We preach the Good News to the poor because Jesus preached it. We bind up the broken hearted because Jesus bound them up. We proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness because Jesus proclaimed it. We bestow on them the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair because Jesus bestowed these things. We serve people and take up the fight against injustice because Jesus did it. And he commanded us to do it as well.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Tomorrow we start our first cell group for teenagers. We’re calling it Streetwise. The idea is that we’ll be discussing the wisdom that is needed to make it out of the streets.

With that in mind, we begin tomorrow with The Good Samaritan. In a multi-cultural (ethnic, race, and religion) neighbourhood, we felt like this would be the perfect start. And in a neighbourhood where everybody outside your culture is the enemy, I thought the below video would be a great discussion starter for this topic.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

God adds daily

in acts 2:46-47 we are given an account of the daily evidences the early church experienced. the work of god's hand could be seen everyday. this has been the verse going through my heart and mind the last week.

each day it seems i can actually see growth and change in the people we have contact with. lorena looks so much better. the circles under her eyes are slowing disappearing. another member of our english group, nicky, turns up early to help me set up and even helped lead an activity yesterday. we have a couple others who are starting to help put together lesson plans for future classes. my bangladeshi friend made a lunch for us yesterday. it was like watching the beginning of fulfillment of a vision i have had in my heart, but hadn't fully realized it was there.

we are struggling a little with inconsistent leadership in our parent and toddler group. but i'm trying to wait it out until after christmas. i think its a very normal phase.

our youth club is going really, really well. the young people are really enjoying the new structured games we have added in.

our volunteers are amazing. their willingness to give of themselves, be in our local community, and patience as we try to work it all out, is truly a blessing a gift from god each week.

our cell group is putting on a christmas party for the community. this is a big deal for us because it is the first intentional overlap between our evening cell group and our weekday families. please pray the cell group plans a quatlity party, that we have a good turn out, and that relationships begin to be formed between individuals. our party is saturday, 24 november.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

real stuff

Lorena is one of the new people coming to our english class. i met her at the bus stop. she was speaking spanish and offered lyvi a biscuit, so we got to talking, in spanish. she has only been here a couple of months and speaks no english. she has only been coming to english a few weeks. over the course of the last few weeks she has shared that she has struggled with depression in the past, and was having a hard time now. she shared her recent experiences with classic depression symptoms. she had a doctor's appointment scheduled soon, so she was going to let me know how it went. when she came on tuesday she said they took some blood for tests, but that it was hard going with her partner as he didn't translate much of what the doctor said. she had another appointment scheduled for this morning, to get her results.

so, this morning i met her at her doctor's office and used my incredibly rusty spanish to help translate what the doctor said. Lorena made a decision about her next step and hopefully she will be able to follow through and start feeling better. sometimes i get lost in doing administrative and management types of things, so it was refreshing to be able to have a significant impact in a person's "now" with something as practical as language and as simple as an available slot of time.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Eid update

Eid was last friday. i am ashamed to admit i had become rather doubtful, but my friend called all excited thursday night to tell me. my daughter lyvi, our friend becca, and i went to our bangladeshi friends' house on friday. it actually reminded me of thanksgiving, isn't that something. anyway, the two oldest girls came with me to our salvation army youth event the next day. it was a big weekend, but very, very good for our friendships. we took 8 kids to the event, it was our first time to do that.

we have a new chilean woman coming to english class. she came last week, but had trouble finding us so she just arrived at the end of class. she came back this week. after class she said she hasn't been feeling well and has an appointment with a doctor tomorrow morning. i was able to write a note in english for her, translating what she wanted to tell the doctor. unfortunately i have a meeting tomorrow, so i can't go with her. but it felt very real to be able to do something so simple and practical for her, and also to use my spanish (rusty as it is) again. she has a history of depression, so pray i can know how to serve her.

ahmed hasn't turned up. that is a bummer.

next week is half term, which is always a nice chance to regroup and either catch up (usually) or get a jump start on what's coming next (rarely). so, i hope to tackle some longer term plans for english class.

we will also be having a fancy dress party (costume party) for our parent and toddler group. pray that it will be a good chance for our mums to bring new friends. i plan to dress lyvi as dorothy from the wizard of oz, we'll see!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

my prayer of the minute

i often find myself in some strange situations. this week is no exception. as you may or may not know we are nearing the end of the muslim celebration of ramadan. the end of ramadan is celebrated with a holiday called eid. this is not unlike lent and easter for christians. anyway, the actual day eid occurs is based on the moon. so the end of ramadan and celebration of eid is not known until the very last minute. the proposed end of ramadan is this thursday which would put eid on friday. if the moon is not correct or cannot be seen then ramadan will end on friday, putting eid on saturday.

this saturday is a london wide event the salvation army puts on once a year. it is amazingly kid-friendly. it will include workshops in the afternoon like dance, football, basketball, art projects, gospel choir, and a gyro chair. there will be a rap concert in the evening. although this happens every year, this is the first year our kids are old enough and our group is ready to participate. we have a couple adult volunteers who have graciously agreed to take our kids.

