As human beings, God has given us incredible brains with which we are making decisions and judgements all the time. We’re constantly reading the situations around us and planning our way through life. We subconsciously weigh up what we have against what we might need.
By all accounts, it’s a pretty sensible way to live. But we need to remember that God is not restricted by our earthly rules and regulations. He has no spreadsheet for success and no formula for optimal effectiveness. He doesn’t ask: “Have you got enough?” He simply asks: “What have you got?”
Loaves and Fishes
You might not think you have much to offer, but chances are it’s more than you realise. It’s all a question of perception. Remember the boy with his five loaves and two fishes in John 6? To the disciples he had a small packed lunch; to Jesus it was sustenance for more than 5,000 hungry people.
When faced with feeding the crowd, Jesus didn’t ask the disciples how they were going to do it – he simply wanted to know what they had. When we give what we have to God, he can do far more with it than we can ever imagine (Eph. 3:20).
From Humble Beginnings
Last year, a social enterprise called BoxUpCrime was a joint winner of our Project Lab 2017 competition. The initiative began with little more than a burning desire its founder Stephen Addison had, to reach out to young people who were caught up in gang violence.
When he was growing up, Stephen had no confidence and was constantly told his life wouldn’t amount to much. He got kicked out of school and started dealing drugs. But then something changed. In a dream Stephen saw himself and his friends sent to prison. It was so vivid, he felt compelled to change. So he gave his life to Christ, got into boxing and went back to university.
After seeing his friends given life sentences for murder, Stephen’s passion to reach out to kids was truly fired up. His final university thesis, which earned him a first class degree from London’s South Bank University, was based on his idea to develop an outreach programme where boxing was the means to provide a safe and secure place to mentor teenagers.
He had no premises, no money and no investors – just a dream, knowledge of his community and a willingness to give that all to God.
God has used Stephen powerfully. Over the last four years, BoxUpCrime have established themselves as a leading voice in crime-reduction programmes in deprived areas of London. The initiative ministers to more than 600 young people in their Dagenham-based centre each week and thousands more through outreach in schools in four London Boroughs. They even have a programme running in Switzerland.
As a winner of Project Lab in June 2017, BoxUpCrime has been part of the Cinnamon Incubation Programme. Through a mixture of group learning sessions and one-to-one mentoring, Stephen is learning how he can develop BoxUpCrime so it can be replicated to benefit young people in other communities.
“The experience was one of the most amazing and the most scary things I’ve done,” said Stephen. “Project Lab gives you the ability to really understand your burden and build the infrastructure around it. It’s been such a helpful learning curve and has really helped me to gain a stronger sense of mission and be more intentional in our ministry.”
Project Lab 2018
We are currently looking for projects to be part of Project Lab 2018.You might think your project is too small; you might think you lack experience; you might think you lack financial resources. But God thinks otherwise. Remember, he simply asks that we give him what we have and let Him do the rest. Don’t let your own perception limit your ambition. God can take your loaves and fishes and feed a crowd.
This year we are specifically looking for church-based projects who work with Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic communities. The winner will receive world class training via our Cinnamon Incubator and £30k in investment.
If your church is already running a life-changing project that has the potential to be replicated in other locations, we’d love you to consider entering Project Lab 2018.