Before Mark Tate moved in to lead Eden Gurnell Grove, he had no idea God was already at work on the estate through a long-standing resident. Her influence has already opened up unexpected opportunities.
They first met when he was out with a group prayer walking on the estate.
‘We broke up into teams and this woman came up to me and asked me what we were doing there and if we were from the council,’ explains Mark.
‘I told her, “We’re just a bunch of Christians praying for the area as we believe God wants to bless this place. Is there anything you want prayer for?
‘She stopped in her tracks. We began to chat, and three times she asked me, “This is great, but are you going to stay?”
‘I was reminded of when Jesus said to Peter three times, “Do you love me?” and each time he said yes and Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” I really felt the Lord was speaking to me through this lady.’
A few months later Mark and his wife were giving out flyers inviting residents to their first Christmas event.
‘As my wife went towards her flat, she came out and said, “Who are you, what are you doing here? I’m part of the residents association. I didn’t say you could do this event.”
‘But when my wife said she was married to me, she said, “Oh, Mark! I know Mark. I can’t wait. I’ll be there.”
‘The following week we were out in the cold, handing out mince pies and she said, “Mark, you’re here, you’re actually here.” We spoke for an hour and she started telling me about her vision for the community. She said, “I really believe God wants to change this estate Mark. I want to see people coming together. I really think God’s called you here for a reason.”’
Mark started to discover that she was a real agent for change. She had set up an over-50s group because nothing else was being provided for the elderly. She also organised significant landscaping on the estate because of her passion to make it a nicer place to be.
Mark was amazed when she told him she was the vice-chair of the residents association. She invited him to come to the next meeting as she wanted him to consider becoming the chairperson.
‘At the meeting the council officer was there and explained that if they didn’t manage to come up with a new chairperson, the committee would be shut down. They asked if anyone wanted to put themselves forward.
‘Before I could say anything the lady we’d been getting to know said, “We nominate this young man to be the chair.”
‘I very briefly explained what the Eden Gurnell Grove team was here to do – that we didn’t want to tread on anyone’s toes and just wanted to make a difference to this place. Then the 17 residents unanimously voted me in.
‘It’s good to be reminded that it’s all God’s work – we’re simply joining in. We’re excited to build on our new relationships in our community and see it transformed by the love and power of Jesus.’
To find out how you can become an Eden agent for change visit joineden.org today.