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Just three days after churches in Bedford opened their ‘HOPE Space’ on a local high street, the first young woman who walked through the doors was asking to be baptised!

Local Christians had worked together to rent a local shop, next to Primark and Costa, with the aim of creating a space where people could come to experience God themselves – and they did! When they were able to open the space to the public as lockdown restrictions eased, this particular young woman got talking to a church volunteer, who then arranged an online Bible study with her, which led to the woman giving her life to Jesus.

41% of Christians report that a spiritual experience or a sense of the love of Jesus was a key factor in them coming to faith. With this in mind, HOPE Together, in partnership with 24-7 Prayer and the Church of England, are encouraging churches across the country to set up their own HOPE Space in 2020, inviting their local communities to experience God by talking and listening to him in a prayer.

Stephen Elphick of HOPE Bedford said, ‘We just want [people] to come into the presence of God [and] ask questions.’ To encourage this, their creative HOPE Space included a quiet place with running water, decorated with poems and Bible quotes, for people to rest and mediate in, a gospel-themed video running on a loop, and a stand outside with free copies of HOPE for All (a conversation-starter magazine with stories of celebrity baptisms and more; you can order copies from the HOPE shop.

You don’t have to have a shop to set up a HOPE Space, however. Your church could run one in a gazebo in a garden, a park or on a high street, or in a place of work or a school – anywhere in your village, town or city that’s easily accessible to members of the public.

HOPE Together have produced a number of resources to help you set up your own HOPE Space, including:

  • Ideas for prayer stations in your HOPE Space are available here
  • A new film, ‘Hope in Uncertain Times’, suitable for showing on a screen in a HOPE Space, as well as an accompanying booklet to give out to people. These have been specially created to share the Christian message of hope in the midst of the pandemic. A taster video can be found here and the full length edition here.
  • hopeforall.org.uk is a great website to signpost to non-Christians online, with encouraging videos and stories of hope.
  • Resources for Hope Spaces are available to buy from the online HOPE shop
    • Hope Spaces Prayer cards – these perforated cards have space for people to write or draw their own prayer, which can be torn off and left on a ‘Wall of Hope’ in the HOPE Space, with a blessing on the other side for them to take away with them
    • Beautifully presented, affordable copies of Mark’s Gospel to have available in the HOPE Space or to give away to people
    • ‘Who Do You Say I Am?’ – a gift book, which is a wonderful, illustrated introduction to the person of Jesus Christ. This could be a perfect resource to give people who have engaged with your HOPE Space and who have further questions
HOPE’s executive director Roy Crowne, says: ‘At this time, when huge numbers of people have been Googling “How to Pray”, we have an amazing opportunity to be inviting people to encounter the God of hope!’

Sign up here - www.hopetogether.org.uk/hopespaces - to receive information about Hope Spaces and to receive a free ‘How to run a Hope Space’ booklet.
Glenys
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