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How the Holy Spirit Caused the Jesus Army to Practice Community


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Originally published at PCPJ.

Huw Lewis is one of the apostolic leaders of Jesus Fellowship Church, or Jesus Army, in the UK. A charismatic church founded in the late 1960’s, it has practiced intentional Christian community with a complete sharing of possessions for over 40 years. Pax Pneuma interviewed Lewis about what community is like:

Please briefly describe how the outpouring of the Spirit led you to practice community!

The main consequence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a very real and deep love for God and one another. This meant that we wanted to be together, to share meals, to meet and gather, worship, pray and open up our hearts to each other. Each night we would spontaneously just gather at the chapel and stay around until late.

It became something of a disturbance at the end of an evening to have to go back to our own houses/ flats so it was a natural progression to start experiments of living together. It began small but grew to larger community houses in time. I believe “God’s love shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5) will lead to a changed lifestyle of sharing, openness, justice and equality as hall marks of God’s character. We just didn’t want to be away from the very tangible presence of God that we found when we gathered together.
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Generosity in the Midst of Poverty

Article written for the Multiply Network.

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In late November and early December last year, a group of youth from the Jesus Fellowship went to Machilipatnam, Andhra Pradesh, in India. They visited Berachah Children’s Home, a ministry led by pastor Kiran Paul that houses and helps 180 children. The Home is supported by the Multiply Network.

15123125_1521609821199483_5989671886325040443_o (1).jpgHonor Hunter was really impacted by being in India for the first time. “When we arrived I was really tired but I was amazed how beautiful it was,” she says. “It felt like a completely different world. Rice fields and really bright blue birds. The people from Berachah were so welcoming. Kiran Paul, the pastor, was sick in meningitis but still came to the airport to greet us.

“They have hardly anything so they put God first, not possessions. When the children prayed and were so emotional and desperate. Over here, kids don’t get too involved with God. Wealth is too much of a distraction for us. But in India they go through horrible things and they see that God is love and that they need him as an anchor point.” (more…)

Worhip on the Streets

Originally published on the Jesus Youth website.

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During the last six months, a group of young people from around the UK have been gathering together to worship God on the streets and tell people about Jesus.

It all started after the Jesus Army’s main youth event, RAW, in August, 2016. Jack Brown from Northampton thought that it was amazing to see young people set ablaze for God, but that it shouldn’t just have to happen once a year. He approached some people from Coventry and talked about reaching out to others and equipping the church.

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The format has been that young people from different locations and regions gather together, head out to the street and evangelise for a couple of hours. After that, the youth go to a local Jesus Army community house for some food and fellowship. (more…)

What is Christian Community Like?

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An interview with me originally published at the website of Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice.

Micael, can you explain to me your living arrangement, both in domestic terms and economic terms?  

Holy Treasure is part of something called New Creation Christian Community (NCCC) which in turn is part of the Jesus Fellowship Church, or Jesus Army. NCCC is at the core of Jesus Army, basically every local congregation is based around a community house, and almost a quarter of all church members live in community.

I work at one of the church’s businesses called Goodness Foods with video making. All my wages are sent to the bank account of Holy Treasure, the “common purse”, which then provides me with all the food, clothing and transport I need.
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Inspired to Inspire

Originally posted at christiancommunity.co.uk.

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As I prepared for my training year, I was getting ready to sit back and learn. My primary purpose for doing it was to experience community life, so as I envisioned the year I saw myself sitting on a cosy sofa with a warm cup of tea, writing a book about community as children were playing on the living room floor. This would stand in contrast to the pretty hectic life I had been leading in Sweden with loads of responsibilities and a tight schedule.

However, I’ve been very active during my training year as well. One of the first things I did was to start a Spiritual Q&A apologetics class to equip the Kettering Jesus Fellowship in defending the faith, understanding and responding to other worldviews as well as dealing with our own doubts and questions. I’ve had the honour to lead various meetings, I’ve participated in street evangelism on Saturdays and I’ve volunteered at the Creativity Department at the Jesus Army’s central offices in order to contribute with inspiration and media.

If I had done my training year five years ago, which was my original plan, I would definitively have had another experience. I would have not been as equipped to teach, preach and contribute with writing. On the contrary, my 20-year-old self would be in much more need of input and training than what I need now. (more…)

Song: Jesus Revolution

One of my favourite Jesus Army songs, performed here with my friends Sangitha and Mark!

  1. If you’re looking for a purpose,
    Fighting without cause.
    If you’re burning with a passion,
    But you haven’t got a war:
    Wanna start a revolution? (×2)
  2. You wanna make a difference,
    But you know you gotta change.
    If you’re fighting for real freedom,
    But you’re shackled by the shame:
    Wanna start a revolution? (×2)

  3. If you wanna be a beacon
    But afraid to be seen,
    Living in this nightmare
    But haunted by a dream:
    Wanna join a revolution? (×2)

Jesus army; a people of light!
Jesus army; we will fight!
Join the revolution. (×2)

Jesus army, pour out our lives,
Love, power, sacrifice;
Jesus revolution. (×2) (more…)

Words of Knowledge that Led to Salvation

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Kettering

God is so good. Last Sunday I went out on the streets of Kettering with a guitar and some Gospel tracts to invite people to our evening meeting. I met a woman in dark clothing walking with the help of a crutch, who commented how happy I looked when I played. I asked her how she was doing. “Like shit” she said, explaining to me her tough family situation, tragedies in her past and her homelessness.

