Ok…. so today is our last day. The bags are packed and ready to go. We are going to debrief with Brian and Tracy, then we have some free time before a team meal and our flight to London. I’m gonna put more stories up from the team over the next few weeks, but this is going to be the last blog from Ibiza.
There’s no doubt about it… it’s been a great experience to be here and to in some way be part of what God is doing through 24-7 Ibiza. We all have lots of great stories and they will be told and retold on many occasions over the next few weeks…. but I think the biggest challenge I will take away from this is…. ‘It’s not rocket science… but it does involve sacrifice.’ The model is quite simple really… to worship and pray both on the streets and in the centre. It’s been 10 years on the go, Brian and Tracy have been here with their family 5 years…. relationships have been built, walls have been broken down.. God has been moving in the small things and in the big things.
There are lots of things we have learnt as a team, but it has just been a privilege to be here and to be a part of what God is doing in this place amongst people that he loves.
One of the big challenges being faced by the 24-7 team out here is how to relate to the many prostitutes working on the streets of San An. Many of these girls are heavily in debt, being forced to ‘work’ to pay off what they owe. The guys working from the centre have built up a relationship with the girls over the last few seasons, befriended them and prayed with them. Some of them come along to the church service held in the centre on a Sunday night.
It’s difficult to work out how you balance the feelings of wanting to befriend and support them and at the same time having to watch them touting for business on a nightly basis, even pursuing drunk potential clients. A couple of nights ago Leanne and I were out and we saw two of the girls had two clients in tow and were heading to an alleyway. All we could do is pray that the two guys would change there minds and walk away….. and as we finished praying…. that is exactly what happened… literally 20 secs after we started praying… the two guys walked out in the opposite direction.
Another two of our team had the same experience that night and last night another couple of the team saw the same immediate answer to prayer.
It was fabulous to see these really immediate answers to prayer. We are only too aware that for every good story like this there are countless encounters that happen that we don’t see and can’t stop. It is a drop in the ocean.. but at least it is a drop!
Please pray for the team out here as they continue to work out how to relate to the prostitutes…. pray for alternative work for the girls… pray that they will be safe.
The team have lots of stories about this trip… lots of things both exciting and challenging, and I hope to throw them up here over the next few weeks…. there’s so much to get your ahead around!
A couple of nights ago Poppy and I came across a mother and daughter who were on holiday together. The mum was lying on a bench feeling quite sick having drunk too much alcohol! The daughter was looking after her… she looked 18 or 19 but was actually 15 and behaved as if she was about 30! It turned out that they have driven to San An that night from there hotel about 20 minutes drive away and they didn’t have enough money to get a taxi back. Also, the next morning the hired car was due back and they were actually due to get home. The girl explained to us in pretty colourful language that this was not the first time this had happened during their weeks holiday. Last time mum had actually driven home…. this time however she was feeling too sick. We stayed with them a while, gave mum some water and made sure she was feeling better. They had been in one of the bars earlier in the week and had struck up a friendship with one of the sound engineers working there. On this particular evening they had agreed to meet him after he finished work. We stayed with the mum and daughter until he turned up and he turned out to be a really great guy who knew about the work of 24-7 he was happy to make sure the mum and daughter got back to their hotel etc. Mum and daughter were really nice it has to be said and very grateful to us for the assistance we were able to give, small as it was. As Poppy and I reflected on the situation we talked about the impressions we had of the kind of role reversal we were seeing in the relationship between mum and daughter… and in the forthright and mature views held by this young girl.
During the next hour, as we spent time in the prayer room praying for this situation and many of the others the team had been facing on the streets I was drawn to Ezekiel 18… to a passage that speaks of God’s justice in relation to families. Amongst the Israelites there was belief that sin and indeed punishment would pass from one generation to the next. You will find it written about about in the prophets and indeed Jesus faced a question about it from his disciples when confronted by a man born blind (John 9). Do sons and daughters get punished for the sin of their parents? Do parents get punished for the sins of their children? What Ezekiel 18 gives us is a picture of a time when cycles of sin which flow between the generations will be broken because of God’s grace.
We dare not underestimate the impact that the behaviour and actions of one generation has upon the next… even unconsciously… our words and actions are absorbed, mirrored and reflected back to us by those that come behind.
The next morning in our team devotions Nicki read a story from Philip Yancey’s book “What’s so amazing about grace?”. The central character was a woman called Margaret who along with her mother and siblings suffered under the tyranny of a drunken and abusive father. In the story Yancey traces three generations of ungrace and unforgiveness that poisoned the lives of family members for nearly a century!
Is this kind of dysfunction inevitable? Does it just happen? Is there anything that can be done?
