I’ve been needing to post this update on where things are at with the human trafficking work that I’m involved with in Cardiff for quite some time now. To say that things have progressed at a pace in the last few months would be a massive understatement. In this post I’ll give an update about all the different things that are happening, but before I do, perhaps I should quickly explain why we’ve had a bit of a name change.
Regular readers of the Rant will know that the monthly prayer sessions that we ran last year were called Red Sessions. (Red = short for ‘redemption’, alludes to ‘red light districts’ and also ‘red light’ meaning stop. It’s also the colour of Jesus’ blood…so red is a good colour for this ministry!) Anyway, we have changed the name to Red Community because Sessions speak more of an event, while what God has clearly been doing over recent months is mobilising a community of Christians who are up for a lot more than simply rocking up to a meeting once a month. There’s a lot of energy, a lot of activity and a lot of stuff going on week-by-week now, so RED Community it is! So what, I hear you ask, is this community actually getting up to? Well, where do I start…?
Without doubt the heartbeat of Red Community is currently our fortnightly gathering for prayer and Bible study. Essentially these evenings involve hooking up to chew over what the Bible has to say about Jesus, justice and oppression, and to pray into these issues. The venue where we gather is at the heart of inner-city Cardiff – opposite a homeless hostel and on the same block as a brothel. Consequently we often have people dropping in to see what’s going on and it’s our privilege to serve them food and share Jesus with them too. It’s gospel community at it’s most raw and real. If you’d like to know more about our Redemption Bible studies or fancy popping along, you can connect with us on Twitter and Facebook.
One of the big changes between this year and last year is that rather than hosting awareness-raising evenings in Tremorfa each month (that were great, but poorly attended) we are now focussing on running these events in various local churches at their request. We are blessed to have several members of Red Community who are engaged in an assortment of gospel-centred justice and outreach ministries locally, as well as a team of passionate abolitionists who are equipped and excited to be raising awareness about trafficking and slavery. We’re excited to be doing our first Red Session of 2014 at Highfields Church in a few weeks time.
(If you’re based in the Cardiff area and would like to book a Red Session for your church, please get in touch).
The Red Network is possibly the most exciting thing in the pipeline right now. This was something I dreamt up a couple of months back when trying to think of a way of encouraging churches to engage with the issue of trafficking in an accessible and sustainable way – to keep it permanently on the agenda. I thought it was probably a stupid idea that was going to get booted into touch. However, every church leader I’ve spoken to so far is buzzin about it, so I guess we’re going to run with it!
Here’s the big idea:
The Red Network is a collective of churches who are both passionate and intentional about extending hope to those in chains. To become a member of the network we simply ask that a church commits to ‘one event plus one percent’.
One event: A commitment to facilitate at least one event per year in order to profile the issues of human trafficking, slavery and exploitation. The event could take the form of a Sunday service, a mid week meeting, a community awareness project or any other creative options a church might come up with.
One percent: A courageous and sacrificial pledge to give one percent of the church’s annual finances to an anti-trafficking ministry of their choice*. This might be a regular financial donation to a global organisation, supporting an individual who is actively serving on the frontline of justice in another country, or investing in a local ministry that reaches out to the trafficked and exploited.
* Red Community neither asks for, nor would accept, any money from a church as part of their one percent pledge. Our role is to inspire and facilitate, not seek to benefit from, the generosity of local churches.
I’m really excited to have been invited to share the Red Network vision with the church leaders of Cardiff early next month. Please pray for that.
One of the mad ideas I had to help raise awareness, get Christians clued up and give them tools to start stimulating conversation about trafficking was to set up a Redemption Library. The idea was to stock a very simple lending library with books, teaching CDs, DVDs, lesson plans and other information and to make it available as a resource for justice-minded Christians in Cardiff. Amazingly God recently provided us with a £500 grant to start stocking the library, and as I type I have boxes of stuff upstairs ready to be used. We still haven’t identified where the library is going to be situated yet, but it will be somewhere around the centre of Cardiff. As soon as we have a location I’ll let you know where it is.
Another exciting recent development is that Liberty (an amazing gospel-hearted ministry that reaches out to Cardiff’s sex workers) will soon be operating out of the same venue that we run our Bible Studies from. While Red Community and Liberty are separate ministries there is a lot of overlap in what we do and we certainly share the same heart – to see women set free by the grace of Jesus. Furthermore, some of the members of Red Community also work with Liberty and we therefore pray for them regularly and support the ministry wholeheartedly.
That brings us nicely to the latest news about the Red Centre that I have posted about previously. Plans for the Red Centre have slowed down a bit recently. This is because:
a) The building we had been offered in the heart of the Red Light District needed A LOT of work on it to make it usable (5 figures worth of work!) as well as around £400 per month to run it. While we had faith that God has a big enough wallet, it felt like a bridge too far for this fledgling ministry right now and it was far more important to build the community and tighten up the vision.
b) We became aware of the venue that we are now using for our Bible Studies, prayer etc (and now Liberty are using it too) and after speaking to the lady who owns it (an old friend of mine) it felt like the right next step for us.
However, the dream of setting up a Red Centre has certainly not been abandoned and I am passionate about seeing a centre established that exists entirely for the purpose of prayer and practical outreach to the trafficked, exploited and enslaved in Cardiff. So keep watching this space…
Finally, I am really excited to announce that we currently have a website being designed by my legendary friend. Rich! (He’s the guy that designed the new logo etc for us as well). The site is looking fantastic and will hopefully be up in the next few weeks. Obviously I’ll tell the world when it’s up, but keep on the lookout for http://www.redcommunity.co.uk.
I know that this post has been long, but that’s because there’s loads of stuff happening. Thanks so much your prayers and support. If you ever want to connect with the Red Community, please do so. We’d love to link up.