“I’VE never experienced so much joy and life in Foleshill,” said Nick Sweetland, describing the atmosphere in Foleshill during a recent joint churches mission to the area. Nick, who was bought up in neighbouring Bedworth, said: “I’ve walked through Foleshill many times and it has often seemed a sad and lonely place.”
“I believe a light was lit in Foleshill,” said Ruth Ward, another team member. “People were being drawn to the God of love during the three day mission.”
Foleshill is an inner-city district just north-east of Coventry city centre; according to the 2011 Census, just over 50% of residents are Asians and about 33% are white British; 38% are Muslim, 6% are Hindu, 8% are Sikh and 27% are Christian. Recently, a significant number of refugees from Africa and the Middle East have moved into the area – as well as large numbers of eastern European migrants.
The mission consisted of three days of evangelism, an all-night of prayer and a joint-church gospel event in a marquee in local Edgwick Park.
“I don’t enjoy driving in Foleshill!” joked the mission’s evangelism co-ordinator, Iain Gorrie. “The roads can be manic. But there was a real anointing of the Holy Spirit on the mission team, and people in Foleshill were very open to listening to the gospel – the good news about Jesus. We just went onto the streets to love people with God’s love, and we found we carried a real confidence in the life-changing power of Jesus. I went evangelising with a young Romanian Christian, Dani, and we talked to lots of Romanians about Jesus. It was great to see Dani growing in confidence as we worked together.”
Central to the mission was an all-night prayer meeting led by members of YWAM (Youth With a Mission). Ailsa Jamieson, a resident of Foleshill, said:
“The key to the fruitfulness of the mission was the praying that went on beforehand. On Friday the all-night worship drew the presence of God. I felt God touch me; God was here. I believe the prayer and worship altered the spiritual atmosphere in Foleshill.”
Andy Crisp, event co-ordinator, said: “I really appreciated seeing the church work together and entrusting different aspects of the mission to different people according to their abilities. I was grateful for the help given by other churches, too. I sometimes feel that, as Christians, we can be a bit shy about our faith while other religions are much more upfront about theirs. That’s one of the reasons I was so pleased when we unfurled the ‘Jesus is Lord’ banner over the top of the marquee.”
Iain explained: “In our mission team meetings, different people shared ‘words of knowledge’, intuitions given by the Holy Spirit about people and situations, and we followed these up as we evangelised. We were walking down a certain road in Foleshill and house ‘number 68’ came to my mind. We knocked on the door and there was no answer, but opposite was a shop and we went in. We told people that we were Christians and God had led us there; one of the women working there shared that her husband was having an affair, and we were able to listen and later prayed for her.
“In Foleshill there are a variety of religions. We didn’t want to say, ‘We think you are wrong’. Rather we wanted to love people, to show there is Something better – we wanted to demonstrate the humanity of Jesus.”
Team member Ann Hawker spoke of how, in the team meeting, she had sensed an image of a river flowing through a narrow gorge, tipping over the edge of a waterfall and falling into a pool below where the waters were very turbulent; eventually the river began to flow normally again. She said:
“As my friend Carol and I walked along one of the main roads of Foleshill, we saw a guy with a dog. We wanted to talk to him but couldn’t as the dog was pulling him along! A little while later, we saw him walk along another street. This time he did stop and shared how he had become a Christian a few years ago and friends prayed for him and his partner to be able to have a child; his partner then became pregnant – only to lose the baby later. He hadn’t been to church since. I shared the image I had in my mind with him and his need to trust God and so find a way out of his turbulence and back into the calm of God. We prayed for him on the street and he was clearly touched and grateful.
“One of our team members had the details of a particular building come into their mind; another sensed an image of a child’s green building block with the letter A on. As we walked up the road, we saw a house that matched that description; in the window was a child’s green brick with the letter A on it. It was a children’s nursery. We knocked at the door and said, ‘God has told us to talk to you and bless you!’ The receptionist fetched her boss who said to us, ‘Thank you so much for thinking of us, we need your prayers!’ She also asked for our contact details so we could come and talk to the children at Harvest Festival and Christmas.”
“Saturday night was brilliant,” said Foleshill resident, Julia Faire. “I couldn’t believe it! People kept coming into the marquee from different countries and people of other religions besides Christianity were there. It was brilliant to pray with an assortment of people and wonderful to see Christians from different churches in the area working together. That’s how it should be! It was sad to see the marquee come down on the Sunday but – hopefully – we will be back again next year. Jesus is Lord of Foleshill!”