I met Kev in Lidl’s car park, my first contact with him had been on Facebook when I posted online what I was exploring doing and even though I had not met him before he’d opted in. He was pleased I was visiting Okehampton, and greeted me warmly.
He took me to a random hill outside the town (did worry I was getting kidnapped) and we walked to a vantage point where the whole town was spread out before us. “Our Church has been coming up here to pray for years” he said.
The view was impressive and he explained and pointed out many of the key buildings interspersed with passionate and heartfelt prayers: “this guy can pray” I thought, I love praying with people who are passionate about prayer as their fire and passion is contagious, I needed a bit of that contagion as had been out on the streets the previous evening with the Pirans’ Street Angels and was feeling tired and achy.
Kev it transpired was a local councillor and was really informed about the local area knowing its road names and streets with encyclopaedic knowledge and also knew the opportunities and challenges facing the local area too.
As I heard Kev talk I was reminded of an evening we had held in Bournemouth with the School of Mission and my friend Hilary Bond a local minister had spoken about how prayer and intersession is not an escapist activity but rather draws us deeper and more emotionally into what and who we are praying for. When we truly intercede God also often asks us to become the answer to our prayers and causes us to walk more deeply within our communities, such was clearly the case with Kev.
Kev then pointed out to us a Roman Crossroads where slaves were set free which had obvious gospel parallels and felt like there was a prophetic element too. I have often wondered whether there are Gospel images and Kingdom gems scattered all over the place pointing back to Christ at work in his world.
We then went and wandered around a new housing estate to pray for the people who would be living here. When I was in Bristol I chaired a new housing group with people exploring what to do with their parishes when they would suddenly expand, grow and develop a new demographic, it was one of the most fun groups I did, I loved seeing fellow Church leaders eyes light up with talking about making connections with real people and impacting real communities, one guy Howard used to give every new arrival a welcome hamper and was doing regular community events such as pancake parties etc, another friend Rachel used coffee mornings (such as Macmillan or other charities) to bring people together and on one occasion went around dressed as a giant banana to promote “fair-trade fortnight” and over that fortnight she spoke to many people! It was great too to see the Church ahead of the game, ready and anxious to serve, thinking about welcome and well-being.
Another area Kev was passionate about was the area of outreach to blokes, as so often our Churches have a real gender imbalance and many guys have little or no connection with Church. I remember my friend Mark who did Street Pastors with me giving a doorman called Alan an invite to Alpha, Alan thanked him and said: “cheers mate, I’ll give that to my Mrs!” -which to me sums up the problem! Kev is doing a meal in a golf course with a Christian guy from the TV show Gladiators coming to speak, we prayed for this event.
As I left Kev I realised that over the couple of hours we were together I had gone from feeling tired and grumpy, to energised and fired up about who God was at what I believe he was doing on this tour.