Three years ago we launched an Eden team into West Bowling (Bradford). In the bottom 2% of the UK’s most deprived areas and with 25% of children living below the poverty line, it’s a place that needs the hope of Jesus. Picking up the mantel of Eden Team leader in this area is Luke, who’s passionate about being Jesus’ hands and feet in West Bowling, and we caught up with him to find out more.
Hi Luke. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello! I became a Christian in my last year of uni on an Alpha course organised by Steve Small and Mat Walls, who at the time were the CU Leaders but who now both work for The Message Trust – what a small world! This experience of taking the gospel out of the church and being made accessible to everyone has majorly shaped my thinking over the last 20 years.
What encouraged you to join Eden?
After becoming a Christian, I spent years getting involved with and leading Alpha courses, Christian art exhibitions, and youth clubs, and I’ve always loved sharing the Bible with those who’d never come along to church normally – and this is Eden’s heart too, to come alongside those in the community who’ve never heard about Jesus and do life with them, sharing the gospel in the everyday conversations. So from the first moment I heard about Eden, I knew that I had to get involved alongside my church in West Bowling.
What drew you to the role of Eden Team Leader?
I grew up in Bradford and have always had a heart for West Bowling. I’ve spent the last nine years chairing a Christian health charity called Shine West Bowling and attending St. Stephen’s Church (where the Eden team is based), which really helped me to get to know the community and understand the struggles people in the area face. I’m passionate about coming alongside the local community and witnessing Jesus to them so I couldn’t ask for a greater blessing than to be an Eden Team Leader where I get to spend every day sharing the gospel with my neighbours. I do this alongside a fantastic team made up of people that have either grown up in Bradford or have moved specifically to be part of Eden. There are nine of us, each very different, but desperate to live sacrificially and to build a community in an area that needs to know the love of Jesus.
What would you like to see happen in West Bowling?
West Bowling has been in the bottom 2% of most financially deprived communities in England for years. There is a lot of need in the area and we want to come alongside people and meet those needs but most of all we want to see people know the love of Jesus and have a personal relationship with God. We want to see people realise their identity in Jesus and have their lives transformed by the love and hope of God, and we see the team as a catalyst for Christians in the area, modelling the importance of being out sharing their testimonies and praying with people.
There are areas of real darkness that we want shine a light on; the children pulled into drugs trafficking and gangs, low educational engagement, people of all ages feeling isolated and not part of a community. We know God can bring transformation in these areas, and already we’ve been given an open door into two of the local primary schools in the area to share gospel-packed lessons and we’re excited to run Alpha courses for people exploring Christianity.
How can we be praying?
Please pray we’d get into more schools in the area to share the good news of Jesus with young people, that we’d reach those in the community who are feeling isolated and lonely, and that we’d be able to shine God’s light into darkness people are facing in their lives.