So got back from New Wine last weekend- we left on the Saturday evening for several reasons… partly the threatened bad weather, partly my health (more below) and then the deal was closed by our youngest deciding the be sick for the 3rd time…
The journey home was interesting, as one of our other children had caught the same bug and we needed to stop 4 times in a 2 hour journey… lets just say we won’t be forgetting the experience!
This is now the 6th time we’ve been to New Wine, and each year has been great, for various reasons. This time around, with 3 children and going with a large group of friends from our old church, was different once again. Seeing all 3 children loving their groups was a real joy for us- with both of our older daughters talking about prayer and worship and receiving God’s love in a really natural way, but the thing that i was most struck by during the week was the giving heart of the volunteers in different teams.
Don’t get me wrong- I drank in the worship times both in the Arena and Hungry, really enjoyed listening to Robby Dawkins, Rich Johnson and Sean Doherty and loved meeting up with old friends, but- the volunteers in Stepping Stones and the Medical team just blew me away.
Stepping Stones was a new venue, open during the main talks for parents and pre-school children, with refreshments, changing areas and lots of toys. Great, and an obvious development of what has been there for a few years. However, it was also open from 5.30am for any parents who needed to bring wide awake babies down from the camping area, and on 2 mornings during the week I joined the group of half-awake adults and their too-awake children. The team were welcoming, friendly and understanding, and the place was a real haven.
The medical team, at the far side of the site from anything exciting, were a team of first aiders, nurses and doctors who worked long shifts through the whole week helping folks out- I saw them caring for people through the night, and I ended up visiting them 4 times myself as my back steadfastly refused to behave and heal of its own accord (I’d had a minor op the previous week and the stitches hadn’t held). The team were professional, helpful, and also able to offer prayer at the end of each visit- something they aren’t able to do in their normal professional capacity.
Both these teams, and many others, demonstrated to me walking examples of grace and love to the stranger. They encouraged and challenged me to do the same, and so for that, as well as the help they provided during the week, I want to put out a big thank you to them all.
Of course, I’m not thinking of running an open house from 5.30am each morning for my neighbours, and my first aid skills aren’t good enough to start an alternative to the NHS, so the question that I’m pondering, and I hope will be there for each of you, is this ‘what would it look like for me to do that? In my own life as it stands, or with some minor changes, how could I be an agent of grace?’