On Thursday 5 January, Grays Leaders Payer and the Thurrock Leaders Network combined for a day of prayer and fasting at the Corringham Safety Centre.

Nine local ministers and church leaders attended:

  • Colin Baker, pastor at Grays Baptist Church
  • Andy Blakey, leader at Thurrock Christian Fellowship Mission Shaped Community, Grays
  • Rob Groves, Community Evangelist, Stanford-le-Hope
  • Russell Godward, leader at Thurrock Christian Fellowship Mission Shaped Community, Corringham
  • Tim Harrold, Transformation Thurrock + church-in-the-house, Chadwell-Grays-South Ockendon
  • Andy Higgs, Rector for Stifford Parish
  • Bob Love, retired Anglican Dean now living in South Ockendon
  • Rosemary Prtichard, minister at Grays Methodist Church
  • Maggie Watts, leader at Grays Methodist Church

A number of others sent their apologies.

The wind of the early January gales howled and blew and creaked around the building as the prayer went on throughout the day.

The following is the gist of what happened and what was said.

Getting back to the Source and Strength through Unity
After a time of reflective worship, Tim reminded those there of the scripture that came at the same gathering five years before in 2007, at the Old Tennis Court in Grays.

Jeremiah 2:13 – 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.

He also read out the following scripture:

Jeremiah 6:16 – This is what the LORD says: 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. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Tim said that the following day, 5 January 2007, while praying through these two scriptures around Orsett Fen, he’d found a key that had written on it ‘Essex Shoe Repairs’. He said that the scriptures, though negative, served as a starting point for refocusing on God at the start of the year, making the Main Thing the main thing. And the repairing of shoes referred to ‘feet (re-)fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace’ (Ephesians 6:15).

Unity1These themes were prayed through while bread and wine was passed round.

Russell prayed and declared that “We are one”.

Rob prayed along the lines of Scottish reformer, John Huss, “Give us Thurrock or we die!”

Andy Blakey emphasised in a prayer that “We are more than conquerors”; that it is not about our ability or strength, but entirely God’s through Christ and in the power of the Spirit.

Bob declared that Thurrock is not a Cinderella in rags, but a Bride who will get to her wedding on time.
“See if shoe fits,” he said, cautioning to “watch out for ugly sisters”, that is, those who would seek to prevent the Bride from reaching her potential and coming into her destiny.

Colin then read Ezekiel 37:15-28 –
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, ‘Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, ‘Ephraim’s stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.’ Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand. “When your countrymen ask you, ‘Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph-which is in Ephraim’s hand-and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’
Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offences, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
“‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there for ever, and David my servant will be their prince for ever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant.
I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them for ever. My dwelling-place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them for ever.”‘

A New Covenant
Bob then opened a discussion about the possibility of churches across the borough making a covenant together. Such a covenant would see a commitment for the fellowship of church leaders to prayer for one another, meet regularly, and speak in each others’ churches. And for churches to band together intentionally in worship and prayer, sharing facilities and resources, and working in united mission.

Russell declared his “agreement for the journey”, though he wasn’t sure what that would look like. He said he would defend the place of the local church whatever.

Tim talked about the place of Transformation Thurrock (TT) in this process, as these things are what TT stands for and has already facilitated on various occasions. He talked about TT both in the lead up to this point (and previous covenants and groupings who have mulled these things over before), and its place hereafter. Regarding parochialism, he suggested that any covenant’s purpose would be to bring the local church to the table, rather than denominational representation (for Jeremiah 2:13’s cistern, read system). However, this does not mean that churches do away with their individual expressions, styles and identity. But the vision must be for Thurrock and the local church(es) of Thurrock, because the relationships are across the borough. Tim quoted Zechariah 2:4-5 –

‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it.
And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will be its glory within.’

Rosemary reminded us of Andy Acreman’s (TCF) word given at the gathering of Thurrock intercessors on 29 January 2006 (at the culmination of two week’s of 24-7 prayer for church unity). It so happened that Tim had brought along a recording of that word and was able to play it (as part of a compilation of words given at that event under the title A Lion At The Gate).

The word’s gist is that God wants to make Thurrock a place where people want to live such is the extent of transformation in the community, because of the church’s obedience to Jesus and power in the Holy Spirit – so much so, that hotels will have to be built to hold the world’s press.

Upon hearing this, Bob shrugged his shoulders, lifted his hands in conformation and said, “It’s what we’ve been talking about!”

Other words were briefly discussed, like the one of a flood that knocks over fences between churches; and the one where fences between churches had come down; and another where a flood of blessing sweeps up the Thames.

Dry Bones Live!
Andy Blakey suggested everyone make a joint declaration of “dry bones live”, and all prayed over Thurrock map, each placing a foot around the edge of the map.

After this, some of those gathered left, leaving a group of five who then prayed for each other.

During this time, Tim quoted from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost For His Highest Daily Reading for the 5 January –
When we have come to the end of ourselves, not in imagination but really, we are able to receive the Holy Spirit. “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” – the idea is that of invasion. There is only one lodestar in the life now, the Lord Jesus Christ.

That evening…
Tim read read about Fall of Jericho.

Joshua 6:20 – When the people heard the blast of the trumpets, they gave a thunderclap shout. The wall fell at once.

Then, after getting watch strap fixed at the clock repairers in Southend Road, Grays, he walked up the alleyway between St Georges Avenue and College Avenue, where he found a garden wall had fallen down in the high winds.

Watchmen – time – walls (and fences) falling down – cities taken…

The next TLN Day is due to be on Thursday 16 February at the Corringham Safety Centre.