‘What would happen if, instead of taking the Eden Bus out at night, we took it out in the middle of the day? And instead of putting on a youth club, we parked up and reached out in a local Eden area every week?’
These were the questions Eden Bus team Sid Williams and Chaz Newton-Smith started asking earlier this year. Within months, they had their answer: it would start to transform a community with the good news of Jesus.
The site chosen was Merseybank, a small council estate in South Manchester, where a small Eden team had moved in in 2011. Sid and Chaz approached Eden Merseybank’s team leader Steve Small who immediately saw the potential to develop the work he and his volunteer team were already doing locally. The bus started its weekly visits in May.
‘We started seeing the impact immediately,’ recalls Steve. ‘You can’t miss it – this big bus with all this life spilling out of it. And the fact that it’s here every Wednesday at the same time makes a big difference. People are attracted to the love of God being shown by our team.’
Bus manager Sid adds: ‘It’s galvanising a community and we’re seeing new faces every week. When we first started, people we spoke to said, “We’ve lived here for years but we didn’t know anyone’s name. Now we feel like we have a community again.”’
The area has widespread problems with debt which the Bus will soon begin to address with the help of a Christians Against Poverty (CAP) team who will be based on the bus each week.
As the team has offered prayer for healing, many have accepted – and there have been some miraculous results:
‘There’s a lot of goodwill toward Eden and people trust us to help with their problems,’ says Sid. ‘In the summer, we had an extraordinary healing from addiction and that encouraged others to come forward too. We prayed for a lady with an involuntary shaky hand – she was healed. And a lady with severe neck pain saw that dramatically improve too.’
Since the Bus started visiting, Eden Merseybank has seen growing numbers at its Community Lunch every Sunday followed by an open invitation to attend an afternoon church meeting at Ivy Sharston. Around 30 people now join in each week and several have started following Jesus as a direct result.
‘It’s accelerated everything,’ reflects Steve. ‘Things our team had hoped to see happen over the course of a year or more have happened in the space of a couple of months.’
The Eden Bus team is urgently seeking financial support to continue working on this estate. If you can help, please contact the team using the form below.