I discovered Hope Church on the internet as I was preparing to leave New Zealand, to move to the other side of the world.
I was researching for a place to base myself in the UK, and had come across this town called ‘Luton’. Having been so involved in my church growing up, I knew that I needed to find a place where I could be ‘at home’. Knowing I would not find a replica of what I was leaving, I instead looked at the possibilities where I was going, especially those that were different (in a good way!). Detailed story short, Hope Church was the second Church I visited once I landed in the UK, and there I stayed!
Hope Church became my home and my grounding for the two years I lived in the UK. Working as a Primary School teacher, and teaching in Hertfordshire, I was limited by time, and without Hope Church, I doubt I would have lasted as long as I did in my profession. Hope Church introduced me to wonderful people and I have great friends there, and many great memories. I was also able to get involved with a variety of different activities run by or in conjunction with the church such as Forte Voices, Open House, Breakout, and Newday, to name a few.
I had no spectacular revelation or moving event that God did while I was part of the Church, rather the biggest impact was through serving. I started out on the welcoming team which was great as a new person, getting to meet a whole lot of different people while they got to meet me. I don’t remember exactly what happened to cause the shift away from being a greeter (I think it might have been the recognition in myself that while greeting was great and I had been filling a need, it wasn’t utilising my passions), but I felt that the sound desk was where I needed to be.
I began learning the ropes of Sound Engineering under the capable tutelage of Nigel and Luke. Hope Church is so welcoming, caring, and centred on being/showing God to the community, I didn’t feel like I was standing on anyone’s toes when I expressed my interest in learning about it. When I started down this track, I knew my time staying in Luton was coming to an end, and while I only spent about 8 or 9 months serving Hope Church this way, the flow-on effect has been greater than I could have dreamed.
Planning on returning to New Zealand in September 2015, I instead found myself living in the kingdom of Bahrain. And it is here that I am currently using the skills God started training me with my time in Luton. Without my time at Hope, I wouldn’t have had the courage to volunteer for the Sound Team at my new church (a larger congregation), I wouldn’t have found myself being challenged musically and spiritually on the worship team, and I wouldn’t be my new school’s go-to person for audio requirements!
God knew what I needed, and he knew that I would receive it at Hope Church Centre in Luton. A step in my journey, a training ground for the future, choosing to visit, and then stay at Hope Church has blessed me. What is the best thing about Hope Church? It’s the people. The people prepared to serve, laugh and run events. The people who invite you to Sunday dinner the first day you attend, invite you to movies and games nights. The people who are God’s hands and feet, becoming a family to a travelling Kiwi.
Written by Anna Johnston