I am honoured to host this guest post from Les Norman, the founder of DCI
They called us illegal. They called us illegitimate. It was all true. They were right. Men who occupied pulpits on Sunday, called us ‘Mongrel Ministries on Monday because some of the less comfortable people in their churches came our way to see if Jesus could make something of them. Then, when one nationally known ‘name’ asked to visit, “the very next morning,” it seemed to me that the whole nation was in the mood for a hanging.
On the way to the gallows, I passed four milestones.
At 27 years old, entrepreneurial success had put a Rolls-Royce on the drive of a country home yet, in reality, this was a veneer over the ruins from a parentless childhood, a disastrous sort of teenage marriage and the memory-numbing cocktails of Scotch and NHS Valium. By unexpectedly following Jesus, really, because Jesus followed me, I discovered the healing power of the love of God, and everything changed.
I gave the business away in 1980 and together with four young men, I was now the proud part-owner of a modest 3000 seat circus tent in which we would share our faith. By 1982, I was in Spain, newly married and in that curious way where one thing leads to another, we found ourselves living with drug addicts, traffickers, prostitutes and AIDS sufferers straight off the streets of the Basque Country. We watched the limitless love of God heal many damaged young men and women and turn them into remarkable leaders. In time they carried their movement, Remar, to 60 nations and to this day, care for over 50,000 impoverished people.
A couple of years later, somewhat recklessly, I went to Burkina Faso in West Africa. When I saw the love of God for the very poor of the world, and their love for him, my life snapped into sharp focus. The countless opportunities to do something good for next to nothing was a challenge but all it took to convince me was to fly home into the excesses of our Christmas.
Twelve months further along, we were having some difficulty in turning our hopes into reality. We arranged to meet together with three friends for a week of prayer at some unearthly early hour. In the end, after fourteen months, the story from Acts 19 and 20 caught our attention. Some young believers received the Holy Spirit, and in no time at all they all became significant leaders. So, we put together a simple gathering and saw very comparable results. We did it again, and a third time because by now people from far and wide began to arrive impromptu. At this point, our church leaders thought that both we and this mixed multitude might be happier somewhere else.
Then the phone call came, followed by the man himself. Philip Vogel of Pioneer Churches looked around, heard the stories, met the students and considering God to be deeply present, he also decided to stay.
By 1992, five years later, people had returned home carrying with them the long-forgotten concept of low-cost, training in small groups. Similar free of charge Schools of Mission popped up all over the world. We put the training materials online, thinking that if 5000 people in the year 2000 happened to see our materials, then it would be a job done. In fact, it took one week to pass that figure and since that digital milestone, thousands of unlikely and impoverished men and women have earned their diplomas, learning everywhere from cathedrals to being cross-legged under palm trees.
We like to make known what God is doing by making leaders who make life better for the poor. These days, I work quietly with words, many towards God in prayer, and others for people, pointing them towards following Jesus to the lost, the last and the least of the world. The DCI Fund helps to launch projects for people in mission particularly for widows, orphans and the poor. We like providing interest-free micro-loans to create funds locally through simple business.
In all these years, we have never got around to having leaders, asking for offerings or making appeals. We have no buildings, offices or pensions and our way is to keep things as simple as can be. We work from our homes, trust God as best we can, meet the Lord and each other in small groups and never stop looking for opportunities to serve.
You are very welcome to be with us. Age is never a problem, and our friends go to every kind of church. There is nothing to sign or pay. You can pray with us, talk to people, answer e-mails, translate into languages, write, do IT stuff, give, go, send, and generally, struggle with us to be and to do all that God has put into your heart.
Dr. Les Norman is 63, very happily married to Pilar, who is Spanish, a teacher and a popular poetess in her language. Our children are James, 41, who lives by Loch Ness in Scotland; David, 39, who is married and a successful businessman in Nottingham; and Lizzie, 24, who is our miracle daughter, married to Zack and living in Nottingham, not too far from us. We have a small Jack Russell terrier called María Carlota, a Cabanon tent and after all these years, a very lovely circle of friends around the world.
Our email is [email protected]