By Liz Harden

One day I set off on a dog walk in daylight, but as time passed, I found myself walking in woods in the dark – I reached for my pocket torch, only to find it gone.

Underfoot the undulating tree roots, fallen branches, moss covered rocks, slippery mud and deep puddles sent me stumbling and slipping. Suddenly familiar paths felt uncertain, and I realised I had no idea where I was.

Remembering I had my phone with me, I enabled the phone torch, turning the chaos into order. I could see where to safely put my feet. I could see the main path ahead of me. My heart rate slowed. It felt warmer and the tension in my, pulled and twisted, muscles drained away. I could see my way home.

Leeds Vineyard and Cornerstone Baptist church started a joint ministry called ‘The Lantern’ to serve as ‘Light in the darkness’ to adults with multiple and complex need. Just like I did in the dark woods, they often feel lost in darkness with no way out and struggling to find a path out of their circumstances.

The Lantern offers safe relationships, a delicious hot meal and pudding in the Green House Café attached to Cornerstone. After the meal our friends are invited to stay for a short service where we sing together, share the gospel, pray for one another, and share the peace.

Recently, we had five people stay and I observed them responding to the love, warmth, acceptance, joy and peace of Jesus, lighting a light to their hearts. Tears were shed and jokes shared; and in our humble little circumstances a family is emerging, and hope is being ignited. A light is shining in the darkness.

I was reminded of the words of Isaiah 9:2 : ‘…the people in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the shadow of death a light has dawned. ‘The Lantern’ might only be a dawning light, but we are expectant that it will reveal the great light of Jesus; to bring order to their chaos; and to find a safe way out of their circumstances and home to their heavenly father.

By Liz Harden, Leeds Vineyard Church