Jenny (36) a Christian celibate, shares a small house in Milton Keynes, UK, with
six others: Andy and Sandra, (with baby Amy, 18 months) and single guys, Gideon and Matt. All, apart from Amy, are in their 20s or 30s.
Last year Jenny and her five friends set out on a new venture, sent out by parent household, Living Stones, set in rural Northamptonshire. Jenny said, “I feel I’m part of a new thing God is doing!” She tells their story:
“For several years we had all been part of a large community set-up, ‘Living Stones’ and, although living together in the countryside, we were quite evangelistic. For a long time, the leader of our household, Andy had been evangelising in Milton Keynes and was quite fruitful. We all decided to join him in the outreach there and this involved taking part in local-led community events such as fun days held on local council estates. All of us had a hunger to do and were inspired to do something near where people were and had a need.
“In the spring of 2013, we were altogether one Tuesday night and Gideon said, ‘Why don’t we all move down to Milton Keynes?’
“I’d wanted for a time to live and move among people; I felt I’d be so much more accessible there. In fact, we all wanted something to throw ourselves into and were enthusiastic about the idea. We talked with our senior pastor and he had no problem with the idea; indeed, we were given free rein and felt very trusted. Everything happened quickly and, by the end of August, we had rented a house in Simpson, an old village mentioned in the Domesday Book and now part of Milton Keynes; the nearby council estate is a short walk under the subway.
“Besides the six of us living in our house, people from Living Stones and Milton Keynes are also part of our household. We thought we’d start small; we may have to rent a second house as others join us.
“There’s a lot of freedom and flexibility in a small scene; a few of us can get a vision or idea, and test it out ; we quickly see what works and what doesn’t and, if it’s not working, we can swiftly move onto something else – there’s no baggage attached. On Saturdays we reach out to people on local estates or do late-night evangelism in the city centre but, if we are all tired, we don’t go. We make sure our Saturday night gatherings are child friendly. We call our way of life ‘freestyle’ – we don’t have lots of plans; we just want to listen to God and do what He inspires us to do.
“In our house, we’re friends; we want to do good to one another; we know each other’s weaknesses and look out for each other; there’s a real family feel around. In a small scene like ours we need everyone on board. We regularly pray together and we find unity is so important! We have to get on; we can’t afford not to.
“We want to be accessible to people, a place where they can come and find rest, a stepping stone between them and God. I believe that everyone in life is on a journey; we may meet people once on their journey and never see them again and that’s fine. For others, we want to lead them into the fullness of what God has to offer them.
“The advantages of living in a small town house, are that people can relate to it; it’s more accessible; people can walk in and easily feel they belong.
“I think it’s good to be involved in the local community in as many ways as you can – then reach as many people as you can! I’ve found one of the best ways to meet people is to get involved. For instance, I go to a Zumba class on Saturday mornings and when I need to buy something I try to shop locally and usually end up chatting to the lady on the checkout who I’ve made friends with. We get known; people get to know God (in us). They see God cares because we care. My aim in living here is to make as many friends as possible, to see first-hand people’s lives changed as they find God and to be there for people.
“We find people friendly In Milton Keynes and find that many have some sort of faith already. Very few people are anti-Christian although we once had our car ‘keyed’ and the word ‘MUG ’ written on the bonnet.
“I’ve been a committed celibate for 11 years now and my vision is to be available to people; for instance, without family ties, I’m free to go out late at night; I’m involved with people with real needs and I’m totally available to help. As a celibate, I feel I can stay for the duration, not up and go because I’m getting married. I want to go deeper into God and find out what are the things on His heart, to learn not to move too quickly but listen to what He’s saying; I want Him to move first; then me.”