She then asked me what I was doing and I said that I invite people to a Gospel meeting where there will be worship, Bible study, prayer – and tea. She responded that she doesn’t believe in God – she found it impossible after all the bad things that had happened to her. I gave her a booklet the Jesus Army has printed called The Biggest Issue which asked on the front cover “Where is God when all goes wrong?”

She asked me how I got involved with this church and I explained that I found it on the Internet and came all the way from Sweden to join a training year, living in community and working in one of their Kingdom Businesses. She was really impressed by that kind of commitment to a church. She revealed that she actually carries a cross necklace around in her bag, “I guess I do have a little faith after all.” Then she said that a warm cup of tea would be lovely and decided to go with me to the meeting hall. (more…)

Why Are Second Generation Christians So Lame?

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It’s painful to see a church that I love almost completely abandon evangelism, becoming spiritually dry and question the very radicality and community principles that made it so uniquely biblical in the first place. Second and third generation members are the ones that to the largest part try to “reform” the church into a normal, mainline, un-challenging pudding. In fact, I’ve spoken to older church members who were surprised that I was both young and radical – in their context it’s usually either or!

As I’ve spoken to friends about this many have pointed out that this is the usual course of events: revival strikes, people gather around on the blazing cross, a generation passes, their kids think it’s boring, and so revival ceases and has to stir up somewhere else. And yes, I am aware that this is a common pattern. This very thing has happened in the Vineyard, where signs and wonders once used to be normal but nowadays are exotic and sometimes even unwanted. Christy Wimber, the daughter-in-law of Vineyard founder John Wimber, wrote a few years ago:

I have been in service after service throughout the world these past few years where miracles are taking place and the response of the people is one of surprise, not expectation. In fact, I heard a Vineyard pastor say not that long ago that he didn’t really know John, and his model and influence comes from a different Movement. He in fact said he doesn’t particularly like the whole signs and wonders part. And I know this Movement that’s influencing him doesn’t move in the gifts.

That’s fine to me, except it left me wondering as to why he is a pastor and leader in the Vineyard Movement? What is happening now in the Vineyard that he signed up for and bought into?

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The History of the Jesus Army

Today on the MennoNerd vlog I talk about how awesome it is that the Jesus Army organises their local congregations around their intentional communities, where people live, eat and sleep every day, rather than around unbiblical church buildings that stand empty most of the time:

This is just one of many things that make the Jesus Army different from many other churches. The church owned businesses where everyone receive the same wage, the support for celibates, the emphasis on covenant and unity and the loud and proud emphasis on Jesus is quite extraordinary. Where does this church come from and what does its history look like? Those were the questions me and Sarah brought to Mike Farrant, who lives with me at the Holy Treasure community in Kettering, in a recent episode of our Swedish podcast “Jesus People”:

Mike shared how it all began when an outpouring of the Holy Spirit hit a Baptist chapel in the small town of Bugbrooke, Northamptonshire, which made hundreds of student, hippies, drug addicts, businessmen and many other sorts of people join the church. They soon started to practice community of goods like in the book of Acts and changed name to Jesus Fellowship Church. Mike has been living in community for 41 years and obviously knows a lot about both its advantages and challenges.

How the “Everything in Common” Documentary Was Made

My documentary about community of goods at the Jesus Army now has over 750 views on YouTube, and I’ve received lots of positive feedback not the least from fellow Jesus people folks. Recently I had the opportunity to contribute to Jesus Army’s Colourful Church blog, writing about how the film was made. Here’s an excerpt:

My plan was not to make a second trip, but to only use the material I recorded in 2014. And that could certainly have been the case, the material was, as mentioned, quite extensive. But life went on, half a year passed without me starting the editing process. I only used the material once when I made a clip for my YouTube channel Holy Spirit Activism in which Huw describes how the Jesus Fellowship started to practice community. It was mixed with Kalimba by Mr Scruff, which was simply included as sample music on my laptop. The clip turned out to be very good and is actually included in its totally in the documentary (save the introduction I recorded in my Swedish bedroom).

But again, I didn’t find time to start with the actual documentary. Then suddenly, in January 2015, Holy Spirit inspiration hit me. For some reason I just wanted to make documentary and nothing else, and so I sat for about ten hours and edited in Windows Movie Maker, which was the only editing software I had. I delayed my school work just to edit this film. And during that session I produced what’s pretty much still the first 14 minutes of the film. (more…)

Pentecost Wasn’t A Mistake

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Community life at Jesus Army

Article written for New Creation Christian Community, Jesus Army’s community organisation.

