On Saturday 28 October, thirteen of us from different Everyday venues made our way (early!) to the Jubilee+ Churches that Change Communities Conference held at City Church in Cambridge.
Martin Charlesworth spoke powerfully from Mark 14:3-9 and Galatians 2:9-10, reminding us that worship and caring for the poor are connected: compassion fatigue will never overtake a church consumed by worship. In an authentic 21st century church, care for the poor is a first priority.
We were really impacted by Mike Betts speaking on empowerment, and the gospel as the ultimate empowerment to know God. In Philemon, Paul describes the change of identity of man who was a runaway thieving slave and becomes a beloved brother. In the same way, empowerment of those in need through love, compassion and the power of Jesus results in the realisation of the fruitfulness latent in every person.
We took part in different morning and afternoon seminars focusing on topics such as refugees and asylum seekers, the biblical mandate to remember and welcome the poor, building churches in deprived areas, engaging with isolated elderly people, a church-based response to addictions, and social justice: speaking up for the poor in words and actions. The seminars and talks will be available online on the Jubilee+ website soon!
Annika said, ‘What struck me most was how what we do in our communities must flow from our worship and revelation of Jesus, and that change happens one person at a time!’
Jess said, ‘Living in a place like London, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the need around us. I often feel like I’m not giving enough time to help the poor. God really spoke to me about my job as a teacher in a deprived area of London and encouraged me not to discount the work I’m doing. Mike Betts spoke about how helping the poor means empowering them to make choices and I realised that my job is all about just that. I came away with a fresh passion for the kids I’m working with and a renewed sense of purpose. Come to the conference next year (it’s at Everyday Wimbledon anyway!) and don’t discount yourself; helping the poor doesn’t fit one mould, and God has a unique purpose for you in His plan to reach them.’
We’re walking together as a church on this journey of what it means to impact our communities for Jesus, and how to love those who are most needy around us. We’re from varied backgrounds, stages of life and with different views and passions, but our starting point is surely the same; it’s asking Him: ‘Lord, what is your heart for the vulnerable, the poor and the marginalised? And what is your plan for me in it?’ I’m confident He’ll answer you – maybe you’ll come to next year’s conference at Everyday Wimbledon on Saturday 10 November 2018, maybe you’ll stop and chat to a homeless person, maybe you’ll bring tins of food to a Foodbank collection point. Whatever happens, God will change your heart and you will never be the same!
“‘For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now I will arise,’ says the Lord; ‘I will set him in the safety for which he yearns.’ The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. You shall keep them, O Lord, You shall preserve them from this generation forever.” Psalms 12:5-7