And so the journey progressed. We continued washing cars and our diary was filling up with community member bookings. More volunteers stepped out to help us. It was lovely to be under the sun, playing worship music, praying and fellowshipping together as we worked (it’s such good exercise too, we are getting tanned and superbly toned!) – We continued to pray, praying on our own, as a group, in the middle of the night, in tongues – becoming more and more aware of different aspects of the journey that needed our attention. We prayed for protection for us as a team knowing that as we worked harder and harder and the fundraising took its toll it was likely to take its toll upon us. The last thing we needed was an opening for the evil one to slip in and bring us down from the inside. “Divide and conquer” is one of the evil one’s many tactics. We weren’t going to give him any opportunity to use that against us. I was getting a bit tense and irritable as my body, with its hormonal condition, adjusted to the physical stresses of car washing and the added strain on my already busy routine. We prayed for my food intolerances and the ability to manage them in Korea. God has promised to meet all my needs and has already done so in every way. He will do so now. Prayers protect my heart from worry and anxiety, other tools of the enemy. God doesn’t say “I will meet this need, but not that one”. Whether it be gluten free, lactose free or whatever, it is his responsibility and delight as my father to supply everything that I require. We also discussed the manner in which we would fly to Korea (whether direct or indirect) and the possibility of having the shortfall met by varying financial options which I won’t go into here. We needed God’s wisdom and guidance in these areas. I was skeptical of any means that may rob God of being able to provide for us – an interesting idea since often I was battling the very fear that he wouldn’t. We left the meeting having decided that over the following week we would check the plane prices and if they went up a large amount steadily we would consider buying them on borrowed money in faith.
Donations were slowly coming through from family, friends and supporters of Ashburnham Place. The figure began to rise. We were hopeful and encouraged. It was so wonderful to receive a cheque from a lady we don’t personally know – she said she would continue to pray for us 🙂 These types of prayers, though not an immediate practical help, have paved the way and made all the difference. Tom and Bex offered lifts to volunteers in exchange for a few pounds towards our fund and community members were giving generously as we worked our way through their cars.
Then one day there seemed to be a massive shift in what we were doing. As if we had been struggling through rapids and suddenly arrived in calmer waters. As if a time of testing our desire for this project was over and we were beginning to reap the rewards of our labour.
I went to speak to the Head Chef about us purchasing food for the BBQ we would be putting on at the Triathlon on the 19th June. We originally planned we would buy the burgers and buns out of our money and mark up the price in order to bring in a profit (the old idea of speculate to accumulate) – Then there was a moment when the spirit must have moved because he turned around and said that he could make no promises but he would speak to his suppliers and see whether they would be happy to give us the burgers and buns as a donation. I was over the moon and so were the rest of team Korea 🙂 That became one of our main focuses of prayer as we worked – that hearts would be softened and the donation of the needed foodstuffs would be made. Then whatever we made on the day would be a profit.
We moved on to washing our next car, really encouraged. One of the community members passed and asked if we would wash his car for 50p. He was joking but it did highlight a fact we always knew, our donation fee basis could be open to abuse. If that ever happened we would bless the person and send them on their way with a clean car. We managed to secure a booking from one of the Trustees. To be able to bless someone who is such a blessing to Ashburnham Place was a real coup for us. Once we had finished the car we were working on that day we visited our Justgiving page to find a donation had been made and it was substantial. At this point we were nearing the 1/4 way mark.
