Last week, I began to share about key prophetic messages that have been heard by Oxford Community Church since it was founded in 1985, and which we have seen fulfilled. I recalled the founding promise [#1), that a city would come out of a village.
In this post, I will describe four more promises fulfilled, and I hope you'll see just how audacious these ideas seemed when they were first spoken about.
Now, years after these things came to pass, hindsight may not be such a wonderful thing, because it could lead us to think that these dreams were always going to be realised, when the lived experience of our church was rather that the fulfilment of each promise was like a marvellous gift, like when the Israelites returned from exile:
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy. (Psalm 126:1-3)
#2 Dolloping Oxfordshire
In 1980, Bryn Franklin (who was then beginning a ministry that would eventually see him being invited to prophesy before heads of government and state in different nations) heard a surprising word from the LORD, that the sweetness of our existing local churches would be ‘dolloped’ like spoonfuls of rice pudding across the county! So, not just one or two new churches, but many right across the county.
So, Oxford Community Church was founded a few years later with a promise that we would see more churches successfully planted across Oxfordshire.
And God had been true to his word.
Since that time, we have been able to send and support teams to start new churches in Abingdon, Bicester, Blackbird Leys and back into Kidlington; and also to send and support leaders to gather new church communities in Didcot and Carterton. Bicester have further begun planting a church in Banbury. In fact, the dolloping is now so thoroughly done that we have to look outside the county for more towns in which to plant more churches!
#3 The Nations
In June 1984, the group that was becoming Oxford Community Church heard God saying, “You are to be an Antioch base.” This meant that the new church would be more than a local church focused on its ‘parish.’ Remember that this was a group of people just beginning to grapple with the promise of a shift from a village (Kidlington) to a city (Oxford), and now the promise was extended.
Since that time, God has been true to his promise.
Thirty years later, we have sent people from Oxford short- or long-term to the following 40 nations: Afghanistan, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, DRC, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Macedonia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, South Africa, Spain, Sweden. Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, US, Zambia, Zimbabwe – not including another half dozen nations that it’s now wiser not to name.
#4 -Town and Gown
The antagonism between students and townsfolk in Oxford goes back at least as far at the St Scholastica’s Day riots of 1355, in which about 60 academics and 30 locals died.
It was part of the founding vision of Oxford Community Church to overcome this ancient animosity, by building a church community in which university students and locals met as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Now, we take it for granted that students enjoy Sunday lunch in ‘real people’s homes,’ and that many church members give their time to mentor individual students, but it remains an unusual strength, given to us by God as a promise fulfilled.
#5 – A Place By the River
Oxford Community Church began life in 1985 as nomads, meeting in lots of different hired venues, until the cinema on George Street became a more consistent home on Sundays, coupled with church office in Cornmarket. By 1991, a dream was beginning to take hold of our own meeting place in the city, near the city centre and large enough to host ‘celebration’ gatherings for the growing family of local churches.
In the late 90s, the dream was still just that, but people were also still praying. Then, at one prayer meeting, some divine guidance was sought, and God gave visions to those present that the right building would:
- Be by the River Thames
- Be by a steel footbridge
- Have a steel chain link fence alongside it
Oh, and there would be a yellow JCB. (Actually, aren’t they all yellow?)
So, we commissioned a search for big buildings for sale next to the river. We looked at one on Osney Mead, which was near to the footbridge from Osney Island, but it didn’t feel right. However, the building next door, which was not for sale was even nearer to the footbridge and it had the kind of fence someone had seen in a vision. And, there was a yellow JCB parked opposite it!
On making enquiries, we found that the owners of this other building were actually considering selling it, and they eventually agreed to sell it to us – and we know it today as The King’s Centre.
It is notable that these different prophetic promises came in differing ways. There were specific verbal messages and some very specific visions. There were also moments when the church community together had a growing sense of what was right for us, or that a biblical promise would soon be fulfilled in our experience.
What these fulfilled promises all have in common is that they were received with joy and faith, and people responded with persistent prayer, often over a number of years.
(Next: Lego® bricks, a lighthouse school, more regions)