Davina – Provision Beyond Belief!

Davinacomeshome

It’s hard to believe that this photo was taken a year ago. We’d picked up the keys for Davina the camper-van many times before, but it had always just felt like we were baby sitting her…we could always hand her back when she misbehaved (as she often did). This time, however, was different.

There’s that look in my eyes…the sense of excitement, pride and disbelief – simultaneously pleased as Punch and scared witless. In many ways it reminded me of that first journey home after being discharged from the labour ward, but in a sense we were actually taking care of a beautiful old lady. Originating from Germany and having spend most of her life in Rhode Island, U.S.A., she found her way to Scotland in 2010. She had the appearance of a weathered traveller when she was discovered harbouring in Ayrshire. The Scottish Bible Society (SBS) had the vision to restore and commission her as a means of journeying, of creating sanctuary and retreat outside of traditional places of worship.

We stumbled upon a promotional leaflet in 2011, got in touch, bounced around some ideas and threw out a bunch of invitations to head down to the beach on a sunny August Saturday afternoon. Over 60 people from different parts of our lives turned up – people we knew through surfing, through our local community, through our daughter’s school, through church and a host of folks we didn’t know at all. There was no particular agenda, but throughout the afternoon we heard little snippets of conversations that just made us smile at the very notion of sharing life simply and authentically out in the open rather than behind the confines of the walls of buildings that we often congregate within. In my mind there is one story from that day that became a catalyst for everything that followed and you can read that by clicking here.

Little did we know then what would follow. In 2012 Steve, who had been the original pioneer behind the Exit:Van project that the camper had been associated with, moved on to a new job. Having applauded SBS for the great project they had initiated, they then began to explore whether or not we would play any role in continuing to develop that. Despite my own enthusiasm, all I could really see was obstacles. In an enormous act of generosity, SBS suggested that Vicky and I volunteered for them – that way we would be covered by their insurance and could help ourselves to the van whenever we wanted to as long as we simply put some fuel in her! We could barely believe it, but it enabled us to test drive some ideas. A year later SBS decided they were going to sell the van and wondered whether we would like to buy her to develop our ideas and continue her legacy? Once again we could see so much potential, but an £18,000 price tag was a barrier to entry. How on earth could we make that happen? Maybe we needed to fix our eyes on things above?

Having thought and prayed about it for a couple of weeks and sought the wisdom of our church leaders, the leadership of Christian Surfers UK and a few close friends, the only way that I can describe it is that “it seemed right to us” to pursue it. Within 10 days we had been pledged £10,000! Upon telling SBS this, they suggested we paid them £7,000 as a down-payment in recognition that the van needed some essential remedial works. They suggested that we paid another £3,333 each year for the following three years. Our home church offered to administer the funds in order to remove the administrative hassle from us and to provide accountability to anyone who wanted to pledge financial support.

A couple of further generous one-off gifts and a small number of monthly standing orders from other individuals who shared something of our vision enabled us to pay for some key remedial items and insurance. This past year has enabled us to get Davina back into good health and running well and to use her as intended. We hope that the blog and social media have been platforms to faithfully tell something of her ongoing story and how that is shaping other peoples’ stories too.

Truthfully though, there have been plenty of times this year when I have been anxious about the repayment. It has felt like a big step of faith and no-one likes the burden of debt. As we approached the first of our three further balancing payments to SBS, I was amazed at how the funds had been provided. Once again, a series of generous gifts or acts by others combined with our own personal giving and resources had come good. Just as I was about to contact our church about releasing the next payment of the funds that they administer on our behalf for the van, they got in touch with us. They in turn had been the benefactors of others’ generosity. It transpired that we actually had about £5,000 amassed in the Soul Surfers kitty. The elders at our home church decided to match that out of the gifts they had received form others and, therefore, pay off the balance of the van in full! As has so often been the case thus far, we were completely blown away and left fairly speechless. Praise be!