The following day Bex and Tom attended a Resource meeting where the fundraising activities were discussed. I longed to be a part of the conversation but as I haven’t moved to the Resource team yet I felt it wasn’t appropriate for me to schmooze in on their meeting. The Head chef appeared and told me the supplier representative would see what he could do – our first heart had been softened. We would know the following Tuesday whether the burgers and buns were ours for the taking (for nothing!) We continued to pray into this. Then another shift happened. The events manger at the Resource meeting suggested having an “Auction of Promises” at the International Buffet evening. She said that she would be happy to host the auction herself and help us gather items that people would bid for. By the end of the afternoon several items had already been secured. Ashburnham Place supporter and personal friend Graham Hudson (who lives up in Manchester) agreed to do a painting for the auction. That afternoon I had the great pleasure of booking a room for Graham as he said he would travel down with the artwork and stay over the night! We felt so blessed! The Events Manager was so motivated and encouraging that we got swept up in her enthusiasm. It was great to have such a force working alongside us. The flier advertising the meal had already been printed but little stickers were made to stick on advertising the “Auction of Promises” – it was here again that I came up against more negativity. Again I was reminded that others would not be as on fire for the project as us. It wasn’t a criticism against us and I quickly reminded myself of that, lest the enemy sow the seed and succeed in convincing me otherwise. Also we were aware as we kept mentioning it at Monday prayers and in mail-outs etc. that the whole thing ran the risk of becoming rather tedious. Yet it is the path we have to walk. We have to be strong and do so despite other people’s feelings. The final blessing of the day (and what an encouraging day it had been!) was that Bex checked the prices of the plane tickets. Now the cheapest we could find was £500 each (several hundred pounds less each than we originally found) 2 of the team members would pay less again as they wouldn’t have so far to travel. With a bit more fundraising under our belt we could almost start buying the tickets. Our situation had never felt more promising than it did at that moment. The reality of what we had been working towards was now within our grasp and no longer a far off dream or hope. It was also interesting to see how God had worked and moved. I thought the focus would be on us raising the money and God working in that area of our journey. I never thought necessarily that God would move the goal posts from the other end and significantly reduce the gap by lessening the amount we needed to raise. God is good!
We continued in prayer, trying to stay in the peace of the “unforced rhythms of grace” – praying in the night and throughout the day. Plodding along and waiting on the Lord.
We did not however have any bookings for the International buffet on the 17th and with an even bigger event happening than originally planned I was starting to get anxious and tetchy. I knew this wasn’t the right attitude to take. I had been up the night before praying into the event (and the burgers!) and tiredness made me more open to attack. I met Bex and the 2 other car washers in a mood that veered between worrying / despairing and trying not to let the feelings stick. This resulted in a quite fidgety and flighty demeanour. The situation worsened when I discovered the prayer meeting we would usually have the following day would have to be cancelled due to work commitments. That was the perfect time to really tackle these issues and do battle in prayer together. As our fundraising stepped up its game our praying together as a team was going out the window (we have since addressed this by deciding to ask several people to be prayer shields for us and pray on our behalf so that the cycle and protection of prayer can keep going) – Bex suggested that we pray as we washed the car, an activity that I did not find easy and my anxiety did not subside. But then something happened. Erica, one of the volunteers was using the hose pipe on the car. By standing back to ensure I didn’t get wet I ended up being in the perfect place to see the sunlight catch the water. A rainbow appeared, covering the bottom half of the car! I shouted “Look Bex, a rainbow, a rainbow!” – Bex was cleaning in a cramped position in the car boot so she wasn’t able to come out and look. But she did shout, “Its a promise!” I wish I could have taken a photo but I was so lost in amazed delight. Peace and happiness descended upon me. God ensured I would be in that place at that moment to see the rainbow appear. He reached through the spirit world into the physical and comforted me with one of his popular physical signs. It was as if he was showing me, “I am not a human being that I make promises and then break them. My promises are sure, faithful, steadfast and everlasting. The covenant and promises that I have made with you will be fulfilled. I am with you” This gave such peace and encouragement that I was able to overcome my current feelings of anxiety and panic. God had soothed my mortal heart once again.
The following day the Head Chef told me the supplier had agreed to donate 8 boxes of burgers and buns for the BBQ. We would need to buy some more with our own money but this went a great way to helping us raise more funds. We have still had no-one sign up for the International buffet. We are however keeping the faith and publicising as much as we can, trusting in his goodness and his love. We know that he will provide the people and give us a good evening – even if a whole coach load of people have to sign up in one go at the last minute! And I am drawing strength from the memory of that rainbow, holding onto it as God’s promise to me and to the rest of the team. That we will see God move and witness his goodness to us in the land of the living. I are stepping up my praying in the run up to the event, knowing that dedication and obedience are pleasing to him.
The picture above is of me and Bex sitting in the window of the Ashburnham Place library as it rains outside. That afternoon there was a downpour as we were sitting and discussing the project. Bex got up and ran downstairs saying “Let’s chase the rainbow!” We ran into each room trying to open the shutters so we could look out and hopefully catch a glimpse of one. Most of the window shutters were too stiff for us to open but in the library we had success. We sat there looking out as the rain fell. Volunteers walked past wet on their way indoors, looking at us curiously as we studied the sky, gazing out into the rain. In the end we didn’t see one but we sat there as one sits at the feet of their father – hopeful, continuing to wait upon the Lord.
Choosing to continue chasing the rainbow.