The story of the Jesus Fellowship
As 1969 opened, the fire fell! Old and young were 'baptised in the Holy Spirit' and spoke in tongues. It was electric! The experience of God was deep, joyful and life-changing.
For three years a revolution burned through the church and then broke out onto the streets of Northampton. Bikers, drug-dealers, middle-class straights, and freaks found the explosive touch of God, a new life and a new lifestyle as disciples of Jesus.
Keen for more, we met six nights a week. Praise was terrific! Many were baptised, healed and delivered from demons. Social barriers came down and a wonderful atmosphere of love prevailed. We began to share things as a 'family'. And God kept sending people along.
Then, in 1974, the Holy Spirit directed us to buy the old village rectory and move towards community living. That was wild! It meant total commitment as the people of God. Soon some of us, like the first disciples at Jerusalem, shared all we had. Vision burned deep of a Jesus brotherhood, a new culture of simplicity, purity and brotherly love. Christ's church was His 'city on a hill', His light shining into the world. And so the Spirit ignited within us a passion for His 'Zion'.
Many came from afar wanting such a radical lifestyle. God gave us more properties, like New Creation Farm, Sheepfold, and Festal Grange, and we formed our own community businesses. Through obedience to scripture, prophetic inspiration, zeal and personal sacrifice, we stood against the tide of compromise and worked it out together. Zion, God's city, became our joy.
By 1979 the community was well established. God called us to 'enlarge our tent' and we extended into Warwickshire. But numerous trials tested the Jesus Fellowship. The 'powers' of the world struck back with sensational reports in the papers. Even fellow Christians opposed our pioneering work as extreme; especially our distinctive views of community, covenant and celibacy.
Though we'd increased to several hundred, fewer now joined us. We clung to God and our brother and pressed on. Loyalty paid off. In the midst of heart-break we knew fresh revivings of the Holy Spirit. The oil flowed.
Friends of sinners
By 1983 many of us had found a growing love for those without Christ, especially the poor. Through house-groups, evangelism teams, large marquee-missions, and simple friendship we saw people won to Christ. By 1985 we had planted 'church households' throughout the Midlands, not without opposition. The Holy Spirit anointed our work and pointed us to the cities.
To evangelise the cities we needed weapons of prayer, unity and courage. Here was a righteous cause, a Jesus rebellion against the powers of darkness. As we identified ourselves as an army advancing through the cities of sin, the l Anointed servants
In the summer of 1988 a deluge of spiritual life came upon us. The Holy Spirit anointed body, soul and spirit. Trembling, laughing, and healing of emotions took us by surprise and many were laid out under the power of God.
The anointing loosened us up. Celebration praise rocketed to new heights. Prophetic drama, worship tapes, videos, teeshirts, magazines and streetpapers, streamed out in a fresh wave of creative energy.
The anointing also broadened our outlook. We made friends with many Christian leaders and developed links with churches in the UK and overseas through the Multiply Network. But God told us to focus our communication skills on the growing band of spiritual seekers in our post-modern nation.
As we developed into a national church, God showed us the importance of our new generations. Apostolic direction from the centre remains vital, but each region under its senior leader needs to be self sustaining. There is plenty of scope for our new generation of 'Jesus Red' enthusiasts to win their spurs as we work out our 'UK for Jesus' vision.
There is now a Jesus movement in the UK unparalleled in our lifetimes. The only question is whether the churches are able to reap the harvest God has prepared. We intend to be!
Come and be part of the next chapter of the Jesus Fellowship story!