Thursday 14 January 2010

Nigel's Homegoing Celebration

Sometimes, we get to be a witness to something truly extraordinary.Something unexpected occurs in the midst of what is expected.Such was Nigel Waterfield's funeral and celebration. From the point of view of this blog, new readers should understand that it was only God putting the spotlight on Nigel and Elaine Waterfield in the free Anglican magazine "Inspire", and me posting it here, and another reference here that we should ever get to know each other. In many ways they were not being fully recognised in their own area but as the celebration service unfolded, maybe for the first time the full significance of what had been going on was being revealed. The service was held in their main church Holy Trinity Leicester (above picture) , but since the couple got together their greater allegiance has always been to listening to Jesus and obeying Him, and in so doing a whole rainbow coalition of services, organisations and churches were moved into their orbit, recently including Havant Church (Portsdown Community Church) in the south here.
Amazingly, there was a gap of one day when it did not snow here in Britain and I was able to travel up on a clear M1 arriving at the back of the service with a Cybershot digital camera with the flash turned off and zoom on full, but with no real hand support. The pics are what they are...

Nigel Waterfield, we were told by his uncle and godparent, was born into a caring family in 1963. His muscular dystrophy was only diagnosed around age 7 and would only severely disrupt worklife in his very late 30s. Throughout, he had a totally positive outlook towards his condition and never came across with self-pity. He made the best of what he had .Considering what they accomplished together as a team, it is extraordinary that Nigel has only been a born again Christian for four and a half years.Knowing his time was short, and that the muscular restrictions were really beginning to kick in he had resolved to really "go for things" while he still could...and this was the template for his marriage to Elaine.

They met on the internet and Elaine had to tell him to shut up about his condition because she wanted to know about him. Nigel was the quieter one, but people that in the later years could see beyond the condition could perceive his wisdom, his steadying influence on Elaine, and his inner cheerfulness expressed in his warmth towards absolutely anyone, and the thing that nearly everyone remembers and comments on - his smile.

Nigel's uncle was very moved as he shared. John McGinley on the right is the vicar of Holy Trinity who led the service with Pastor Sam , a Gospel DJ and Street Pastor.

Pastor Sam was a DJ who does Strictly Gospel who supported them in many ways including the street parties and was there with Elaine and Dave when Nigel died.

I used the phrase "rainbow coalition" deliberately. Elaine received many many cards with two particular images. Rainbows. Trees or the Tree with leaves for the healing of the Nations.

The rainbow image describes, I feel ,the way they network with a lot of disparate groups that would not normally relate with the other.They refuse to be tied down to human organisation. Humanly this is disparaged, but I feel Nigel's celebration showed the folly of this. This last point is of huge significance in the third level type of christianity we are entering into.If we understand that ALL Christianity is, is changing our operator from the genesis 3 operator of Satan, to being now containers of Christ, in our forms, in our individuality...then you see just how the former mid-stage construction companies become just like temporary scaffolding to the main building programme - which is Christ being built into each one of us.
At the moment in the first two levels, people of like mind and function tend to stick together. But Paul shows us in Corinthians that our natural and supernatural giftings which are sometimes intertwined sometimes not, are for each other. For people who are like us and people who are NOT.
People like Stephanie and Jackie MacEntire, Nigel and Elaine Waterfield,many aspects of those who naturally gravitate to Mother Teresa's organisation, many like Julie Wilcox and Carlos Iggy Shelton, and so many who are networking on Facebook and feeling their exclusion from Institutional structures which do not address their giftings.......

The true vision of the Body of Christ is one where the meetings themselves are only the exclusive "bedroom sessions" with Christ our Lover corporately, the rest is us expressing Christ as individuals and small groupings within our families, communities and work. But for that to be real and not pious denominational rhetoric, people need to know the trick of believing in our new identity on the inside of us...wherever we go and whatever we do. And at some point we need to have made the migration internally from "not born again" to "born again", to knowing that indeed we have passed from "darkness to light".

The Tree with leaves for the healing of the Nations is a direct picture that Elaine had already drawn for me.These leaves take on many manifest forms but they are all a manifestation of Christ's love in practical form.

So having married,Nigel and Elaine pledged themselves to throwing themselves into life.One of the first things was to go to Florida and canoe on the Everglades surrounded by alligators. As you do! Especially with muscular dystrophy!

In the following photos are many expressions of the leaves of healing. All coming via one couple in less than 4 years. They received a call from God to go into a needy estate in Leicester: Dupont Close. They organised 4 street parties with local police invited as well as ex-offenders being invited to give testimonies:ex-offenders such as Steve Cattell
at one point Britain's most prolific burglar, who now takes delight in sharing about Jesus as an evangelist.

Steve Cattell shared how, as he often goes off to share Jesus on his own, was absolutely gobsmacked to be supported on a trip to Bristol Park where he was speaking. Rain was tipping down. "You'll never get that wheelchair over that grass!" But Nigel was already off and away on his powerful chair, proving Steve wrong.
This is Tammy, the one mentioned in the Inspire magazine. It was lovely that she shared a little about the madcap world of knowing Nigel and Elaine..even when Tammy and Nigel might not have had even so long a life....because Elaine had forgotten to put the handbrake on the van a couple of times. Tammy not knowing about handbrakes , had Nigel quickly trying to explain what they look like as the van began to roll down the hill.

