‘2021 has been a remarkable year for The Message and despite the continuing difficulties and uncertainties caused by the pandemic, I truly believe it’s been our best year yet – a year where God spoke, and new ministries were birthed.
Throughout the year, people kept pointing me back to Joshua 1:9 which has become our verse for the year and the touchstone scripture for our upcoming Festival Manchester in July next year:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
And what an encouragement this verse has been this year as we’ve pressed into God and stepped out in faith. Here are a few of my highlights from this last year:
The year kicked off with another national lockdown for us here in the UK but that didn’t stop us gathering together online and pressing into God’s vision for our ministry. We hit the ground running in January and launched a brand new Eden team into Wythenshawe Park (Manchester), and held our first ever Global Advance Day online where we doubled the size of the movement with 460 brand new groups launching on one day! That’s 460 new groups of people equipping, encouraging and resourcing men and women right across the world in their evangelism. Amongst Wolves also kicked off their #ChooseToLive campaign, speaking directly into the challenges many young people are facing around mental health, self-harm and suicide. I truly believe this campaign is a rescue mission of the gospel, saving countless lives and pointing young people to the hope they can find in Jesus.
Also speaking gospel-packed truths into the lives of young people, Brightline released an epic new track, Lonely, in February, and our Respect ME teams continued to churn out powerful The Message Today online resources for school kids on the hot topics they’re facing like bullying, mental health and self-worth. We also saw the rollout of Community Groceries across the UK beginning with the opening of our second store in Salford.
In March we launched five new groceries into Bolton, Wigan, Hexham, Sheffield and Ragworth helping to provide families in these areas with fresh and affordable food and wrap around support and courses, all whilst reducing food waste, helping the environment and most crucially pointing people to the love, hope and peace Jesus offers – and as a result, we’ve seen hundreds of families respond to the gospel and get plugged into the local church!
And it’s not just through our groceries that we’re seeing an amazing harvest for the kingdom! In April, we translated our Advance Group Mentoring Guide resource into 12 new languages, distributed this around the world and saw even more new Advance Groups launch – many starting from beautiful men and women around the globe reaching out to us asking to be trained and resourced to share the love of Jesus with those around them.
The fruit from Advance has continued to grow, and in May we saw many young people across London and the North East gather together and get equipped to share the gospel with their mates through Advance Youth The Gathering. May also saw our first Love Where U Live mission of 2021 taking place in Merseybank (Manchester) and our Wales hub hosted a powerful week of prayer for Cardiff Prayer Week where leaders from across the city gathered to lift up one voice in prayer.
In June, our team in Wales also ran a Love Where U Live mission week in Grangetown (Cardiff) sharing the love of Jesus in word and deed with hundreds of families. At the end of a busy week of tidying gardens, litter picking and praying for their neighbours, the team saw over 550 people come along to a family fun day where many responded to the gospel! We also launched yet another grocery into Netherton where we signed up over 100 new members in one day.
July was a precious month for me as we held our Love Wythenshawe mission week here in Manchester where we took to the streets sharing the love of Jesus, doing garden make-overs, running youth sessions from the Message Bus and delivering meals to families. At the end of the week, we gathered 500 people for a Fun Day where over 100 people responded to the gospel and got plugged into the local church!
Whilst for many charities, August is a quieter month, here at The Message we had more Love Where U Live events in Blackpool and we launched a new Eden team into the Central Drive area of Blackpool, young people across the nation took park in our Advance The Scattering youth mission, stepping out in faith sharing the gospel with those around them., and we had 85 young people come along to our Genetik Summer School where they explored and pressed into their God-given talents. At the end of the summer school, they put on a show for their family and friends and 27 people responded to the gospel – how epic is that!
In September we welcomed our brand-new cohort of Message Academy students who are with us for 10 months pressing into God and exploring his calling for their lives. We also saw our 10:10 Projects with the Scotland Message Bus get back on the road sharing the gospel in fun and relevant ways with young people, we launched our first ever Eden team into Chemnitz (Germany) and another Eden team into Parkfield and Oxbridge (Stockton), SoulBox released their epic new track, New Me, and we took on three apprentices in our Yorkshire Hub as part of the Government’s Kickstarter Programme.
Things kicked up another gear again in October as we took the No More Knives Tour to schools across Salford challenging young people to say ‘no’ to knife crime and we saw 150 of them accept Jesus into their lives! We also opened another Community Grocery in Lincoln and launched our Eden Top Valley (Nottingham) team which has already hit the ground running with outreach events for the young people in the area.
November saw our biggest ever grocery launch as we opened the All Nations Community Grocery in Telford and signed up almost 200 families on the first day alone – rising to over 1,000 since then. And over in Blackburn and Darwen more than 14,000 young people heard the equipping message of hope from our three week No More Knives there which culminated in a huge gig at Blackburn Cathedral where 232 young people responded to the gospel! Off the back of this, band OTC wrote a powerful track to speak into the lives of young people which you can listen to here.
And finally, in December, we’ve had an epic month of mission sharing the gospel with thousands of families through carol services across our 11 Community Groceries! In Wythenshawe, we gathered over 1,500 grocery members for a Christmas Extravaganza packed with music from our bands and the gospel message, and saw more than 350 people respond to the gospel and want to come along to church! Over in Wales, our hub team and Brightline led car park carol services where 44 people said ‘yes’ to Jesus, and further afield we sent Ben Jack, Head of Advance, to Kenya where he shared the heart of Advance with church leaders from across Africa and representatives from 30 nations pledged to raise up and equip evangelists through Advance Groups! Our prisons teams have also been busy delivering over 4,000 Bags Of Hope to those in prison this Christmas sharing the gospel and showing them how loved they are.
And that’s just a snapshot of what’s been going on! Throughout the year, thousands of young people have tuned into our online Message Live resources, every week our prisons and enterprise teams are seeing people accept Jesus into their lives and our Message Buses are out on the road giving young people a safe and fun place to be whilst also hearing about the life-giving truth of the gospel.
I’m blown away by all God has done this year and have so much faith for all that we’ll do next year, including Festival Manchester in the summer!’