I’ve never viewed Pentecost as a mistake.

The first time I read the remarkable account in Acts 2 of how the Holy Spirit filled Jesus’ disciples with miraculous power so that they could speak other languages; how Peter’s passionate sermon resulted in 3,000 receiving Jesus; how all the disciples then had everything in common so that nobody had to be poor – I knew that this was good. In fact, it was awesome. Luke’s point isn’t that this is a tragic event that shouldn’t be repeated, he’s describing the best church ever!

I realised that a lot of miracles are better than a few miracles, that a lot of saved people are better than a few saved people, and that no economic inequality is better than existing economic inequality. I realised that if I were to claim that we don’t “need to” make our churches look like Jerusalem, I would in fact be arguing that our churches don’t need to be as good as they should.

It would be like saying that a fire extinguisher doesn’t need to extinguish fire, or that a surgeon doesn’t need to save the lives of the patients he or she is caring for. (more…)

Shouting from the Rooftops

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During my training year at the Jesus Army I will have the honour of contributing to some of their blogs. Yesterday my first entry on their visionary Forward blog was published. Here’s an excerpt:

Jesus said: “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.” (Matthew 10:27). The original apostolic church in Jerusalem didn’t just experience lots of miracles and have community of goods, they were daily in the temple courts telling people “all about this new life” (Acts 5:20).

Basically, they were unable to shut up! “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (5:42). When they were persecuted, they prayed and were “filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4:31). (more…)

Is Community of Goods for Everyone?

As a passionate advocate for community of goods, I often get the question whether every Christian “has to” have everything in common, if it’s a universal commandment or a calling for some. Most Christians seem to assume that’s the latter is true and get upset if I were to disagree. But in this video I’d like to challenge their conclusion, which I suspect that they have reached to quickly. There are three major problems with the idea that community of goods is just for some that need to be adressed:

  1. The Biblical problem: If it’s just for some, why is it portrayed as a universal commandment in Lk 12:33 and 14:33, and why did everyone do it in Jerusalem?
  2. The empirical problem: If individual economies and spontaneous giving are just as good as community of goods, why are the only churches who exterminate poverty within themselves churches that have community of goods?
  3. The demographical problem: Are all poor Christians called to community of goods?If not, why doesn’t God want to exterminate the poverty of all poor Christians? And if they are, don’t we need all rich Christians to join as well to finance it all?

For a more detailed description if these arguments, watch the video.

Social Work in the Power of the Holy Spirit

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Artwork at Northampton Jesus Centre

Yesterday I volunteered at the Northampton Jesus Centre, a social centre run by the Jesus Army in a former cinema. People with various needs come here, and I’ve had some great talks with several of them; listening, testifying and praying. I also got to help the Centre out with their Facebook communication, being an Internet junkie and all.

The Lord called me to do social ministry with the poor seven years ago. A dear friend and brother of mine had left the faith, and as I prayed about this with some friends on a Christian community conference in Stockholm a guy called Nils received a prophetic word. He said that the Lord wanted me to use my hands in serving the poor, and out my theoretical theological understanding of the importance of economic equality into practical love. When I did this, my friend would come back to Jesus.

I then became involved in the Uppsala City Mission’s work with the homeless and drug addicts. I learned a lot and became more social, which also benefited my evangelism. I continued to serve the poor practically and eventually started my own organization, Stefanushjälpen or St Stephen’s Help. And my friend did come back to Jesus and is very zealous for Him nowadays. (more…)

Why I Moved to the United Kingdom 


I can’t remember what kind of Google search or hyperlink that first led me to the website of Jesus Army almost seven years ago, but I remember how thrilled I was to finally encounter an evangelical, charismatic church that has complete community of goods. The closest resemblance to such an apostolic church that I had previously discovered was in a dusty, old book in my father’s home library called In His Footsteps. I was so excited as I earnestly turned the pages and read about this amazing church in the middle of nowhere which took Jesus seriously, had everything in common and led countless people to the Lord. Then I came to the last page which revealed that it was all fiction.

But the Jesus Army was real! I sent them an email, asking to come and visit them in Northamptonshire for a few days in April 2010. I was interested in the Training Year they offer and wanted to get a feeling about what New Creation community life was like. It was amazing; as I’ve previously shared I was baptised in the Holy Spirit during that trip, and I was so encouraged to see that community of goods is not just possible in the western world today – it’s very effective! 

Without giving any convinced promises I told the Jesus saints that I wanted to do a training year (or rather, six months) in 2011. But after some time I told them I wasn’t going. I was feeling too young, insecure and inexperienced to take such a step. God was good and let me experience some amazing things in Sweden during that time. But I now know that of course I would have enjoyed and benefited a lot from a Jesus Army training year back then. I’m not luring myself into believing that whatever my life ends up like is what God wanted all along. He wants me and everybody else to share our possessions from the day we are saved. But even as we fail God can lead us onward, never forsaking us but faithfully caring for us.

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