Sandra Hastings in the picture then shared about Nigel and Elaine's involvement with her locally in "Restorative Justice". Sandra is one of the main movers and shakers with this idea in our country and I have heard her a couple of times on National Radio. Old wisdom used to be that the perpetrator and the offended never meet, effectively denying both sides a quicker form of closure. Not always successful, but in many cases the effects have been outstanding.

Pastor Doug Lyon is the pastor of Kingsway and they would do a lot of prayer support and came to their street party.

Kirk Roberts with whom Nigel and Elaine and a guy called Jason did a lot of outreach.

One of the main things that alerted locals that this was no ordinary funeral was when Chief Commissioner of police for Northern Ireland Matt Baggott phoned the local Leicester police force to organise a full Police Escort for the funeral. The picture here is of the acting Chief Commissioner of Leicester sharing their involvement with local police and reading out a wonderful condolence letter from Matt Baggott who was the former Chief of police in Leicester and had it not been for the events in Northern Ireland this week, would have felt freer to travel for Nigel's event.

Since Nigel and Elaine's involvement in the Dupont Close area, a documentable drop in crime had occurred.

Alison Adams shared about Nigel and Elaine's work in Glen Parva, Leicester's youth offender's prison.This has been notorious for suicide. The Waterfields had been regularly leading Alpha and Freedom in Christ courses in weekly evening sessions as well as regular attenders and sharers in their Sunday morning chapel services. A young ex-offender read out a moving response to the loss of Nigel which had been compiled from about 16 people all brainstorming the things Nigel meant to them. Again it was his warmth , his smile. His patience and interest in them as people.

Nigel and Elaine travelled regularly to Transformed Southampton, Transformed Leicester, Transformed Brighton. These are Christian initiatives to provide support and infrastructure for people who want to turn around in their lives and get re-established after prison life.

Can I just make a comment here as an aside, that many initiatives have been either born or nurtured out of what was formerly Southampton Community Church. My friend Mike Thom made the comment that from a handful of ragtag students, who becoming converted in the 70s heyday of the rediscovery of spiritual gifts, and community church life, stayed on in the city to see the birth of a large City Church. This church, in the space of just 30 years, by people with very limited life experience went on to spawn a leading Church school, to host many evangelistic events, to nurture and really help kickstart the 24/7Prayer movement worldwide and finally to establish the Transformed infrastructure. People need to know of the real world effects that occur after real revival . It is true to say that next to nothing is either known or reported of the longterm results of a whole generation like myself who en masse found themselves caught up in a rediscovery of the baptism in the Spirit experience as pioneered 100 years ago initially among the Pentecostal groups of believers.

Simon Sharma and David Starkey need to spend some time at least discovering that the identical experience of New Birth in Christ and baptism in the Spirit which spearheaded different expressions of church growth through it the 2 burned Lollards at Amersham, or later pioneers of social reawakening such as General William Booth...or political stirrings in the wake of Luther...or the abolition of the slave trade.....or the pioneering intercessory work across the nation of Poland before the Fall of Communism. Although a secularist is always going to take a new idea such as water baptism, or the Presbyterian idea of leadership plurality as coming out of an evolutionary process of thought progressing from century to century, the spiritual reality has been more like a rediscovery of an unfolding heavenly pattern slowly revealed and uncovered as mankind has related to his Saviour. But to even admit to such things would ofcourse prejudice a view that history must align itself to a Darwinian process. For me this is the test of a historian. Will he or she bend historical events to their own world view, or own up to simple things such as:

possibly the only reason that bloody revolution did not come to Britain during the 18th century was the incredible revival stirred by the preaching of Wesley and Whitfield.
One of the most powerful tipping points leading to the American Civil War was the result of a praying AfroAmerican mother who by revelation was inspired to write a book, often only by night. This book Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe is recognised as being one of the straws that broke the camel's back.

In this same spirit of wanting to see the cross outworked as a Tree for the healing of the nations both Nigel and Elaine followed the efforts

of the Christian Police organisation.

Matt Baggott was really shocked to see that Nigel and Elaine had travelled down from Leicester to their Ashburnham conference camping out in the van en route. They learned about the "Adopt a Cop" initiative. Originally a means of Christians taking a supportive role to Christian police as they faced tough roles and decisions, Nigel and Elaine didn't get the Christian bit so just turned up on the police doorstep in leicester and asked who wanted to be adopted. In actual fact the Leicester cops were up for it anyway, and a supporting relationship ensued. So for this reason, a whole police convoy turned up in Dupont Close.

I spent much of this event with moist eyes. I find like many others, any reference to people turning round,
ex-prisoners making a go of things,
police coming together with community problems to find a way through,
a person such as Nigel, in Nigel's condition making an internal decision to make himself available to city estate life, instead of retreating to a suburb to quietly live out his days or Nigel and Elaine going off to preach at Notting Hill carnival, and many more street operations around Leicester....well it really speaks.
Nigel and Elaine have been a total inspiration in just being willing. Many times on the full receiving end of flack, from people who just did not understand what they were doing, they continued to pour themselves out.
This all shows so clearly we do not have to understand everything before we head off following the Lord. We do not need to know fully how we are going to proceed. We just take the next step. And each step is not linear. What actually happens is one fruit multiplies up into several, and each in turn beget a similar amount of fruit. Such that after only 4 years you can have an event occur such as last Tuesday.
God is good.

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