“As I walk the streets of the East End, I’m awed by how God uses all of us to fulfil his purpose.” Marlene Botha, Cafe Forever
The Isle of Dogs is home to young city workers, traditional Eastenders and a large Bangladeshi community. It’s one of London’s most extreme examples of the rich/poor divide: affluent Canary Wharf neighbouring deprived Blackwall; Canary Wharf Tower a stone’s throw from tower blocks.
Pounding the pavements of these colourful streets full of social contrasts rarely awards Marlene the red carpet treatment. Her feet are beautiful though, since they bring the Good News of Jesus’ love.
Bringing the gospel
Cafe Forever is her base for outreach to this little island...but she’s rarely standing still for long! Her day is packed with interaction and activity: lunch with a local mum, rounding up kids for the start of club, or running to find a friend with dementia who’s forgotten an important doctors appointment.
About two years ago Marlene met T, the friend in question.
“Physically and mentally ill, neglected, practically homeless and definitely forgotten, she’d slipped through the net of all government care systems....but not through God’s care plan for her. He brought her onto my path and placed more than a normal love for T in my heart. I found myself worrying about her, laughing with her and fighting systems and agencies on her behalf.
It’s a bizarre friendship...but it’s OUR friendship. Now 2 years on, T is in sheltered accommodation, and a regular in church. She has integrated into the church family and loves the singing....but that’s not the end of the story!”
Read more about Marlene’s friendship with T.
During one of her visits with T in her new accommodation, Marlene asked to start a regular talk from the Bible for the residents...the staff not only agreed, but asked her to run a full Sunday service every week! She has since teamed up with Poplar Baptist Church next to Duncan Court, the sheltered accommodation to run a more sustainable bi-monthly service.
As Marlene continues to walk through life with T and others she meets along the way, please pray for a close walk with God so her feet continue to beautifully guide so many to their need for Jesus.