So I said I’d tell you all about the Servants With Jesus.
For short, they call it sJw – with Jesus in the middle and keeping themselves small and lowly :0) ~ parvo et humilis !
This is their website, which tells you the basics.
They were founded back in the 1970s, with a vision for creating a Christian presence on a portion of land in East Sussex that King Offa gave ‘to serve the praise of God’ for ever, in 772 AD. A manor house (now in ruins) stood on the land. It had a Coach House that provided accommodation for carriages and for servants. The sJw were able to obtain the lease, renovated the building into living accommodation, and made it their base and retreat house. In the retreatants’ rooms is one they call the Prophet’s Room, because people who stay their often hear especially clearly from God.
The vision of sJw is for an interdenominational group of Christian women, called to be close to Jesus as Mary (of Bethany – Martha’s sister) was. They are to share in the fellowship of His sufferings as they minister to Him and to the world. So their calling is first just to be with Him, then to minister to others.
The form this ministry takes is to work and pray for the furtherance of the love and unity of all God’s people; and by praying, living and speaking, lift Him up before the world.
Each sister must discern her own individual vocation, the special path to which she is called, but all the sisters have this in common ~ they are to live in their own homes, making them places of praise, peace and refuge until the Lord comes; and they are to live as the Good Wife in Proverbs 31.
The sisters meet for worship praise and intercession whenever they can, and the strength and love for their ministry in their homes and neighbourhoods arises from these times in the presence of Jesus together.
They play a full part in the lives of the churches to which they belong, encouraging, helping and supporting.
They also feel a call to establishing centres and opportunities for inter-denominational worship and evangelism, training people of all ages in Christian discipleship and service, and distributing and publishing Christian literature.
As a sign of their fellowship, each sister wears a gold cross and chain, and dresses in purple (because of the verse about the Proverbs Good Wife).
Jerusalem House (the name sJw received from God for the Coach House) is open every day, with different sisters on hand to welcome and talk with guests, and make them a cup of tea.
The vision for the Servants With Jesus, at its inception, was part of a wider wave of renewal that swept through England, and in East Sussex sJw played a part in a visionary movement of interdenominational faithfulness to God, rediscovering the charisms of the Spirit and a sense of purpose and direction in the pilgrimage of faith.
What I love love love about the sJw especially is that they really believe. They pray with expectation of outcome. They walk a hidden way without advertising themselves, trusting God for the who and the what. If they need money, they don’t fundraise, they pray it in. And they believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and are not embarrassed to speak about it.
To me, this feels like water on a thirsty land. I feel as though I’ve come upon a whole group of Old Narnians – such a treasure, such a joy.
The odd thing is that I met them, and worked alongside them for a little while, right back in the 1980s. I sort of dimly knew they were there, but our paths hadn’t crossed again since then. And now suddenly, after searching and searching and searching, not finding what I was looking for, not finding my community, my place to belong ~ here they are; right under my nose but hidden from my view until now.
I have asked if I may join them. Please pray for me, dear friends. Their oversight committee meets to consider my request on March 5th. My heart so longs to be part of this community, and I have been trotting along feral through the wild animal tracks of the desert such a long time, not unhappy but never finding a place to belong, a faith community whose life and ministry witnessed with my soul, struck the same chord as my own heart.
There is a probationary period to serve before full acceptance, which I see as a good and necessary thing. But I long to begin.