Seth Pinnock speaks to Kate Sharma about how a Compassion trip to Uganda, to meet his sponsored child, has made him look at global poverty and the Church with new eyes
At just 22, Seth Pinnock is a worship leader, event organiser, speaker, Architecture graduate, record label owner, design company boss, and the poster boy for a generation of young Christians living life at full speed for God. But there is one issue this seemingly sorted guy has been grappling with for years: global poverty. The media overload his generation has been exposed to has given Seth a great awareness of poverty, but left him with many unanswered questions. On a recent trip to Uganda, with child development charity, Compassion, Seth discovered a few things about poverty, the Church and himself.
Prior to his trip, Seth started sponsoring a little boy called Michael. Seth met Michael at the AgapО Child Development Centre, a church-based project that the seven-year-old attends each week. The initial nervousness faded quickly and, by the time Seth accompanied Michael to his family home in a hillside community near Kampala, he was like one of the family.
But what Seth found at the young boy’s home surprised him. “The joy that oozed from his mother and grandmother was just indescribable,” recalls Seth. “Their joy didn’t reflect where they were living at all.” The tiny hut in the middle of the slum reeked of rat urine, one of many challenges caused by overcrowding, in an area devoid of latrines or waste disposal systems. “Michael’s father volunteered at the church, and rented a motorcycle taxi to support the family,” continues Seth. “He earned just 75p a day, and yet they had a joy in their spirit I don’t see in a lot of my own peers.
“I realised that it was not happiness I saw in Michael and his family, but joy. And joy is innate, and based on your values and perspective, and on a relationship with God.” This realisation left Seth thinking about our own approach to evangelism here in the UK. “We often feel we can’t invite people to Christ unless we have an ‘offer’ for them. We feel a need to stick a promise to God: you’ll get healed, you’ll get a job. But joy doesn’t depend on all those things.”
The joy Seth witnessed in Michael and his family is characteristic of many children who attend Compassion projects across the world. Compassion doesn’t simply provide children with the skills and education to help them escape from poverty. It also prepares them emotionally, socially and spiritually for the future. Through the love of Christian staff at their church-based projects, and the support of sponsors, like Seth, children begin to experience the joy of knowing Christ and trusting in His plans for the future.
Seth returned to the UK with a deep conviction to continue changing more lives through building the Kingdom both in the UK and overseas, a commitment strengthened after seeing Compassion’s church partners in Uganda. Through a network of more than 300 projects, Compassion is helping churches to stand up for the rights of children; to speak out on issues of injustice, and provide healthcare, food, clothing and social support to families. He saw the sort of church he’s been advocating on behalf of for years. “I think the Church should be the loudest voice in the community,” Seth says with utter conviction. “Church is not an isolated building with four walls and a roof, reserved for worship on a Sunday, but a body of believers, embracing every aspect of a person’s physical, social, emotional, economic and spiritual wellbeing.”
As he settles back into the craziness of his life, Seth has been dwelling on his personal response to global poverty. It has led him to a realisation that he, and indeed we, can be the answer. “God has positioned me here to fulfil something to the best of my ability,” says Seth, as he takes up the challenge to see more children, like Michael, given the opportunity of new life through sponsorship. “As I served food to the kids in the Project, I saw myself in their eyes. Some of them were roughly the same size as me; they were Black guys with the same bone structure. I could have been looking at my brother. I simply broke down.”
Seth sees sponsorship as a simple response to a global issue that can have a profoundly biblical impact. “God sent His Son, so we can be adopted into His family. God had compassion on us, and now we are heirs to salvation. We can replicate that in the life of a child as we sponsor them and bring them into the family of Christ.” He concludes, “It’s not hard. It just takes more people signing up to make a commitment.”
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