Nick, St Helen's Church
Advocate Nick Warren at St. Helen's Church Ore in Hastings, East Sussex shares about how he came to be an Acts 435 advocate and how it has impacted his local community:
I was appointed Centre Manager of Hastings and St. Leonards Christians Against Poverty (CAP) centre nearly four years ago. During my first year I started hearing from other Centre Managers around the country about how a charity called Acts 435 was helping their clients for specific items they needed but couldn't afford.
I could not find a local Advocate for Acts 435 so I talked to my church and minister at St. Helen's Church and persuaded them to let me apply to be a local Advocate and to administer the payments through our PCC accounts.
We originally used Acts 435 to support applications for clients who were working with CAP on tight budgets to repay their debts and needed help when, for example, a cooker or washing machine broke and needed replacing, or their kids got to a stage when they suddenly needed to buy new school uniform.
We regularly see client families going debt free through our CAP centre and approximately 40% have been helped and encouraged on the way by assistance from Acts 435. We see this lead to some clients giving their lives to Christ and becoming part of the local church.
We also now work with and get requests from our local family support worker teams who, as a result, are telling others about the generosity of God's people. The Church in Hastings through all the many strands of outreach that include Acts 435 amongst CAP, Street Pastors, Hope Kitchen, Snowflake Nightshelter, Foodbank and many other initiatives, is now recognised by our local authorities and local social workers to be making a significant difference. This is God's people demonstrating God's heart for the poor.
But I think for me Acts 435 has stood out most significantly when it has been part of helping people who have become homeless back into getting a roof over their head and through this rebuilding their lives. You may be aware how tough it is at present, particularly for single people, to move from being homeless to being housed. With significant help from Acts 435 I have been privileged to see a number of people get out of this trap. In every case this little bit of financial help that has come from Acts 435 has been a crucial part of enabling the recipient to step up and go on to use their own God-given skills to do the rest.
When I was invited to speak at Nick's church I met Mark, one of the homeless people Nick had helped through Acts 435. It was wonderful to hear about the difference Act 435 had made - see our blog 'Resourceful and Resilient' for the whole story.
Another situation of great blessing involving Nick and Acts 435 was when a request for a woman, 'Audrey', who needed help with removal costs to move in with her daughter and granddaughter, was met and then the donor contacted me and said she felt God was asking her to further bless this lady and would that be OK? I checked wtih Nick who was amazed at this generosity and was sure it could be put to good use. That generosity turned out to be an incredible gift of £500. Nick shared more:
"Audrey suffers from mental health challenges including chronic anxiety which prevents her from working, but the move to live with her daughter and grand daughter has definitely improved her health and confidence. Due to her remaining debts and the cost of moving they had no money for furnishings for the flat, so this £500 came as a massive blessing for the family. We were planning how best to spend the money and decided to buy a proper bed for both Audrey and the grand-daughter (they were on mattresses on the floor), 2 wardrobes (as there were none), a three piece suite (there was none) and a small table. Audrey had the widest smile imaginable as we looked and planned how to spend this money and has gradually become more open to prayer as we explained that this wonderful gift was inspired by God speaking to the heart of the donor.
When I asked what Nick would say to those considering becoming an Acts 435 advocate, he said:
"What's not to like about Acts 435 - easy and efficient to administer, affirming about the generosity that God puts on the hearts of His people, and the chance to be Santa Claus 365 days a year - this is living out the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:40 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me'."