The righteous reward

Discipleship Evangelism Proximity Principle
Image of Andy Hawthorne Andy Hawthorne
5th June 2024 4 minute read

For the first five years of The Message Trust all we had was a band, we called it the Worldwide Message Tribe and the vision was to use our rap and hip-hop music as a platform to present the Gospel to Manchester’s hardest to reach young people. They were beautiful days, as we did see God do some marvellous things.

However, an absolutely key inflection point for The Message came in 1997, when the band did two schools’ weeks and a large evangelistic gig in Benchill, Wythenshawe, which was then the UK’s most deprived ward. It was a remarkable time and at the end of those two weeks, we hosted a special service in the local partner church – around a hundred brand new, previously unchurched young people turned up. The church at the time had about 20 members!

The question of course is how is a church that small supposed to cope with trying to disciple that many young people, many who came into the Kingdom facing massive challenges and huge baggage.

This was where the vision for the first Eden team was born. It was like most of our best ideas, a pragmatic response to something God was up to. From that point The Message has become very different and grown significantly (not least as over 80 more Eden teams have been launched). It is as if we really touched the heart of God as we moved from just preaching to under-resourced communities to making our homes there. Demonstrating the Gospel by moving in proximity to these neighbourhoods. Living faith 24/7. 

That close proximity has led to more ministries being birthed, such as our prisons work and more recently, our Community Groceries and of course The Proximity Hub, with all its potential to fuel mission and encourage those living out faith on estates and urban contexts.

After the Benchill mission experience with The Worldwide Message Tribe, we came up with the plan for our first Eden team and arranged to share it publicly for the first time at a small leaders gathering in central Manchester. We were thrilled and a little scared with the response, as we asked these leaders of some of Manchester’s largest churches, to encourage some of their people to leave their church and move into Benchill as part of the first Eden team. They prayed passionately for us and promised to do what they could to get behind Eden team number 1.

Straight after the meeting, I sat in my car with my brother Simon, debriefing and deciding on our next steps, when someone knocked on our window. We wound the window down and the stranger leaned in announcing he had a word from God. He didn’t know that we were Christians (and that five minutes previously we had just come out of one of the most significant meetings of our lives) but just felt God prompt him to read to us Psalm 37: 5-11.

5 Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
    do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity.

What amazing verses for this brand-new Eden vision, as the evangelists started to take seriously God’s heart for the forgotten places. 

I honestly believe that these verses full of revival promises are for Eden, for our prisons work, our groceries and now The Proximity Hub, as we look to see kingdom work in these tough places really step up. They are of course, not just for us but for so many others who sacrificially live out their faith in areas afflicted with poverty.  For those who burn to proclaim the gospel in both word and deed across neglected communities. For those in close proximity to the action.

Let’s be fair, we haven’t seen the full measure of the righteous reward. We’ve not quite yet inherited the peace and prosperity promised in Psalm 37. Bit by bit, step by step, however, I honestly believe we are moving closer to it. 

The first time I heard Sam Ward sharing the vision for the Proximity hub several years ago, I knew it was from the Lord and nothing that’s happened since has convinced me otherwise. I couldn’t be more excited to see this vision launched and to see Jesus get that righteous reward that He ultimately deserves as a result.

Written by

Andy Hawthorne

Founder and Global CEO of The Message Trust, Andy Hawthorne OBE is a world-renowned speaker, evangelist and author who has a wealth of learning from the last 30 years of mission, going into deprived communities, prisons, schools and across the global. Andy’s passion, experience and life-long walk with Jesus, will inspire, equip and empower you to take up the call of reaching the hardest to reach people for Jesus.

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