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Changing people from the inside out

Church Army's new campaign, Inside Out, has been transforming lives on a North Yorkshire estate. Here's how ...

Church Army’s new campaign, Inside Out, highlights the different ways the Gospel is changing neighbourhoods. An estate in Selby, North Yorkshire is just one of them …

Six years ago, Evangelist Richard Cooke and his family moved to the Flaxley Road Estate – a place where there was no Christian witness and where residents often lack hope for the future.

Unemployment, family breakdown and debt problems impact the community as people search for short-term solutions to fill the emptiness in their lives.

Yet, Richard and the local church had a vision to establish a new Christian community on the estate. With the help of a committed group of Christians from St James’ Church, The Edge Community was formed.

Richard said: “At first there were just 14 of us, seven adults and seven children, and we would meet together in the children’s centre on the estate.

“Connecting with the community, serving people practically and building relationships were our initial aims.

“Since then, and more recently with the help of Evangelist Neil Walpole who joined us in 2011, we have set up a mothers and toddlers’ group, a youth group, weekly assemblies and an after school club in the local primary school, a parenting drop-in, holiday clubs and debt advice sessions.

“Through all of this we have been able to share our faith through words and action, and have seen our weekly church gatherings slowly grow. People are searching for answers to life’s big questions and it has been a privilege to journey with them.

“It’s not just the activities that we run that are making a difference to people’s lives. Simply by moving into the neighbourhood and walking with people through life’s ups and downs, helps them see that Jesus cares for them.

“Gradually, with patience and perseverance, we are seeing the Gospel transform people from the inside out.”

The Edge Community, which is a Church Army Centre of Mission, is the first of the projects to be featured as part of the Inside Out campaign. Over the next year Church Army willl be highlighting how their evangelists are living and working in communities for the long-term.

As Jesus Christ came to earth to dwell among us and reveal God’s eternal plan, they too are motivated to share the Good News with those in our neighbourhoods.

As it says in John 1:14: “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

To watch a film about Inside Out visit www.churcharmy.org.uk/insideout

STORIES FROM THE COMMUNITY

Dammie: “Last year my husband left me and our four children when the youngest was only one year old. I was unable to cope on my own with the house and mortgage so moved from London to live with my brother in Selby.

“This was a difficult time as there were eight of us living in a two-bedroom house and there weren’t enough beds for my children. During all of this, I met Richard and he supported us by praying with us and over time helped me get a house through Social Services.

“He and the church congregation then helped me furnish my new home and have really welcomed me to the Flaxley Road area. I am very thankful to God for the way He has provided.”

Dot: “I’ve lived on the estate for more than 10 years and am so pleased The Edge Community has been set up.

“When I first moved to the area I used to live next door to the pub and would regularly see young people taking drugs. Sadly, my son also became involved.

“But The Edge Community’s work with children and teenagers is brilliant, as they are learning about Jesus and the hope that he brings.

“I’ve also grown in my own faith since getting to know Richard and the team, and have taken part in an Alpha course and a Road to Maturity course. I now attend the community’s gatherings. The Edge Community feels like my family.”

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