What the church is doing
The impact of lockdown was as dramatic as it was swift, especially for charities. Stewardship acted quickly. We launched our Rapid Response Fund on 27th March, aiming to reach isolated and disadvantaged people affected by COVID-19. The outpouring of generosity from our major donors was truly remarkable. We raised and distributed nearly £5 million to 88 UK churches and charities within 100 days of lockdown. This is the story of two of them.
Mike Omoniyi runs Our God Given Mission, a Manchester-based charity which helps people to know and preach the gospel. Mike and his team had done their work with virtually no support for five years. “At the beginning of 2020, I was anticipating a difficult conversation about how we could carry on. The Rapid Response Fund means that we can continue with our work.”
Mike nearly didn’t apply for the grant. “I’d known about Stewardship for years but assumed that we were too small to qualify for help. I was on a general advisory board with Pastor Agu of Jesus House. He messaged me to say, ‘Why don’t you guys think about Stewardship?’ Shortly after that, Rob Parsons called up and said the same thing. We had a meeting with Stewardship and put in the application. It was providential.”
Our God Given Mission received £22,500 which they’re working to match-fund.
“We’ve employed a full-time member of staff who will work with churches to help them proclaim the gospel to the BAME community and young people. Our partners programme offers a range of podcasts and the chance to discuss big issues such as Black Lives Matter and what the gospel says about systemic injustice.”
Mike has big dreams. “We want to be able to reach 100,000 people by the end of 2020. We average around 5,000 per month, but with the help of the fund, we’ll hit our target. We just ran a five-day Zoom conference, ‘The Gospel in a Broken World’. Lord Hastings spoke about brokenness relating to Black Lives Matter and COVID-19 and we reached out to hundreds. Two of them came to faith on Zoom. That couldn’t have happened without Stewardship.”
In parts of the BAME community in Manchester, the mood is pessimistic. “There’s so much happening in the world right now,” says Mike. “A couple of months ago, people were just bankers or estate agents or whatever. Now they’re experts on race! In the Christian community, however, there’s a sense of hope. My pastor set up a church service about tackling racism. We’ve seen a couple of churches pray and fast – they want to change the world, as we all do. It’s been hard – I had an Afro when I started all this! That said, it was a God moment when we met Stewardship and the fund has ensured that we can continue our work.”
220 miles north in Glasgow, Street Connect works with people struggling with addiction, homelessness, mental health issues, trauma and poverty. Parts of Glasgow and surrounding areas are in the top 5% of the Multiple Deprivation Index and the need is huge. As lockdown started to bite, the team found themselves constrained in the amount of face-to-face work they could do.
Support Our God Given Mission here.