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Nunc Dimittis

posted 6 Aug 2014, 18:01 by Peter Shields   [ updated 6 Aug 2014, 18:15 ]
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it happened.

Swinging Gorilla
Maybe it was whilst riding the double-decker bus packed with street-wise, life-savvy kids – buzzing with excitement and anticipation. Maybe it was when the pantomime gorilla unexpectedly swung through a trap door in the ceiling right into the middle of the auditorium. Maybe it was during the sound of pure, contagious joy radiating from the 300 children who were singing, laughing and screaming in utter delight. Maybe it was when – at the sound of a whistle - the whole building instantly transformed from a maelstrom of noise to complete & utter tranquilly. Maybe it was when the Bible lesson was taught with such passion, conviction & relevance that I can still remember to this day – almost 20 years later – the memory verse they were teaching about: “In all the work you do, work the best you can” Colossians 3v23

What I do know is that one Saturday morning, in a deprived Liverpool neighbourhood, in a converted postal depot (home of the UK’s first ever Kidz Klub) - God changed my life FOREVER.

That day is one of the few occasions in my life when I know for certain I was discerning the unmistakable, ‘still, small voice’ of the Holy Spirit. Amidst all the riotous noise & fun He spoke to my heart saying, “Who will do this for the children where you live?” And my heart replied, “Here, I am Lord. Send me.”

Even recalling the occasion today has the power to bring tears to my eyes.

Nearly half of the intervening 20 years I’ve spent in Bradford. I’ve spent them trying to reach as many of the city’s children as I possibly could with that same recipe of unadulterated fun, unconditional love & divine encounter. And, of course, not forgetting the ‘secret’ ingredient of this ministry’s success – making 1,000’s upon 1,000’s of personal, home visits for every child we work with. Lots & lots of things have changed – the name, the methods, the people – but the heart remains exactly the same. Our salt hasn’t lost its saltiness!

But success without a successor is short-lived – “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12v24). So after much soul searching and almost 10 years serving, I’ve decided the time is right to step aside from leading ROCK. I’ll still be a patron of the charity and banging the drum loudly for all that it stands for. But in the driving seat of ROCK from now on is Rachel Foster – a young woman who first started volunteering with us as a teenager 10 years ago! We’ve carefully appointed her, but more importantly is the sense of God’s anointing on her. I’m confident this is an appointment which will “bear much fruit” as ROCK grows and matures.

Taking the leadership of an organisation can be a daunting task. But there was a promise the Lord gave me as I came to Bradford to establish ROCK all those years ago, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the LORD is finished correctly”. He’s certainly proved faithful to His word. I’d ask you to pray for Rachel to experience the truth & assurance of this promise for herself.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who has demonstrated such incredible kindness & support to me personally and to the ministry this past decade – through prayer, through finances, through practical help or through words of encouragement. As I pass on the baton of leadership I hope all of you will pass on the baton of your support. Please will you renew and refresh your commitment to ROCK’s mission to Reach Out, Coach & Keep children with the life-changing good news of Jesus Christ.