Singing in the rain!

On Saturday 27th August at 3pm, the Holloway Youth Department hosted an outdoor community concert in the church courtyard with the sole purpose of providing an opportunity for the young people to witness to their local community. The concert kicked off with a rousing rendition from the Holloway drum corps quickly drawing members of the public. After 15 minutes, the clouds gathered and rain began to pour! The audio visual team quickly brought in the technical equipment before the rain could do any serious damage! Everyone seated in the courtyard, grabbed their seats and dashed into the foyer for shelter, including members of the public that had joined us. The question on everybody’s minds was, “What are we going to do now?” Wendy Baptiste, the MC for the concert, did the opening prayer in the foyer and after some deliberation; the decision was reached that the concert should go on despite the rain! The drum corps returned to the stage and continued their set, completely unphased by the drizzling rain. The crowd returned to the courtyard with their chairs, equipped with umbrellas and people started huddling together in small groups. Although the weather was not as we had hoped, spirits remained high. The praise team, consisting of Irene Onek, Tracy Castor, Ranette Prime, Godwin Ogbeide and Michael Edwards, followed the drum corps with a lively song service, accompanied by Seth Dantzie on the saxophone. Meanwhile, the witnessing team were hard at work, distributing black cards advertising the live streaming service, church leaflets explaining who we are and ‘Final events’ DVDs by Doug Batchelor (Amazing facts). The team were sporting ‘Speak to me’ badges and were dressed in casual clothing. Jane Merchant tirelessly gave out drinks to members of the public. 100 DVDs were given out in total and the witnessing team kept asking for more! Items were rendered by David Ogbeide, Michelle, Sheena from Newcastle and Praise choir, all under umbrellas! James Castor, Wuni-banna Sesay and Joseph Uhuka did a powerful mime to the song ‘Praise you in the storm’ which was particularly apt considering the weather. Streamers and confetti made this mime a visual treat and really drew the crowds. The trio persevered although they were getting wet from the puddles on stage and appeared to be exerting a lot of physical strength as the streamers became heavier the more wet they became! Pastor Andrew Davis presented a short, thought provoking talk asking the public to consider the question ‘What if God really does exist?’ Andrew was later joined by a drunk man on stage but the potentially tricky situation was diffused when Andrew put his arm around him and told him that he was liked both “down here and up there”! It was heart-warming to see both members of the public and church members standing for long periods of time in the rain. One attendee later said that when Brother Bonner prayed for the community, those affected by the recent riots and our political leaders, people across the road by the bus stop bowed their heads as they joined the church in prayer. It just made me think that the harvest truly is plentiful. Comments received after the concert were: “I really enjoyed the concert, the rain made it more fun!” “I was really blessed by the praise and worship!” “We definitely have to do this again!” Thoughts from some members of the witnessing team: It was my first time doing street witnessing so I was slightly nervous however, the atmosphere of the concert definitely helped. People were willing to stop and talk with me, to take the DVDs and to stand and watch the concert. Most people I spoke to asked me what Seventh Day Adventists were and what made us different from other Christians. One particular young girl stayed for the whole concert despite the rain and I took her details and she said she would definitely come again. Another man was a Christian himself and was with a group of teenagers who were all ex drug addicts who found Christ. That in itself was motivation for me to throw more energy into witnessing. His story really touched me. Street witnessing was an amazing experience and something I would definitely do again. Hayley McKenzie-Sealy, Holloway church Although it was my first time witnessing I was prepared thanks to Costa Vaggas and his workshop. The people that did stop enjoyed the music and said they will visit next time so I am looking forward to see them soon. Need to do another outreach programme as soon as!                                                                                                                                                                            Anesha West, Holloway church My witnessing experience was one that I really enjoyed. Even though quite often I was faced with rejection, I felt very privileged to share my faith with those that did stop. I look forward to the next opportunity! Alec Gage, Holloway church I found it exciting to be a part of the witnessing effort and whilst being shy, people were generally receptive to find out a little about the church. I was really encouraged by the conversation I had with a young man who told me how he came from a life of drugs to being a Christian after experiencing a similar event. It emphasised to me that God uses our efforts and the more we give, the more opportunity God has to act through us. Michael Edwards, Stoke Newington Church The experience really brought meaning to the verse “Preach the word in season and out of season”! The Youth department will be doing this again so watch this space! Tracy Castor, Youth Leader

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