Chris and Steve are flatmates living on the Delgarno Estate, West London, part of the Eden team there.
I did the Genetik course in Manchester in 2003, and worked with several of the Eden teams then. I loved working with young people on the estates, and told God I wanted to stay up there. But he asked me to go to University instead! After my degree I moved to London to work. A few years later, when I heard Eden was planning on teams in London, I told God I wanted to get involved and this time he said “Yes”!
Living on the estate means I see the young people when I pop to the shops or I’m coming home from work. If there are lots of them on the streets, we take a ball or frisbee out to the open areas on the estate and have got to know them quite well now. We also have got to know the youth team at the local council community centre, who invited us to get involved with some of their youth clubs.
The community is becoming my community, instead of a community I’m serving. I’m living alongside people, experiencing the same social issues, seeing the same sights and smelling the same smells. It brings authenticity to my youth work and my life in general. Living on the estate, chatting to people all the time I find that I’m praying a lot more into specific issues and people’s lives, and this has made me much more passionate in my prayer life.
I grew up in Cornwall and heard about Eden, through The Message, but didn’t think about moving to Manchester. After a few years of living in London, I visited a church the same day Andy Hawthorne was visiting to launch Eden London. It felt like God was prompting me to look into joining a team. I imagined every evening taken up with youthwork, but it turned out to be nothing like that! Eden asks five hours a week from volunteers which is a couple of sessions. You do it with a team and you are all looking out for each other. I have a local job and the hours are 9-5 so I have plenty of spare time to relax and see friends or recover emotionally if I need to.
Another reason I was reticent at first, was because I didn’t think I was up to it as a Christian – thought only ‘super spiritual’ Christians should apply. I didn’t feel like I’d have what it takes. But I realised when I met them that they were all pretty normal. I was reminded that Moses wasn’t anything special and like me, he kept coming up with lots of reasons why he couldn’t do what God was asking him to do.
I thought I would find it impossible to talk to the kids and get to know people in the area. But getting to know people has been really easy!