and that he believes that those prayers did help.
Pete has been to Thurrock a couple of times. First, to Thurrock Christian Fellowship, where the borough’s 24-7 prayer was pioneered after Tim Harrold had joined the staff there and brought the vision with him for continuous, inter-church, cross-denominational prayer and the setting up of a ‘Boiler Room’ or prayer house for all believers of all persuaions to access. This had led him to one of the early 24-7 Prayer conferences in Amsterdam, at the personal invitation of Pete. It was a pivotal time.
At some point around 2003, Pete did a day’s worth of seminars on the 24-7 Prayer movement and prayer in general. Between January 2002 and April 2007 there were around 30 24-7 prayer weeks held at TCF and in churches across the borough.
In October 2005, an amazing 24-28 took place from St Peter’s Chapel in Bradwell, up the Thames Estuary to Thurrock, then through the borrough and onto London, and then across the Thames Valley to the source of the UK’s principle river in a field near the village of Kembe in Gloucestershire. The vision for this project – The Turn of the Tide – came to Tim Harrold while atop the tower of St Margaret’s at a 24-7 prayer week being held there in November 2004.
Since Easter 2007, apart from a couple of 24-7s prayer weeks held elsewhere, all local 24-7 Prayer activity has been centred in and around the Stanford Boiler Room, also know as “217”. Although still part of TCF as one of its ‘Mission Shaped Communities’, this has become a distinct fresh expression of Christian community. It was around then that Tim was felt led to move from his involvement with 24-7 Prayer (but still to do 24-7 prayer!) and to “strengthen the things which remain”, the various other projects that loosely formed what was to become Transformation Thurrock.
On 28 January 2008, Pete came back to Thurrock to do a day conference at St John’s in Victoria Avenue, Grays. (His appearance came just a few weeks after a Turn Of The Tide day held in St George’s, Benfleet, at which Jonathan Oloyede spoke and led prayer; and also just a week or so after a 24-7 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was held at The Old Tennis Court Community Prayer House in Grays.) Without doubt, Pete’s and 24-7 Prayer’s influence have been and continue to be felt with some resonance around the borough, but particularly these days in Stanford and Corringham where the Boiler Room are especially active in the community and schools.
Debra Green of Redeeming Our Communities (ROC) explained in brief the story of how that movement has connected with police, local councils and services, and folk of other and no religions, to bring a measure of transformation through unity in prayer and mission in Manchester at first, but now in many cities and areas around the nation. She empahsised how important the pray aspect was in bringing together Christians from across the board to intercede for their communities, and see many answers to those prayers.
Debra spoke at a day conference in Stanford-le-Hope Methodist Church on 17 March 2008. The previous evening, God had downloaded to Tim Harrold the vision for Transformation Thurrock. In her seminars, Debra spoke everything that was in that vision, and after she finished, Tim was given the opportunity to speak out that vision, which was accpeted by those who were there favourably and enthusiastically.
Transformation Thurrock had up to that point been an email covering a number of local prayer events and missional projects. After this date it became more formalised, and the website came into being shortly after that. Consequently, through Debra’s encouragement and unwitting prophetic confirmation, Transformation Thurrock owes its exitstence in part to her and the ROC vision.
Currently, three local churches are discussing introducing ROC to Thurrock (in the Andlo-Saxon, turroc…) and have met with a ROC representative. It’s been a consideration at various times that Transformation Thurrock, because of its heritage, could becaome a more formal partner with ROC. When we started, Rob Groves’ particular passion was for social enterprise and outreach, which is something ROC excels at facilitating through projects like ROC Cafes. Watch this space for further news of conversations concerning this – Transformation Thurrock is not fully involved at this point, and staying true to its own mandate, would encourage unity to prevail.
See Tim Harrold’s original vision for Transformation Thurrock and notes from Debra Green’s visit in 2008 below.
Jonathan Oloyede of Global Day of Prayer London (GDOP) spoke about the vision for this coming Saturday’s National Day of Prayer and Worship. Jonathan has been to Thurrock on numerous occasions, speaking and leading prayer both at churches and at cross-borough events. He was an early advocate of Transformation Thurrock, and his PA Kim Dopson spoke at the launch breakfast of Transformation Thurrock in July 2008.
Tim Harrold had first come across Jonathan at a Havering ministers’ prayer meeting in November 2007, and had been impressed by this simple statement: “All God is saying, is unity and prayer”. Tim invited him to led prayer at The Turn Of The Tide prayer day in January 2008, from which eventually emerged the Thames Gateway Prayernet.
This led to some closer connections between Transformation Thurrock and GDOP: in 2009 and 2010, Tim faciliated the “M25 Nutcracker” – 24-7 style prayer rooms dotted around London’s orbittal motorway regions all praying for London. Tim has also been to numerous GDOP-related prayer events and presentations over the past few years.
Jonathan was asked to lead the afternoon session of prayer at the Thurrock Day of Prayer (TDOP) in October 2009. Jonathan was also the main speaker and prayer leader at the launch breakfast for Rock Thurrock in March 2011. This was attended by nearly 130 people representing some 40 churches around the borough. The unity was awesome! Most recently, in July of this year, he led prayer at the More Than Gold Thurrock Prayer Breakfast.
Without wishing to make out that Thurrock is especially unique in being blessed with such friends as these, it does nevertheless indicate God’s interest in our borough. And if he’s interested, then there’s a plan and a purpose for our little patch at the gateway of one of the most significant rivers of the world. Thurrock is strategic in so many ways – it’s geography, history and spiritual heritage makes it so.