So, what next? Well, we hope that people will continue to support us as the upkeep of a 47 year old Camper-van involves a fair bit of TLC. We want to steward and look after her well. We continue to use her in partnership with Soul Surfers, CSUK and Scripture Union in terms of the ongoing development of SUrf Camps after the success of our pilot project this summer. We want to enable others to find ways in which she can function for the purpose she was created – as a mobile sacred space. If you would like to explore that, then please drop an email to brian@biallen.freeserve.co.uk with the heading “Davina”.

A huge “thank you” is due to everyone who has played a part – from words of support or encouragement and to financial contributions. “Thank you” also to those who faithfully pledge monthly support which assists us greatly in the annual maintenance and insurance to enable us to continue to run the van, facilitate the things we have progressed and to look to new opportunities.

B.

Telling tales…

After the success of our collaborative SUrf camp this summer (which you can read about by clicking here), we were invited to join SU Scotland at their Big Celebration this weekend.

Davina the camper-van operated as a mobile story booth. She was rigged up with studio lighting and a couple of cameras.  We simply opened up her doors and invited people to share 60-second stories of their involvement with SU this year. As I ambled at various point throughout the day, I was struck at how she just fitted in – not bolshy or seeking to be the main event.

SUBigCelebration1

SUBigCelebration2

I really was unsure how many people would interact with her. At the end of the afternoon, however, Neil who had been responsible for the camera-work said that he had been busy and that Davina had provided the perfect setting. Many people don’t want to be in the spot-light or seen to be blowing their own trumpet. He had a sparkle in his eyes as he commented on how he had been able to almost eavesdrop into conversations or to capture stories that may otherwise have failed to reach an audience.

I was musing upon these things and others as we meandered back home looking over fields that were white onto harvest as a rainbow arched above us.

SUBigCelebration3

Upon nearing home, we pulled into a small supermarket car-park to pick up a couple of essentials. We were flagged down by two guys in a car who were waving and giving us “thumbs up” signs. They came over and we chatted for 10 or 15 minutes about camper-vans and something of Davina’s own unique story and how we find ourselves somehow written into that. As they took photos on their mobiles I noticed another woman hovering at a near-by car. Once the first two guys and I had parted company, she also wandered over to complement the van. It turns out that she has a more modern Volkswagen camper and we got talking about all that they conjure up. Once again, we found ourselves very naturally trading tales of shared experience and re-telling something of Davina’s story.

I find myself thinking about how effortlessly people are drawn to us and how easily conversations seem to spring up when we are out and about in our mobile sacred space – being open, undistracted by time and bringing smiles to faces. We are story-tellers and, just maybe, new ones are beginning to be written.

B.

Let there be light.

I’ve really been enjoying the range of writing styles, subject matter and cultural lenses through which people perceive the world as conveyed by those contributing to huck magazine of late. Professional skateboarder and contemporary artist, Ed Templeton, has curated the most recent edition. Within its pages both he and his wife, Deanna, talk about their passion for leica photography and chronicling the seemingly every day things of life in Huntington Beach. Interestingly, they both comment separately about the importance of light in that medium and of how drawn they are to Europe because of the culture, architecture and ever-changing light.  By contrast, sunlight in Huntington Beach is pretty much a given and pretty much constant. It made me think about how easy it is to be absorbed in things, to focus on the thing directly in front of us.  Maybe that is why Instagram and social media grab me so much – they distract me back to the little things that we often miss in each allotted day.

Last Sunday we decided to take a sabbatical from the rest of our week. Maybe it was an attempt to prolong the summer holidays now that I’m back at work. Maybe it was a realisation that we’d really felt fairly thinly stretched in the lead up to summer. Maybe it was a recognition that we need a break from the usual rhythm of life and work and, even, some of the stuff that we are involved in which is connected with Soul Surfers. Maybe it was the desire to protect some time alone as a family unit. Maybe it was the need to just have some space and no demands placed upon us. We simply put “nothing” in the diary. We scored out the things we’d usually be committed to and headed off on a mini road-trip choosing a soundtrack that would navigate our thoughts upwards.

