On Tuesday 30 June, Thurrock’s own Tim Harrold and Phil Anderson found themselves in the same function room at 11 Downing Street! Both had gone to a reception at the invitation of Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick, Chairman of the National Prayer Breakfast, Tim because of his involvement with Global Day of Prayer London, and Phil because of his ongoing role in Parliament on behalf of 24-7 Prayer.
In a packed room (on a very hot day), they enjoyed cold juice and nibbles, and conversation with some of the many others there. Tim met up with old Thurrockite Mervyn Thomas, these days living in Farnham. Merv was there on behalf of Christian Solidarity Worldwide. Speeches were made by Stephen Timms MP, Lord Hastings and Dr Jonathan Oloyede, Convener of Global Day of Prayer London. Prayers were said by Celia Bowring of Care.
Everyone was able to then go outside into the famous gardens that Number 11 shares with Number 10. Alas, Alastair and Gordon weren’t about!
The following morning Tim and Phil were back in Westminster, along with Phil’s wife Lisa, for the National Prayer Breakfast in the great medieval hall in the Houses of Parliament. It made Transformation Thurrock’s prayer breakfast look very small indeed! Tim sat next to a Nigerian lady who was both a bishop and a princess!
The welcome was made by the new Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP. After a simple, continental breakfast, various presentations were made and speakers came to the platform. Lord Puttnam (of Chariots of Fire fame, and also friend of The Grays School Media Arts College) spoke in his capacity as President of UNICEF UK concerning the plight of children across the planet and the urgency of governments to reach targets set at the Millennium. Foy Vance sand a very touching and poetic song called Indiscriminate Act of Kindness. Paul Boateng MP and Rev Canon Andrew White – the “Vicar of Bagdad” – prayed for the world.
Then Lord Hastings interviewed the colourful and eminently sensible Camilla Batmanghelidj, who runs the charity Kids Company. She has asylum status given to her after she escaped the Iranian Revolution in 1979. An address was given by writer and international speaker Dr Ravi Zacharias before everyone split off into seminars. Tim went to Leadership for change in urban Britain which featured speakers from Care and Livability, and once again Camilla Batmanghelidj. The conversation – which included audience participation – was very much about the state of current generation of young people. Camilla called for ‘robust compassion’ and noted that ’emotional poverty manifests itself in material greed’. She strongly believes in the power of positive, affectionate role models who can bring emotional healing to a young person who maybe wielding a knife because he (or she) is simply trying to survive a broken and damaged childhood in the best – but misguided – way he can.
Tim met a guy from Liverpool called John Manwell who’s running a ministry similar to Transformation Thurrock called Together For Harvest, except they’re trying to bring together churches across a population of 1.5m people! Tim also met another guy he once met before in 2005 called David Pott, who once prayer walked the Thames from the source in Kemble, Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier in East London – he was very interested to hear how The Turn Of The Tide has developed into the Thames Gateway Prayernet and also the ethos behind the GDOP M25 Nutcracker. Divine appointments!