Do you know what it is like to stand in a room with hundreds of other people worshipping God?
It’s a feeling you rarely get to experience in the north of England these days, but Spring Harvest is one of those places. This year about thirty Kay Streeters ventured to Spring Harvest Harrogate.
For those who haven’t been before, Spring Harvest is a family friendly holiday full of action packed programmes for children, teenagers and adults. There’s high quality Bible teaching, exuberant times of worship (this year provided by Elim Sound) and plenty to see and do in and around the festival all week. This year the festival celebrates its 40th birthday. It is usually hosted at a few different Butlins sites around the country, but this is the second year it’s also been hosted at the huge, sprawling Harrogate Conference Centre.
This year’s theme was all about prayer. Called, Unlimited #whenyoupray, the theme focused mostly around the words of Jesus in his ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (Matthew 6). If you don’t know it, go and read these words, they will challenge and inspire.
I asked those who went Spring Harvest this year what their highlights and reflections were of their time away. One person said it was ‘intellectual stimulation, emotional impact, spiritual challenge and re-invigoration’. Spring Harvest is one of those opportunities to really dig deeper with God. Another person was encouraged to think how prayer doesn’t necessarily change our situations, but can change our attitude and perspective on those situations to see things from God’s point of view. Many who commented have found new perspectives on The Lord’s Prayer (better called The Disciples Prayer) too, finding out that it’s not as formal a prayer as one always thinks. One person was reminded that our prayers have to be real and honest. Our prayers won’t always be cheery and joyful, there’s a long tradition of ‘lamentation’ in people’s prayers too. Someone else really found encouragement from the thought that the prayers of the saints - that’s us and our prayers! (read Revelation 5:8) are ‘valued, treasured and at the right time - answered’.
There were practical tips too about how we can develop our prayer lives: from trying to pray with our faces covered with a coat or scarf (suffocation warning advised), to being encouraged to be more generous, open handed (or ‘wide eyed’) people rather than tight fisted (or ‘narrow eyed’) people - seeing that praying from a position of generosity changes our prayer perspective from being ‘needy’, to being ‘blessed’. Some have even been challenged to walk the dog more (or even get a dog!), and use it as an opportunity to intentionally pray, to find their ‘there’ places. (Incidentally, I have a very energetic and friendly dog who is always happy to assist with this, if anyone is interested?)
One person said it was ‘intellectual stimulation, emotional impact, spiritual challenge and re-invigoration’. Spring Harvest is one of those opportunities to really dig deeper with God.
SH2019 saw the welcome return of Malcolm Duncan who led the morning Bible studies. Malcolm brings such deep wisdom, humility and joy to his teaching. So many Kay Streeters were inspired, challenged and invigorated by his teaching. Someone described it as having the ‘top of my head removed and all sorts of new stuff sprinkled in’. If you’d like to hear what he had to say, all the teaching at Spring Harvest is recorded, and will be available to buy or download from the website soon.
Spring Harvest Harrogate has a different feel to its bigger, long established Butlins brothers. Being integrated in to the middle of Harrogate, there is freedom to explore the historic sites, wander it’s parks, or stop for afternoon tea in Betty’s. Spring Harvest even put on day trips to local attractions too, like Bolton Abbey, and they took over the local swimming pool for the afternoon. Young people were offered afternoons of fun with games, and a huge hall of inflatables to bounce around on. Although this conference is designed to challenge and shape our Christian character, it really is a holiday too.
Being in Harrogate, there’s a wide range of accommodation, from hotels, houses and apartments to rent close by to the conference centre, to indoor camping for the more adventurous festival goers. Not everyone who came to Spring Harvest could make it for the full five days of the conference, another seven from Kay Street just came for a day or two on day tickets. But whether there for five days or just one, everyone took something valuable away with them (and I don’t just mean from the book shop). And for a few people, like Kathryn, who is soon venturing out to be part of Mercy Ships as a result of listening last year at the conference to what God may be asking of her, Spring Harvest literally is changing lives.
If you’re considering going next year, the theme termed Unleashed, tracing through the book of Acts, promises to be an exciting one. The dates are going to be 14th - 18th April 2020 (Tuesday - Saturday following Easter). Book your place at springharvest.org and speak to one of the many Kay Streeters who plan to return - they’ll be the best advert for you.
Jonny Hirst (and on behalf of the Spring Harvesters 2019)