"We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibres connect us with our fellow men." Herman Melville
Responding to the cost-of-living crisis, increasing inflation, and rising energy and fuel bills, British Union Conference (BUC) director Sharon Platt-McDonald developed the LAYERS and SHARE outreach initiatives across her three departments of Adventist Community Services, Health, and Women's Ministries. These interventions aim to mobilise churches to reach out to individuals struggling to cope in these challenging times by providing practical support and essential resources.
Following the publication of the BUC News article highlighting the LAYERS and SHARE initiatives ( https://adventist.uk/news/article/go/2022-10-13/adventist-community-services-addresses-energy-fuel-crisis/ ), there has been encouraging responses to the appeal for donations to the two projects.
The Erdington Adventist church in Birmingham rose to the challenge and responded with a generous outpouring of over 200 donated quality items. It was heartening to see brand new clothes, bedding, food and household goods, still with their retail tags attached and others sealed in their packaging, as we undertook a stocktake of the bountiful delivery.
One donor had knitted a beautiful turquoise baby cardigan, delicately wrapped with love in quality gift paper, ready for its recipient.
Husband and wife delivered the lavish goods – Ben and Melonie Eccles, who travelled over 100 miles to the BUC office on Tuesday, 29 November, with collective donations from church members. They recounted that the LAYERS and SHARE poster and the BUC News article appeal for donations had touched hearts and moved both themselves and church members to immediate action.
Speaking with Brother Eccles, he enthused:
"Since the global pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, we have always had the desire to help those in need. So, when we saw the article in the BUC News about the LAYERS project, we jumped at the chance to help.
"As Erdington church Family Ministries leader, I decided we could help as a church. So, a deadline date for donations was given to the members, as I had a date in mind when I could personally deliver the gifts. We, the members, gave willingly. Hebrews 13 v. 16 says – 'Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.'"
Assisting the unpacking and logging of items received was Jackie Ramharacksingh, whose organised approach enabled every item to be labelled, catalogued, and sorted by type, then packaged for distribution. She shares her reflections on receipt of the donations at the BUC office:
"The Adventist Community Services director (aka Sharon Platt-McDonald) literally jumped for joy, as her eyes shed tears of gratitude (as did all those present), at the sight of Erdington Adventist church's huge donation to the new LAYERS and SHARE projects! This will benefit the receiving churches to distribute and hopefully bless those receiving the actual clothing and food – definitely, 'walking the walk'!"
At its inception, BUC Director Sharon Platt-McDonald shared the ethos of the LAYERS and SHARE projects with Cathy Anthony Boldeau, Urban Ministries lead and Development Education Officer for ADRA-UK. In a collaborative approach to this outreach, we formulated a strategy to encompass project promotion, storage of items and distribution of goods. The donation of ADRA bags will also ensure that the recipients walk away with donated items secured in a good quality, eco-friendly, durable bag.
Cathy Anthony Boldeau reports:
"It's a great initiative, and I'm so pleased that ADRA could support Adventist Community Services through empowerment, with resources and storage space. We celebrate the contribution from Erdington church."
The first recipient of these resources goes to the Willesden Adventist church, which currently operates diverse and thriving outreach initiatives, requiring regular resources due to the increasing number of individuals who access their services. Speaking with the pastor of Willesden church, Dr Mario Phillip, he outlined the scope of their community ministry. He expressed his delight at how they will use the resources for individuals accessing his church's newly launched Drop-in Centre. He explains:
"The United Drop-in Centre was launched on Sunday, 27 November, at the Willesden Adventist church. This was a collaborative effort of the church, community members, the local Community Action Team, Brent Health Matters, Brent Mental Health, Brent Hub, and Brent Public Health. At the drop-in centre, we provide a warm shower, hot meal, health checks, barber services, advice, mental health counselling, empowerment and skills opportunities, signposting and more.
"The quality supplies received from the BUC LAYERS and SHARE projects answered our prayer to God for supplies to support the drop-in centre. I have no doubt they will go a long way in meeting the needs of those attending, especially providing much-needed warmth to the homeless and most vulnerable of our community."
As we continue to receive donations from our members, we pray that we can meet the needs of many individuals. In doing so, may the beauty of the gospel be revealed in these demonstrable, compassionate, and loving acts of service to humanity.