God can break in!
That is what we prayed for… that the cycle of ungrace and unforgiveness would be broken in the lives of this mum and daughter. When you think about what happens on the streets of San An and in most towns across the UK and Ireland on a weekly basis… you wonder what is going to be passed from one generation to the next.
We need to pray that God will break in… that established patterns of behaviour and life will be broken as we come to experience God’s grace in our lives. Ben shared a challenge to all of us this morning in our devotions from Philippians 2:14-15:
14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.
Another piece of the jigsaw!
Two nights done this week and sadly only two more to go!! It has been much quieter this week than last, but that gives us more time to chat to people, ask for prayer requests and even get to pray with people on the streets. Many of the stories you hear re 24-7 Ibiza revolve around vomit… and there is plenty of that… but when the vomit van isn’t in action and we aren’t needing to wipe people up you get a much greater opportunity to chat.
We begin each night with worship and prayer as a whole team then we split in two with half going out and half staying back to continue the ministry in the prayer room, swapping after an hour. There is a really important rhythm to this… breathing in and breathing out. The ministry on the streets and the ministry in the prayer room is actually all worship, all prayer and all mission. The two are divinely interrelated.
I got a real reminder of this on Monday night as we began our singing, everyone together. It was phenomenal to just be there in a room, one person on guitar, as thirteen people sang their hearts out, cried out in prayer and read scripture. I just could’t get the day of Pentecost story from Acts 2 out of my head… the disciples of Jesus meeting together in worship and the spirit coming. It was however not just to make the disciples feel better, or to give them a nice warm fuzzy feeling. The coming of the spirit and the giving of gifts was about God empowering people to be witnesses to those who didn’t yet know him. The people of many nations heard God being praised in their own language that day.
So too for us, not just in 24-7 Ibiza… but for all of us, in our churches and gatherings… when the spirit comes and empowers us… it’s not just for us… it is a demonstration of God’s grace that is to be a witness to the world. The worship that we sing, and pray and offer in our meetings is to be continued in our homes, workplaces, in our conversations, in our chance encounters. Our whole lives are our ‘spiritual act of worship’. (Romans 12:1-3)
The team hosting us have been really good about giving us information about the history of Ibiza, not just from the 1960’s and 1970’s, but right back as far as the time of Hannibal the Carthagian general, 200 years prior to the birth of Jesus!
Ibiza has always been a island of great significance given its position right in the middle of the Med. It has faced attack and conquest on many occasions. Today we visited one of the ancient watchtowers, located at the entrance of the bay of San Antonia, used by the Ibizan people to look out for attackers and to warn islanders of the trouble that lay ahead. Brian and Tracy shared with us about how the 24-7 team felt God had given them Isaiah 62 as a word for the season. We listened to it read through substituting the word ‘Zion’ with ‘Ibiza’:
Zion’s New Name
1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,
till her righteousness shines out like the dawn,
her salvation like a blazing torch.
2 The nations will see your righteousness,
and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.
3 You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
and your land Beulah;
for the LORD will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.
5 As a young man marries a maiden,
so will your sons marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.
6 I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the LORD,
give yourselves no rest,
7 and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth.
8 The LORD has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm:
“Never again will I give your grain
as food for your enemies,
and never again will foreigners drink the new wine
for which you have toiled;
9 but those who harvest it will eat it
and praise the LORD,
and those who gather the grapes will drink it
in the courts of my sanctuary.”
10 Pass through, pass through the gates!
Prepare the way for the people.
Build up, build up the highway!
Remove the stones.
Raise a banner for the nations.
11 The LORD has made proclamation
to the ends of the earth:
“Say to the Daughter of Zion,
‘See, your Savior comes!
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.’ “
12 They will be called the Holy People,
the Redeemed of the LORD;
and you will be called Sought After,
the City No Longer Deserted.
Please pray, as we did, that Ibiza would have a ‘new name’ and a ‘new reputation’. We give thanks that ‘watchmen’ and ‘watchwomen’ like the 24-7 team and people from local churches have been posted already and many others from around the world have come here to serve and have been touched by what God is doing here. We continue to pray that God’s Kingdom which has come already would come all the more!
Over the weekend we got a chance to have a bit of a break. We went to Ibiza town on Friday to climb up to the Cathedral, and do a bit of a prayer walk, then we went for something to eat at a traditional Spanish restaurant before heading back to San An.
On Saturday we chilled out before taking in a beach rave followed by clubbing at Hedkandi in Es Paradis with the 24-7 team. It was great to see these places and certainly at the club there was a bit more of that ‘church’ feeling – see previous blog, 24-7 Ibiza – Part 3!
