This year we have started as we mean to go on – by launching a brand new Eden team into Wythenshawe Park, Manchester. It’s been over 23 years since we launched our very first Eden team into Wythenshawe and we have come full circle and are ready to go again, sharing the good news of Jesus to this community.
We recently caught up with John Hopkins, our new Eden Wythenshawe Park team leader to hear all about his passion for reaching the least, the last and the lost in this area.
So John, tell us, how did you meet Jesus?
I’m from a completely non-Christian family so grew up never hearing anything about Jesus, but when I was 12 years old, I actually ended up becoming a Christian through an Eden team based in Swinton! They came into my school with The Worldwide Message Tribe and told me about Jesus, and from there I started going to the Eden youth club which is where I really found out who Jesus is and what it means to follow Him. I’m really excited to get the opportunity to lead a team, and hope that in many years time there will be a lot more people passionate about following Him because of our team.
What is it about Eden that interested you particularly and drew you to this role as team leader?
Spending my time as a teenager around Eden, it really gave me a heart for community and a desire to serve people. I grew up surrounded by people who had had their lives changed by the good news of Jesus, and so of course I couldn’t help but love that. Before I started as an Eden Team Leader, I had moved into the Wythenshawe Park area with the specific focus of wanting to live amongst the community I wanted to serve – getting to do Eden too is the icing on the cake!
What are your hopes for the Wythenshawe Park area?
I’ve spent a few years getting to know some of the families, especially the teenagers, in the area, and over the lockdowns I’ve been made really aware of just how vulnerable some families are. It is my hope that many of these families will encounter Jesus and find their hope in Him. I’d especially love to see young people in the area making decisions to follow Him with their lives.
And finally, how you would like your Eden team to make a difference?
We’ve got a great foundation to build on here; having run an outreach-focused youth group over the last few years and seeing people make decisions for Jesus through that, and also some brilliant social action, particularly around provision of food. For example, we’ve provided thousands of families with meals since the start of the pandemic! As a team I want us to develop that, and with the interest we’ve seen in the youth, particularly through people who have signed up for the Community Grocery initiative, I think we could even see one of the largest youth groups in Manchester beginning to form – all with a focus on sharing the Gospel with young people who are not from church backgrounds.
Please do pray for John during this time, that as he builds relationships with this community, he’ll be directed to those most in need and more people will feel led to join the team.