By the time you read this, God willing, a messy building site will have been transformed into the “new” 121 Albert Road. We have so much to look forward to! Look out for pictures of the new 121 in the next issue of Rapport, along with an explanation of how we plan to have prayer at the very heart of our Community life.
Among the very first visitors who come to stay will be one or two of the Lee Abbey Devon Community. If you’ve read previous issues of Rapport, you will know that so far we have welcomed Tim (a year ago) and Patrick and Billy (last October). Their visits have been a real blessing for us, and we have appreciated them enormously.
Why have these visits been so important? One huge bonus for us has been sharing with fellow believers our experience of living as a Christian “presence” in inner-city Aston. It isn’t all that easy to describe this vision in words: much better to walk around our neighbourhood and give our visitors opportunities to experience life in Aston for themselves. Not many people come as tourists to Aston, so it is a blessing for us to show why we believe passionately in the importance of living here in Community.
A second advantage has been the opportunity to form stronger links with the Devon Community, most of whom might have heard vaguely of “the Households” but not had a chance to find out how different they are from their busy conference centre. With David Rowe’s enthusiasm and strong backing and the willingness of hard-pressed team leaders to release a member of their team, vision has become reality. We are grateful for this commitment by the wider Community.
Our Devon visitors have blessed us by their openness and willingness to plunge into new situations. At our Open Evenings we heard their testimonies of God calling from Uganda, England and New Zealand, and at other times we appreciated their willingness to join in whatever was happening. For example, Tim was conscripted to help with the sound system on our Community Fun Day, while Patrick, serving meals at the local lunch club, was told off roundly by one customer for not having the right change!
Since I came to the Aston Community over four years ago, the different parts of the Lee Abbey Movement now have a much greater sense of togetherness and common purpose – sharing Christ through relationships, wherever we are living. We are immensely grateful for the affirmation given in different ways to the Households (Knowle West just as much as Aston), of which these Devon visits are an important manifestation.