"Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." Hebrews 13:16
An ITV News broadcast on Sunday, 8 January 2023, featured the exceptional community outreach of the Tottenham Lighthouse Adventist church in their response to the cost-of-living crisis. Interviewed also was the church pastor – Dr Jude Jeanville, who shared the ethos for reaching out with tangible resources to those in need through their church Food Hub.
Realising the significant needs of individuals struggling to cope with soaring inflation, increased energy bills and rising fuel costs, Jeanville shared a vision with his church members. Encouraging them to respond in practical ways that meet the daily needs of individuals unable to supply themselves and their families with essential items.
Each week over 250 community residents attend the Tottenham Lighthouse church to receive essential resources for their sustenance. Recipients of this generous donation receive fresh, dried and tinned foods, a range of household items, and cash to assist them in purchasing additional necessities on two occasions.
The BUC Adventist Community Services donated 200 Advent booklets in gift bags, distributed to attendees at the Food Hub on Sabbath, 7 January. A cash donation (from the church) was enclosed in each booklet, making a total of £10,000 gifted to the community. This generous gesture was a focal point of the ITV News coverage.
BUC’s Communication & Media Director, Pastor Sam Davies reflects on the scope of this initiative and says,
"During the past two years, the consistent humanitarian outreach programme by the Tottenham Lighthouse church has significantly impacted the community and the church, resulting in ITV News featuring their latest outreach endeavour in the news on Sunday. The good deeds have undoubtedly given the church a positive presence in its community, with increasing numbers continuing to turn to the church for their supply of groceries and other essential foodstuffs.
Like many within the British Union Conference, Tottenham Lighthouse church has been encouraged to be community-focused. And churches and individuals who have pursued this call have seen engagements from their community members and leaders, including politicians who are often attracted to humanitarian efforts. Enoch Kanagaraj, who started a similar programme with the Stanborough Park church in Watford a few years ago, attended the Tottenham Lighthouse event to give a hand. His efforts at the Stanborough Park church have also been a testament to attracting the attention of community leaders who favour humanitarian endeavours."
BUC Director Sharon Platt-McDonald, with a remit for Adventist Community Services, agrees with Pastor Sam Davies' reflection. She states:
"We saw in that positive ITV News coverage, the British media broadcasting what they felt was a newsworthy report of interest and impact, important enough to share with the nation. The timely, compassionate, relative and consistent outreach of the Tottenham Lighthouse church is a wonderful example to the watching world, a credit to our Seventh-day Adventist membership and a witness of the power of the gospel changing lives for the better in 2023."
The BUC media team, represented by Kofi Osei-Owusu, attended on Sabbath, 7 January, to see Tottenham Lighthouse church displaying love in action as they reached out to their community. Filming the interaction of church members and community attendees was a heartening experience as he witnessed Christ's method of ministry through compassionate acts of loving service.
Grateful recipients of the donated goods were thrilled to share their response with Kofi, as he captured the human interest stories through filming and interviews. Many shared how the church's intervention has positively impacted their lives over the past two years. You can access a video of this event via the link below, where you can hear the uplifting testimonials from community residents.
Many individuals accessing the Food Hub now also attend church services on Sabbath. One of these attendees is now a baptised member of the Tottenham Lighthouse church. This beautiful testimony demonstrates the power of love and truth to transform a life.
Speaking with Jeanville, his passion for ministry, connecting with people and meeting community needs is evident in the vibrant way he recounts the varied stories of community residents accessing the church's outreach initiatives. Commenting on the recent ITV coverage of the Food Hub in action, he enthused:
"We now have the attention of the media, let's keep it going, but more importantly, let's build community…. God wants to do something big through His church for His glory, He wants to give us more extensive opportunities than we can imagine, but it starts with us extending ourselves in compassion and faith.
"The most important principle is love. Of the close to 300 persons visiting our Food Hub weekly, we have Muslim women who attend church on the Sabbath. Our clientele is 95% White Europeans, including English. You cannot stop love; meeting people's needs is powerful.
"The Tottenham Lighthouse members stepped outside the box and gave a total of £10,000 sacrificially and equitably distributed with transparency and accountability. Members and the church gave what they did not have because of vision and courageous leadership motivated by love for our fellow men."
In an appeal to all Adventist members, Jeanville reminds us of our mandate:
"The Bible teaches...'As much as you have done it onto the least of these my brethren you have done it on to me' (Matthew 25:40). The Rich Young Ruler was commanded to 'go sell all you have and give to the poor' (Matthew 19:21).
"And, when Jesus returns, He would separate people into two categories, those who PROFESSED and those who PRACTISED: 'Then the king will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed Me; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me' (Matthew 25: 34-36).
"God and men will note extraordinary acts of kindness; therein lies our sanctification."
May each of our churches become a lighthouse, shining out in the darkness of human need, bringing help, hope and healing to lives for restoration.