Miraculous stories of Jesus’ hope and healing transforming the darkest and most desperate situations
The astonishing inclusivity of Jesus’ meal table and how He meets us there
An inspirational account of radical Christian living in the inner-city
While many struggle to get on the property ladder and others live with the possibility of negative equity or fear the impact of Brexit on the value of their home, what we don’t usually hear about are houses being sold for £3000. Yet on the Langworthy Estate in Salford they were selling for just that and even less.
Having sensed that God was calling them to move onto this estate in 1999 Chris Lane and two others approached an estate agent, looking for a rental property there. The agent told them ‘I don’t know why you want to move in here and I don’t think you should,' and refused to accompany them to look at the houses. But Chris and 27 others had resolved to move onto the estate with the specific intention of forming friendships and bringing positive change.
One of the greatest challenges facing the Church in these multicultural, multi-faith, and, in many places, post-Christian times, is how to draw to faith people with no interest in church. In addition, Christian ministry in poor urban communities remains as challenging as ever. The ‘obvious’ irrelevance of the Church in many people’s perception is a far greater obstacle to mission than hostility. There is no simplistic, one size fits all, solution. However, part of the answer lies in moving into communities and planting new culturally appropriate churches, rather than inviting people to a reworked version of what is already there in an existing church!
Ordinary Miracles author, Chris Lane, and his friends planted one of these pioneering churches on Langworthy estate, infamous for crime and deprivation. They could not imagine the rollercoaster ride that awaited! Committed to loving and living in one place – the Langworthy estate in Salford – they have spent 18 years seeing God at work in some of the most unlikely people and situations. Langworthy was a place where even tradespeople and service providers hesitated to go. One third of the houses were empty because no one wanted to live here. Not only were they selling for very little there was even a rumour that an estate agent was offering two houses for the price of one.
Ordinary Miracles is an account of Jesus’ love to the least, last and lost through Chris and his friends. Central to the book is the concept of Jesus’ meal table, how He invites all to come to Him regardless of background, ethnicity, class or skin colour.
‘In the book, I tried to be very honest,’ says Chris. ‘I included some of the stuff that I used to believe such as the fact we all came in thinking we were going to take Jesus into a dark place. Now I ask, “What were we thinking?” Jesus was already there! He was already working through people who weren’t even Christians. It was our job to join in with what He was already doing. The book is about hope and beauty, and how we have found those things in places you wouldn’t expect to find them. It is about how we ordinary people can see extraordinary things happen when we follow where Jesus leads us.’
Chris has acquired much wisdom and knowledge on this journey of church planting. Instead of focusing on immediate numerical growth his commitment has been to the long-term well-being and transformation of the Langworthy estate. This has required much patience, hospitality, prayer, perseverance and sacrificial living as opposed to taking shortcuts by relying on signs and wonders. As a result, this book can be applied in many different contexts.
Bishop Graham Cray writes, ‘This is an honest book, telling of the disappointments as well as breakthroughs. So many things are held together in this story that properly belong together, but are not often found together. The whole account is an exercise in discernment, learning to join in with what Jesus is doing in the neighbourhood, rather than bringing Him to a place He has never visited before.’
Chris says, ‘We’ve invested in this for 18 years. We don’t know what’s going to happen because it’s all an experiment. We live here, we work here and don’t have five-year plans but are running about 10 projects in this community. It’s not about big numbers. It’s about the fact we’re still here and we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.’
Be encouraged by this book and the remarkable miracles that happen when we eat with Jesus!
Chris Lane has spent nearly two decades in inner-city Langworthy, working with a community of Christians to see their Salford estate transformed. A trustee of Soul Survivor Ministries with an MA in theology, he has regular speaking engagements around the UK linked to his community work and academic study. He is also a tutor in theology at St Mellitus College North West. He is married with three children.
October 23rd, 2017 - Posted & Written by Laura White