Acts 435 Giving to anyone who has need

Our experience at Acts 435 is that a small gift can make a big difference. This is why we exist and time and time again we have seen the impact of a microwave, a mattress, school uniform or a train fare for someone struggling in UK poverty.

However, we are also mindful that often a larger intervention is required. For a number of years I have wanted to see how Acts 435 might step in to help people who face a larger need. Acts 435 is about providing fast, financial help for a specific need by connecting those who want to help with those in need. At the beginning of October 2018 we sought to do this with 5 larger appeals as follows.

Act 1 - £680 - 'K' lives in West Yorkshire with her 2 children, aged 14 and 10. Her physically, emotionally and financially abusive ex-partner has left her with spiralling debts. In spite of everything she has been through she is working full time, raising her family, and trying to repay the debts created by her ex, but is being pushed further into debt. The solution to her problems is to file for bankruptcy, but the fee to do this stands in the way. Please can you help?

Act 2 - £930 - 'D had a good job in IT in America when his marriage ended. Sat on a kerb, upset about the breakup, he was wrongly arrested for loitering and told that his visa had expired. After 7 months in a detention centre he was deported to the UK, with only the clothes he was standing in. He has no family here. Following delays to financial support, D has rent arrears, bills to pay, and no furniture or white goods in his flat. Our help will help D get back on his feet and, we pray, back into employment really soon.

Act 3 - £900 - N is in her early 30s and has 3 children under 10 years old. They have all suffered abuse by her husband who suddenly and recently left them, leaving behind a trail of debt and rent arrears. If N gets evicted she has been warned that she won't be rehoused and her children will go into care. No one will benefit if she is evicted. Our help will pay off the arrears, keep a roof over their head and keep the family together.

Act 4 - £1,000 - F & G lost their 8 month old son to a congenital heart defect last Autumn.Up until his death, the couple spent most of their time at the hospital, putting all of their other problems, including finances, to one side. Now, all their income is being spent on debt repayments, including the outstanding costs of their son’s funeral costs. Our help will clear that funeral debt, giving them room to grieve without the fear of court orders and bailiffs.

Act 5 - £500 - 'A' lost his son and wife in a car accident 12 years ago and has been homeless ever since. He now has a serious heart condition and a doctor has advised him ‘if you want to see Christmas you need to be in a house’. Thankfully he has been able to find a flat but it is completely empty. With our help Acts 435 will find him a fridge, bed, cooker, table, chairs, carpet and curtains from local charity furniture shops.

The wonderful Stewardship sent out an email on 5th October in the evening to all the subscribers to its 40 acts of generosity (which it runs through Lent). By the next morning, all 5 appeals had been met in full, totalling £4,010 and leaving the 5 recipients overwhelmed and full of gratitude for our intervention. I loved what one donor wrote on the Saturday morning:

The target had already been reached by the time I woke up to the email this morning. Hoping this brings you reassurance that people care and will help when they know how x

Above and Beyond

Thanks to the existence of so many people who want to help, the money kept flowing in. We were able to help 10 people, not just the original 5. They included a lady in London struggling to cope with a low-waged job because she had a huge housing benefit overpayment hanging over her. Money was taken directly from her pay each month causing great hardship. When she found out we had directly paid the London Borough the £1,250 owing, she had this to say:

I would like to say to all of you a big THANK YOU! There are no words for how much I appreciate your help. I`m a single mother of my 2 years old son. We have had such a hard period. After we separated with my ex partner (it was domestic violence) I lost my job, because there was no one to look after my baby, and I lost everything. We were struggling with everything: food, rent, bills. We had days without food or even without electricity. We lived for long time in an empty flat without furniture. To be honest sometimes I was thinking of giving up. Slowly slowly we are back to life. I found a good part time job, and a nice nursery for my little one. I'm not earning much money, but we are not struggling anymore with the food or bills. Then I received a letter about a big housing benefit overpayment.. I was very scared we will lose everything again! It`s always hard to ask for help, but when you are responsible for a small child you have to do what you need to do. Acts 435 and the people who donate for Acts 435 are amazing. They paid back all the funds! All of you gave me back my faith and my hope. We have a fresh start in our life and now I dare to believe me and my son have a good future! Thank you!

For me it has been a huge privilege to be able to meet these needs. The Bible says in Philippians 4:19:

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

That is what I have seen and it is an absolute joy to use the money so generously given to meet desperate needs of specific people in UK poverty. It has also confirmed that these larger gifts are needed, will be given to, and make a massive difference.

With the remainder of the funds raised from Stewardship's appeal we have set up a fund of £5,000 to meet other larger needs in the run up to Christmas that advocates in our partner churches and charities become aware of.

For when we set out to raise £4,010, we actually received £14,750 allowing us to go even further in helping people in need. Thank you wonderful 40acts community. Thank you to our God who meets our needs according to the riches of His glory, and far beyond what we could imagine.

To enable us to give more, we have set up a fundraising page to increase our Larger Gifts Fund which you can find here: https://www.give.net/acts435_larger_gifts/fundraising

A from Act 5 writes: I really don’t know what to say. You’ve made an old man really happy.