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Unexpected Lessons from Jesus & the Church in the UK

By December 2, 2014April 24th, 2022Culture3 min read

I have discovered that very often, life in the United Kingdom is anything but united. We see throughout Scripture the call to biblical, grace-filled,

Spirit-led unity. In Christ’s final prayer, we find these words:

I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:23

For many years of my life, I lived and worked and learned to love Jesus at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. I experienced a wide range of church services, saw the way that unity can build a body beautifully, and lack of unity can separate even the most faithful servants of Christ. I remember the way we would quote Augustine: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty, in all things, charity.”

This summer, unexpectedly, I moved to the UK. In my naiveté, I didn’t realize the practical implications of life in a country with less than 3% actively following Christ. After growing up in a movement with less than 50 years of history, I failed to understand the long-standing traditions of a countryside that dates many church practices to the time of Christ…literally.

Initially, the lack of unity grieved me. I stayed in a town with 7 churches, but very few Christians were under the age of 40. I wondered how the church had lost its relevance, speculated on why it was “different from America”, and commented freely on my opinion as to why.

In every place, it is easy to spot the problems with our churches. And so, when God lovingly told me to stop complaining and start praying, I began to seek His face for a greater unity. And I began to discover, throughout the county where I live, the people who were actively pursuing an outpouring of God’s Spirit in Cornwall and throughout the UK.

I discovered the evangelists, who have given their lives for the sake of proclaiming the Gospel – the man who stands on the street corners and shares the message of salvation, (even just with the passing motorists), the woman who proclaims the Gospel as a chaplain in a large public hospital. I came to love the Methodists, who were willing to give of their time and resources to make outreaches possible. I met with the Assemblies of God pastors, who prayed in tongues and with Scripture, and who brought an overflow of love and peace to my life. I observed the Anglicans, and revelled in the formality and reverence of services rich in Gospel truths.

And in light of that, I began to discover that the places lacking in unity are very often the places where people are waiting, seeking, and asking for God’s Spirit to work. There are pastors, leaders, skaters, baristas, carpenters, surfers, and plumbers who are passionately, personally pursuing God. These men and women are my friends, and God has allowed a small festival in a little field in a tiny corner of this island country to be used to unite churches in evangelism and discipleship.

These are the ways I see Jesus at work in the UK – His Word is proclaimed and people are loved. Today, there are handfuls of people coming to know Christ. There is a deep need for Jesus to be known and proclaimed in daily life, and I am thankful to be one of many called to show forth the love of our great God in this country.

And I pray that one day again, this Kingdom will be united in Christ.

Sarah Yardley is a Californian living in Cornwall who loves Jesus, family, friendships, coffee, travel, and guacamole.