John serves both Mountpottinger and Mersey Street Presbyterian Congregations in East Belfast as a Community Outreach Worker.
John started in September 2011 with a good balance of door-to-door work, meeting people both on the doorstep and in local leisure centers, schools and cafe’s and even on the street. The changing community of the inner east has brought a lot of eastern Europeans to the area and this group of residents have been included in many ways through the outreach.
Fun factory is an after school creative kids group serving over 30 children, a third of which are Polish. Kimberdance is a fun rhythm and movement experience for parent and toddlers, weekly community activity and lunch event Time for You.
An active newly formed men’s meet-up and lunch group has been gaining strength both in numbers and in trust since it began in 2011.
You probably don’t know about Murray Spangler. Murray was a department store janitor in Ohio. He brushed the floors, which made him cough and wheeze some, besides this he was so bored with his job. He sought a better and easier method to fulfil this boring and dusty work. Murray thought about a way to suck up the dust and his quest led him to build a basic and crude vacuum cleaner. He needed funds and he had a friend in the leather industry who he called on to finance the manufacture of his invention. The friend’s name was H.W. Hoover. Together they made a difference in people’s lives. Who has not been thankful for the invention the Hoover?
On a grander picture, the Lord Jesus has asked us to be co-workers with Him, and each other, in making a difference in people’s lives as we introduce them to Him, to the one who makes the difference, by changing hearts and changing lives. Thankfully I have co-workers, who make a point of helping me in my quest to make a difference in the lives of others by bringing them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and to trust in Him alone.
Some of my day-to-day and week-to-week work has been a blessing. Two parent and toddlers groups are such fun and I am brought back to my childhood as the toddlers allow me to play with their Fisher Price stuff and Duplo. I love every bit of it. I swap adulthood for a morning as a kid again, and the team that I support, well, I wouldn’t swap them for the world.
The after schools group, Fun Factory, and the Mountpottinger Men’s Lunch Group have grown and are changing so rapidly. It’s a treat to serve with other leaders and volunteers on these activities, which have seen lives changed because of them. I must tell of our Easter outreach on the street outside Mountpottinger. Each lunchtime of the week leading up to Good Friday, a small band of us met to speak to and get to know passers-by. Margaret Grayson, known to many in PW circles, has a special heart. Margaret organises this super week of reaching out and I have been privileged to join with them and I have been lifted by it, not to mention sampling the treats which Margaret supplies.
I have received great encouragement from neighbouring congregations who see the worth in my work, and are prompted to put their heart and resources into it. McQuiston Memorial, for example, afford me the use of their food bank. What a resource this is for me to use as I gain trust with local people and European visitors, meeting them with a basic need of provision for their stomachs. Thanks to McQuiston and thanks also to Westbourne and Island Street City Mission for their continued prayer and practical support.
Ultimately my thanks go to our God for involving me in His work to share His love and to be an instrument that points the way to the one who accepts us the way we are but is always ready to change us, as we allow Him, and make a difference in each of our lives.
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