"Don't be concerned for your own good, but for the good of others." 1 Corinthians 10:24 (NLT)
With this Bible verse in mind, the British Union Conference (BUC) Community Services department has decided to work in partnership with diverse groups, organisations and charities to assist our community and the vulnerable during this national crisis. One of our partners is the One Vision Project. This comprises of 42 different charities and was initiated by Enoch Kanagaraj a member of Stanborough Park Adventist church. This is essentially an Adventist-run networking support group.
The One Vision Project originated as a result of noting the diverse needs within the local community and bringing people together with their time, resources, skills and expertise to meet those needs. Compassion and care are at the heart of what the One Vision Project is about. They were recently awarded the prestigious High Sheriff awards for Faith Groups in the Community and is now listed on the Watford Borough Council's COVID-19 Volunteers Support Group.
It was a privilege last Sabbath 28 March to be part of the COVID-19 Response – Meeting Community Needs initiative with the One Vision Project. Together with Enoch Kanagaraj, Pastor Terry Messenger (Senior Minister for Stanborough Park church) and The Right Honorable (Rt Hon.) Dean Russell MP for Watford, we delivered goody bags to older adults in the community. The bags contained food items and relevant publications from the Stanborough Press.
Amongst those receiving the goody bags were church and community members, individuals who attend the Stanborough Park Seniors Club and the Watford Veterans Support Group members who are self-isolating. Visits were also made to the local pharmacy who are delivering medicines to those self-isolating. One Vision helps with the dissemination of medicines to these homes.
Additional stops were made to local shops and business catering for the needs of NHS staff. One Vision now partners with the Prince of Bengal Restaurant Group in Watford and the Watford Sikh Gurdwara who supplies the majority of foods to One Vision for dissemination to NHS workers in Watford General Hospital.
Most of these activities took place on the morning of Sabbath 28 March. The afternoon was equally busy with participation by the elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, Pastor Geert Tap pastor for Stanborough Park church and Massimo Molteni one of the Vice Chairs for the One Vision Project. Visits were made to the Garston Meriden Estate to cater for older members and support the businesses and shops who are currently supporting NHS workers.
It was a full and satisfying day, which took time as we observed the social distancing of 3 metres with each activity. What a joy to hear the surprised responses from the residents as we spoke with some through their intercom. Then there were the beaming smiles from others who came out to stand at their doors as we delivered the bags to their doorstep and stepped back 6 feet so they could retrieve it from a safe distance. We were also able to pray with other residents which was gratefully received.
We are thrilled that our Adventist Community Services department are working along with Parliamentary MP’s and Borough Council officials to support their vision for meeting the needs of the vulnerable during this COVID-19 outbreak. A video of our community initiative and interview with the local MP and Mayor, is now placed on the parliamentary website highlighting the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. For this we give God thanks.
Yet the day was not without its challenges. On the way to engage in this worthy mission, I was almost at our planned meeting point, when I was stopped by policemen and pulled over for questioning – at length. They wanted to know why I was not at home, where I was going and what I would be doing, and how long it would take. I took time to explain my participation with the One Vision Project and was able to produce evidence of our email and WhatsApp discourse as we planned for the intervention. On seeing all the 'evidence' I was free to go. One of the policemen stated, "It's great to see what you are doing for our vulnerable people. This is what we need more of in our communities. Well done." Then he added firmly – "however, please go straight back home, once you are finished." I thanked the policemen and lifted a prayer of gratitude to God, thankful that I could continue with the planned event participating in reaching out to meet community needs.
We have now created special badges for our outreach volunteers and participants. This will enable them to be more visible as community volunteers and hopefully, prevent others being stopped and questioned as I was.
This coming Sabbath, we are planning to undertake a similar intervention so others can benefit as we reach out at this time of great need in our country.
Please pray for initiatives like these as we seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a waiting world.