This article was originally published in Edition (9) of Prayer Magazine,  Jan-Mar 2007.

It doesn’t take much searching through memories of years gone by, to stumble upon a worldwide phenomena of the 1960’s, the Beatles from Liverpool.  This rags to riches story touched a whole generation and left a legacy of found memories and in some cases a mis-spent youth.

The years that followed those heady times took it’s toll on the region, and within a decade, Liverpool which already had it’s problems, was experiencing huge unemployment, crime, rampant alcohol problems and had firmly become a hotspot for the drug culture that was beginning to take hold in the UK.

Transformation is only talked about and needed when society struggles to grow and when people are trapped by circumstance they find they cannot change.  It’s almost a paradox really, but when a few people start to make determined efforts to engage spiritually with God and at the same time physically with their surrounds, then transformation is possible.

Community Watchmen Ministries (CWM) based in the Merseyside Region are just such a group. They seek to encourage and stimulate strategic prayer.  Made up of Christians from several denominations, they are passionate about Jesus, and the wider community.

Part of their written vision is to see the transformation of the Mersey Region and beyond.

Founded by Sue Sinclair, CWM launched a project a few years ago called DrugsNET - A partnership between the Church and Merseyside Police - working together to see illegal drugs and their impact on our communities eradicated through prayer by the Christians and Action by the Police.

This was in response to a leaked letter (printed in the press in 2002), written by the Chief Constable Norman Bettison, where he stated that Merseyside was the “drugs distribution capital of the UK”. 

Most people are impacted by illegal drugs and the crime that takes place to support addictions.  Most of us are victims, whether it is those sucked into taking them, those prostituting themselves to feed their habit, those selling to keep themselves supplied, those who have had their houses and cars broken into or stolen.  Many families and communities are living in terror and intimidation as a result of individuals and gangs efforts to obtain drugs.  We know we are not fighting against flesh and blood but principalities and powers, and so we know just how much we need help from God.

One of the favourite scriptures of the workers of DrugsNET is Isaiah 60:18 “Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; but you shall call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise”.

Knowing that the police were working very hard but not seeing the real breakthrough they needed, this small team of Christians started to pray - asking God “what can we do about this?” 

They felt the Lord say “it is time for the Church to arise and to declare a stop in the heavenly realms and a turning of this tide of evil”. 

They believed that God then unveiled a simple strategy to meet the Police on a six weekly basis to identify issues for prayer.  Together they prepared a general list of prayer targets and then after each meeting CWM prepared a prayer bulletin that was and still is emailed and posted to the Church networks, across the region and beyond.

It wasn’t rocket science but it was very simply a new partnership between praying Christians and the local Police force, who were running out of answers and who were open to suggestions that might bring change.

This is an example of the targeted prayer list distributed to Christians across the region to pray.  The prayers aren’t necessarily full of Christian Jargon, they are direct needs, and the team prays simply but with authority and confidence that God is the answer of our prayers.

DrugsNET

  • Development of good relationships between the Police and the Church
  • Churches will come on board to pray for their communities.
  • Protection for the DrugsNET team
  • Good networking.
  • Clear and accurate communications.

Youth and Schools

  • Young people are used to smuggle drugs into the UK.  For instance a 13 year old girl brought in almost £1 million worth of drugs & a 15 year old was caught a week later.
  • Pray for those trapped in the cycle of drugs and who have started to deal and steal to fund their habit.
  • Exposure of networks used to bring drugs into schools and colleges.
  • Young people will stand and say “No”.
  • Teachers & parents will have wisdom and insight into problem situations.

Distribution network

  • Docks, airports, rail routes, Dover/ Calais tunnel & motorways

Drug “lords”

  • Drug “lords” trapped by sin and threatened with death if they try to leave because they know too much.
  • Those addicted and forced to sell.
  • Against greed & lust for power, money, big houses, flash cars & lifestyle.
  • Violence – shootings, rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse.

Police

  • Protection
  • Families and relationships. When Officers are on surveillance they have to go away at a moments notice and can be gone for long periods.
  • Wisdom and insight.
  • Success in detection and conviction.

