Tottenham Lighthouse Adventist church has become a beacon of light in its local community, radiating God's love in practical ways, and positively impacting lives.
On Sabbath 12 November, accepting a preaching appointment for the end of Week of Prayer, I arrived at the church to see several assembled stalls, waiting on a delivery of food that they would donate to the community following the church service. Also on display was a range of free literature for spiritual enrichment. Tottenham Lighthouse is a church that genuinely cares about its community.
A favourite quote of mine is one by Margaret J Wheatly, who makes this poignant statement:
"There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about."
These words reflect the exemplary work that Tottenham Lighthouse is undertaking to meet the needs of others, changing lives for the better. This work was evidenced by the baptism of a community individual who had attended their food hub. In an interview with Head Elder Roger Charles, he relayed the following:
SPM – Please share some highlights of your outreach to the local community.
RC – The Tottenham Lighthouse Seventh-day Adventist Church Food Hub, established in July 2020, is available twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays. However, last month, we added an extra gift to everyone who came to collect food on Saturday afternoon. To the surprise of the local community, the food hub helpers packaged into a brightly coloured envelope a card with an encouraging word and a crisp new £20 note, handed to every person who came for their regular food collection to assist them in the current UK economic crisis.
SPM – That's wonderful! How did the recipients respond?
RC – A young lady commented to one of the organisers that she was grateful for the envelope containing a card and encouraging words (a scripture reading from Isaiah 41:10) but also found a £20 note in the envelope and wanted to return it thinking it slipped in the envelope in error. To her amazement, when the organiser explained that it was a tangible gift we wanted to give our customers collecting food that week, she repeated that she thought they had added it in error. After a second prompt letting her know it was for her to use as she wished, she gasped with thanks.
SPM – This is so impactful! Any other testimonials from recipients?
RC – A second man who received the envelope was cautious about opening it. However, when encouraged by others who had opened their surprise envelopes, the loud shout of thanks rocked the area even amid the drumming by the church Pathfinders drum corps, celebrating their 70 years of establishment. Their performance added a celebratory note to the occasion.
The monetary gift was the brainchild of local minister Dr Jude Jeanville who has ministered in the Tottenham area for the last six years and has a deep passion for the community and what the church needs to be doing for the community.
SPM – I understand crowds of people attend the food hub; how could you afford to give everyone £20?
RC – Dr Jeanville shared a vision with his elders and church board to do something different for the 150+ persons who religiously attend the local community food hub weekly. The excellent idea was to give more than mere grocery items; this time round, the church would reach into its coffers and provide all attendees with cash and a promise from the Bible. While discussing the implications on the board, one member was so impressed about the potential impact that she offered to donate £2500 for the initiative and an additional £1200 toward repeating the initiative at the end of the year. An amazing feat!
Now that was radical giving, but then came the revolutionary caveat! Dr Jeanville challenged the church to "cast their net on the other side" to do church differently: to engage with the scores of individuals who were literally outside the church's doorstep every Sabbath at 3:30 pm for the past two years. Instead of the church meeting at 9:30 am and ending at 1:00 pm after singing, praying and fellowshipping amongst themselves, he challenged the congregation to commence service at 11:00 am to finish at 3:00 pm. The aim is to coincide with the food hub attendees and greet each contact with an envelope containing a Bible promise, a £20 note and a statement of our care and best wishes for their wellbeing.
The congregation embraced the vision and ran with it. Members stated how refreshing it was to attend church without rushing out as early as every other day of the week. It was also a great experience seeing members witnessing actively in a relevant and tangible way that the community received positively.
SPM – Praise God! How is your Community Services leader involved?
RC – Food hub organiser Sophia Charles oversees a team of over 12 volunteers who collects from various food agencies in the area and prepares fresh fruits, vegetables, and groceries with no limit, for everyone that attends. Reflecting on the monetary gift to the community Sophia said: "This is truly a moment in history for the local church to be able to do something so tangible for the community as well as sharing food items."
SPM – I imagine your church pastor is thrilled to see how well the food hub is progressing.
RC – Yes, he is thankful for God's leading. Dr Jeanville is also interested in the spiritual well-being of the community. I remember him saying, "Watch this space as we venture out to feed stomachs and capture hearts for God's kingdom."
SPM – It has been a delight to hear of the tremendous witness and impact your church is making. We continue to pray for God's favour as you minister.