On the drive down, I just found myself looking at the sky: the cloud formations; the sun breaking through; the shifting shadows that were created. Having checked the tide times, we took a detour and it made it across the causeway to Lindisfarne.  We ambled along ancient paths that pilgrims have trodden, made tracks through the marram-grass and looked over the ruins of the abbey and out to sea. But, once again, my eyes were drawn upwards to the sky and the clouds.

Aug5

Aug6

Aug4

Even when we found a little sanctuary in the island’s quiet buildings, my thoughts were directed to things above.

Aug3

The following Sunday marked our monthly rhythm of throwing out an open invite and heading to the coast. I just wanted others to experience a little of what I had so helpfully felt the previous week.  So, in an attempt not to disrupt the plans that others may have had in place, we arranged to meet at Belhaven Bay in the late afternoon. Driving Davina the camper-van to the coast always slows life down for me.  Soon over 20 of us had convened in a grassy car-park overlooking the water as rays of sun punctuated the brooding skies.

Maybe it’s been a combination of those thoughts of Europe’s shifting light, a couple of mid-week soakings on the daily bike ride and some thoughts from Oswald Chambers written in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s that I’ve been musing upon this week, but I wanted us to embrace the elements. So often we live lives that are so sterilised in our temperature controlled and air-conditioned little cocoons of buildings and modes of transport. Whilst these things keep us comfortable, I wonder if they also keep us numb? Whatever happened to singing in the rain?

So, we took a couple of guitars and some percussion and did just that.  What started as windswept worship quickly became a bit of a wash-out. Part of me wanted to stay there and push on through, but I also recognised that not all of us were equipped with suitable clothing and I was concerned that some of the children were getting cold. We headed back to take refuge in Davina the camper-van, but it was clear that the rain was on to stay for a while.

Aug7

Jamie and Mary kindly offered that we all de-bunked back at their home. Flasks and snacks were decanted, the children played, we chatted and then picked up where we had left off on the beach. I’d asked Jamie to share a few thoughts and, true to form, it was as articulate and simultaneously light and weighty and helpful as the writings conveyed on his blog, The Accidental Monastic. Then he and his wife shared something of their own giftings, speaking very directly into situations they could have known little, if anything, about. Sometimes you just want to stay there in the moment, but life pushes you back out into the seasons you inhabit, chewing things over.

As time marched on, most of us decided to head back to the beach after a visit to the local chip shop.  As the temperature dropped a little and the daylight began to fade, we sat around a picnic table eating, laughing and enjoying one another’s company as a family of sorts that is connected by friendship rather than blood-ties.

Aug1

After we finished our food and bade our good-byes, I spent most of the drive back home in the camper-van mulling over the words that had been said and looking at the heavily dabbled clouds and shards of sunbeams as the colour and light continued to shift…

Aug2

I’m learning to spend more time in the slow-lane attending to a little kindling for the soul.

B.

The Lord Moves In Mysterious Ways…

So this is a story.  It’s an ongoing story.  It’s a story about a camper-van called Davina and of a friend of mine who I cherish dearly but who is very different from me in many ways.

Soul Surfers Exit Van E and C

Even the most occasional visitor to this blog probably knows something about Davina.  You can get a brief synopsis by clicking on the “What Is Davina The Camper-van?” link at the top of the page.  We had been hiring her from the Scottish Bible Society (SBS) for some beach get-togethers for a couple of years, but last summer we were presented with the opportunity of buying her.  Davina occupied a soft place of fondness in our hearts.  We loved the story of her past, her heritage and the purpose for which she had been restored and commissioned.  We could see SO much potential for how her legacy could live on.  We had heads full of ideas and dreams.  We also had a fairly empty bank account…

