with Nigel Paul
MoveIn began in January 2009 when God gave MoveIn founder and director Nigel Paul the vision to see teams of regular Christians move in and pray in high-needs neighbourhood “patches” in Toronto and beyond. May 2009 saw the first MoveIn conference with more than 700 in attendance. Teams formed quickly after that and have been increasing in number since.
“Keep telling the stories” We tell the MoveIn story often because it is important to “remember” and praise God for all He has done. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, we are prone to forget what God has done in our lives individually, and together. Because of their—and our—forgetfulness, God reminded the Israelites over and over: “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (Deut. 5:15).
Early on in MoveIn, a wise older man gave our movement a similar exhortation: “Keep telling the stories,” he said. And so, we have endeavoured to do that. Each instance of remembering what God has done has been an opportunity to thank Him for His faithfulness.
The Verse John 1:14 says this: “The Word became flesh and dwelled among us” (NIV). The word “dwelled” can also be translated “tabernacled” (Young’s Literal Translation). It’s a reference to the tabernacle in the Israelite camp in the Old Testament; the place where God’s presence could be found.
The Message paraphrase puts it in a thought-provoking way: “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.” It seems a bit far-fetched—until we look more closely and see that this is how God has always chosen to dwell among us: He walked with us in the garden; He “pitched his tent” with us in the Israelite camp; He grew up as a carpenter’s son in our village; and then He came to eat and drink with us, sinners.
In early 2008, God led me to move into a Muslim-majority neighbourhood in Toronto at the invitation of a group of friends who had started a church-plant there. It was a powerful experience because it felt like—and was—real missions: prayerful, intense, difficult, and amazing to watch God work.
In January 2009, God gave me two words: “move in”. It was a message for my generation to imitate Christ and literally move in to the neighbourhood, specifically among the unreached, urban poor.
I wasn’t endeavouring to name a movement, but we later became known as the “move in” people. That’s how we got our name.
After I put the vision online, at movein.to, I began to meet one-on-one with many people who were interested in moving in. Before long, the idea of a conference began to emerge; we were thinking 30 or 40 people at first. The Peoples Church and its Senior Pastor, Charles Price, got behind us. Just 12 weeks later—in May 2009—the conference happened, and 700 people came.
At the end of the 24-hour conference, seven or eight “emerging teams” had committed to pray weekly about moving into a specific neighbourhood patch until God led them to move in or not.
Amazingly, over the course of that summer, many of those first “potential MoveIners” did move in, and by the end of that year there were about 40 MoveIners on 10 teams. By the end of the following year—2010—there were about 15 teams. Then 25 teams in 2011, and 35 teams in 2012. Today, MoveIn continues to spread across cities in Canada, the USA, Mexico, Europe and soon, Asia.
Together, we have seen God work. We have seen people from Iran and Japan and Israel and Canada and India and other countries come to know Jesus. We have reeled with our neighbourhoods in the wakes of shootings; been a shoulder to cry on when a newcomer’s loved one has died; and, in our own times of need, been profoundly moved by the love of our neighbours to us.
Moving to the Philippines
In 2015, a young man from Canada felt called to go live among the urban poor in the Philippines.
I moved to the Philippines in October 2015 (after a month of semi-useless training in Thailand).
I was inspired to find out the meaning of Jesus' hard saying: "Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the Kingdom of God." Then at a MoveIner conference in 2014, I was challenged by Viv Grigg who made real the possibility of living among the poorest of the poor — the people of the slums in the World's megacities. In 2015, an opportunity opened up through a Canadian missionary I met a few years back currently doing work among the poor in the Philippines. So in October 2015, I moved to a slum in Upper Sucat, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila.
At first my goal was two-fold and simple: (1) obey God's calling to be willing to go anywhere, and (2) find Jesus in the faces of the poor.
In my first few months in the Philippines, though, God was rapidly building a vision in my heart to see Filipino Christians doing a similar thing, but in Muslim slums.
It’s All About Him
MoveIn began in 2009. It is a story for all of us. But MoveIn is about far more than us MoveIners. God raised up MoveIn for people who have never heard of MoveIn. That is because God did not raise up MoveIn for us, but for the poor and the unreached.
We MoveIners have been found by God, and we have found God. Now God is leaving the 99 sheep behind to go and find the one lost sheep (Luke 15:4). MoveIn is about that one lost sheep – whole neighbourhoods at a time. And one person at a time.
MoveIn is about God himself. This is His Story, a small part of His Great Plan. Colossians 1:16 reminds us, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” It’s all about Him.
Let us grow in our personal experience of knowing God’s love and in truly loving one another (John 13:34). At the same time, let us be wary of our propensity to believe that it is mostly about us. Instead, may the Lord so fill us with Himself that we are emptied of ourselves (Phil. 2:7).
Let us thank God for all He has done. Let us “keep telling the stories.” Let us praise God for His faithfulness. Let us marvel at how He uses us to bring life to our neighbours. And, by God’s grace, may we as a movement be all about Him.