Due to the riots and gang violence between the various estates, Tottenham has gained an arguably unfair reputation. I visited recently to find out more about London City Mission’s ministry in the area and was inspired by the things God is doing there.
London City Mission works on three of the estates in Tottenham – Hale Village, Ferry Lane and Tiverton.
A respect for Christ
Andrew Kwapong is a missionary based at The Engine Room in Hale Village. He feels that the Church has a really positive role to play in the community. He said there is a general respect for churches and Christians in the area because of the positive things they have done for the community. “Mission [in Tottenham] is one way where the various churches can really work together and it helps foster unity”. ‘Pray Haringey’ is an example of where various churches get together to pray for the borough.
One boy, a new Christian, recently shared his testimony with some challenging young people on Tiverton estate about how he was walking through another estate in Hornsey, a neighbouring borough, when he was approached by some other local boys. They challenged him as to why he was on their estate and the boy answered that he was with Christ now and they left him alone. This shows the power that Christ has to break down barriers and change situations.
Breaking down barriers
While historically there is very little cross-over between services on the estates, London City Mission’s team is trying to change things. By introducing cross-estate services and activities (such as kayaking, football, horse-riding, paintballing and cultural cuisine nights) they are trying to bring down some of the barriers of mistrust and hostility.
The fruit of this is already being shown. For example, following a summer football tournament involving teams from across different estates Andrew was walking down the road and noticed some boys from two different estates walking towards each other. Instead of ignoring each other or making antagonistic comments, the boys nodded at each other as they passed. Andrew said this seemingly small act was in fact a huge deal, and showed a respect, acceptance and recognition from each side towards the other.
A safer community
People also feel safer in the community as they have got to know one another through the activities the team puts on. For example, a couple of ladies who met each other at a pop-up cafe on the Ferry Lane estate are now helping each other out by picking up the other’s children from school and going to church with each other.
It takes time though to build relationships and trust with people and it involves a long term commitment to journeying through the ups and downs with them. Please join the team in prayer for:
- More cohesion in the Tottenham Hale and Ferry Lane communities.
- People to come to know Christ and his love for them. To know that his love is not separate from their lives and community.
- The various activities we ran for the entire community – that the Lord Jesus will guide us as we continue to minister to young people and their families; and that his name will be glorified through our work.