The following article was written by Jennifer Herrera, Executive Director for Acts435. You can read the original article here.
I imagine All Saint's Church, Truro, didn't know what had hit it when their new vicar Jeremy Putnam came into town. He moved with his wife to take up the post, and after a short time his wife Ruth found there was an abundant need in the city. She then found Acts 435, and has effectively catapulted All Saint's into being a huge resource for people in need throughout the county; making a big difference to a region where there is poverty, and little resources to help.
After Ruth did the initial research she pulled in two other amazing ladies to help with the project alongside her. Jean got involved in March, and Avril in August 2016. Since then they have worked together to serve their community through Acts 435, all with different skills and experiences.
Ruth has felt very humbled by seeing needs met through Acts 435. The team of advocates work alongside the foodbank at the church, as well as Inclusion Cornwall, which acts as a point of contact for many agencies all over Cornwall. They also work with the Christians Against Poverty Centre, based in Truro. Ruth has said that "we see people in real need who struggle on in silence and many who I meet will tell me that other people need the help more".
Jean has really enjoyed being involved as an Acts 435 Advocate, especially as she describes the church as a 'poor church', who wouldn't have the resources on hand to help many people in crisis. However, they can now provide a drop-in for people who may need help through the church and Acts 435. She describes it as "pure joy" meeting and helping people, and she feels "so uplifted by their response when we fulfil their requests". Jean goes on to describe that using Acts 435 as a resource is "easy to do and not time consuming", and enables her to effectively help those in need.
One of Jean's favourite stories from partnering with Acts 435 is about a middle-aged man with hearing problems and learning difficulties. He works seasonally at a caravan site, but after a mix up with his benefits he had very little to live on. The Job Centre referred him to All Saints, knowing that they could help. Jean and the team got him referred to the foodbank at their church, and also posted two Acts 435 requests for electricity and rent. Jean said, "he didn't have the words to thank us enough, and his friend told us that he was a changed man with the stress lifted from him. It was very rewarding for the whole team to see."
Avril, who joined Ruth and Jean as an Advocate at All Saints, thought it looked like a "wonderful, straightforward and caring response to help others", and signed up to help straight away! She remarks that not only does having Acts 435 as a church ministry enable them to bless the community, it also blesses the church congregation and enables them to give week by week generously to direct needs in the community.
Avril remembers "an elderly gentleman who had no heating except a small electric fire. His cottage was damp and he was struggling financially, so didn't turn the fire on very often. Through Acts 435 we were able to give him money for his electric key meter, and when I went to see him to give him the donation he was suffering from bronchitis. He was so cold and damp, it had made him ill. He cried with relief and gratitude for the donor and for himself".
All three of these All Saints Advocates would tell anyone thinking about partnering with Acts 435 to just sign up! Avril comments;
"It's such a small thing to do but with a huge impact on those in need. Acts 435 blesses those in need. We ourselves are blessed by seeing God at work through the wonderful generosity of donors, making such an impact on people's lives, giving hope and respect".
If you would like to see the impact Acts 435 could have in your church by partnering as an Advocate, or a team of Advocates like this Cornwall team, have a look at our website to see what's involved: www.acts435.org.uk/join
A collection of thoughts and reflections from the people of All Saints.