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Since becoming a Christian 28 years ago, Linda has devoured books and biographies on revival. She’s had a passion to see the United Kingdom revived and that has been her prayer and her desire since she was a teenager.
But, two years ago, in November 2018, God shook her and changed what she was interceding for in the nation. At a youth conference a second-generation Asian man stood up and began to preach. It was less what he said that impacted her and more what he symbolised that God used to speak powerfully to her in the session. Linda had been a Christian for 26 years and this was the first time she had seen someone like her, being given space to share on a platform that size, addressing nearly a thousand young people. As she listened, it was as though God was revealing scars on her heart she didn’t even realise were there. Through the Spirit, God poured a healing balm on those scars. She also received a revelatory picture: a thousand white doves bursting from her chest and filling the auditorium.
After that conference, God awoke her to something new. He showed her that instead of just praying for revival, she was to pray for the Church and for there to be a revelation of the Church in all of her beauty. That means people of all backgrounds being given space and opportunity to share with the Church body of what Jesus has done to transform and change their lives.
She started to pray this for the Church, for there to be an awakening that it is more than just one demographic. The Church is not just a single group, it’s not just men, or women, or married couples, or singles. It’s not just one ethnic group or one academic level – she is beautiful and radiant because she is all of us together, united as one body in Christ. He is the Head and the Church is His. Together we are powerful, radiant and beautiful. In fact, by not allowing different groups and different voices to share, the Church does herself a disservice as she doesn’t allow herself to see all the beauty and the fullness of the body of Christ.
The revelation at the conference did something deep in her. Linda realised that there is a need to create spaces for people who might feel they’re on the margins, so that their voices are heard. The reason it’s important is because the body of Christ is made up as much of them as it is of anyone else. Together the Church demonstrates something different to the world by drawing the eye of the world to her groom, Jesus. The Church in all her beauty shows the world a different way of being: it’s not about self-seeking, it’s about allowing others a space to flourish; it’s not about tick-box political correctness, it’s about a God who is calling people from every nation to bow before Him. He has made us all different, precious and beautiful and we are all created with something to contribute to the body. If this is how He has made us, then we need to hear the challenge to make room for others who are different to us and to look out for leadership in people who don’t fit the mould we’re used to. We need to be challenged to release people who do things differently and, sometimes, not to our taste. The richness of the body of Christ is in the fact that she’s different, it’s what makes us beautiful.
So, if you are a leader in a church, look for people hidden away in the margins. Seek them out, give them space, value what they say and share. It might be different to what you’re used to but it’s valid, valuable and it needs to be shared. We miss out when we don’t have all the voices from the different people in our churches. We want people to show us God’s mothering heart, the heart that longs to gather the wandering like chicks (Matthew 23:37) as much as we want to see the father heart of God. We want to be the Church in all her radiant beauty.