As well as spending their days meeting the practical needs of their communities during the pandemic, our Eden teams have also been tirelessly pointing their neighbours to Jesus. We caught up with Eden Buttershaw’s new team leader, Matt, to find out what’s been happening for young people in Bradford.
Welcome to Eden, Matt – how have your first few months been?
Thanks. It’s definitely been a different start to my Eden journey! My wife, kids and I joined the team in April just days after lockdown began – this isn’t how we thought our time here would start. But whilst it’s not been the easiest, it’s meant we hit the ground running and that we’ve been able to be part of showing Jesus’ love to the people of Buttershaw at a time of hardship, loss and suffering.
The team have been doing lots to support the community, but can you tell us more about what you’ve been doing for young people?
With no school, exams cancelled, no way to see friends and so much uncertainty, lockdown has been tough for young people. As a team we were determined that we’d do everything we could to help them stay connected and know they’re not alone during this time. So we moved as many of our activities as we could online.
We also started a brand-new Bible study group – SOAP – for high-school students on the estate, and found we not only had young people from the church logging on, but other teenagers from Buttershaw taking part too. SOAP gave our teens somewhere they could meet to have fun with their mates (even if it was virtually) as well as learning more about Jesus.
Each week we read a passage from the Bible together, chat about what we like about it and answer the questions the young people have. Then we go on to think about how it applies to our lives today – both in lockdown and ‘normal’ life – and finally we pray together. That’s how SOAP got its name – Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer.
What impact has SOAP been having?
I’ve been really excited to see each of the young people growing in their love for Jesus. We’ve heard about how they’ve been getting in touch with each other to pray together during the week. They’ve been telling us about how God has been healing people when they’ve prayed for them, and how they’ve heard God speaking to them as they’ve prayed.
There’s also a real hunger and passion amongst the young people to read their Bibles. I love it when they log onto SOAP and tell us about parts of the Bible they’ve read since we last met and what they think this means for their lives. Even in the midst of global uncertainty, these are young people putting their roots down in the hope and love of Jesus, and trusting him completely.
So, what’s next?
None of us know what will happen over the next six months but we know that God does, and that we can trust him completely.
Now that schools are back in it’s been great to be able to start meeting the young people in person – albeit socially distanced and in small groups. And for me to actually meet everyone properly rather than virtually! SOAP continues to grow and we’ve just held the first of many youth events for the people of Buttershaw.
I’m also excited about a new opportunity we’ve got to start a community garden at the local youth centre and the chances this will give us to get to know the teenagers in our community.
If you could say one thing to young people at the moment, what would it be?
I want every young person to know how much God loves them and that no matter what you’re going through, he is always there for you. Each of you is his precious child and he loves you so much that he gave his greatest treasure – his son Jesus – for you. If you don’t know Jesus for yourself, I’d encourage you to get in touch with your local youth worker or church to find out about the hope he offers.