Eden: the harvest is plentiful
We are delighted to see the beginnings of Eden Westwood .
As you may know, the Eden Project (part of the work of The Message Trust) involves young (and often not quite so young) people joining churches around the UK situated in the most challenging urban areas with the aim of working alongside local youth and children. The amazing thing is that these people move – often from very nice areas – into what can be very demanding and tough situations.
They commit to work as part of Eden in local churches, find jobs and live in the area connecting with local children, young people and families. Eden has since its inception seen students, young professionals, families and even grandmothers called by God to move into the toughest areas and reach out in a practical way with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus tells us (Luke 10:2)
The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.
We thank God that he is sending us more ‘labourers’! Our first Eden worker joined us this month and another is due to join us in the summer. Several of our own young people have also volunteered to join the Eden Westwood team and we hope to see others joining Eden Westwood in the work God has planned for this area.
Stephen Evans (Youth Pastor at Firwood Church) will take on the responsibility of Team Leader for Eden Westwood. He has, together with Phill Marsh (Youth Pastor at Firwood Church), ably supported by our other youth workers, run the Youth Work of the church for the past five years.
Stephen and Pavlina are moving into the area and are currently looking for a house in the vicinity of the church. As other Eden Westwood Youth Workers join us they too will move into houses in the local area.
The work of Eden Westwood is, essentially, an extension of the work which we have been doing at Firwood Church for some years. Eden Westwood does, however, enable us for the first time to have a full time Youth Leader and will also provide us with additional numbers of dedicated individuals who have committed the next five years to working for Christ in the area. Eden offers us amazing opportunities to expand our work and resources. In addition, it will greatly increase our ability to work with even larger numbers of young people, sharing with them the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Firwood Church has been greatly blessed over the years with the numbers of young people who have committed their lives to Christ and moved on in maturity well beyond their years. Now with the addition of Eden Westwood, we look forward to seeing this work continue and grow.
In our work over the past few years we have seen many unchurched young people come into the church – many of whom would be classed as difficult and challenging. We thank God for the youth leaders we have in the church who have, through God’s grace, been able to get alongside these young people, helping and offering support. We have seen remarkable changes in the lives of many of the young people.
Over the last month we have seen an unprecedented increase in the number of new young people coming for the church youth nights. This area of youth work presents many problems and we thank God that we have so many Youth Leaders already in the church who are experienced in dealing with young people. The increase of young people coming into the church will, however, necessitate even more workers and we see the start of Eden Westwood as God’s provision for the harvest which we are now seeing.
Although we are aware many of the people who volunteer to work on Eden Projects around the country experience a real culture shock when they join their teams, at the same time, we know that they are embarking on an amazing journey that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
We have seen much fruit already from the work that has gone on over the past years. The Youth Workers who have already committed to joining us – and those who follow – will have the joy of being part of young peoples’ lives and seeing these lives being turned around and completely changed.
We know from past experience that there many young people who are already involved in criminal activities and using drugs. For those who come to know Christ, it is not just a change of lifestyle from a spiralling life of crime, prison and, in many instances, depravation and addiction, but a saving of lives. We see a new life, a new creation through the grace of Jesus Christ.
… then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.
We have seen lives changed – we have seen and will see again families affected by the love of Christ. We are not satisfied, however, and want to see this on a massive scale. We want to see young people who were once the scourge of their community, go on to become respected individuals, holding down good jobs and moving on with a life in Christ.
All Youth Work is based on relationships – young people remember what they see and actually experience, rather than just what they hear and what they are told. Youth Work is all about relationship building and until we have reach the point where the young person trusts us because of the time spent, encouragement given and love expended. They remember how they are treated, the interest shown in their lives and how much they are loved – with God’s grace, this is what will reach them.
We give praise and thanks to God for what we have seen and look forward with eager anticipation to what we will see unfolding over the coming few years.
To God be the Glory!