Unexpected Holy Spirit moment in tiny plastic office

Just a few years ago, I was doing IT work for schools. I did this for a few years for an IT service provider, and finally I ended up employed directly in a Jewish school which was a blessing as a Christian I’ve enjoyed working with the Jewish community before in Israel and here in the UK.

If you are a teacher or worked in schools, you probably know that schools never have enough space. So they bought a Portacabin which is a sort of cheap plastic office which can be put together simply and when space is needed. This was used for my team (3 of us) to maintain the school’s computer systems. The servers, disk storage, switches and routers kit sits in two different closets in different part of the school.

This one looked like this. There was me and my two colleagues in there. I got on well with these chaps as we had our own quiet place to work, but could easily get out to fix a classroom computer, set up an microphone or presentation or put a new toner in a printer.

On what particular day my boss was very stressed, with too many different projects and priorities on the go at the same time. This was taking a toll on his health.

During the late spring, it was warm so we had the windows open. I’m sat in front of my work PC, I decided to pray silently as he seemed like he was not having a great day.

Suddenly a white butterfly comes in the window, flies in a circle around our little office twice, and then goes straight out again.

This made my day seeing this little creature appear to be doing a double lap of our building to maybe symbolise the Lord being in control during a stressful time.

I do miss this school, I left this to pursue a different aspect of IT. There were many opportunities to be an ambassador to Jewish people as a Christian there. I could go into a religious classroom and hear the staff talking about who the Moshiach (Messiah) might be, whilst I am quietly putting a new cartridge in their printer.

More on this school in this article

Stamford Hill, London – 4. Shabbos in Chassidic Jewish Stamford Hill

During the Sabbath, you can see religious Jews in the distinctive clothing heading to or from Synagogue.

I would like to come here and check out some of the businesses on a regular weekday (or a sunday) sometime.

These nice apartments I spotted Jewish children getting ready for the Sabbath through their balcony window.

Kosher butcher

I get a feeling this gent might not of got his wish of a yacht yet sadly.

Shabbos seems to be of a Yiddish word, and Shabbat is the Hebrew term I’ve been used to hearing in Israel. Everything would be open again on the Sunday.

Stamford Hill, London – 1. Long Walk – 2. Different religious places – 3. UK HQ of Chabad – 4. Shabbos in Chassidic Jewish Stamford Hill – 5. Extreme oddball fringe group Neturei Karta – 6. Is there a future in Stamford Hill

Stamford Hill, London – 3. UK HQ of Chabad

So I’ve found the headquarters of Chabad, a popular section of Judaism.

In some ways this group are the Jewish equivalent of the Salvation Army with well organised outreach to the poor.

Founded in 1775 by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the name “Chabad” (חב״ד‎) is an acronym formed from three Hebrew words—Chochmah, Binah, Da’at ( חכמה, בינה, דעת‎): “Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge”—which represent the intellectual underpinnings of the movement.

One of the most famous people in the Chabad was Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the last Rabbi of his generation (he died with no children) His house is considered the worldwide headquarters of the Chabad movement which is in Brooklyn, New York, known as “770” after the number of the building in street.

Some people think he is the Messiah. Enough anyway to build replicas of his house all over the world, even in Israel. I think the Messiah is Israeli. It is quite specific in the scriptures in the TNKH (what Christians commonly call the Old Testament) that in Micah 5 : 2 you can see yourself here in English and the original Hebrew also.

Chabad has done excellent programs for the poor and the disadvantaged in the Jewish community, but a lot of its focus is on a man from New York, not someone is from Israel. These camper vans are driven around Jewish areas with the intention to help secular and non observant Jews to get back to religious practice, particularly wrapping Tefillin (prayer straps)

This is quite honourable though to get those off track from faith back into the fold.

Chabad is a large and well organised group that bless a lot of Jewish people, but I’ll explain later why I believe there are better plans for Jewish people, despite Stamford Hill being an intriguing sort of place.

Stamford Hill, London – 1. Long Walk – 2. Different religious places – 3. UK HQ of Chabad – 4. Shabbos in Chassidic Jewish Stamford Hill – 5. Extreme oddball fringe group Neturei Karta – 6. Is there a future in Stamford Hill

Why I love Calvary Chapel church movement

For the last 6 years I lived in London, which initially was exciting, but is an often frustrating place to be. For numerous reasons I will explain in another post, I’ve moved back to Portsmouth 100 miles south, close to family and the sea where I am originally from.

The last 2 1/2 years of my time in London, I went to a Calvary Chapel church.

Here’s why I love the Calvary Chapel movement, which is a US flavour of church which has been spread all over the world.

