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June 2019

My joy in helping younger leaders

Lifecentral Church in the West Midlands wouldn’t be what it is today without spiritual fathers, says Leon Evans.

Leon Evans is a strong believer in the need for spiritual fathers particularly after one man played a pivotal role in his own life during his formative teenage years.

“While I was growing up there were several older people who invested in me beyond my parents. One of those was Colin Fletcher, who opened up his home and life to me and my friends who were trying to make sense of faith and God’s possible call on our lives.

“We formed a rock band and over 30 years later three of that band of five still play and serve Jesus in the same church! Colin showed me what spiritual parenting is about; it’s about opening up your life to younger people. It’s about investing- ing in their dreams, not just asking them to invest in yours. He saw something in us which we didn’t or couldn’t see and he made a commitment to go after it.”

Leon says that role has now been reversed as he seeks to mentor the next generation. “Now in my 50s and having been in leadership for over 30 years, my greatest joy is no longer what I’m able to do, but what I see others doing, especially younger leaders.

“At Lifecentral Church we have a gap year programme called ‘Equip’ where over the last three years we have seen around 20 young people grow and develop as we spend time with them, as we’ve opened up our hearts, homes and opportunities.

“I aim to travel with younger leaders regularly and I’m learning a lot about having the right posture as I interact with the next generation. Now I’m also able to input and invest in younger leaders in our Region and overseas. I’m trying to be a spiritual father through coaching and mentoring younger leaders.

“I believe one of the keys to raising the next generation is to open up your life to that generation, but it’s also to open up your table. They need opportunities to sit at the table where decisions are made, where they get a chance to give input where it matters.”

As parents to two boys, Leon and his wife Allison needed to rely on God’s grace themselves when they discovered their second son had learning difficulties.

“By the time Simeon was around 18 months old we knew something was not quite right,” Leon says. “His eye contact wasn’t there, his speech was delayed, and after countless hospital appointments we were told the devastating news, ‘Your son has a complex set of special needs; he has a learning disability, autism and ADHD.’ That was followed with words that not only hit us like a truck but also were to shape our lives: ‘And in our opinion, he will never lead an independent life; he will always need to be cared for.’

“Over the next few years, we received love and support from our church family and unlimited grace from a God who never promised us a trouble-free life but did promise us that we would never have to face anything on our own.

“Several years later, Simeon has grown, stabilised and found a community of young men and carers who, along with us and his wider family, are learning to do life differently than we envisaged but with a richness and beauty we could never have predicted.

“God has used this situation to shape us and our characters. He has also used it to help shape the heart of the church, and we have seen families come to Christ who’ve been on similar journeys.”

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