After a couple of weeks of chatting things through with friends and seeking the wisdom and counsel of others, the best words I can come up with are that “it seemed right to us to pursue things”.  So, we did.  A host of people caught something of our story and vision.  Some people we knew, and some we didn’t, offered to chip in financially.  We were dumbfounded in many ways, somewhat blown away, excited and fully at peace.  Last September we were able to make a fairly significant down-payment and were granted a very attractive, interest free, repayment arrangement over the next three years which we continue to fund raise for.  Now, that is the story we love to tell.  That is the story that continues to unfold.  That is a story I feel comfortable with…

But, there is more…

I have a good friend who has walked through life with us for the past 6 years or so.  She had offered to pray about the situation when we were trying to weigh up whether we should progress with trying to purchase Davina or not.  Whilst most people we know listened well and prayed and mulled things over and came back to us with general encouragement or affirmation, this particular friend’s response was different.  As I said earlier, in many ways we are very different.  The way she talks about prayer often relates to her conversations and arguments with God as she walks the streets and paths of her every day existence. I like that.  It speaks of relationship.  She describes most of this like a conversation where it’s not just her talking, but where she hears God speaking back clearly and in real-time.  Amidst the encouraging noises we were receiving from others, she offered hesitation.

One day on her way to work she was talking to God about it and she thought God was telling her to look for the blue camper-van.  Davina is green and white and so she entered into a bit of a discussion with God about it.  She kept thinking that He was telling her to look for the blue camper-van.  Whilst this was going on, she was walking up Cockburn Street and saw a bag in a shop window shaped like a blue camper-van.

Right

at

that

moment

in

time.

davinabag

What do you do with that?  Brush it off?  She paused and went into the shop.  On enquiring about the price of the bag in the window, she then started browsing for something cheaper with a blue camper-van on it.  She couldn’t find anything else.  She still felt her conscience was pricking her that she should actually buy the bag.  She didn’t need a bag and I suspect that the price-tag of the bag was already accounted for somewhere else in her monthly budgeting.  She felt like God was challenging her, “If you don’t believe that I can provide for the cost of this bag, how can you believe that I can provide the cost of the camper-van?”

She’s a pretty matter-of-fact kinda girl, so she started chatting to the sales assistant about how she had these friends who were thinking of buying a camper-van and how she’d been praying and had thought that God had told her to look for the blue camper-van and then she had seen the bag in the window and now she thought God was telling her to buy the bag.  I have no idea what the girl serving her thought about it all…I can’t imagine that you have too many conversations like that from customers in your average working day, week, month, year or life!

Anyhow, later that week she pitched up at our house looking rather sheepish and a bit dazed and confused to be honest.  She told us the story and gave us the bag.  We really didn’t know what to make of it all.  I mean the bag wasn’t cheap.  Just like the story of the women who could have sold the expensive perfume she had and given the money raised to the poor rather than extravagantly pouring it over Jesus’ feet, our friend could have given us the equivalent amount of money and put it in the camper-van kitty.  Were we really not to pursue the green camper?

People could write a story like this off as a being a bit nuts.  Let’s face it – it is a bit nuts!  You might very likely be thinking I’m nuts and that my friends are nuts as you’re reading this.  The reality is, however, that we totally respect her and we were touched by her generosity, even if we didn’t know what to make of it.

The weeks rumbled on and it still seemed right to us to pursue Davina.  I concluded that our friend had simply demonstrated obedience to what she thought was being asked of her even if she didn’t understand why.  Things progressed with buying Davina, we love the bag and haven’t really given it that much more thought over the past six months to be honest.

Well, that was until now…

A couple of weeks ago I was sorting out some final DVLA paperwork with SBS.  They then send me a photo saying, “Not sure if you’ve seen this picture, but here’s the van when she first arrived in Scotland from New York”.

