The Stoke Newington Youth have engaged in a wonderful project, reaching out to the homeless people in our community. They have really made us proud by organising, planning, promoting and involving young people from around London. Led by one of our newest Trainee Elders, Latiqua Barthley, and other promising youth people were able to shine their light in a world filled with darkness.
I was able to speak with Latiqua about this project and this is what she had to say:
Q. Why did you feel the need to initiate this project?
A. I felt like as a young person in the church, there was so more I could do for the Kingdom. I felt like I was good at attending church and playing church, but wasn’t too good at being the church, so decided to do something about it.
Q. What spurred you on?
A. I asked God for guidance, asking Him to teach me what it means to be a servant and what direction I should go in. I believe He placed the idea to help the homeless on my heart. I was doubting for a while, as I was confused as to what I could do that would be worthwhile, especially because I do not have many resources, but in devotion one day, God Himself directed me to 1 Thessalonians 5:24 which says, ‘He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.’ I couldn’t say no to that!
Q. Did you face any difficulties, if so how did you overcome them?
A. Yes, difficulties and challenges arose, but I thank God because it could’ve been a lot worse. It really helped that the church leaders and members were very supportive and for that I’m truly grateful. We overcame difficulties by prayer, staying level-headed, being adaptable and remaining consistent, trusting that He who began a good work in us, is faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6).
Q. Why did you feel the need to involve the young people?
A. I’ve had several conversations with young people (from Stokey and other churches) about how we can move the church forward and spread the gospel message more effectively, and the general consensus is we’re tired of the routine of church. We need to show more love in action, by going out and interacting with people. Furthermore, I know with our various skills and zeal, youth are very resourceful, the Bible even talks about it and therefore it was essential that they were on board!
Q. What feedback did you get from this experience?
A. After we went out, we had a debrief session where we shared our experiences, what we learnt and prayed together. The volunteers said they were glad they were a part of the Care Package distribution and that it was an eye-opening experience that they would love to be involved in again. They shared their ideas of how we can make the care packages more beneficial by including food, hot drinks and blankets and possibly go into homeless shelters and help people there also.
Q. What lessons did you learn?
A. Above all, I learnt that it is crucial that we do what God calls us to do, because there are so many people depending on us to do so. Not only did we extend the love of God to the homeless people that we interacted with, but everybody who volunteered experienced the love of God through serving. I also learnt that if God calls you to do something, He will equip and provide – He just wants us to trust Him.
Q. Going forward what projects do you see yourself leading in 2018?
A. My team and I really want to go out and distribute more care packages throughout this year, at least once a quarter. We also want to volunteer in homeless shelters and our own drop-in centre. Above anything else, we want to serve. So wherever we see a genuine need in our community, we want to be able to help and be consistent in doing so.