THIS WAS WOLVERHAMPTON | (See my Full 66 City Tour List by Clicking HERE)
THE CONTENTS OF MY HEAD AND HEART
SO DO CHECK BACK-MEANWHILE :
I was awake around 6:00am, journaled, showered, packed and ready for breakfast by 08:00am. I went down for the grub and bumped into a lovely couple up here visiting family and the geezer was from ‘up the road’ from where we were living. We chatted over breakfast about ‘66 Cities’ and arranged to meet up for a beer once I got back. The poor fella was suffering badly from Neuralgia from his Sinus issues. I didn’t offer to pray for him but I did give him my tried and tested cure all for all sinus related issues. I can’t tell you here because it involves lots of cod liver oil, boiling water, bodily contortions, saline and snot, lots of it, but it works. So if you are interested, call me and I will cure you. My years of internet quackery have not been in vain. I can’t make your legs of even length but I am a healer in this area.
Actually, I was on the road pretty soon after breakfast and somehow needed to carve out some time by the end of the week to write up a four page overview of the book of Psalms. So as it was Wednesday, I had hoped to find a church meeting somewhere tonight and then hunker down and study all day. God had other plans, He always does.
I had been warned about Wolverhampton, named just two years ago by the Lonely Planet’s guide as the Fifth worst city on the Planet, indeed they wrote, ‘Wolverhampton is so bad we don’t even have it on this site’. “Oooh, your off to Wolverhampton then….we’ll be praying for you!” Man, I didn’t know what to expect. Nice!
It has been my privilege to have lived some of my life in the USA. I used to love driving down to Florida from Kentucky, passing through the state of Alabama, or as it called itself on the road sign, “Alabama The Beautiful”. Well anyhow, someone needs to give Lonely Planet a slap, because I would suggest those resident ‘black country’ folk change their own city welcome sign to ‘Wolverhampton The Wonderful’, and before some of you ask, no, I have not been on the Wacky Backy. Sure, Wolverhampton has got a long way to go with inner city redevelopment, sure the lovely folks are sometimes hard to understand, but the heart of the city seems healthy and the people are right friendly.
I pulled over to a Maccy D’s somewhere around mid-morning and rang Pastor Jonathan of Wolverhampton Baptist Tabernacle. His name had been given to me by Jeff and his wife of yesterday and when I told him my story and my requests he asked when I would be coming. “I’m here now”.
Now you know, I always say this, but if it was me on the end of the phone when I ring, I probably would not help. What I mean by that, is I would probably suggest someone else help them, which is of course the same thing. Jonathan on the other hand asked me where I was and then told me to “sit tight” as he would make a few calls and send a few emails to see what he could do.
In what seemed like an amazingly short time, Jonathan had lined me up with three visits and three interviews, a tour of Wolverhampton and the possibility of speaking tonight at one of his church groups or at a Brazilian church meeting in his building. And to top it all, he would pop by at Maccy D’s at 11:30am to come and get me. Oh, and I was eating with him and his family at 7pm that evening. Now look, this guy had now sacrificed his day to come and be with me and I knew that before Sunday, he was going to have pull the next ten hours he was gonna spend with me, today out of time he should have been using for other stuff. Nice or what?!
Like I say, I had my plans and God had His. I was going to go with the better one.
Jonathan, true to his word, picked me up to take me to my first appointment. Now, probably one thing Lonely Planet failed to tell people was that drivers in Wolverhampton are worse than New York Cab Drivers! Suffice to say, that following Jonathan around the Wolverhampton ring road was invigorating. When I arrived at the Food Bank, I found angel sweat on the driver’s door of my car, either that, or where I had peed myself had leaked through.
I was now introduced to one of the most passionate Christians you could ever meet on a Wednesday morning. A lovely brother, who in true Wolverhampton style, slid down each extended vowel sound like a big kid on a slow banister. These folks are shifting 3.5 tonnes of food a month to the needy people of Wolverhampton, with each bag of free food containing a letter of ‘Love from Jesus.’ They are growing people of city influence and I can see that they, their ministry and its impact will continue to expand.
So, now we were off again. Jonathan leading the way. The angel sweat had disappeared from the car and as we headed back on to the Wolverhampton road, I found in its place a simple note in gothic script which stated, “You’re on your own!”
So far, everyone I have met is excited about their city. They are hopeful, they are expectant that God is blessing them. Now, I have come across many Christians claiming their city for Jesus and strutting around as if they own it and talking about being ‘gatekeepers’. Many are misled, for it is obvious that they don’t even exercise authority in their families or churches, never mind their cities. However, these folks in Wolverhampton seemed to have a different angle. They were not ‘in the city for the sake of the city’ they were not ‘ruling and reigning in the city to bring in King Jesus’, no, they seemed to be ‘In the city for the sake of their Lord, serving at His behest, and giving Him their best.’ I think this is a subtle but profound place to come from. These folks were servants of God in the city and in real terms, were bringing light into the darkness. It seemed to be working.
Parking in the city centre, it was time for a quick look round. We visited the shops around the MOTH (The Man on The Horse) and saw some Christian street preachers and were hoping to catch sight of some folk from that other evangelizing faith, the Muslim community. They weren’t out today. Again, though the place was ripe and earmarked for redevelopment, it did have a vibrant and open centre; it was a dynamic place and not a dead one. I do think that this place is an open door for whoever would like to come and plant a church.
After our short sojourn, Jonathan took me to meet Steve the Pastor of All Nations, whilst in their 3:16 Café, surprise, surprise, my friend from Tunbridge Wells popped in for a coffee. This guy had gone out of his way to come and meet with me; how wonderful is that! I know that Phil really enjoyed listening to the interview with Steve Uppal (who also gave me a copy of his latest book- cheers mate!).
Jonathan was now the replacement for the angels that had jumped ship on the ring road and he guided me next to meet an Anglican geezer who was pioneering a ministry of Fresh Church in the heart of Wolverhampton. I tell you, I was humbled and truly blessed by the stories this man had to tell.
Jonathan had had to leave to get his kids from school I think, but by the time I had finished with Aaron, it was nearly time to go anyway. You know, we prayed for each other at the end of the meeting, and I had no qualms whatsoever in getting on my knees to do so in Starbucks. Aaron had made this a sacred place. Amazing.
I arrived at Jonathans at 6pm and was treated to a family meal with the family; his wife, two pickles and a dog like Nana, all made me welcome. I wasn’t Billy no mates tonight that’s for sure.
Shortly after 7pm, we left for the Bible study group, where once again I was welcomed and allowed to share from 2nd Thessalonians. The folks seemed really blessed. I know I was.
I was back at the B & B around 10:15pm and by the time I had lined up the videos, I just collapsed into bed. I don’t think anyone can live at this pace forever, but you know, despite all our present slow-down trending, I am finding God is IN the busyness. I thank Him for that.
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