Davinablue

I was stunned.  It’s the spitting image of the van on the bag – right down to the shade of blue and the silver VW badge.  It just seemed so re-affirming.  Our friend had been faithful and obedient – crazy as it seemed.  We had found the blue camper-van.  It turns out both of us were right…

So, last week I popped in to catch up with SBS.  I had a good blether over a cup of coffee.  As I went to leave they gave us two tents and a host of camping chairs and other things they no longer needed.  It’s really good quality stuff and they knew we could make use of it.  They also gave us a box full of 150 awesome Lectio Divina (from where her name is derived) handbooks which, again, we can use readily with the van once she is back on the road.  They have truly exemplified such ongoing generosity and are cheering us on as we take Davina back out onto the road less travelled…

lectio1

lectio2

Over these past few months the van has been safe and warm in a secure garage as we try to raise sufficient funds to get her serviced and have some remedial items taken care of.  We were hopeful of a grant application coming good in December.  The very week we got a knock-back on that, we received a link to a blog I referenced recently of the impact that our little collective and the camper-van had upon the life of a teenage girl the very first day we took the van to the beach.  That very week someone else encouraged me to just keep telling the stories.  As I pondered that I asked permission of the person who wrote the other blog post as to whether I could share it on my blog.  They said I could and, so, I did.  You can read that by clicking here if you want.

24 hours later an unexpected and significant financial donation was made to the van fund by the Baptist Union of Scotland.  It will enable us to get a lot of the essential work done and, today, I have made contact to get her booked into the specialist garage!

Last week I was at a meeting at our church.  Someone I don’t know prayed for me.  They knew very little of my situation, but kept praying about any financial stresses about Soul Surfers.  The reality is that there’s still a lot of money to find over the next three years to fund the van.  On Saturday morning I was checking Facebook over breakfast and there was a message from someone I have never met, but whom I have an on-line connection with.  I don’t really know where he is on his own faith journey, but he runs a small surf and skate shop and he just said that he wanted to donate us a surfboard and wetsuit to auction for funds!  More unexpected favour and generosity – totally out of the blue!

At times, the things that are happening to us seems altogether bonkers.  It’s mad to think that it’s happening to us – a couple of very ordinary individuals who were presented with an opportunity, approached some trusted individuals to pray about it, felt that it was something that we should pursue and stepped out in faith.  The story is still being written and I want to be faithful in telling it as best I can.  It’s an adventure that regularly leaves me with a sense of disbelief…then I catch my breath and realise that it’s not about disbelief at all…

B.

P.S. If you’d like to help us with our ongoing funding of Davina, then please drop us an email at brian@biallen.freeserve.co.uk with the heading “Davina” or click here.

An unexpected email and an unexpected gift…

For even a casual reader of this blog, the stories about Davina the camper-van have become an increasingly regular feature over this past year.  If you’re unfamiliar with what that is about or want to know the latest position then please click here.

So, in a week where we had another grant application knock back, I was blown away to receive an unexpected email yesterday afternoon advising of another very generous contribution.  We really hadn’t expected it and, yet, as we try to simply tell our stories it would seem that they are resonating with others.  The amount being gifted to us ought to enable us to get the service, MOT and desperately needed waxoyl underseal taken care of whilst hopefully also remedying the isolated areas of corrosion.  It looks like Davina will be back on the road less travelled very soon!

Please feel free to insert appropriate hash-tags: #PraiseBe! #provision! #grateful! #IFlippin’LoveCommunity!  #faithfullness!  #humbled  #affirmation

Davina shaka

B.

Good things come to those that wait…

In 1999 Guinness beamed an iconic image of surfing into millions of households.  For those of a certain generation, the advert remains one of the most instantly recognisable and has won a host of accolades.   I think it has something to do with the beauty of the imagery, the power of Neptune’s white horses and the sense of waiting…

Patience is a virtue.  It’s something that surfing has taught me in a way.  Surfing is so dependent on a variety of things: wind direction; swell; wave period, to name but a few.  I found it a complete frustration when I started.  With skating, there was little that would get in the way other than rain.  Whilst high winds or fog could be a deterrent to snowboarding, provided there was a good covering of snow, there was an expectation you could go riding regularly during the winter months.  But, patience is something any surfer needs to learn during landlocked days or weeks or, simply, in the waiting between sets.

