My wife Jo and I are heading off to California in September to study for 9 months at Bethel Church, Redding.
Quite a turn out of events! So far, even the lead up to our departure has been an adventure. So I thought it might be good to share some of that for those interested. This post got a bit long so I am going to publish it in a few different parts.
It all began almost exactly a year ago.
Part 1 | Part 2
We are involved in the youth work at a Christian conference held annually in St Andrews called CLAN gathering. Last year it was a really significant time for us both (more so than usual). We really felt like we were being called to step up our walk with God and in particular there was a real call to increase our focus on bringing Gods Kingdom. We had felt for some time that there was something round the corner for us and we had received a number of prophetic words along similar lines.
We began to embrace this call on our return home and thinking about how to cultivate a Kingdom culture in our lives and also in the young adults group we head up in our church.
We first heard of Bethel Church in Redding California through the film ‘Finger of God’ (an amazing film documenting miracles and how God is at work around the world at the moment). Feeling inspired post CLAN we sought out this film and its sequel ‘Furious Love’ (another inspiring film!). The films sparked an interest in Bethel and we began listening to sermons and teaching from their pastors. We also came across a number of books by Bill Johnson (their pastor) and Kris Vallotten (the associate pastor). All of these teachings seemed to speak directly into our heart. There was something about their message and their passion that we couldn’t help but engage with.
One day I was browsing their website and stumbled across the fact they had a school of ministry. The same school that had featured in the films above. The students seemed pretty radical and yet they were transforming their community and walking in greater levels of faith than I thought were possible. I had half jokingly suggested to Jo about us going to the school… three weeks later we still couldn’t shake the idea!
So we decided to apply in November. What had we to lose? If we didn’t get in it was no big deal.
Time for application forms and references. We needed to talk to our minister Malcolm Round (blog) about a reference and also about us going away and had planned to discuss it at one of our occasional meetings about the young adults group we head up. We had been thinking anyway that it would be good to get more leaders involved so we mentioned that part to him. Immediately Malcolm’s response was to ask “In case you are going to take some time out to do a ministry school, something like Toronto or Bethel? I can see you guys doing that”. At this stage only family knew so this was quite some confirmation for us! Both Malcolm and our other references were hugely supportive.
So with the forms and references in the ball was rolling. We had an interview via Skype late one evening in January. There we were sitting on our sofa in our flat at 10pm(2pm in Redding), pretty nervous and not sure what to expect when a very friendly Californian “dude” spoke to us briefly about the school and asked about our experiences. There were a a lot of “awesome”s and somehow snowboarding even made it into the conversation! We didn’t know how we had got on but were told we would hear in around 8 weeks.
Off to bed we headed, at peace that it was out of our hands now. I was just about off to sleep when my phone beeped. A new email. It seemed a bit cryptic (partly because I was half asleep!) but it seemed to say I had been accepted into the school. I asked Jo if she was awake, she was now! I told her I thought I had been accepted, she looked at her phone and she didnt have an email. “Oh well”, she said, ” I guess its just you going.” she turned over and went back to sleep! The next day it transpired the email had gone to her junk.
So, the first steps had been taken but looking back this really was only the beginning and perhaps the simplest step, so far it hadn’t cost us anything… to be continued.
This ones for you mum and dad!