Light In The Darkness

Eden Walsall, Wythenshawe Park and Swinton

It’s hard to believe it’s been over 25 years since we planted our first Eden team in Wythenshawe. Since then, more than 700 people have joined us as we’ve launched 75 teams in some of the toughest communities across the UK and beyond. As they do life with their neighbours and point people to Jesus, lives are being changed.

Pregnant, struggling with heroin addiction and alone, Emma had hit rock bottom when she found herself outside St Peter’s Church, the home of Eden Walsall. She wanted to step through the door but couldn’t bring herself to. Soon after, Emma moved into a shared house and there met a lady who invited her to a drop-in at the very same church.

Knowing she needed to go, Emma summoned up her courage and went along. As she stepped inside, she immediately felt that this was where she was meant to be and that here she’d find the people who were going to help her. What Emma didn’t know was that some of those she’d met in church were part of an Eden team.

Over time, the team got to know Emma and as they spent time with her, they not only told her about Jesus but showed her his love too. And she could feel herself changing. The anger she’d been carrying, and that she’d masked by using drugs, started to disappear.

When her daughter was born, she was removed by social services and Emma felt like the bottom had fallen out of her world. But this time she wasn’t alone – she had the church and Eden team walking with her. It was then that she realised how loved she was by God and gave her life to him.

Passionate about seeing others discover how loved they are by God, she can’t stop telling people about Jesus. And Emma’s is not the only story like this.

Building on the legacy of the very first Eden team is Eden Wythenshawe Park. Led by John, the team are passionate about reaching the young people they live among with the hope and love of Jesus. But John’s journey with Eden started way before this team was launched. In fact, he was first introduced to Jesus by an Eden team. 

Growing up, John lived in an area of Salford that was home to Eden Swinton. As a teenager he was invited by them to a youth group they ran. He enjoyed it so much that he started going along regularly. As well as having fun, each week the team would chat to the young people about Jesus. As he heard more, John knew it was true and decided he wanted to become a Christian. Seeing the impact Eden had had on him started a fire in John’s heart to be used by God and see the often-forgotten people of society shown Jesus. Little did he know that almost 20 years later, things would go full circle and he’d be back with Eden, this time running a team and getting to do life with people like Maisie.

John first met Maisie at a school lunch club the team were running. One week, he invited the young people along to Message Bus sessions the Eden team were running and the church youth group. 

And just like John had, Maisie started going along to church too.

She’s now on a journey discovering more about Jesus as she connects with the Eden team and partner church. Recently she said to John, ‘I didn’t believe in God at all before coming to lunch club and now I’m really enjoying church and look forward to it each week.’ 

Right across the country, we’re seeing local youth groups and churches grow as people meet Jesus.

It’s just over a year since Eden Redcar launched and what a busy year it has been. One thing the team have been doing is partnering with Redcar Community Grocery to come alongside families in the neighbourhood and support them. As members come to the grocery to do their shopping, they’re hearing the good news of Jesus, are wanting to know more about him and the church is growing. In fact, the church has had to move to a new bigger building to fit more people in! Better still, this new space is right in the heart of Redcar. We can’t wait to see what God’s going to do next through Eden and hear the stories of lives transformed.