Sunday is a ‘day of rest’ for the 24-7 team. We attended the church service that has started in the centre that some of the club workers, PR’s and prostitutes have started to come to. Jud spoke on the parable of the prodigal son…. awesome…. she would make a great preacher!
The weekend finished with us at Cafe Mambo for drinks and chats!
At first I wasn’t sure why I was a bit upset, even cross. Poppy and I found a guy lying on the ground, totally stoned out of his head from whatever tab he had taken. We wanted to make sure he was ok and that he didn’t get robbed. I quickly spotted his Northern Ireland accent, and he told me his first name and where he was from. Sadly he wasn’t too up for us helping him, in fact he was quite rude and maybe even a little abusive. We got him up off the ground and offered to get him back to his hotel… but he wasn’t really interested, he just swore a lot. We let him walk off towards where he said his hotel was and we let him go, we headed up a different street but at one of the cross over streets we could see him lying down again in the other street and we went to see if we could get him up… same reaction.. and we just had to let him wander off. There was something about this encounter that got under my skin… I suppose he was socially and educationally from the same background as me… he was a type of young northern Irish guy I know.. thought he knew it all, maybe even a bit arrogant… and the influence of whatever he took didn’t help. Later when we were back in the prayer room we prayed for him… and it really got to me… we have been singing this song ‘hosanna’ this week that has the line directed to God as a prayer: ‘break my heart for what breaks yours’, and I truly had the sense that God’s heart was breaking for this guy… just so far away.
Next morning Leanne led our team devotions and she read from Bill Hybels book “Holy Discontent”. I think his words really summed up my feelings:
“If you expose yourself to all that´s broken in our world but neglect to view the brokenness from heaven´s perspective (which promises that everything is in the process of being restored), then you´ll get into an impossible, downward spiral of aggravation and anger….. Once that frustation and anger is understood as being your holy discontent, though – your spiritual connection to the God who´s working to fix everything – it´s as if an enourmous wave of positive energy gets released inside you…. this energy causes you to act on the dissatisfaction that´s been brewing deep within your soul and compels you to say yes to joining forces with God so that the darkness and depravity around you gets pushed back…. your perspective shifts from that which your eyes can see to that which God tells you is true. And it is in this reality that what is enslaved can still be set free, what is broken can still be mended, what is diseased can still be restored, what is hated can still be loved, what is dirty can still be made clean, and what is wrong can still be made right.”
We have also been praying a lot for the “prodigals” this week. The story in Luke 15 of the prodigal son and grace filled Father has been really on our minds. Here are a couple of stories about encounters the team have had on the streets that have resonated with this:
Here is one of Ben´s stories:
“So Jud and I were walking down by the town beach when she spotted a couple of guys sitting on a bench, one of whom was looking a bit worse for wear. We walked over to him and asked him if he needed help with anything while his mate was chatting to some spanish guys about football. He said he had drunk a few too many and would quite like to go back to his hotel to sleep. Normally we do not separate friends on a night out but he was quite emphatic that he did not want to go to Cream and his mate was very keen to go on as they had forked out 45 quid each for their tickets. After a bit of chat his mate went on to the club and he asked us if we could give him a hand getting back to his hotel which was only 10 minutes away. So he put an arm round each of our shoulders and we started to walk down the beach boulevard. He was from Norfolk and we just had the usual chat to begin with about jobs and what stuff he’s into but he wouldn’t tell us what he did for a living so we played the guessing game. Straight away Jud said ‘policeman’ and he said no so we carried on guessing for a while. Then we asked what age he was and he asked us to guess so I said ’33?’. With a degree of surprise in his voice he asked us if we had stolen his id card or something as it turns out that he is in fact a 33 year old policeman! I don’t know if it was a spot of cold reading on our part or if God spoke something about his life there, I like to think it was God. Whatever happened he completely opened up to us in an attitude of shame and apology for his condition. To be honest we have seen far, far worse in our 4 nights in Ibiza. He told us about how his girlfriend back home is a methodist, (we all laughed a good bit when we told him we were methodists too!) and that they recently found out that she is pregnant. The day we were talking to him was the day he found out that his child and gf were both healthy and that the pregnancy was going well for both of them. We shared in his joy at becoming a father and starting his own family. He spoke about his beliefs a bit too which were tied up in the idea of fatherhood. His own father died when he was 4 and he has always believed that he is in heaven and watching over his life. When we arrived at his hotel he was crying with joy at the thought of his child, in his own words he was ‘totally made up’ with the idea of becoming a father. We offered to prayer with him and he readily accepted. We prayed for his new family, the health of his gf and unborn child and that he would be prepared for the responsibility of his new role as a dad. After that we shared a hug that lasted for a long time, so long that my tshirt was stained with his tears, a stain that I was very glad to have. We also left him with a copy of the message and a 24-7 card. Writing this story doesn’t do it justice at all, it was a conversation full of hope, joy and love. Being there was such a privilege as we shared in the worries and concerns of an amazing person, a man who was completely genuine and sincere, completely in love with his girlfriend and child. It’s my prayer that he would know something of God’s fatherhood and love.”
