Like many others, Regan King, pastor of The Angel Church in Islington, prayed for opportunities to engage with the local community, other than online, during the coronavirus lockdown.
“I read a story in the local newspaper about a lady called Hazel, who was trying to get an initiative off the ground to provide food to were self-isolating,” he recalls.
“Knowing we had a big church kitchen and large freezer, I contacted Hazel and offered to help cook meals. We started cooking 75 meals; then 150 and then it got to as high as 250 to 300 meals a week.
“We also helped distribute food to many elderly, vulnerable and homeless people to show God’s love in a practical way.”
As more people in neighbourhood heard about the project, they began turning up at the church to collect their meals.
“I’d been praying for God to help expand the project, so we decided to invite them inside and play Christian music and videos while they ate,” says Regan.
“It also gave us the opportunity to start conversations and answer questions such as ‘Who is Jesus?’ and ‘Where is God when things go wrong?’ and we spoke about the hope and forgiveness found in the gospel.
“People were awakening to what true Christianity is all about. Before COVID-19, we were valued – but at arm’s length – then during lockdown, people were coming to us and saying: ‘We need you’.
“Many said the quality of discussion, without anger or judgement, and the way it was allowed to be free was amazing. We had great conversations ‘over the chopping board’ and one volunteer, who is a non-believer, admitted he could see there was something about faith in crisis and he made a video of the project, which we put on our website as an encouragement to others.”
When the first lockdown ended, Regan was motivated by the love of Jesus to carry on with the project that continues to run from the church, with Hazel still providing volunteers.
Islington Council gave a grant towards the cost of the project, with several local churches and other Christian organisations in the community also coming on board.
“We now hold sessions three times a week, which are more formal, where we pray and have a Bible study – although those who come may not call it a Bible study as such!” says Regan.
“The aim is to discuss topical issues surrounding God’s identity, our problems and the hope that’s in Jesus, and things like depression and loneliness from a biblical perspective.
“We now have enough money to run the project until the end of the year and when our church reopened, everyone returned with a real spirit of understanding to continue loving our neighbours and being an example of God’s love to those around us.”
By Kerry Allan
- God would use churches for his glory and bring many to the hope found in Christ in times where hope is lacking.
- That churches will become ‘lighthouses’ for Christ and show clearly the way to salvation.
- For churches to work together to use creativity and clear thinking in how to reach their communities with the gospel.