Day of Transformation

Reflecting on a Day of Divine Transformation

Our friend Nick Graves, who is a pastor in a south London council estate, has written here before about how God has been leading him to form deeper relationships in his community. Indeed Nick’s journey is an example of how God works to reshape ministry. In this piece, he continues his story, in which you will see how important patient relationship building is, and how it can yield very beautiful fruit. You can also hear him speaking about how his church rediscovered its neighbourhood, on our podcast, here

As I reflect on the remarkable events of Sunday, July 23rd, a day marked by baptisms and dedications, I am filled with a deep sense of wonder and gratitude. It has been a transformative journey since we relaunched our Sunday worship gatherings in March, moving back to Sunday gatherings after a period of midweek meetings. This transition was not just about changing our schedule but about rediscovering our mission and discerning God’s calling in our community.

In our journey of discernment, we immersed ourselves in dwelling on God’s Word, seeking to understand where He was inviting us to join Him in His work. We are a small gathering, yet we have seen an encouraging proportion of our attendees drawn to us through our social supermarket, ‘Food Stop.’ One of these attendees is Megan, whose journey with us is a testament to the unexpected ways God works.

When Megan first appeared on our radar, she seemed to us a challenging presence—loud, disruptive, and seemingly lacking personal awareness. However, she surprised us all by announcing her intention to join our newly launched ‘Lunch Church,’ a Sunday gathering centered around a shared meal of pizza and salad. The announcement was met with a mixture of surprise and apprehension among our team, as we had been dwelling on Acts 16, where Paul’s journey led to the unexpected encounter with Lydia, the first European convert to Christianity. In my prayers, I felt God impressing upon me that Megan was our Lydia—though certainly not the Lydia I had imagined.

Embracing Megan and her family, we discovered a woman of profound faith, though deeply scarred by life’s challenges and routinely ignored by previous churches. Her prayer for me one Sunday was the most beautiful I had ever heard, and her daughter’s spontaneous dance of worship deeply moved our congregation. Megan’s ability to connect with those in difficult situations became evident when she brought Sally, a young, struggling mother, to our community. Megan’s support for Sally, speaking into her life with a unique understanding, exemplified the kind of ministry that truly reflects Christ’s love.

A few weeks ago, Megan and Sally approached me with a request that initially filled me with dread. However, their announcement that Sally had committed her life to Jesus and Megan had re-committed her life to Jesus and they both desired baptism, along with the dedication of their children, was a moment of divine revelation. Without any formal altar call or gospel message, the Holy Spirit had been at work in their lives, leading them to this profound decision. Shirley, another member of our community from ‘Food Stop,’ also requested to dedicate her newborn at the same time.

Preparing Megan and Sally for their baptisms was one of the most joyful and fulfilling experiences of my ministry. Their readiness and eagerness were evident, and I realized that my role was simply to join in what God was already doing in their lives. The service on Sunday was a beautiful chaos, filled with the presence of God. It was informal, with cafe-style seating, endless refills of hot drinks, and an atmosphere of relaxed participation. Children cried, candidates stepped out for a last-minute cigarette, and conversations happened at seemingly inopportune moments, but through it all, God’s presence was tangible.

After the service, a spirit of celebration pervaded. Prosecco flowed, fried chicken, rice and peas and a seemingly endless flow of cake were shared, and the sunshine added to the joy of the occasion. Our new prayer room in the garden became a place of quiet reflection and ministry. It was here that my church secretary and I were able to support a friend of Megan’s who was struggling with her job, offering a moment of pastoral care amidst the festivities.

One particularly memorable moment was when Shirley’s aunt, a serious-looking Jamaican lady, approached me. She had come to see for herself the church that Shirley had described. Her face brightened, and she told me, “You’re cool, man,” words that will stay with me for a long time. That day was filled with healing and God’s presence, a day when our church team stepped up and led with grace and confidence. My wife’s decision to assist me with the baptisms was a personal joy, bringing a new level of confidence to our ministry.

This day reinforced our belief that when we take the time to discern where God is at work, however unlikely, unusual, or challenging the circumstances, we meet Him there. Our task is simply to be present where He is, with the people He is calling us to serve. Sunday, July 23rd, was a day of divine transformation, a testament to God’s surprising and wonderful ways.

Nick Graves

Nick is the Pastor of Old Lodge Lane Baptist Church, Purley in South London

This story is featured in the Summer 2024 edition of the T4CG Newsletter.