Jane Emson is Lead Evangelist at our Middlesbrough Centre of Mission and spent the first six months she was there listening to God, getting to know the area and trusting that God would prepare the work for her.
One of the first things she did was go out with Father Terry and his coffee van three mornings a week. They parked the van in different parts of the estates and gave out free coffee to people in the local community. The van has a verse from the Bible on the side saying: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). Underneath it says “Given with God’s love”.
Taking the coffee van out enabled Jane to be present in the local community and also form some good relationships. One person she met whilst giving out coffee on the Brambles Farm estate was Samantha. Jane says: "When I first met Sam at the coffee van she came across as quite angry. To the point where I thought that I must have said something to upset her. But I soon discovered that it wasn’t me that she was angry with, but God."
Samantha (42) was in a really unhappy place. Her mum had passed away four and a half years ago and she was angry with God. "I couldn’t get my head around why He would take my gorgeous mam, the only person I really needed; she was my rock. I was in such a dark place with a lot of anger in my body."
The first time that Sam saw the coffee van on the Brambles Farm estate, she stopped and asked Father Terry if he was selling coffee and he replied that it was free and given with God's love. Sam stayed for a coffee and a chat, and continued to return. After a few weeks of going to the coffee van, she met Jane, who helped her to start to see things differently: "Jane has helped me so much, whether it was a food parcel or a listening ear. She has even gone above and beyond with a lift to church. Whatever anybody needs Jane is there."
Sam started to go to church on a Sunday and also volunteer at the church, helping providing food parcels and anything else that she could get involved in. "I wouldn’t have found faith or God [without Jane] as my family aren’t really church people, but my thoughts of God and church have changed so much for the better. I have found God and the way he has helped me is amazing. My thoughts are no longer dark and my future is very different. The future is bright and I’m looking forward to what God has in store for me and my family."
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Watch the COVID-19 Diaries to hear more about how our frontline staff, like Jane, have adapted their activities and support for their communities during the pandemic.
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