".....the secret place of the Most High.....”" Psalm 91:1
Thank you for inviting me to talk to you.
Those of you who know me will know that I start my day with a quiet time reading: so I went to my
Peanuts calendar … to discover Linus telling Sally that the grass was green and the sky was blue
and Sally dreamily replying, “isn’t he wonderful? He knows everything”. It is with this humility
that I speak to you now - knowing I know as much as Linus!
May your will be done and may your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
What do we mean by that - may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in
heaven? I ask myself what is it like in God’s kingdom? What is God’s will on earth? What does he
do in heaven?
So my talk is a deep exposition of the kingdom of God, his will and how he changes the earth!
Right? That’s why you invited me? Correct?
‘Are you feeling comfortable? Okay’, as one famous storyteller said, ‘let us begin.’
I am a sinner saved by grace. My life was on track to achieve greatness and oh I loved soaring in the
heights of Government and Local politics, shaping educational practices and procedures. How I
enjoyed fraternising with the shape shifters of my age who sought to make their mark on how
children should be taught in mainstream schools. Westminster was wicked! Commissioned to
champion the cause of the weak and vulnerable in our school communities I was enabling inclusion
and leaving no-one outside. My school moto was none shall be left behind. No-one will feel
excluded from our school community. No-one would be unloved and uncared for whatever their
I knew I had a great mission in life and I wanted for nothing. How great was life? Great! Super!
Well not that great! I was driven by a noble purpose, but it was, in essence, mostly about me!
The trajectory I was on - the power trip - the straight arrow piercing through the skies - the fun, the
networking, the target attaining, suddenly lost energy: it just ran out of life. Like a flop falling out of
the mid day sky I was brought to rest - by a well, it just so happened!
Isolated, confused and hurting from the sudden crash, eventually a stranger approached me and
asked me for a drink. ‘Why do you ask me for a drink?’ I replied, ‘I am no-one you should be
talking to!’ He answered, ‘if you knew who it is who is asking you for a drink you would ask me for
living water; water that will never again make you thirsty’. Battered, broken, bruised I sat and
listened and drank in every word.
I remained at the well for some considerable time until my healing began to itch and smart and scab
over. It was a painful process where I had to empty myself of everything I had done, everyone I had
hurt, every thought of me, myself and the I centred career.
My losses were many: first career; lifestyle; my good reputation; my best friends who betrayed and
abandoned me; my health deteriorated; my home had to be sold: but in all this God promised me
that my oil would never run out - that I would never ever be alone.
Every day I began to drink the life giving water that shaped me anew, put my feet upon a sure, solid
and certain foundation; I began to believe in a Kingdom that can never be shaken, a Kingdom of
love, joy, peace, patience, tolerance, faithfulness and self control. Over a period of 5 years I never
moved. I remained at the well, drinking in the Kingdom of Heaven and learning about my new
status within it.
‘Come follow me,’ a voice called. I got up and followed.
I moved to a desert place and began to water the dry and arid spaces and as flowers blossomed and
opened their smiling faces to the sun I was then asked to go further into more abandoned places of
darkness and dryness.
A new well is about to be opened up in a dark and abandoned place. A well bursting with life and
love and joy and peace and kindness - a well called Harrogate Hub. It is a place of welcome for
every woman (like me) at the well; for every man like the cripple who had no friends to place him
in the healing pool as the waters were stirred; for every young person who is itching to remove
scabs of neglect, loneliness and loss.
As I sat waiting and healing at the Well of Life, another woman approached. Her story is not mine
to tell except for the fact that God had revealed to her a plan, a giant pastoral care plan that showed
the love of God for the broken and marginalised people of Harrogate. Marginalised! Broken! Were
they not the very people I spent my career supporting in the mainstream? I was interested enough to
In the silence and stillness of 2013 God showed Carol a town centre location - a place where He
wanted to build a well for His life giving water. It would be a place for people to receive grace and
peace. Taking the vision of Harrogate Hub to the church leaders it was decided that Carol would
found a charity, find a building and so begin a ‘movement of mission’.
Church leaders from Churches Together have been uniting to weave out this movement and respond
to the Minding the Gaps Report published in 2014 by Michelle Hayes. This report highlights to
some extent the issues facing our neighbours here in Harrogate. The prominent concerns are for
isolation and loneliness, low level mental ill-health, youth displacement and injustice.
Local services are struggling to meet these needs and are only able to be involved when they reach a
critical condition. The local health service, social services, police and CAB are currently in
discussion with us working with a research team we have commissioned to dig into local needs in a
more detailed and informed way. This research, when published, will inform the Hub Trustees on
the areas for the pastoral care teams to focus on.
The volunteer Pastoral Carers are trained and equipped to work with individuals who are referred to
the Hub by our marketplace partners, such as the police, Living Well and CAB - all of whom are
inundated by need. Much of that need is currently living without hope. Having been recently invited
to join a working party looking at mental illness in the Harrogate area, I was shocked to be
informed that suicide in Harrogate is the highest in North Yorkshire.
Where is the well of hope that surrounds the man and woman living with such despair? Jesus
offered the woman at the well ‘living water’, and filled her with joy. Unless we are prepared to
speak of the Living Water that transforms lives, people in our community will continue to live
Bill Hybel’s states that ‘the local church is the hope for the nation’.
In volunteering in the Hub for a few hours a week, willing to share the stories of our neighbour’s,
we are providing a means to that hope. Listening to customers who chronicle their lives, seeking
understanding and acceptance, Pastoral Carers will be able to signpost customers to churches,
activities, events, advisers, advocates and specialist support services. The Pastoral Carers will
befriend and accompany the customer wherever appropriate. They will contact the pastoral care
lead in the local churches for follow up and support.
There are other ways to volunteer too. I am building many teams: in administration; in applications
for funding; in communications and media; in pastoral care; in intercession and prayer; in
hospitality and building management. If you would like to be involved in one of these teams then
please sign up afterwards and I will contact you. Elaine is part of the administration team, Kay
funding, Carol pastoral care, … Please speak to them over tea too.
So for such a time as this, women at the well, who have received much, been forgiven much, whose
lives have been transformed, who have tasted and seen the kingdom, who want to change the lives
of others by sharing God’s love, turning a living hell into a taste of heaven, are prepared to say ‘not
my will be done.’
So from this woman at the well: ‘not my will be done …’ It is the Hub’s vision that no-one will feel
excluded from within our community. No-one will be unloved and uncared for whatever their
I believe that this is how God will transform Harrogate.
Thank you for listening.
18 October 2016