Source : 25/10/1984 Northampton Chronicle and Echo
As the member mentioned in the article on October 10, I would like to express my own view of the Jesus People and life in community.
I first visited the Church in 1975 when I was nearly 18, and moved into the community over three years later when I had completed my degree course at the University of Kent. During those three years I was confronted with many adverse views of community living, including the kind of criticism contained in your recent series.
Why then, in spite of all this, did I decide that this was the place for me, and what is it, six years later, that keeps me as unshaken and joyful in my commitment as ever?
The fact is that all those who become committed members of the Jesus Fellowship Church and embrace its lifestyle, do so because they see in community living a way of practising meaningful and whole-hearted Christianity.
Community living, by its very nature, means self-sacrifice and, to some extent, a loss of independence. What I do no longer affects only me, but those with whom I have chosen to share my life. Sometimes that's painful, but more often it is a great joy to be freed from the self-centred, materialistic, lonely and uncaring pattern of western society, and to live among people for whom the Christian Gospel means real loving, real giving, real devotion to God and one another.
No-one joins the community under any illusions. I know of cases where church leaders have actually discouraged prospective members because they are overhasty in making such a decision.
Sometimes, for one reason or another, community members decide they no longer desire this way of life - then of course they are free to go. Naturally, it is not easy to disentangle oneself from people with whom one has shared so much for so long - of course it is painful, and of course we who love them do not want to see them go - that is just common human feeling, nothing more sinister than that.
I do sincerely pray that those who have left us will find God's blessing on their lives; for it is not our desire that God should 'judge' anyone - but I pray also that they will find the grace to forgive any mistakes that have been made, and to leave those for whom community living is a privilege and a joy, to pursue in peace the way they have chosen to follow.