Accidentally Luke Tenning it in Winchester

Accidentally Luke Tenning it in Winchester 1

Have you ever heard of someone “doing a Luke 10”? They’ve become a bit of a thing in our circles over the last few years.

 In Luke 10 we read how Jesus paired up 72 of his followers and gave them some specific instructions. He told them:
  1. Ask the “chief farmer” to send workers out into the “harvest”, then go.
  2. Don’t take extra stuff, whether a purse, bag or sandals. Don’t spend time chatting to everyone passing by.
  3. If you find people of peace and hospitality, bless them.
  4. Eat whatever you’re given.
  5. Heal their sick people and tell them the kingdom of God has arrived in town.
  6. If people reject you, move on.

Stories of similar excursions are told in Matthew 10, Mark 6 and Luke 9.

Our church runs a thing called Men in Training, the aim of which is to train young guys in their faith, discipleship and living the adventure of Jesus. This time Andy and I were invited to join them on a Luke 10 mission somewhere in the UK.

The key ingredient of Luke 10s is their simplicity and dependence on the Holy Spirit. We planned to not plan, and we were given strict instructions to not take money but just to pack a sleeping bag and roll mat, and we packed just a little food and booked a minibus and seven-seater van for the trip who-knows-where. When on these missions there are no guarantees where you’ll end up, what kind of accommodation you’ll have or even if you’ll eat much. We always expect to sleep rough at some point.

So on a Friday evening 15 of us gathered at a local house for a full English, which was potentially our last decent meal before we came back. That evening we headed to a workshop nearby in which we worshipped and prayed before I had the privilege of leading a bible study on humility. We had our first taste of rough-ish sleeping that night on the workshop’s concrete floor.

sleepy-busIn the morning after cereal we were all sent out to pray on our own for 15 minutes to ask God where we should go. Writing our intuitions on slips of paper it turned out three of us felt led to go to Portsmouth and two of us to Southampton, so that led the way. We headed off.

I can’t have got an amazing sleep on the workshop’s concrete floor because I soon dozed off. A few hours later I was woken by grinding sounds and the rumble of our tyres on the white line of the hard shoulder. Our gearbox had konked out.

broken-downWe were on the M3 just 26 miles from Portsmouth, and just south of Winchester. A couple of us prayed for the bus (what spiritual gift would that be, healing?) and we considered walking to Portsmouth, but we soon decided to go with the flow and see what the Spirit had in store for us in Winchester.

The journey there took us past a big old Anglican church which was thankfully open and empty. It was a great spot to have lunch, pray and wait for those who had waited for the recovery vehicle, before walking into Winchester.

inside-churchJesus talked about meeting “a person of peace”, who already lives at the destination town or village, offers hospitality and is open to the gospel. The Samaritan woman Jesus met at Jacob’s well (John 4) is a prime example of such a person of peace. On the walk in to town I was wondering how one’s supposed to find a person of peace these days? Should we just knock on people’s doors and ask them “are you a person of peace?” Can we look them up at Jesus approached that Samaritan woman and had some killer words of knowledge, but I had no idea how we’d meet people in their homes, or even what a person of peace looks like. I asked God and held the thought.

After waiting out a downpour in a library we hit the streets. It’s funny how joyful and chilled you feel when you’re doing something a little mad and God-dependent with a group of like-minded guys, maybe that’s a big part of the attraction for us, even considering the cold and rain. We found a shopping precinct and the 15 of us sang and worshipped for a bit. Very soon people started stopping to watch us or wave: couples, a homeless guy, shop workers and others. We had conversations with bystanders, and one lad watching us gave his heart to Jesus, which was fantastic.

After about 45 minutes a bloke with a bike started chatting to Joz. “You know what you’re doing?” He asked us. “You’re scattering the enemy, aren’t ya? Praise scatters the enemy. It’s amazing how much you guys have changed the atmosphere in this area”. This guy was clearly a Christian, and a very enthusiastic, sincere one at that. The man, Mark, introduced himself and when he heard what we were doing on the streets he invited us to his home for tea and coffee.

“Hello love” he spoke into his phone as we walked to his house. “Got some friends coming over, fifteen of ’em. Put the kettle on.” Fortunately his wife had just made some cake too!

Their welcome was fantastic. They’d only just moved into their house for two weeks, and they welcomed us like we were stars. Some people are just nice, hospitable people, but these guys truly oozed loving hospitality. Not satisfied with just giving us drinks they went out shopping and we contributed some of the last bacon we had left over. That meal was delicious. Soon their 17 year old son was home and flitting around just like his dad, offering us seconds and refills of tea. While we ate the meal his wife cooked us a delicious apple pie for pudding. We were bowled over, so blessed.

As we were finishing up Mark came through from the kitchen and informed us he’d consulted his wife and they’d like to offer us their home to stay in for the night. Wow! I realised our Person of Peace had found us, and maybe God had led us to Winchester through a breakdown to teach us we could trust Him to work out a plan despite, or even through, our apparent problems.

sat-nightWe asked Mark if he’d come out evangelising with us if we slept on the streets, and his enthusiasm was undented. Seeing the opportunity to get another guy on board with our mission it was decided on the spot to turn down his generous offer and still sleep somewhere on the streets. To me it looks like Jesus expects us to stay in people’s houses (Luke 10:7), but the challenge had been set, so off we went.

We engaged in some more evangelism and worship on the streets that night, and Mark was ace. At one point we were given some money by some confused clubbers, thinking we were busking.


Eventually bedding down in a multi-storey car park Mark and his son continued to look after us, with his son cycling to and from their house to fetch bottles of water and biscuits for us.

The next morning we headed back to Mark and co’s house, where we were greeted with an amazing spread for breakfast (of course!). We walked together to a local church for the morning service, back for lunch then home.

01It’s amazing how it works. We consistently find that when we plan to simply follow the lead of the Holy Spirit He leads us into very unexpected places. When we accept a bit of hardship we find a surprising joy. Problems like broken down minibuses aren’t really problems when the Holy Spirit’s in charge, nothing takes Him off guard. The blessings bless us more, the brotherhood is more brotherhoody and our faith is always more faithful by the end of these excursions.

Well, this has been a bit of a rushed post as there’s so much to tell, but I hope you can pick up the adventure of it all. Who’s up for coming on the next Luke 10 mission then?