With a global brand value of $849 million, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club is one of the wealthiest in the United Kingdom Premier League. In contrast to the location of its new state-of-the-art stadium in North London, the borough of Haringey is the fourth most deprived area of child poverty in London.
Two miles down the road from the stadium, the local Adventist church describes itself as “Tottenham’s Lighthouse Church,” which has developed an outreach mission to meet the long-term needs of the community.
The Vision and Power of the Local Church
Under the guidance of Pastor Jude Jeanville and his leadership team, a vision was shared with members that realized the significant needs of individuals struggling to cope with soaring inflation, increased energy bills, and rising fuel costs. Together, they designed a plan to respond in practical ways to meet the daily needs of individuals unable to supply their families with essential items. Driven by the values of Scripture, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:16, ESV), members felt compelled to act.
This winter, over 250 community residents have visited the Tottenham Lighthouse Church to receive essential resources that will literally keep them going. As with many examples of food banks run in local churches throughout the British Union Conference (BUC), recipients receive fresh, dried, and tinned foods, and the opportunity to collect a wide range of non-perishable household items. However, something unique occurred when the Lighthouse church opened its doors to the community on the first Sabbath of 2023 (January 7).
In partnership with BUC Community Services and in addition to the household items available, each resident received an Advent booklet in a gift bag, with a cash donation of £40 (approx. US$49) towards help with energy bills. In total, 200 bags were given away, making a total of £10,000 (approx. US$12,300) gifted to the community.
Reflecting on the scope of this initiative, Pastor Sam Davies, BUC Communication & Media director, observed, “During the past two years, the consistent humanitarian outreach program driven by the Tottenham Lighthouse Church has significantly impacted the community and the church, resulting in ITN News featuring their latest outreach endeavor in its Sunday [January 8] broadcast. The good deeds have undoubtedly given the church a positive presence in its community, with increasing numbers continuing to turn to the church for their supply of groceries and other essential food stuffs.”
Davies continued, “Like many churches within the BUC, Tottenham Lighthouse Church has been encouraged to be community-focused. And churches and individuals who have pursued this call have seen engagements from their community members and leaders, including politicians who are often attracted to such humanitarian efforts. Enoch Kanagaraj, who started a similar program with the Stanborough Park Church in Watford a few years ago, attended the Tottenham Lighthouse event to give a hand. His efforts, in collaboration with the Stanborough Park Church, have also been a testament to attracting the attention of community leaders who favor humanitarian endeavors.”
Sharon Platt-McDonald, BUC Adventist Community Services director, agrees. “The timely, compassionate, relative, and consistent outreach of the Tottenham Lighthouse Church is a wonderful example to the watching world and a credit to the Lighthouse members, who are a witness of the power of the gospel in changing lives for the better in 2023—a story shared with the nation.”
The BUC media team, represented by Kofi Osei-Owusu, also attended on Sabbath, January 7, to see the Tottenham Lighthouse Church displaying love in action as they reached out to their community. Filming the interaction of church members and community residents was a heartening experience as he witnessed Christ’s method of ministry through compassionate acts of loving service.
Grateful recipients of the donated goods were thrilled to share their response with Kofi as he captured the human interest stories through filming and interviews. Many shared how the church’s intervention has positively impacted their lives over the past two years.
Many individuals accessing the Food Hub also now join members for Sabbath worship. One is now a baptized member of the Tottenham Lighthouse Church. This beautiful testimony demonstrates the power of love and truth to transform a life.
Speaking with Jeanville, his passion for ministry, connecting with people, and meeting community needs is evident in the vibrant way he recounts the varied stories of community residents accessing the church’s outreach initiatives. Commenting on the recent ITN coverage of the Food Hub in action, he enthused, “We now have the attention of the media. Let’s keep it going. But more importantly, let’s build community! God wants to do something big through His church for His glory. He wants to give us more extensive opportunities than we can imagine, but it starts with us extending ourselves in compassion and faith. However, the most important principle is love. Of the close to 300 persons visiting our Food Hub weekly, we have Muslim women who attend church on the Sabbath. Our clientele is 95 percent White Europeans, including English. You cannot stop love; meeting people’s needs is powerful.”
Jeanville continued, “The Tottenham Lighthouse members stepped outside the box and gave a total of £10,000—funds which were sacrificially and equitably distributed with transparency and accountability. Members and the church gave what they did not have because of vision and courageous leadership motivated by love for our fellow men.”
In an appeal to all Adventist members, Jeanville reminds us of our mandate: “The Bible teaches … ‘As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’ (Matthew 25:40). The rich young ruler was commanded to ‘go, sell what you possess and give to the poor’ (Matthew 19:21).
“And, when Jesus returns, He will separate people into two categories: those who professed and those who practiced—‘Then the king will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me’ (Matthew 25:34–36).
“God and men will note extraordinary acts of kindness; therein lies our sanctification.”
May each of our churches become a lighthouse, shining out in the darkness of human need, bringing help, hope, and healing to lives for restoration.