Called to the City
In 1969 God unmistakably called us as a family to move to Norwich. I came to pastor a Baptist church. However four years later when that ministry came to an end we knew that we could not leave the city as God had called us to put down our roots and serve Him here.
There were serious implications as our house went with the ministry as well as our income. The Lord in His grace took care of the necessities of life – it’s a long story, perhaps for another time. Six months later I found employment in a department store where I worked for three years going from supervising one department to being the sales manager of two stores in Norwich and Great Yarmouth.
During that time a small house group became a growing church meeting in homes, community halls and eventually schools and finally some years later in the Odeon cinema. I joined the ‘Harvest Time Apostolic Team’ and ministered to churches across Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk. As a team we ran both the Dales and Wales Bible weeks and travelled around the country and overseas ministering.
When I left the Harvest Time team, the local church divided and my sphere of ministry with it. Though the process was difficult it was of God to refocus on His call to the city! My first step was to launch ‘Festival Norwich 1990’s’ and ‘Good News for Norwich.’ Followed by years of moving ‘Churches Together in Greater Norwich’ to ‘Transforming Norwich’ (TN) and reforming the organisation to be more inclusive. During that time having the privilege of bringing new ministries into the city, including Celebrate Norwich and Norfolk.
In all this time my heart has been to see the church of the city emerge. A united Body of Christ, based upon the Word of God and guided by the Holy Spirit, with a vision and a passion for the purpose of God in greater Norwich. Made up of congregations, ministries and individuals, all of whom capture the vision, know the call of God and live and work to see its manifestation. Not an organisational unity but a unity of heart and mind with a commitment to the purpose of God in Greater Norwich.
However the challenge facing us is illustrated by a letter to the church in Norwich written at a TN AGM some years ago by a gathering of people from a cross section of denominations and congregations. “I have this against you. Your congregations and denominations separate you from one another and you love to have it so! Independence has become a stronghold which keeps you from one another and prevents My Kingdom purpose from being achieved through you. “(extract)
Notwithstanding that I believe now more than ever, in all my years in Norwich, now is the time for the Kingdom of God to advance. It is time to challenge the status quo even though on the surface it appears to be less likely than ever, but the need is greater than ever. Who I ask is hearing the call? More still who will answer the call? Knowing the timing of God and responding to it is vital if the Lord’s purpose is to be accomplish.
“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not destroy it, but I found none.” Eze 22:30