  1. There are lot of Calvary churches world wide, this is not because numbers are important, but successful plants of churches in different places which has shown good fruit of the gospel being spread and people being discipled.
  2. Great biblical teaching. Always in kind way, but doesn’t avoid the tricky and challenging bits.
  3. Humble and approachable leaders
  4. Evidence of good fruit. Some countries in recent times like Hungary (My visit in 2018) has had a big spread of the gospel. Interesting as the Hungarian language is meant to be really difficult. From what I learned, Hungary has 13 churches from Calvary Chapel and the main one in Budapest has 3,000 people.
  5. They use both rented plain buildings or dedicated church buildings. My church rented a church building from another congregation, therefore having two different church congregations with distinct leadership who just share the same physical bricks and mortar. After all, we know that ‘church’ is the collective group of people rather than the stone fabric that sits around it. Having said that, the building we use has amazing stain glass windows, original teak pews and two organs which entices people just for the history.
  6. Actual church family. My congregation was small but had folks from Jamaica, Portugal, Poland, Ireland, Australia, Nigeria and more. Smaller churches like this, do have a special more intimate feel to them, and I think one people are settled, no one has to feel hard done by because of their background or look to some latest wokeness cause, with a good church with a great mix of different backgrounds.
  7. They support Israel. Often, in other churches in London, I would hear messages like “God is done with Israel and the Jewish people.” Seeing as I have worked with Jewish people for 14 years, and I’m often reminded by passages in the NT like Romans 11  “I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means…..” I know that pastors I respect the most (including all the leaders I know in Calvary Chapel) know the importance of Israel in the bible is still relevant today.

I’ve been part of Assemblies of God church, the Anglican Church and Messianic Judaism (from when I lived in Jerusalem, Israel) there’s been parts of all of those I’ve liked, and there are many splinters of different styles of each of them.

Whilst living in London, this is been one of the place I’ve been most proud to want to bring my Christian and secular friends along alike.

Stamford Hill, London – 2. Different religious places

This is a big mix of religious groups here – different from what you think, and it gets more interesting later on.

Got to love Vegans eh? some of these (but not all – erm, phew!) folks are on such an extreme obsessed, focused mission, they are practically a religion, this person has it as business on their car, maybe the two others (one is a Toyota IQ, the others are a Smart) are part of the same effort.

This is a Catholic church now used as a Mosque. This might make a number of people including myself sad, except on the left, they missed something! – Or, maybe its a listed building and they are prohibited from removing the original decorative pieces. Islam usually has a habit of trying to make its structures and symbols the largest and tallest. But here the cross is higher!!

This is another Catholic church, this one active on the outskirts of the main road of Stamford Hill. I like the look of this place as the message of the scripture here of Isaiah 2:4 “They will hammer their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into sickles.” Underneath is a message to stop youth carrying knives. They also do a service in Polish and Spanish.

The centre of Stamford Hill also has a Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall. This group might appear to be Christian, but they follow an earn your way to salvation, rather than the finished works of the cross, as their members are very busy knocking on doors of the public to spread a well intentioned but not genuine gospel message.

This is a little hard to see, but there is a message of “Jesus is Lord” on this building’s front. I like the sound of this place the most.

A bit further on, I will visit the strict Hassidic Jewish community, a bit later.

Stamford Hill, London – 1. Long Walk – 2. Different religious places – 3. UK HQ of Chabad – 4. Shabbos in Chassidic Jewish Stamford Hill – 5. Extreme oddball fringe group Neturei Karta – 6. Is there a future in Stamford Hill

Stamford Hill, London – 1. Long Walk

So, if you know me, I am a Christian who has worked a lot with the Jewish community. After living in Israel for 4 years, I also got to work in a really nice Jewish school doing their IT support, and also accidently find Israelis when I go and visit places like Munich Germany, Budapest Hungary, Dublin Ireland, and even the Great Wall of China. I think this is because of Israelis have a keen sense of adventure. I’ve also visited Morocco and Tunisia, which have had Jewish people who have almost completely left, mostly to Israel.

So at the beginning (April 2020) of the first part of lockdown, I decided to go exploring this special part of London, called Stamford Hill, which is home to a group of ultra Orthodox Jewish community.

I thought I’d show you around this place and how it compares with religious Jewish places in Israel and elsewhere.

So this was over an hour of walking from the place I was renting last year.

Stamford Hill, London – 1. Long Walk – 2. Different religious places – 3. UK HQ of Chabad – 4. Shabbos in Chassidic Jewish Stamford Hill – 5. Extreme oddball fringe group Neturei Karta – 6. Is there a future in Stamford Hill