The thoughts, reflections and musings of an average Church of England Priest
Saturday, 21 March 2015
40 Acts - Rollup your Sleeves
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43: 19 (NIV)
Manchester knows how to roll up its sleeves. Back in the 19th century when Western Europe was sending out missionaries all over the world, there were great crowds of young men hearing the call of God and gathering at Manchester Central Hall. Despite being told that the average life expectancy of a missionary was just 16 weeks, they pressed up to the altar, a hoard of lads with tear-stained faces willing to give their lives to mission.
A lot has changed since then and it’s true that those golden days seem a long way behind us. But God’s not done with Manchester. For the last 28 years we’ve seen this city slowly begin to change, thanks to a new generation of Christians who are passionate about mission and passionate about rolling up their sleeves and meeting people’s needs.
Isaiah writes about this in chapter 43, where he turns our attention to the way that God creates ‘a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland’. God invites us to join in with him.
This is exactly what we’ve seen in prisons. Our teams that work with offenders started seeing lives changed, and it got them thinking: how were we going to help these young men and women rebuild their lives once they were released? How were we going to help them avoid going back?
So we started the Enterprise Centre. We transformed a derelict warehouse into a venue where ex-offenders could be given a job, working in the café, the beauty salon, or the bicycle repair and resale business. And alongside a wage, training and a supportive community they get a home, a church within walking distance and a real, tangible shot at a life transformed.
All it took was a bunch of people who cared enough, who trusted God enough and who persevered enough to have a go.