So… for all those skeptics out there, I did manage to survive and indeed throughly enjoy 2 hours in Eden, one of Ibiza’s oldest clubs, last night… absolutely awesome.
It part of the pattern of the week that the 24-7 team go to a club at least once a week. For us that meant finishing up on the streets at around 4am and heading to a club until 6am.
So why did we do it?
Well… it’s about worship, it’s about relationship, it’s about presence. We can go to the club and have a good laugh and a great time without the influence of any ‘outside’ agent.
OK… there might be a lot going on in there that isn’t so good… but God is in that place… if Jesus were physically here now… where would he go? To the clubs… I have no doubt. We are to be Jesus… his hands and his feet… so secure in our relationship with him… we go to the clubs.
I had a vision in that club last night…. I looked up, I looked around… and it felt like being in a church… there was a pulpit… where the DJs and VJs led proceedings from… there was a gallery up stairs… there were big screens projecting images… there was the music and people with there hands in the air…. they were worshipping. They might not have been worshipping the Jesus I worship… but they knew how to worship…. now we need to help them understand who to really worship…. and how will they know if no one comes alongside them, shows them the love of God… and tells them the story of a saviour.
Wow… what a first night on the streets of the West End. After some prep, worship and prayer the 14 of us split into pairs, half the team stayed in the prayer room for another hour while the other half went out on the streets. Then after the first hour we swapped over.
That is the theory anyway.. but it turned out to be a mental night with the van on the go nearly all night doing pick ups and quite a few people needing walked home or looked after for a long period. At one stage because of the demand for our services everyone was out on the streets… with the phone in the office ringing on a regular basis as PR’s from clubs rang looking the assistance of 24-7.
Such is the good standing that 24-7 Ibiza has in the eyes of the local community. Kinda reminds me of Matt 5:16 ‘In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.’ This work is not done for anything other than God’s glory… to reveal his love and grace and mercy to his children… both those who know him and those who have wandered off… the prodigals.
There is just so much need. The first person that my team partner and I bumped into turned out to be a guy who had recently split from his partner. She had had an affair with his boss, so their relationship of five years had ended. Together they have 2 kids. He decided to come on holiday with mates for the first time in ten years and had been having a ‘great’ time. But the pain of betrayal and the uncertainly about the future is still there. We had the opportunity to make sure he was ok, that he was in a fit enough state to get home and to pray with him to. He really opened up about his situation and it was such a privilege to chat to him, pray with him and he was so up for it. He asked us to pray that he would be a good dad to his kids and for his future in terms of work.
Roll on night 2… when we are finished on the streets tonight we are heading to Eden, one of the biggest clubs here in San An.
For the next couple of weeks a team of 8 of us representing QUB Methodist Chaplaincy are working with 24-7 Ibiza in San Antonia, Ibiza. Check out their website http://www.24-7ibiza.com
We arrived late last night and this is our first full day. We have spent time today doing some orientation, going on a prayer walk and generally getting a sense of what is happening in ‘San An’
As a team we are here to serve, to work with and for the guys who are here permanently or for the summer season. To worship by word and deed, to get alongside the club workers, PR’s, people on the streets and of course holiday makers. To help those in need, to offer prayer and assistance, to share our faith.
This is an exciting and challenging place to be… I and the whole team would appreciate any prayer, especially for tonight which is our first night on streets. We will meet at around 11.30pm and spend some time as a team worshipping in the 24-7 Ibiza centre. Then we will split with half the team staying to pray and the other half heading out to the west end. The routine is that we swap round every hour, finishing around 5 in the morning.
Ibiza is the party capital of Europe… ten of thousands head here every summer for clubs, alcohol, drugs and sex, it is in many ways such a dark place… yet already we sense God is in this place, is at work in people’s lives, is calling them to a different way of life.. a better life in Jesus.
Over the last decade much sowing has been done by local Spanish christians, by the wider 24-7 movement and by the 24-7 community lead by Brian and Tracy Heasley, and Bruce Gardner-Crehan who have been living here permanently for the last few years. We pray for more sowing and much reaping now and in the future.
Check out the blog over the next couple of weeks for more stories of what’s happening right now in Ibiza.