7 February 2023
The story of Hope and Living Free.
If you’ve been around Hope for a while you’ve probably heard someone mention Living Free! This is some teaching that we first received as a church in 2004 and have continued to lean into since then. It’s helped to bring the healthy culture we enjoy within the church through giving us very practical tools to help us follow Jesus every day. Here is an overview of Living Free – what it is and where it came from. This is the story…
Silas and Annie Crawley started Hope as a new church in an old chapel in 2000. In 2004 Silas was suffering with a debilitating bout of chronic fatigue. A friend recommended he go over to Seattle to a conference that he thought would help Silas. Silas was reluctant but the friend persisted and even offered to pay. Silas went and came back a different man. So much so that Annie and 9 others of us from Hope flew out to the US for the next conference in 2005.
Living Free came from this church near Seattle where a number of events sent them into a rapid learning journey. One of these was the pastor’s wife seeing an angel in her bathroom. That was a shock! They also had people manifesting evil spirits in their church services like we read of in the gospels and Acts (e.g. Mark 1.23, Acts 19.16). All of these things were outside of their theology and normal church experience. When they prayed for people who were affected by evil spirits in their services, they would pray for hours but nothing would happen. They realised there was a lot that they did not understand or live as Christians, despite having followed Jesus for many years.
As they pursued what they were lacking, God taught them to hear His voice prophetically and they discovered more of the power and authority that they had as Christians. All of this learning was put together into a course called Living Free.
What was initially so compelling to us who went over to this conference was not reading the teaching in the course notes but seeing it lived out in the lives of the church members. We were warmly welcomed at the airport by people we had never met before, taken to their homes, fed and driven around for the whole week. Then at the conference the teaching was peppered with testimonies – many people from within the church standing up and telling how their lives had been changed. Each day ended with prayer teams. Every conference delegate would be prayed for by a team of two or three members of the church, who in many cases had come straight from work. There were about 100 of these prayer teams, and each was hearing words from God for us about our Original Design and areas where God was bringing new freedom to our lives.
We came back to Bristol, each armed with our ‘Original Design’ (on sheets of yellow note paper), having identified some of the strongholds that were holding us back from living as Jesus intended us to, and enthusiastic about what we had learned and received.
We began running the Living Free course at Hope. Across the church we discovered that each of us was created with an Original Design – a purpose and calling with good works of faith designed for us to do (Ephesians 2.10). We learned also to recognise where our brokenness was stopping us living in this Original Design. We found that through repentance and forgiveness we could move beyond these areas of brokenness into increased freedom. This was bearing fruit in our families, marriages, work places – giving us a better way to live, and more fully taking hold of what Jesus accomplished through His death and resurrection on the cross.
There have been around 1,000 delegates on Hope Living Free courses over the last 15 years – that gives an idea of some of the momentum and fruit that has come from this wonderful teaching. We’re continuing to live the Living Free teaching and continuing to run the course at Hope every year. We’d love to have you join us for the next one!