if you know anything about what we do, you will know we have a fair amount of muslim young people. if eid falls on saturday, it would be like if they skipped out on christmas with their family to come to our youth event...highly unlikely and very inappropriate. so, please join me in praying that eid will fall on friday, that the muslim leaders will see the moon on thursday evening and that our muslim kids will be free to come and enjoy themselves on saturday.

that is a prayer request i never thought i would be asking!

thanks for your support and i'll let you know what happens,

Friday, September 07, 2007

a new friend

On Monday a man came to the hall. He asked if there was someone who could pray with him about some problems he was having at home. I explained that I couldn't let him in the building because I was alone, but would be happy to sit on the benches in front of the building with him. He understood. So armed with a Bible, our new flyer for this autumn, my mobile, and keys (so I could lock the building behind me) I set out into the unknown.

Ahmed said he has recently become a Christian and that this has caused much conflict with his family. They had asked him to leave for a few days. I prayed for him and his family. Then he prayed asking God to help me understand that he needed help getting to his cousin's house and something to eat. We walked to the corner shop together and I bought him a travel card and a few snacks. We spoke a little longer and he said he was interested in helping out when he returned to the neighbourhood if there was anything I needed. About an hour after Ahmed left I had to go to the same corner shop to pick up some milk. The shopowner said that Ahmed had returned the travel card for cash. The shopowner expressed his uncertainty as to whether he had done the right thing in letting him return it. Technically you can return travel cards within the first half hour they are bought, but he knew I had bought it for Ahmed. We were able to have a great discussion about giving to others, the nature of generosity, and personal choice. It's the best conversation I have ever had with him.

When I arrived at the hall on Wednesday, Ahmed was outside the building again. He said it hadn't worked out with his family and wondered if I could give him something to eat. As I was boiling pasta for him I decided not to tell him I knew he returned the travel ticket. I would like to believe it was solely because th is is what I think Jesus would do, and at this time I do think it is what He would do. But, if I'm honest, I also thought that if he got (or gets) demanding down the line I could always tell him I know about that as a way of explaining why I wouldn't give him something else. I guess that is part of the reality of working with people who have found themselves in a season of desperation and need.

As Ahmed gratefully ate his tuna pasta he commented on the rubbish that had been left on the benches overnight. I told him that I could use some help cleaning it up, since he had again mentioned wanting to help. He said he couldn't today, but that maybe we could clean it up together next time he came. He also said he would be at our Christian Discussion group next Wednesday.

If I'm honest, I am pretty cynical about Ahmed. But I also know that if I follow that path of cynicism to it's logical conclusion that it doesn't lead me anywhere good. I believe what God calls us to is to stand on the slippery slope and wrestle each time the issue of helping someone in need comes up. That keeps us dependent on the Holy Spirit and keeps us on our knees before him. Outside of being in close relationship with him, we won't know how to handle each encounter.

If I am even more honest, I will admit that Ahmed has come at a good time. On another day, another week, I might not have been as open. But there is also something open about him. He wants help, but seems respectful of my boundaries. That makes a huge difference for me.

Father, I pray that you will help Ahmed recognize you as you continue to reveal yourself to him. I pray you will bring him into the full knowledge of your salvation if he hasn't yet turned his life over to you. Help him to accept the life, death, and resurrection of your son, Jesus Christ. Please allow my relationship with Ahmed to continue to develop.


Thursday, September 06, 2007


Isaiah 61:1-3
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…to bestow on them the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (excerpt)

We have but one goal in this community; for people to experience Jesus. If you think about it, that’s actually quite a task. Jesus encompasses so many things, from loving his enemies, to meeting the needs of the poor and sick, to sharing the good news of God’s love for all mankind, to laying down his life for our redemption, and ultimately, to bringing us into God’s presence, once and for all. It is our hope and our prayer, that people will experience Jesus in us.

The Salvation Army’s ministry has existed, in some form or another, for one-hundred-years in our current building. At one time there were three Salvation Army churches in the Tottenham community. Unfortunately two out of three of those churches no longer exist. In January of 2004 the last of these three churches was also in danger of being closed. The congregation had dwindled down to a handful of senior adults who were meeting on Sunday afternoons for worship, and Monday afternoons for prayer and lunch. With that in mind, in the Autumn of that year we began a new initiative in Tottenham with an emphasis on youth ministry.

Our work began in the local schools doing after school clubs with young people who were having learning difficulties (most of them the children of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers). After receiving some grant money from the community, we added some games equipment, furniture, and a new computer suite to the building. Shortly afterwards we moved our after school clubs on site.

Since that time we have continued to work with young people in the community, but have also expanded our work to include adults. At present our work includes after school clubs, English classes, and several community clubs. This Autumn, after almost three years of building relationships within the community, we will be adding Christian discussion groups to our programming. Our first adult group begins in September and our first Christian discussion group for young people begins in October. We approach both of these new initiatives with excitement but also a bit of trepidation as many of our Muslim families will, no doubt, have questions and even concerns about our new programmes.

