My name is Jackie Brooks, affectionately known by some as Lady Jay (at least I hope affectionately!) I joined Hope Church in 2010 because I wanted to join a local church that was community minded. My first awareness of Hope was a leaflet through my door when I lived in Marsh Farm offering services like grass cutting to those who needed it, you can’t get more community minded than that! It was a couple of years later that I visited Hope and it was a culture shock for me because I was raised in a black majority church with a strong Pentecostal tradition, and to my mind the worship was the most sedate I’d ever experienced apart from some early encounters with the Roman Catholic church. I didn’t know how to be or what to do. I did, however, receive the warmest and most loving welcome I could have asked for and by the end of the day had arranged to attend a cell group meeting and had informed my pastor that I had found my place in a local assembly. Don’t get it twisted though, I was still honestly questioning God as to why He had chosen to place me in such an unfamiliar environment. Now I am assured beyond doubt that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I have been on a personal and spiritual journey that’s not over yet, and that thought is so exciting!!
After being in the background for a while, completely unsure of what I was supposed to be doing, I finally understood that God just wants me to be me. I am so grateful for the encouraging and affirming God-centred people, who have just come alongside me as God has stripped away false beliefs and thoughts I had about myself and about Him. He has brought me into a position of authority that He expects me to exercise in wisdom and that’s been a somewhat overwhelming truth to absorb. It was relatively recently that a very good friend reminded me that all the words in the world mean nothing without action and perhaps the time had come to put my money where my mouth is and that this point in my life is ‘where the rubber meets the road’. This was a very powerful word for me about walking my talk.
So, you can now find me exercising my authority wisely in the car park letting you know that you need to pop down to the Lansdowne and be sure you have your permit displayed. Or, you might find me in the PA booth exercising my authority by displaying the song lyrics and making you sing along. Most recently, I have become part of the leadership team of the Northwest Community area group where we are family, rubbing along together, experiencing the joys, anxieties, frustrations and love that that entails. We’re a very diverse group and our leadership team alone has people from 4 continents. We thrive on being different yet the same and we are reaching out to as many people as we can inside and outside of the church, building a community in which it’s ok to not be ok, to be vulnerable and unsure. Our overarching aim is to walk and grow together in the mundane, the day to day and most of all to spur each other on to be the fullness of who God created us to be. We do this through both structured and unstructured gatherings that always include food, sometimes music, sometimes games, sometimes just talking, sometimes all the above. Regardless, there’s always love, there’s always family and everyone’s welcome whichever area of Luton you live in.
Written by Jackie Brooks