Hope For The Nations Briggate 2012 Report & Video
It is hard to believe that this was the 6th Hope for the Nations event and this year it hit the same date that we started with (7th July). Our first HFTN gathering in Briggate was 7/7/7 which represents completeness, as when God completed his creation. The final completeness will be when people from every tribe and nation will be worshipping God. Hope for the Nations gave us a glimpse of this again, as we experienced the freshness, enthusiasm and dynamism of different nations coming together as we did six years ago.
Stalls representing at least 16 different nationalities displayed artefacts, ranging from paintings of tigers, to the unusual drums being played on the South Korean stall.
There were great food samples, representing different cultures including Caribbean, Iranian, Korean, Chinese, African and Jewish. Christian literature was made available in at least 20 different languages.
We had a distinctly British stall serving free juice and biscuits and they reported many people wanting to talk more about the meaning of the event. Many young people and children visited the face painting stall, manned by Leeds Youth Cell network, and it was great to see so many different flags painted on everyone’s faces. The RETAS stall highlighted the tremendous work they do amongst asylum seekers and refugees.
Every stall also had a number of HFTN flyers which had an Olympic theme. It referred to the gathering of over 200 nations for the Olympics and stated “Here in Leeds today there is another gathering of different nations, with a joyful message of hope. Unlike the Olympics, everyone can be a winner, when they discover all that Jesus wants to offer them……”
On a personal note, I was approached by a man dressed in typical Kurdish dress, originally from Northern Iraq, asking why the Kurdish flag had not been included in the banner of nations, and he pleaded with me that it be included in the future. He also wanted to introduce me to the Kurdish community in Leeds. I later discovered that a number of Kurdish people came to the Middle Eastern stall and 2 Iraqis and 3 Kurds came to the Arabic Fellowship the following day, after significant conversations.
These were some of comments from the South Asian stall “Several visitors to our stall commented on the wonderful unity of different nations and were impressed that they were all followers of Jesus. One man said “Look at the Iranian stall next to the one from Israel! This is amazing!”
“We had some great conversations about Jesus with people and gave out many Jesus films……I will long remember the joy of two young Somali ladies when they discovered we had gospels in the Somali language. They literally danced for joy….”
The music, singing dancing and drumming
The amazing variety of contributions sustained interest throughout the afternoon with hundreds of people thronging the event space, clearly enjoying everything that was happening. It is hard to capture in words the excitement and response of people as they watched.
The quality of the music, singing and creative aspects were particularly good this year. The powerful black gospel harmonies coming from Voices in Praise and the NTCOG youth choir, as they sang “Wonderful”, captured everyone’s attention at the beginning. The dance team in their striking blue dresses held the crowd’s attention.
It was great to experience the enthusiasm of the Filipino band (New Hope Church) as the lead singer’s feet hardly touched the ground, as she sang. Another South East Asian contribution came from the South Koreans. Their children and young people worked so hard to produce a very moving presentation of the well known song “You lift me up.” The girls danced beautifully in their white dresses and flowers in their hair. They also produced an amusing sketch, which showed the difference prayer can make. A Mauritian based group beamed with joy, as they sang some of their more traditional songs to the beat of the drum
The style changed again, with contributions which reflected Middle Eastern culture. People in the audience danced to the music of Iranian and a Jewish style band.
The sounds and rhythms of Africa broke out, with Songo and their amazing array of drums and expressive dance. Then there was another very distinctive sound coming from the Ethiopians and Eritreans A Zimbabwean choir also took part for the first time and they were clearly enjoying the experience! Our only regret was that we did not have time to include a Nigerian group from Living Hope Church, as a sharp shower stopped the event, right at the end of the afternoon.
A great celebration
One of the main highlights of this event has been the use of the 126 flag banner of nations. As the banner came into the event space and was held aloft four times during the afternoon, people and children from many nations gathered and danced underneath it. Many, representing different nationalities were holding it. This was such a wonderful picture of God’s all inclusive love for everyone.
We wish to say a huge thank you to everyone, who made this magnificent event possible.
We were thankful too that we had good weather and the sun shone, after weeks of rain. Everyone is looking forward to the next occasion 6th July 2013.
Paul and the HFTN planning team