There is an exciting revival happening in London and it’s happening across the East end, the area once home to poor and desperate refugees from two world wars and in more recent times, people escaping from violence in Africa, economic failure in the Caribbean or persecution on the Sub Continent and Middle East.
It is Africans and Jamaicans are filling these less traditional Christian churches in large numbers. In my view, the more conservative churches, many of them catering to dwindling, elderly but faithful Anglo Saxon congregations, would find the noisy worship style of loud music, cheers, applause, prayers and songs of praise that go on and on hard to contend with.
One could be forgiven for sometimes thinking when singing, “I’m sure God heard it the first time”. It’s not a criticism, just an observation but let us be certain, our God loves the praises of all his people. These churches enjoy great support from some quarters but face stiff opposition from others.
ChristFaith Tabernacle at Woolwich Arsenal based in a former theatre is not permitted under local regulations to hold 'church services' but they do have Concerts of Praise, Drama of Praise, Testimony and Songs of Praise. There is no holding back of the Spirit in these communities of faith.
Evening with the Olympians
One of these London Olympic occasions of Praise, Song and Testimony was the “Night of Olympic Champions” at ChristFaith Tabernacle. Partnered by Lay Witnesses for Christ International, the entire evening was broadcast live around the world with Dr John Song interpreting for South Korea, hosted by Alfred Williams (who the congregation refers to as Apostle Alfred) and anchored by LWFCI Director, Dr Sam Mings.
Before a full house, the evening opened in praise and a church member delivered a powerful rendition of “You Revive Me”, a song that gives praise to a Saviour who can lift us from the depths.
The youth choir of more than 50 brought the whole gathering to life and then it was time to hear from the champions, beginning with “Olympain of the Century”, US sprinter and long jump gold medalist, Carl Lewis.
Introducing Carl Lewis, Dr Sam Mings declared. “We have a team hand picked by God of over 100 world class athletes from around the globe and I am sometimes asked”. “Who of our athletes has the most impact on young people?” I always answer. “This man, Carl Lewis without a doubt”.
Carl Lewis addressed the evening: “These Olympics in London are great Games, and when I look back to my Olympic experience I wonder how I would cope with retiring when the competition had given me such a great time.
“What would I do? I can tell you that I have had such a great time ministering to young people and helping to put them on a right track. I have had many challenges but Dr Sam and Sharon Mings have helped me meet those challenges of a Christian walk and a faith in Jesus sustains me”.
Dr Sam, Sharon and Carl came to London some months back to check out the facilities for the LWFCI outreach “Bridging the Gap 2012 UK Outreach” and there was a lot of speculation at that time about greatness and who was or would be a legend.
Carl thinks legends come through history. He won the ‘double’ in LA in 1984, the 100m (9.99) and 200m (19.80) in Olympic record time, plus the long jump (8.54m). He also ran the anchor leg of the 4 x 100m for the USA setting a new world record (37.83) before setting another Olympic record in Seoul 1988 in the 100m (9.92). Carl Lewis anchored the 4 x 100m once more in Barcelona and lowered the world record to (37.40) and won his 9th gold medal after winning the long jump in Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992, and again in Atlanta in 1996.
One year before Seoul, Carl’s training partner and good mate beat him in the trials for those 1998 Olympics but by the time the Games came up he thought, the only way I can’t win is if my mate beats me.
“As a track sprint athlete you want the finish line to come to you first and I had the chance to achieve the first ‘double double’ but 24 years ago the 200m finish line in Seoul came to my mate first”. “Here in London 2012 the ‘Double Double’ has now been accomplished”.
“Please understand, a gold medal is just a little gold object and although highly prized, God had a plan for someone else at Seoul in 1988. I now have a 24 year friend and tonight I am doing something I’ve never done before.
“No matter what happened here in London, may I present my mate Joe DeLoach and together we make the first ‘double double’ for Jesus Christ. You know when we think we’re bigger than anyone else or when someone boasts, God puts in.
As his good mate, the only man ever to beat him in Olympic competition stepped up to the podium, Carl put his arm around the shoulder of the winner of the 200m gold medal in Seoul and said. “This is Joe DeLoach, the other half of the first real ‘double double’.
Joe DeLoach said. “Life and sport is full of challenges. Carl Lewis just spoke of greatness but I am here to tell you the only one who is great is Jesus Christ. I always knew if I put my faith in God, He would help me through”.
Joe, the youngest of 13 children was plagued with hamstring injuries and was unable to continue his athletic career after Seoul.
“I’m a gold medallist, I set a new Olympic record (19.75) and now it’s all over, why, why, why,” he complained to God. Then Joe suffered a series of strokes and his doctors were stunned to discover these were the result of a hole in his heart and they couldn’t believe it. “Life is full of uncertainties and God was protecting me. It’s great to be the best but the only way to really be the best you can be is to have Jesus in your heart”.
Joe DeLoach had discovered there is nothing in his outstanding career that can compare with giving his heart to Jesus and walking daily in faith.
Jonathan Mayne in London for Press Service International – Christian Today