Ten Highlights from DublinAndy Freeman - 29 Oct 2013
So our latest 24-7 International Gathering is over but as I flew home I was filled with wonderful memories and experiences. Here’s my top ten things I loved.
I know it sounds cliche but 24-7 is family to so many of us. Friends not seen for years. New friends. Old friends. Something unique happens when we’re together.
Main hall in St. Mark's church where the main morning & evening sessions were held
2. The hospitality of the Irish
I am so grateful to my friends in Dublin who cared for us with such love and kindness. It’s a unique city and people make you feel at home. From a comical taxi driver, to the 24-7 team, to the great hostel we stayed in it was a pleasure.
3. Reckless generosity
People gave their money to the poor. Others paid extravagant amounts of money for home made scarfs (the highest sold for 1100 euros) so that Syrian refugees in Lebanon could be better cared for. For others it’s buying food for new friends or giving time and love to those who need it. You people are beautiful.
Scarf auction at Trinity College Banqueting Hall
4. Focus on the poor.
It was so wonderful to keep hearing stories of communities of people loving the poor. From all parts of the world we heard about 24-7ers spending themselves on behalf of those on the margins. It was deeply moving.
Hannah McVeigh (24-7 Academy Vision Course Leader) interviewing Pete and Leon who are setting up Prayer Rooms in a heavily violent area of S. Africa.
5. Everything in one place.
Something I love about 24-7 is the sheer diversity. Nobody seems to have told you all that it never used to be this way. You were either charismatic or contemplative. Into mission or serving the poor. Into singing or not. You lot like all of it. Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, Lutherans, House-churches, Methodists, Punks and Poets all together. Immense.
6. Young leaders to the fore
Our speakers this year were incredible. Pete Greig was among many to note that God was raising up a set of gifted and inspiring young leaders to lead the movement forward. Exciting times. Do take a look at the videos of their talks which are now online.
7. Shouting C’mon
One of my personal highlights was Friday nights rendition of the Vision poem and 400 people shouting C’mon once again. It could have been 10 years ago but instead it was 2013 and a fresh cry for an army to stand up once more.
8. Secret conversations
Something I love about 24-7 nowadays is that there are things I just can’t tell you about. People sharing faith in nations where the Church isn’t meant to exist and Christ isn’t meant to be shared. But it’s happening and wonderful stories are taking place. It’s just that I can’t tell you.
9. A whole load of fun
It's no mistake that it was called a 'Gathering' and not a conference. One of the most amazing parts of these gatherings each year is the chance to chat to friends both old and new from all over the world. This year's 'After Hours' entertainment was incredible with open-mic nights, DJ led worship, a feast in the magnificent Trinity College Banquet Hall, live music from a traditional Irish band.....and even a fire show!
10. Stories yet untold...
Finally, and most importantly, it has been amazing to hear the stories of so many people meeting with God, being inspired and dreaming about new ways that God is calling them to see His Kingdom come into every aspect of society. Here are a few that we have heard so far, if you were with us with Dublin then we would love to hear your stories too.
“It was incredible to hear such wonderful stories of hope. It confirmed all of my suspicions that it’s possible to have ordinary radicals subversively changing their communities one life at a time.”
“We LOVE being a part of what Jesus is doing in 24-7 Prayer!! We are SO thankful to be a part of the kingdom mischief! I can’t wait to see what Jesus will do!”
“It really was an amazing weekend... I have come away so inspired, encouraged and hungry for more.”
“Wow, what an amazing time from the first moment. God was all over us! Watching from the balcony you could see generations come together. I worked out that the youngest was a few months old and the oldest was past 75!"
“It was a privilege to contribute to the gathering. It really was. The Holy Spirit is moving us towards unity in prayer. Actually – we are already in it! He is on the move.”
We are already looking forward to all the new stories we will hear about next year's Gathering with will be held in October 2014.