This Saturday (29 September 2012), a coach load of Thurrock’s believers are heading to Wembley for the National Day of Prayer, convened by Jonathan. The Lord told him many years ago to put on a prayer gathering at Wembley Stadium, but the picture he had was not of the stadium at the time, and for a number of years he didn’t get it. But then the old stadium was demolished and the new one was built – a wonderful picture of what God is doing with the church as he purifies and prepares his Bride! – and then Jonathan understood.
He has been obedient in putting this event on depsite all the hurdles and difficulties and logistics and finacial challenges. And so must we be obedient in attending if the Lord calls us to – because obedience liberates divine power! Because of Jonathan’s obedience and the obedience of many, the divine power of the Holy Spirit will be liberated – God cannot help himself! The Lord remains true to his own spiritual principles. Unity releases blessing (Psalm 133)!
Why pray? To bring tansformation to Thurrock and the UK! To the church, to the community, and to the land. To bring unity of believers, obedience to God, and wholeness through redemption. To make disciples, to be Kingdom, and let Jesus build his church. To turn filthy water into fresh water, and fresh water into wine.
2 Chronicles 7:14
“…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
In reference to the above intertwined story, please find below the original Transformation Thurrock vision, as it was written (on the back of six business cards late one night), and notes from Debra Green’s seminars the next day, taken from Tim Harrold’s journal.
11.10pm 16 March 2008
What is the vision?
- The vision is Jesus… and the Church of Thurrock being the answer to his prayer in the garden, “May they be brought into complete unity.”
- “All your strength is in your union, All your danger is in discord.” Hiawatha (Longfellow)
- Around the UK, churches are banding together under one banner that reflects their borough, e.g., Across Havering; Love Southend; Transform Newham; Love Cornwall, etc.
- “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…” Henry V (Shakespeare)
The vision for our borough is… Transformation Thurrock
- website (the above have websites)
- the use of Transformation Thurrock as a ‘corporate ID’ for
- prayer events and networks
- missional activities
- events that reflect cross-denominational co-operation
- events by singles churches who wish to identify with the pan-borough vision of unity
What is needed?
- website to build sense of corporate unity/community
- open to all believers and seekers
- easily recognised logo
- to be displayed at all appropriate events hosted by participating churches
- affiliation based on relationship built up by the goodwill of these emails
- the wider community would have a sense of the church’s oneness in Christ and co-operative togetherness
- the church(es) would think differently about itself, working as a broad body, pooling resources
- This would provoke greater union among leaders
- This would provoke greater union among grassroots, placing all in leadership in the wider community
- unity and empowerment
- Psalm 133 (unity = blessing)
What can be recognised features (at outset)
- 2 major prayer days per year in Spring and Autumn in major venues (and growing)
- (cross/non-denominational agencies such as…)
- East Thurrock Prayer
- Mardyke Fellowship
- Stanford & Corringham Boiler Room
- Healing Rooms
- GSUS Live etc.
Jeremiah 2:13 – from GLP Fast Day 4.1.2007
My people have committed two sins: ?They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, ?and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
Jeremiah 6:16 – Crossroads and Ancient Paths
Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ?ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.
Ezra 3:10-13 – from Rock Thurrock Prayer night 3.6.2011 (added later)
When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD:
“He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.”
And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.
Notes from Debra Green seminars
Stanford-le-Hope Methodist Church
17 March 2008
City Links / Redeeming Our Communities vision
- “Glory in the highest” and “Glory in the High Street”
- Vision of Strong Towers (surrounding Manchester)
- but massive gaps between the towers
- enemy charging in and out between the towers
- towers helpless to stop
- The walls built to link towers
- perimeter became secure
- gaps closed and enemy activity stopped
- WALLS OF PRAYER AND UNITY
- then loads of little towers shot up in the city
- after prayer wall began, 100 new works sprang up
- from this City Links grew (birth of child)
Three Principles for Social Transformation
1. Vision (Proverbs 29:18)
- no aim without our lacking focus and direction
- how does God see the community?
- with vision people can achieve something for the community
- be achievable although stretching
- realistic although slightly beyond us
- will always be attainable and reachable
- find the distinctive vision for Thurrock: write it down [confirmation*]
- measure where you’re at on journey
- CHURCH MUST BE UNITED
- Psalm 133, Ephesians 4 etc. [confirmation*]
- put nets out on other side **
- 2 boats: ‘come and help get all the fish in’
- both boats had to be out in the water at the same time
- immediacy: no good if boat on shore
- GET POSITIONED
- we’ll be one in heaven!
- City Links = linking together towns and cities across the UK
3. Prayer for the community
- for people groups (e.g. teachers, police etc.)
- e.g. BBC – plaque in Portland House – redemptive purpose – call it back
- Manchester Passion – led to The Passion TV series
- listen to Holy Spirit for strategy
- pray FOR not so much AGAINST!
- say thank you to people groups
* confirmation of Transformation Thurrock vision given to me last night and emailed out this morning
** (2012 – confirmation of GSUS LIVE and follow-up strategy – this word came to us during Rock Thurrock)
- Yesterday God said to me (in Wilkinson’s) that today would be a day either of beginnings or endings
- Last night we were given a 32” wide screen TV. I asked God, “Why?” He said, “To give you a wider vision.”
- I was given the opportunity to tell this vision by Rosemary Pritchard at the end of the seminars.
Proverbs 29:11 NIV
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; ?but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.