Blog

Now is the time

Lisa Mason

Written by Lisa Mason
on 9th November 2021

I had my eldest daughter in a pushchair, my youngest wrapped in a sling on my chest and I was walking up a cobbled path towards Bradford city centre. Under an archway sat a lady with an accordion, serenading shoppers and workers as we passed, waiting for our appreciation to materialise in the form of coins in her hat. I caught her eye, she smiled a beautiful, gap-toothed grin that melted my heart and in that instant, I fell in love with the city of Bradford. I walked the streets in a daze, marvelling at the beauty and brokenness I witnessed all around me. Surely this was a city where Jesus loved to be.

A seed was planted in my heart that morning but it remained dormant for several years as God grew the Oak church and our family. Until one day, in our kitchen, I casually said to Chris ‘I really love Bradford, I wonder if God wants to speak to us more about that city.’

We asked God to speak.

That week, I walked in the city centre and felt led to the words of Isaiah 54:11-13

‘Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,
your foundations with lapis lazuli.
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones.
All your children will be taught by the Lord,
and great will be their peace.

It was a grey, drizzly day but as I prayed, the rainbow in the sky above me was reflected in the mist of the fountains all around me. God wanted to bring out his colours in this city, to rebuild it so that it would reflect the beauty of his kingdom.

A friend sent Chris a word - ‘Now is the time.’ We viewed a house in Bradford and had our offer accepted that same day, by the weekend we’d sold our own home in Leeds. This was happening and we still didn’t really know why.

The next few years were costly. Though only three miles down the road from our old home, we felt as if we’d moved to a different country. Every word in the bible that spoke about wilderness and deserts resonated deeply in my heart as I wrestled with loneliness and the pain of leaving a vibrant, loving community and school. But every now and then God whispered to our hearts; ‘I am with you.’ Sometimes patiently, sometimes not, we waited for Him to speak again.

And then it happened, a sense that I’d had since the UK referendum that God was shaking our nation grew ever stronger. A virus erupted, the world shut down and I felt challenged and provoked that God was on the move in His church, shaking us out of our comfort, calling us to depend more on His Spirit and less on ourselves.

Then that word dropped in our inbox again ‘Now is the time.’ Until that moment we did not know that we had been waiting for it but when it came, we knew exactly what it meant. Time to go.

As we prepared to plant a new church in the city of Bradford, God kept connecting us with people who were talking about disciple making movements. We recognised the same conversations and longings that we had shared with the leadership team as we planted the Oak, how to build an authentic, loving community of people that are sharing the gospel with each other and the people around them. But this was a different context and we knew that we needed different methods.

God was challenging us personally to consider how radical our lives really were. How much time were we spending in prayer both privately and corporately? How much contact did we have each week with people who didn’t yet know Jesus? Were we leading people to Jesus and teaching others to do the same? When we read the bible, did we do what God’s word said? Did we talk about God’s word with one another, our children, the people we encountered every day?

Over the next few months, we will use this blog to explore the principles of disciple making movements that we have been learning about and, more importantly, seeking to implement in our own lives. We hope you recognise some of them from watching the way that we live!

And now, over to you. When did you first hear God speaking to you about his heart for the city of Bradford? What drew you to this city? How is God challenging you personally as you enter into the process of planting a church?

We’d love to hear from you - email your thoughts to us at:
lisa@gracecity.co.uk or chris@gracecity.co.uk


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