Patience doesn’t just mean waiting around.  In surf terms, the waiting is likely to be filled with keeping fit, practicing manoeuvres on dry land or on a longboard skateboard and keeping a watchful eye on the weather charts and surf reports.  Developing patience can be a conscious thing, a mind-set.  Whilst waiting can be frustrating, it is often fueled by hope or expectation.

There was a song by Arcade Fire a few years ago called “We Used To Wait.”  It talks of how Win Butler used to write letters and yet, in the relationship he has with the muse to whom the song is directed that has never happened.  Everything is instantaeneous in on our modern world: instant credit; pay-day loans; on-line purchasing; entertainment; social media; on-line dating; etc.  But, much like Win Butler’s musings in the song, I used to spend time in my teenage years just waiting around.

My wife and I started dating before either of us had mobile phones or internet access and, yes, that sentence seems strange to read back to myself now.  Nevertheless, we used to write to one another loads because we stayed in different towns and cities at different stages of those early years of dating.  I used to wait for letters and words and so did she.  I can echo the closing verse of the song which states,

“It seems strange how we used to wait for letters to arrive, but stranger still is how something so small can keep you alive”.

The boxes of love letters and postcards that each of us sent to the other whilst we waited on the other remain like treasure buried safely in our home… It reminds me of some ancient words about a related thing – endurance or perseverance:

“…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame…”

Those of you who read this blog with any regularity will probably know something of the story of Davina the camper-van.  If not, then I wrote a couple of posts back in July about an opportunity that presented itself.  You can fill in the back story by clicking here to read the first of those posts or here for the second.

In a nutshell, we’ve had access to the occasional use of VW camper over the past three years.  She’s fairly iconic and has felt like a part of what we have been pioneering for quite some time.

Soul Surfers Exit Van E and C

The first time we partnered with her owner and had her attend one of our beach days, over 60 people turned up.  It was a glorious day as we caught up with various friends and met some new people.  We were overwhelmed with a sense of what could be as we overheard little sound bytes of conversation as people from different parts of our lives met and chatted and got to know one another out on the beach.  That day was significant.  Nobody was there pushing any agenda or trying to turn conversations to particular topics but, as people made connections, the air was full of the buzz of chitter chatter.  For those who wanted to chat about surfing or camper-vans, it was the natural place to do so.  For those who wanted to enquire about how people knew one another, that was very natural too.  For those who wanted to know who the green and white split screen camper belonged to, the answer probably took them by surprise.  The Scottish Bible Society? Really?  Why?  For those who wanted to find out more, there was a natural way to do so on their own terms in a safe environment.  For those who wanted to change the subject, that was natural too.  We know of one family for whom that day lead each of them to reconnect or re-examine and explore their own faith afresh.

Davina has become associated with Soul Surfers in many people’s minds.  A friend who I first met when he turned up at one of our beach days and whom I have loved getting to know well over the past two years or so, returned from a trip down south about this time last year.  He handed me a key-ring with the phrase, “saw this, thought of you”.

P1040400

In the subsequent period we’ve sought waves together from Thurso to Cornwall and have enjoyed plenty of time invested in one another’s company, learning of one another’s stories and walking through life together.  The key-ring is with me as a daily reminder of friendship and life’s journeys.

For my birthday last July, he gave me a beautiful book inside which was written, “The second I saw this, I knew it was for you!  Whilst we don’t get to do as many trips as we’d like, I hope this book fuels your dreams and inspires your journeys, just don’t day-dream too much!  Much love, grace and peace”, followed by his signature and the phrase, “Be still and know that I am God, Psalm 46: 10”.

P1040405

P1040404

When we discovered in June this year that the Scottish Bible Society had decided to sell the camper-van, we felt excited about the possibilities that may have opened up despite not having the money to buy her and being wary about taking on a significant debt.  After seeking the wisdom and counsel of others it simply “seemed right to us” to pursue the opportunity.

