This week Espérance de la Gloire celebrated their twentieth anniversary in Wembley. I had the honour of telling the story of how the church started and sitting with my old friend Pastor Tito, or Pastor Ti as he is commonly known now. I recognised many faces, although not all recognised mine! Apparently I don’t quite look the same. Perhaps a tad wider?
Just before it’s transformation into the Congo one of the Zaire diplomats who had recently come to know The Lord started a French-speaking African church in London. The congregation met at the Church of England hall in Stonebridge and quickly grew. This ambassador took the huge jump of faith to leave diplomatic service to become their pastor and I met him soon after. Rev. Tito or Pastor Tito as he was more commonly known immediately became my friend and I had the sheer joy of ministering at this Francophone church. As it grew though, the congregation began to face a serious problem, they simply couldn’t find a large enough place to meet and run their activities. As the pressures of growth in this confined space began to tell I offered the use of our facilities a few miles way in Willesden. Pastor Tito’s nephew Modest took over in Stonebridge and Pastor Tito took the huge bold step of planting out a whole new venture, thus in 1993 Espérance de la Gloire – The Hope of Glory was born. And I was there!
Our building was significantly larger than the CofE Hall and the new congregation was of course smaller so the dynamics were different, but the folk settled in immediately and it was straight down to work preaching the gospel, teaching the saints, worshiping God and going for it. Sure enough the new fellowship began to grow and we really did enjoy working together. After a few years I lost the use of a building we hired for our children’s work and had the horrible job of having to ask Espérance de la Gloire to move out. I hated doing this and as I watched them being pushed from pillar to post it was heartbreaking, but as soon as we had purchased the old Congregational Church building we hired and the William Hill Bookmakers next door I didn’t hesitate to invite them back. Soon it was as if we’d never been apart! In 2001 I met with a terrible accident and wound up completing my pastoral tenure as new year broke in 2002 so it was farewell Willesden and farewell Espérance de la Gloire. Conclusion below…
Well it was a kick to know that while I was long gone to Leicestershire I wasn’t forgotten and even received pride of place at Espérance de la Gloire’s twentieth anniversary. I’ll hopefully post my talk here soon. In the meantime, happy birthday Espérance de la Gloire!