It is not every day you get to meet someone who has helped to start a genuine movement of change and restoration. So you can imagine my excitement when it came to spending time with David and Mary Pytches – the couple who helped to birth both New Wine and Soul Survivor.
David and Mary returned to the UK with four young daughters after serving as cross cultural missionaries in Chile. Unsure what God wanted them to do they looked for a base in Chorleywood, which offered education facilities for the girls. David was hoping to learn how to run a parish from the Vicar, but the Vicar was about to leave and David was offered the incumbency. David speaks about his sense of inadequacy and eventually set up a daily early morning prayer meeting. From this time saw an increasing number of people added to the church. Mary recounts how they faithfully retained the liturgy at the same time as being open to the Holy Spirit.
Learning that John Wimber was coming to York David suggested that he call in on Chorleywood on the way. It was an unforgettable weekend. Despite very different ecclesiologicol backgrounds John and David hit it off and became close friends. And soon David was helping John to find organisers for the UK conferences.
I enjoyed being able to tell David how grafeful I was for the Brighton Conference in 1986, where a friend of mine came to faith. He later stood up in our class at our rough and ready comprehensive school and shared his new found faith in Jesus. This was Steven Whittington – a key influence in my becoming a Christian. It was great to learn about a young youth worker from a Baptist church where had run an open youth club, until the local teenagers rampaged the church. The youth worker was Mike Pillavachi, who later became the youth worker at Chorleywood.
David and I had this opportunity to meet after he had read my book “Paradoxology” – Why Christianity was never meant to be simple. David explained to me that it was the title that grabbed him as he had reflected for many years on the paradoxes of scripture which we tend to brush under the carpet, which means our Bible teaching has no real integrity. David reminded me of Charles Simeon, a great evangelical clergyman and bible teacher who had said
“The truth is not in the middle, and not in one extreme; but in both extremes.”
Mary commented on how we tend to cut God down to our size but ‘wouldn’t we rather have a big God’. Interestingly we talked a lot about the liturgy undergirding our spirituality and both Paradox and Liturgy are things that James K.A. Smith has been arguing for recently. Sadly many churches seem to opt either for intimacy with God or depth of teaching when there doesn’t need to be a choice. Depth of true teaching should help us develop intimacy with God and our intimacy with God should drive us towards deeper teaching – it should be a virtuous circle.
David has kindly written a commendation for the reprint of ‘Paradoxology’ which is out soon. It has some typos and corrections added thanks to those of you who spotted my errors. The book will be even better because of you. David says: “I have been looking for a book like this for the last fifty years and am so delighted to have found it.”
I came away from David and Mary greatly encouraged. They are rare people who have experienced so much of God and done so much in His name, and in their seniority are still keen to bless others.