There is, indeed, a time for patience and waiting.  The thing is, however, that if we always waited for perfect conditions, then we’d never go surfing.  In fact, there would be a huge array of things we’d never do if that were the case.  Sometimes we just need to go in the strength that we have.

We emailed a bunch of folks and put up a couple of posts on the blog explaining something of our story and the vision we had for how the van could be potentially used.  Within a fortnight we had received pledges of support of over £10,000!

So much has happened in the subsequent months.  Despite a few knock-backs with grant applications, individuals pledged one-off sums or monthly amounts.  The story moved so quickly that often the funding applications we were making seemed out of date by the time they reached their audience.  My home church, Central, then offered to administer the funds in a ring fenced account which would add credibility in making future grant applications to Trust Funds, etc and provide us with the benefits of being able to benefit from gift aid, etc.  As such, Central would become legal owners with myself as registered keeper with the van to be used in the ways we imagined in the posts written back in July.

The Scottish Bible Society have been exemplary and we have reached an agreement where we have paid a down-payment of £7000 with SBS agreeing that the balancing £10,000 can be paid off by three further annual payments on an interest free basis.  There are a host of significant additional costs in terms of insurance, addressing immediate remedial works including a new wax-oyl under-seal and isolated corrosion on some of the panel seals,  servicing, MOT and general running costs.  The overall project is likely to cost circa £25,000 to £28,000 over a three-year period.  That may sound scary but, it still seems like we are to step out in faith and to continue to tell stories of the things than unfold and hope that it captures the imagination of other individuals or charitable trusts whom we make grant applications to.  We’re about half way there already!

So here we stand having taken the keys, put the insurance in place and garaged her securely to protect her from the cold weather.  We’re brewing coffees and green teas and knuckling down to grant applications, telling stories of our adventures and pushing doors for further funding to bridge the gap over the next three years whilst actually seeking to get on with things.  Right now, we need to get the Mot and service and immediate repairs undertaken in order to get her back out onto the road properly.

Davinacomeshome

I think part of our problem can be that our ideas can seem fluid for those who are used to appraising detailed business plans.  The funny thing is that I regularly have to think in such terms in my day-to-day work and, yet, this feels like we are to have a fairly blank page and to leave plenty of room in the margins…The humbling and encouraging thing is that plenty of others have encouraged us in their words or in financially supporting us thus far, because they also see the potential.

It’s been hugely exciting and, yet, we’ve generally felt very at peace.  In some ways it’s felt surreal, almost as if it wasn’t actually happening to us, but was someone else’s story that we just had the good fortune to watch opening up before us.  It’s the sort of thing that happens to our people, not to ordinary folks like us…Everytime, I have wondered whether we should pursue something else, a cheaper alternative or another van, people have spoken into the situation confirming that it is Davina that we should pursue.  Conversely, I regularly felt like the worst salesman in the world.  When people offered us money, I challenged them to really think about it.  When images of chemical attacks in Syria beamed into our homes, it seemed like the notion of creating a mobile sacred space in a camper-van was so unimportant in the grand scheme of things.  Could God really be interested in something like that?  And, yet, as we sat with a contract for sale in our possession, I was finishing reading “Groundswell – The Christian Surfers Story” by Brett Davis.  Within the closing chapters of that book, I came to discover that there has been this strong international link forming between regional Christian Surfer groups and regional Bible Societies throughout the globe over many years.  That felt strangely affirming – that in some small way we were continuing to see a partnership continue as we look to developing the ongoing legacy of the Bible Society’s former van.

groundswell

Regularly I find myself thinking that all of this seems ludicrous and audacious…and yet, it also seems entirely right.  Good things come to those who wait…

B.

P.S. Should you wish to support this project financially, then you can donate directly by using the “Find out how to support Davina the camper-van” link on the right hand side of the page or, simply, click here.  Alternatively, you can email me at brian@biallen.freeserve.co.uk for further information.

Givenet-SUPPORT-button-LARGE-white