Paul leads the Eden team in Ragworth and Primrose Hill. Together the team, including Paul’s son Lewis, are working to make Jesus known in their community. Here he tells his story:
It was ten years ago when I decided to give God a chance. Both myself and my wife became Christians through a combination of our connection with CAP and Eden. Through these friendships and conversations I realised that what they were saying about God must be real. Initially I decided to give all this God stuff a go for six weeks, but here we are ten years later and I’m now leading an Eden team. My son Lewis has grown up in the church. He was able to piggyback off mine and my wife’s faith for a while, but we’ve seen him grow and develop his own faith. We had the privilege of seeing him baptised just two years ago. He now works alongside us on the Eden team.
Joining Eden felt like a natural step. I was working part-time and, along with a few others, worked with some of the unemployed lads on the Ragworth estate. We’d provide food, share our stories and built lasting relationships with these guys. We were a bunch of enthusiastic Christians who wanted to see our community changed for Christ. Eden gave us an identity, a support network and the encouragement from other teams across the country. Over the years we have seen our team gradually evolve as people who have always called the estate home are saved through our work – people like Zoe who we first met through the local school. As a single mum to a son with additional needs, she was struggling with all that life was throwing her way. She began attending some of our outreach work and discipleship courses. As her confidence developed, she started to volunteer with the team, learning more about faith and amazingly gave her life to Jesus! She’s now heading up our youth work and sharing God with her friends and neighbours. We’re seeing the kingdom expand through the people we know and love.
Ragworth has historically had a bad reputation. Back in the 90s, the Ragworth riots saw the estates youth run wild, setting fire to cars, throwing stones and petrol bombs at police and firemen. That reputation has been difficult to shake in people’s perceptions. We have the same issues as any other council estate, but we are a tight knit and decent community. Along our street we put each other’s bins out, mow the lawns and there’s just a general sense of community and togetherness. Our team member Val is known as Nana Val across the estate and Eden is known as something good, something that makes a positive impact in an otherwise neglected neighbourhood.
We’re seeing the kingdom expand through the people we know and love
To work alongside my son on the Eden team is such a privilege. To see him develop as a man, as a Christian and to see his heart for the community grow is so encouraging. More and more I’m seeing him step up to leadership opportunities and he’s passionate about sharing Jesus with his friends. Lewis has a heart for the other young people of Ragworth to know that there’s more to life and that Jesus can give them purpose. It’s great to see these young people raised up through Eden, wanting to make an impact with those their own age, those who they can get through to.
Our work including our breakfast club, lunch club and youth club are all based at our community centre – The Shack. This building came about as we prayed for a local base within our neighbourhood. We saw this building go up for auction, but there were many question marks over how we’d afford it. But God provided and we were given this building, only needing to pay the legal fees. God is awesome. I’ve seen time and again that he has his hands over me, my family and my community. We’re seeing more and more people come along to these community groups, building relationships and encountering Jesus.
It’s such a beautiful thing. We’re making God known in Ragworth and Primrose Hill and it’s like a ripple effect – transformed lives are transforming the community. Our hope is to see the aspirations of our neighbours raised and to see the Ragworth estate transformed by the power of Christ. I’d love to see early Acts stuff taking place right here in Ragworth and have a full community of believers. Wouldn’t that be amazing?