Last week, someone asked me what is bringing me hope at the moment. My answer was “the church”. This wouldn’t have always been my answer. There are times when I have felt deeply frustrated that there are so many needs around us and the church doesn’t seem to be mobilising to meet them. Or at least, not quickly or substantially enough. However, this hasn’t been the case for a long time now.

Over the last 10 to 15 years, we’ve seen a significant shift in church activities where good works’ or mercy ministries’ have become commonplace once again. I have the pleasure of working at Jubilee+, a Christian charity that equips churches to make a difference to the lives of those in poverty in their communities. In my role there I have the joy of hearing story after story of Christians bringing compassion and hope to those living in poverty around them. 

This became even more evident during the coronavirus pandemic. Even if we felt like we were stretched beforehand, many of our churches found that somehow, we were able to expand our capacity and help more people, with greater needs, than we had before.


Then the cost of living crisis hit. Could we really do more than we were already doing? A lot of us were exhausted, trying desperately to not grow weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9 and 2 Thessalonians 3:13), but wondering how to cope with the rising needs around us. There’s a steely determination among us though, because we believe it when the Bible tells us that we’re anointed by the Spirit of God to bring good news to those in poverty, to bind up the broken-hearted, and to see people set free.

The reason the church is bringing me hope right now is because of the questions Jubilee+ is being asked. As many head fearfully into this coming winter, with headlines warning us of how bad things are going to be, I have been encouraged by dozens of conversations with church leaders about how we can move beyond projects (as vital as they are) to embed mercy and justice in the fabric of the church. There’s a desire to not just expand what we’re doing, but to go deeper with it too.

This is why we’ve produced a short resource called Responding to a Deepening Crisis. Inside, we give some simple suggestions for how we can support people in our churches and in the surrounding communities, and also bring about change so that people have a decent shot at staying out of poverty.

We believe that to start with, there should be no one in need among us (Acts 4:34). So, we seek to normalise people asking for help – doing what we can to remove shame and stigma from admitting when in need. This is one of our pointers for working towards a complete lack of poverty in our midst. Another, equally important focus, is sharing the things we may not realise could be a huge blessing to others.

From this place, there’s not a trickle down but a powerful overflow that reaches into the lives of those trapped in poverty in the communities around us. At my local church, where I oversee our eight social action projects, our energy bills are predicted to rise by tens of thousands of pounds in the next year. That’s not an exaggeration. That’s a realistic forecast. But, like many churches across the UK, we’re encouraging people in our community to come to us if they need somewhere to keep warm, charge their devices, have some soup, and socialise.

Some of us love that idea but can’t get involved for one reason or another. If that’s you, maybe you are wondering what you can do instead. Maybe you have a spare 10 minutes a week that you could use to phone someone who is feeling anxious about this winter and express some care and reassurance. Giving our time can be one of the simplest but most precious things we can do.

In the Bible, Nehemiah got stuck in with helping people. He was on the frontline, getting his hands dirty, feeding people, and generally taking care of those around him. Yet he also advocated on their behalf, standing up against injustice, speaking out on behalf of those who felt like they had no voice.

As well as offering practical, hands-on support for those who are hit hardest by the cost of living crisis, we must also do what we can to bring about change. Responding to a Deepening Crisis offers a few ideas about how we might start.

Jesus invites His followers to be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). Many of us have been taking this call seriously for years and, individually or through our churches, we’ve been developing practical ways to support those trapped by poverty in our communities.

As the cost of living crisis deepens, we are digging in. We aren’t shrinking back. We are pressing on, because those around us need us to be mercy-bringers and hope-restorers. It’s what we’re called to, and it’s what we are anointed for.

"There’s a steely determination among us though, because we believe it when the Bible tells us that we’re anointed by the Spirit of God to bring good news to those in poverty, to bind up the broken-hearted, and to see people set free."