Prisons

  • Exposure of drug networks within the prison environments.
  • A breaking of the current cycles of crime Þ drugs Þ prison Þ crime Þ drugs Þ prison.

The victims

  • Everyone is a victim!

RESULTS: In a relatively short period, there has begun a dramatic turnaround in the fortunes of Merseyside.   Could this be linked to strategic and concerted prayer ?

The team has seen many answers to prayer along with substantial increase in finances for the region to help deal with the drug problems:

  • 300+% increase in information coming to the Police
  • Huge success in drug seizures
  • Massive increase in treatment and help available to drug users.
  • National awards for Merseyside Police
  • Citizen of the Year Award and Crime reduction and community safety award for DrugsNET
  • Night clubs and a pub used by major gangs closed down with drugs and weapons seized.
  • 7.2 tonnes cannabis seized worth £35million with 5 people arrested from Liverpool and Stoke.

Obviously there are hundreds of people praying, but like any situation there needs to be people who connect and communicate with the wider group.  Sue and her team sit on several boards in the region, from groups concerned with regeneration to other groups focussed on the work of the police.

At the recent launch of Redeeming our Communities, we heard of very many testimonies of local communities being transformed by partnerships of Churches and Police forces seeing the benefits of working together, and recognizing formally that Prayer really can have a positive impact on a community.

The challenge to us all is will we engage – are we prepared to learn from the experience of others and will we put the long term effort into our area from a prayer perspective and try and build relationship with those in Authority – not to tell them what’s wrong with the place where we live (they already know), but to engage with them, make friends of them and help and encourage them in their work.  When there is trust built, then we can begin to work together for the greater purpose of the spiritual and physical transformation in any region.

God is certainly doing something amazing in Merseyside.  Let’s continue to ask Him for a transformation of our hearts, then the hearts of the people around us, then He can change any region, are we prepared for that journey to begin with us ?

CWM is one of many prayer ministries operating across the Mersey Region, and work with as many ministries as possible.  They host Hungry for God Conferences targeted to provide training and encouragement on different styles of prayer.  They lead a mobile Prayer School that teaches, encourages and empowers Christians to be who God created them to be.  If you would like more information contact :-

Sue Sinclair

Community Watchmen Ministries

Strawberry Field

Beaconsfield Road, Woolton, Liverpool

 

www.cwministries.org.uk

Intercession Timeline

[************Could we run the timeline left to right across the bottom of the page ?]

January 2004

A Government report confirmed that Merseyside Police are winning their battle against crime.

April 2004

John Prescott hailed a renaissance in Liverpool’s fortunes with growth soaring, unemployment plunging and people moving back to the city centre.  Liverpool John Lennon Airport was the UK’s fastest growing regional airport and Liverpool’s £300 mill school building program was the biggest in Europe. 

July 2004

We saw £80 million extra funding per year through to 2008 on top of £86 million already announced for housing renewal.   Digby Jones, Director General of the CBI said “Liverpool is a city whose time has come”.

2004

Council Leader Councillor Mike Storey said “The transformation of Liverpool is staggering.  Liverpool’s image as a city blighted by unemployment also looks set to be consigned to the history books as its recent record on job creation leaves every other town in the UK in the shade.  He hailed the turn-around as an economic miracle but said we must not take our foot off the accelerator.”

May 2005

Daily Express declared Liverpool’s European Cup Victory as a miracle and headlines were full of biblical quotes.

September 2005

Tony Blair declared the rebirth of Liverpool as one of the proudest achievements of his eight years in office.

March 2006

Michael Heseltine said the spirit of Liverpool has been reborn.  It has been transformed dramatically since despairing in 1970’s.  Today it is the most exciting urban renaissance since Victorian Britain.

April 2006

Condoleeza Rice said to be the most powerful woman in the world recently visited Liverpool and said "Liverpool is quite an extraordinary city. There is a great sense of revival and vitality. It's clear you have a world-class city here. I have had a world-class welcome.

 

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