They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Isaiah 61: 4
If you live in London, you will no doubt be aware of the terrible tragedy that occurred in Grenfell Tower on 14th of June when a fire spread rapidly through the building, killing at least 80, displacing many and traumatising countless more. What you may not be aware of, are the many ways God has been at work in this community.
Prayers for partnership
Though we didn’t have a missionary placed in north Kensington at the time of the fire, we’d worked in the area before, knew there was much need in this wealthy London borough and had prayed for how to meet it. We’d begun to explore partnerships by forming relationships with local Christian leaders - Jamie Sewell of the Message Trust/Eden and Steve Divall of St Helens Church - which we later saw paved the way for the quick coming together of the day of prayer after Grenfell and enabled us to meet some of the financial need of the small churches in the area.
So on a grey overcast morning, along with three members of Lighthouse Community Church, twelve of our west London team spent the day walking the streets near Grenfell, hearing from leaders, and praying for them and their churches. Jaqueline Brown, pastor of Lighthouse for the past 21 years was our guide.
Prayers for comfort
Then we went to St Helen’s Church and met with Steve, vicar there for 11 years, and Yvette Williams MBE, who’s in his congregation. Yvette talked about how churches have been central places of influence in this area, particularly for the Afro-Caribbean community when they first came as immigrants. As a result, the church leaders know each other well and meet as a group, Together for God. Yvette is one of the founders of Justice for Grenfell, a group formed to make sure the families are compensated for their terrible losses and authorities are held to account for failing to keep the building safe. She spoke of the pain of going to many funerals. Some coffins are empty since remains haven’t been identified – and may never be. We thank God that the church leaders in North Kensington were already united before the tragedy struck.
pray for deepeR relationships among leaders
Pray that the God of all comfort would provide deep comfort in the midst of so much grief
Prayers for provision
We next stopped at the Tabernacle Christian Centre, whose modest sanctuary is now a relief centre, providing clothing, toiletries, and dry foods to 90 families who survived the fire but lost everything. Pastors Paulette and Derrick Wilson lead this small church. Though they’re concerned about being able to keep paying their mortgage, they are laying down their lives to provide tangible help to those desperately in need. So far, no money has come from the Council. Volunteers - some from as far as Bristol - have helped, even sleeping on the floor of the church hall surrounded by bales of nappies and dry milk and tinned soup. It’s truly a labour of love done in Jesus’ name.
Praise God for THE FAITHFULNESS OF Pauline & Derrick, their staff and volunteers to these 90 families
Pray for the funds NEEDED TO COVER Tabernacle Church'S mortgage
Pray for stamina AS THIS NEED takES a huge emotional toll on the care givers
After lunch, we made our way to Latymer Christian Centre, passing scores of yellow ribbons, posters, photos and other mementoes of remembrance - a living memorial to those who died in the fire. The Centre, home to Latymer Community Church, was a focal point of gathering and support for residents and survivors during and after the tragedy. We’re hoping to recruit a missionary to serve there in the spring of 2018. Jackie Blanchflower, the leader at Latymer church since 2003, is also a member of the Resident’s Association. She said that 100-150 people are now turning up for these meetings seeking answers. Managing the array of emotions, demands, and expectations is a huge challenge.
Pray FOR the right missionary FOR north Kensington.
Pray for the churches and leaders as they comfort the grieving, conduct funerals, seek to provide leadership and care for those displaced and traumatised.
Pray for spiritual openness & THAT many would put their faith in the Lord Jesus as a result
Reflecting on our time in north Kensington, I was struck by how God is very present there, through the faithfulness of his people, in the midst of great pain and suffering. May he continue to show us glimpses of his glory here and in the rest of London. God is here and he is actively at work, making all things new.