Posted by Lucy Pitkin on 15th March 2016
“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap…” (Psalm 113.7)
Now that we are well and truly settled into our building I thought it’s good time to start sharing regular blog updates about The Oak Church’s social action projects. And there is a lot of exciting stuff to share!
The Friday tea-time foodbank session that we have led in partnership with Leeds North and West Foodbank for the last couple of years at the Community Church has now moved across to The Oak. The first session was on 26th February and it feels wonderful to finally have the project under our own roof. When a session moves, we have to inform all of the referral agencies of the changes. As there are more than 200 of them, this information can take several months to filter through to all of their front-line staff, and so we knew it would be unlikely that we would see any clients for the first month or so.
But amazingly we have had 5 families at each of our first 3 sessions: meaning that we provided food for 29 adults and 33 children. More than that, we listened as people shared the difficult situations they are going through. The loss and pain of broken relationships, bereavements, job redundancies, house repossession, sickness and depression. A stark reminder of the massive needs there are in our local community. Often people arrive at the foodbank session desperate and fearful, and the emotional support we are able to give is just as, if not more, important than the food we give. And of course, we are able to offer prayer to people, and share Jesus with them. It is wonderful to see people leave smiling and encouraged.
We’ve been running Connect Supper every fortnight this term on Friday’s 5pm – 7pm, the same time as the foodbank session. This is a great space for all of us to connect with each other, catch up over a simple meal and a cuppa. Several families coming to the foodbank session also joined Connect Supper, and it was fantastic to see everyone together having a good time. We are hoping that Connect Supper will be weekly event soon, but need a couple of volunteers to help with this.
Our CAP Job Club launched on 11th March, led by Dan and Alina. This is a relaxed group for people seeking employment to get the support and tools they need to find a job. It is going to be running on Friday evenings from 7pm - 8.30pm for another 7 weeks. The last one we ran saw several people gain work, so we hope that there will be more stories like that to share at the end of the course.
I’ve been facilitating a discipleship group called Rooted In, which is for new Christians, and have been blown away at how people are growing in their faith and all that God is doing in their lives. They are all wonderful, and spending time with them blesses me so much. In fact, I am beside myself with excitement that 4 of them are being baptised on Easter Sunday! I know that their testimonies will encourage and inspire all of us to praise Jesus even more.
Finally, today we had more good news as we found out we have been successful in a funding bid for £2500 to finish the long room downstairs. This will enable us to start moving ahead in our plans for more projects: an emergency food box project and supported volunteer scheme, pop-up advice clinics, self-esteem group for vulnerable women, budgetting skills course and counselling service to name but a few.
Please give thanks and prayer for all that is happening with our social actions projects. If you’d like to be involved in other ways too please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can chat through all the different ways you can. The more volunteers we have, the more local people we can reach out to, support and share God’s love with.
Thanks so much.
God bless you heaps.
Social Action Team Leader
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