“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Some of you know by now, some of you probably have no idea, but in the next two or three months I will be packing my bags and moving to North London. This means leaving Croydon. A place I love, a place I’ve lived for nearly all of my life and a place where the majority of my family and friends live. The purpose of this post is to share with you my reasons for going and explain a bit about what God’s done in me which has meant this move can happen…
I first heard about a project called ‘Eden’, birthed by 'The Message Trust’ about 3 summers ago at a Christian festival. (In case the only idea of Eden you have is that place with all the plants…or Adam and Eve, here’s what the website says about the project- “In a nutshell Eden’s mandate is to go to the most challenging urban areas and share God’s life-changing love in word and action. The really unique thing about Eden is the way the teams choose to live in these communities, sharing the problems of those growing up there and ministering to their needs.”) When I first heard Eden being spoken about, I was so excited. Ever since I re-committed my life to God 4 years ago I’ve been passionate about communicating His life-changing love to people who may have never heard about it. Eden seemed to do that. The problem however, was that Eden was based in Manchester at the time. As great as Manchester is, it’s not where I was to be at that point in my life. So after reading all the books they could give me and talking to whoever would listen, Eden only remained 'a good idea’ in my mind, but that’s really as far as it got.
Most of you know that I’m a secondary school teacher in a challenging Croydon comprehensive school. I teach Drama and I love it. But something I love even more, is the conversations I get to have with the students. For one reason or another, these young people are so open and honest with you, and it’s like a breath of fresh air. Sometimes. At other times it’s heart-breaking. Stories of difficult home-lives and words & actions which reflect people much older than their teen and even pre-teen years, constantly have me thinking that something has to change. I know that my burden for seeing these young people released from their 'hurting’ is something God’s put there. So I begun to pray about what He wanted me to do with it. At first it was just continuing in what I was doing- working in the school and getting alongside these young people wherever possible.
But then God brought me back to Eden. Around Christmas time last year, I found myself on the website, watching their promotional videos, reading the information and getting excited yet again about the work they were doing. (Here’s what they say about their approach to young people- “At its heart Eden is about youth work, but it’s also so much more than that. Eden recognises that young people lead lives layered with all sorts of relationships, aspirations and frustrations. Working with them successfully requires a holistic approach embracing their family, their education, their health and of course, the key thing that sets us apart from secular agencies – their relationship with God. Eden teams vary in size and they are all at different stages in their life-cycle. Every community we work in is different in the nature of the challenges and priorities faced. However one thing is true in all the areas – they really need stability. By committing to live in the area long term, Eden teams have shown that hope can be found in the most volatile neighbourhoods.”) What excited me even more though, is that earlier that year, Eden had launched in London! The Eden lifestyle is a pretty big step of faith. I often struggle deciding what to wear in the morning, so as you can imagine, me deciding whether or not to apply for something which involves some pretty big life changes, was a tough call, even amidst all the passion for the cause. Another massive factor for me was my church. 'Harvest’ have been an integral part of my life since I was 11 years old and my pastors, Ronnie and Pam alongside all of my friends there have always led, taught, upheld, supported and comforted me, particularly over the last 4 years of my life. The reality of leaving my church was and still is something pretty difficult to grasp. It’s times like this when, as I Christian, I have to draw close to God and understand that He has a plan for me no matter what. I was encouraged while reading about the characters of great faith in Hebrews 11, particularly verse 8 which says: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” If as a Christian, I can only trust God with the little things, I think I’d be a hypocrite. So I had to come to a point where I realised that the restlessness and burden I have for broken, hurting, marginalised and needy, however big, was something HE had put there and it was something I didn’t want to ignore any more. So, after making Facebook friends with Eden I begun my application process on March 1st 2011.
To cut a 4 month long story of application forms, CRB checks, phone interviews, 'taster days’ in Manchester and a LOT of emails short, I’ll bring you to my final interview, which happened on Monday July 4th 2011. My interview was held by Daniel Haigh, who is the regional director of Eden London and Jahaziel, who is the team leader of 'Eden Tollington’ (the team I was applying for). The interview was a great opportunity for me to see what God had done in my life even in 4 short months. Using a simple leap of faith, He’d taken me from being a pretty hesitant applicant to someone who would probably have been a bit upset had I not been offered a place on the team. But I was, praise God! So that leads me nicely into right now. I accepted their offer of a place on the team and am SO excited about this next step in my life.
Now when I move is all about practicalities and dates really. The tenancy on my current flat runs out at the end of August and so when there is available accommodation over in Finsbury Park (God willing these two dates will coincide) I’ll be moving! I’ll still keep my teaching job in Croydon so that means commuting daily, but the journey’s fine and I think an hour’s peace before arriving at what may be a difficult destination (either end) will be a really good thing for me.
If you want to know more about the team I’m joining, or Eden in general, please visit http://www.eden-network.org/Groups/161342/Eden_Network/Teams/Tollington_North_London/Tollington_North_London.aspx You can navigate to the homepage from there.
I read somewhere that “Jesus disturbs the comfortable and comforts the disturbed.” Up until now, aside from a few hits along the way, I’ve lived pretty comfortably. When Jesus spoke in the Bible, He told His people to 'go’, He backed this up with His actions and constantly went. He was undoubtedly 'sent’. This whole Eden process has stemmed out of me asking Him where He was sending me… I thank God that He listens and that He responds. All glory for this step of faith is not mine. It’s completely and utterly His.