The Turning - first annual review
Organisers of a street mission which began in Reading have revealed that more than 7000 people in the UK have responded to the gospel in the last year
The Turning’s first annual review also showed that more than 2000 evangelists have been trained for Turning events in eight areas of the UK. Each area has seen hundreds respond to an invitation to accept Christ.
The Turning in the UK originated at Baptist church The Gate (formerly Reading Community Church) at the end of May 2016. ‘We thought it would be a one-week mission which could, possibly, stretch to two weeks,’ explained Baptist pastor Yinka Oyekan and Turning team leader.
‘Nearly a year on, this “one-week mission” has become #TheTurning. We have been to many towns and cities across the UK and even into Europe and seen many respond to the gospel!’
He added, ‘The Turning is becoming a phenomena. What looked, from a distance, like a technique, on closer inspection is revealed to be a gift from heaven. A gift that miraculously empowers ordinary Christians, enabling them to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.’
The Turning sees Christians trained in evangelism before taking to the streets to speak to people using what they have learnt.
Each person prayed for is given the opportunity to respond to an invitation to accept Christ.
The report quotes an evangelist in Bristol who was initially sceptical.
‘I came to The Turning extremely reluctantly! I was very wary of following a script and didn’t want to associate with it in case people thought I was rude! But, out of obedience to God and my pastor I came – I thought I could come once, do my bit and never do it again… God had other plans!
‘As soon as I arrived at the training, the teaching helped ease my worries and answered my many questions. Then I saw the script in action! Before I knew it, and much to my surprise, I was using the script, seeing people blessed and responding to the invitation to pray. I was actually enjoying it!
‘The Turning Launch has given me the confidence to approach people and tell them about Jesus. It has reminded me that people are hungry and ready to receive the Gospel. I know to no longer hide my light but let it shine before all men.’
The annual review also highlighted how The Turning has been able to develop tools to help with follow up; tools it said it did not have in the first six months. The tools ‘facilitate local churches to do follow up effectively’, and will be highlighted in a separate release in August.
The review explained how 'a number of interesting challenges have emerged around the nature of the Church discipleship and churches ability to respond adequately to the those open to the gospel.' It stated that Yinka and the team have been working on how to address these and adopt best practice, which will be released in due course.
It also spoke of the importance of church unity in Turning events (‘one key lesson that has been learnt is that The Turning is the most fruitful through a local church unity movement not within a parachurch context’), and how organisers believe the Turning will grow. It forecasted that by 2019, after the end of its third year, 375,000 will have responded on the streets of the UK. There have already been Turning events in Europe, and the report lists 12 areas where missions are planned for 2018.
Yinka told The Baptist Times the figures shares in the annual review are those they can verify, explaining the responses are a mixture of those who are genuine, seeking, confused, and those who are just polite. 'The truer figure is probably three to four times that have been prayed for,' he said.
‘We have seen the power of unity and have been honoured to serve areas around the UK as we bring this grace to others,’ Yinka added.
‘We know that this is only the beginning and as this next year progresses we will see more and more Christians declare the love of God on the streets and see more and more people respond to that call.’
The review also featured a short film of Yinka in conversation with Paul Revill, Regional Minister for Mission in the Northern Baptist Association, during a Turning event in Newcastle.
Paul said, 'I’ve seen a huge coming together of churches, which has been wonderful to see. Personally it’s been great for me to have opportunities to share faith. The more you do it, the more confidence you get. To be out there talking about the Lord has been wonderful.
‘The openness of people to listen and to respond… there’ve been some significant encounters. People who you don’t think will be interested say “Yes, I will pray a prayer.”
‘There’s that sense that God is ahead of us and out on the streets.
‘My hope is this is a movement which will spread to the whole church. We all need this – it’s for everybody!'
Evangelistic outpouring in Reading In just over three weeks of mission more than 1,000 people have prayed to give or rededicate their lives to Christ (June 2016)