God at work in Townhill
Our evangelists' work is people-focused and not being able to interact face-to-face during lockdown has certainly provided many challenges. For many of the vulnerable people we work with, this has been a time of uncertainty and fear.
Before lockdown, at Southampton Centre of Mission, Ruth Hills had started to gain momentum with a group of people from the Townhill estate where she is ministering. Claire* had given her life to God a few months earlier and wanted more teaching. And Jo* really wanted to know more after she prayed for healing and her prayer was answered – she has since given her life to God.
Lockdown has forced a lot of things to change, but Ruth has been leaning into the difficulties created by social distancing, to bring people closer together and closer to Jesus...
One group, EDGE, evolved from a children’s activity session into something that involved parents and a community meal. When lockdown happened, Ruth and her team of church volunteers decided to continue this group using Zoom. This was a challenge as many in the community are not highly technical and don’t have computers. Most have managed to join using phones and Ruth was able to provide one girl with a basic tablet so she could join in. It's really important that the EDGE community has been able to keep connected and have fun too!
Ruth realised that many of the parents from EDGE really valued the Zoom meetings and wanted to meet together more often, so she developed an offshoot group, enabling the parents to talk better. This group then moved onto doing an online Alpha, which Ruth ran with Lauren, one of the ordinands at Ascension Church. Paula*, who said she was not a Christian, told Ruth it was the highlight of her week. She has been intrigued and has admitted to encounters with God; including her surprise at objecting to others taking God’s name in vain.
Others from the church, who have a heart for the Townhill estate have delivered cakes and desserts each week for Alpha, and craft kits and goodies to the children too.
Lockdown has been very difficult for many of the families, especially home schooling; one family had no pens or paper at home - something Ruth could easily help with. Food parcels, emotional support, and a monetary gift to keep a car which was essential for work on the road, have also been part of Ruth’s work over the last few weeks. She has also provided vital support for women experiencing domestic abuse.
When a need is identified it is carefully considered and where giving is required, it is posted on online church groups, with members very willing to provide support as required. For example, Jo recently injured herself in a fall at home and was on full bed-rest and unable to cook for her husband and five children. Volunteers from the church rallied around and a meal rota was set-up.
Elsewhere, a team of volunteers were mobilised to help sort out a flat which was in poor condition; this prevented
children from a vulnerable family potentially being taken into care.
God is at work!
God has been doing wonderful things in people’s lives. He is Lord of all, even in lockdown and over Zoom! Please pray that through Alpha, the practical support and regular gatherings, more lives can be changed and many more will surrender their lives to God.
Help us continue and expand our work supporting communities like Townhill, Southampton by donating online now.
This story is adapted from an article which originally appeared in Catalyst magazine, Issue #8. Read the full story in Catalyst.
Read more stories of transformation in other areas of our work here.