Just got back from an incredible weekend with the team running the Spirit tent at the V Festival at Weston Park near Stafford. This year, despite the downpours, our free gift of water was received even more than last year, with around 6,000 cups given out – over double last year’s figure. People continue to be taken aback that we offer something completely free with no strings attached. This year we had many more conversations and activities outside the tent but the chill zone and prayer stations inside the tent were less busy than last year. 210 people left prayer requests on our prayer tree, most sincere and many of them deeply moving. We gave out some excellent tracts from Lifewords and our own specially designed leaflet with web addresses to visit to find out more about Christian spirituality and about Jesus. We were particularly encouraged by the increase in the number of festival goers joining the team for our Sunday morning communion service. Last year only 3 people joined us for the service, but this year we decided to gather outside the tent and 13 joined us for the whole service and another 9 came for part of it, while others listened in at a distance.
We again had an excellent location on the main thoroughfare, with lots of people around touting for business and selling alcohol in industrial quantities. There were more stalls than last year offering herbal highs and dodgy stimulants. We had a new neighbour behind us with a loud microphone, the Lynx Boost Manwash, promoting a new body wash by persuading men to strip to their underpants on stage and have four bikini-clad girls rub in the bodywash and then hose them down. We realised it would be hard to have a devotional atmosphere for communion with the commentary from this stage blasting out, so I was deputed to go (in my dog collar) and persuade the organisers to schedule a break for 45 minutes whilst we had our service. It turned out that the compere is a Roman Catholic and happily gave several plugs for our communion service over his microphone! When you are about God’s work it is amazing he provides ‘persons of peace’ in the strangest of places.
The aim of the Spirit tent is to offer festival goers a space to chill and to explore spirituality. Our amazing team of 12 volunteers worked their socks off, serving people with water, talking to them about their hopes and fears, and introducing them to the different prayer stations. They all took turns leading our twice daily times of prayer in the tent, and also praying for people as the opportunity arose. Our inspiration, as last year, was found in the account of Paul’s experience in Athens in Acts 17.
Although he was troubled by the idolatry all around him, he took the Christian message out into the market place, and began not by condemning his hearers’ ignorance, but commending their efforts to find God and showing that he took their culture seriously by quoting from some of their own writings. Having met his listeners on their own ground he goes on to explain to them the good news about Jesus and the resurrection and ends with a challenge to repent and respond.
AUG 21, 2006