Please remember us in your prayers as we begin to discuss with our friends why we do what we do. We preach the Good News to the poor because Jesus preached it. We bind up the broken hearted because Jesus bound them up. We proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness because Jesus proclaimed it. We bestow on them the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair because Jesus bestowed these things. We serve people and take up the fight against injustice because Jesus did it. And he commanded us to do it as well.

“Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done…through me.” Matthew 6:9-13

“Preach the gospel every day. If necessary, use words.” Francis of Assisi.

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Community Information

Tottenham is a multicultural neighborhood housing a large percentage of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees. Consensuses have proven worthless in trying to get an understanding of that percentage (many, many people are here illegally and our borough has a population turnover rate of more than 35,000 people a year), but at last count, there were over 350 languages spoken in our community, 250 of which are spoken in our local schools.

According to the Deputy Prime Minister’s office, the borough of Haringey is the fifth most deprived area in all of England, and the 2nd most deprived area in London.
Thirty percent of its residents live in council flats (known as projects to our American friends) which also happen to be within the top ten most deprived in England. This makes up more than 20,000 households. It is estimated that 31% of households in our borough are living in unsuitable housing. The most common reasons for unsuitability are major disrepair and unfitness (17,144 households) and overcrowding (6,310 households). It is not uncommon for families of fifteen or more to be living in one two bedroom flat.

According to the city of London, there are just over 1000 recognized homeless people living in our borough. However, there are more than 2000 people who consider themselves to be homeless. Another important point is that the UK does not keep homeless statistics on minors and, therefore, officially considers there to be zero homeless young people living in the city of London or in the community of Tottenham. We disagree.

Over 35% of the students living in Tottenham qualify for free school meals and more than half of them speak English as a second (or sometimes third, fourth, or fifth) language. As you might imagine, educating a child in English becomes very difficult when, due to the language barrier, there are not parents at home who can help with lessons.

Pregnancy among 15-17 year olds in our borough is nearly double the average of England and Wales.

Communicable diseases continue to be a health threat to the local population with infectious disease admissions remaining high. Tuberculosis is of particular concern. In addition, reported uptake of all childhood immunizations remains more than 10% lower than national levels.

In a district consensus, nearly half of all respondents named crime as their top concern. Last year Tottenham had the second highest number of burglaries in all of London. It had the first highest number of personal burglaries (muggings) of any surrounding borough. And it had the fifth number of violent crimes (including rape).

It is hard to get a good estimate of the different religions represented in the area, but certainly in our own work and relationships with people we have experienced a large number of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, Buddhists, and even Christians living in the area. London is also the focal point for Wiccans all over the world and we know of and have experienced large numbers of them living in our area.

Likewise it is hard to get good facts concerning the different nationalities living in our area, but we currently work with large numbers of Polish, Caribbean, Ghanaian, Nigerian, Turkish, Iranian, and Bangladeshi, as well as other large numbers of Eastern Europeans, Asian, Middle Eastern, and other African countries. This year the EU opened its doors to Romania so we are currently preparing for the large influx of people that this will bring to our community.

Though the above might sound quite hopeless, we are far from it. For one thing, though ours is a poor community, it is also a blessed one. Those who have made it to our community are among the lucky survivors. Most of our neighbors have family and friends back home who would give anything for the opportunity of living here. In fact, many of our families live in tight conditions because so much of their income goes to supporting family back in home countries. Though immigrants often get a bad rap, our experience has been that they are some of the hardest working, and selfless people on the planet. We have learned a great deal from them in that regard.

Another sign of hope are our new Safer Neighborhoods Teams. Safer Neighborhoods Teams put more police officers on the streets who work much more closely with the community. We work very closely with these teams and several of their officers serve in different roles throughout our programs. As a result of these wonderful people, and after only a year in service, last year we saw our first drop in crime rates. We are very fond of our Safer Neighborhoods Teams and it is our hope to continue supporting them both on and off the streets.

Our third reason to hope, and possibly the one that we are most thankful for, are the churches that we partner with in the community. The first is the local Church of England who have been a huge support and fan of ours from the very beginning. In addition to their Vicar’s wise counsel, they have sent us volunteers, and have also put us in touch with many other helpful community resources. We honestly don’t know where we would be without them. In addition to the local Church of England, we have recently begun working very closely with a local group of Southern Baptist Missionaries. We have found them to be very selfless in their approach to ministry and have also found them to be very likeminded in their approach to sharing the love of Jesus through relationships and relevant community programs. Though we have only been working with them for a few months, they have already had a great impact on our ministry and we are very much looking forward to serving alongside them during the year ahead. Finally we also have the support of another Salvation Army Church not far from us. The Wood Green Salvation Army has been our own home church since arriving in England. They have supported us through prayer, friendship, counsel, and even through a small team who have recently helped us to plant a cell group in our community. We are forever grateful for their friendship and support.

So as you pray for us, please start by simply thanking God for how He is already moving in and providing for our community.

Tim & Jamie Miller