People and Places

Welcome to People and Places, providing an insight into some of the things Christians are doing within the Church, and how they are sharing Gospel values in society at large

Ayo Sage – Spreading love through acts of service

In the early noughties, pop group Black Eyed Peas’ hit song, ‘Where Is The Love?’, provoked us to answer this rhetorical question regarding the social issues on our doorsteps.

One guy, who has found love and wants to spread it, is Ayo Sage, Founder and Director of MAD: Love Foundation (MLF), who wants to develop a generation of leaders by injecting ‘mad love’ back into his community through his organisation.

Ayo launched MAD: Love Foundation in October 2012, after researching the needs in his community and understanding that God’s love was far more than a sentiment. He shared, “I’ve always had a passion to be a blessing to my community. I set up MLF after reading Titus 3:4, which talks of the kindness and love of God in a philanthropic nature. God Himself is a philanthropist and it is His passion to serve the community.”

Two months later, after learning that he lived in one of the poorest areas in his community, Ayo collaborated with local churches to provide Christmas hampers to those in need. And, in December 2013, Ayo implemented a ‘Feed The Poor’ campaign, which provided food provisions for over 300 struggling families in southeast London. He says that these initiatives fuelled his passion further to becoming God’s ‘arms and legs’ in his community.

MAD is an acronym for ‘making a difference’, which is the core objective of this organisation. One group that MAD is particularly concerned about working with is young men, and dealing with the issues they face. Ayo states, “Due to factors like fatherlessness, dysfunctional homes, abuse and poverty, many young men grow up hurt and confused. As a result, they are unable to fully realise their true value in society, and so end up in a life of criminality and ‘nothingness’. MLF seeks to raise awareness to the brokenness of young men, and provides HELP (Healing, Equipping, Leadership and Protection) within the community through programmes on leadership, manhood, seminars, mentoring, counselling and accountability coaching.”

Although MAD: Love Foundation is not an overtly Christian organisation, Ayo calls it ‘back door evangelism’. “Everything we do is to spread the Gospel. Although we do not overtly mention the names ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’ in our material, everything we do points to God.”

Contrary to UK government decisions to close down numerous youth clubs in the name of saving funds, Ayo believes that they are still a successful way of engaging young people. “Young people are the leaders of tomorrow. They need help in developing their purpose, identity and potential. No one else is doing this in our community; this is why MLF is so important.” Currently serving areas within the Greenwich and Bexley boroughs, MLF will be covering further regions in the near future, and making a lasting impact on the wider community in London by putting MAD: Love Foundation into real and tangible action.

To find out more, Like Madlovefoundation on Facebook, follow @Madlovefdn on Twitter and Instagram.

Tracey-Ann Munroe and Eleasah Roberts – Teaching communities their culture

People-and-Places

It appears that being of colour nowadays is starting to carry a negative connotation. With the #blacklivesmatter protests in the US and UK on the recent injustices in America, is the Media trying to tell us that Black lives actually don’t matter? Well, they certainly do for culture-based organisation, Colour Me Cultured.

Launched in June 2014 by community activist Tracey-Ann Munroe and former schools worker, Eleasah Roberts, Colour Me Cultured (CMC) provides alternative services in history and culture for ethnic minorities and underdog communities.

CMC is birthed out of Eleasah and Tracey-Ann’s growing passion to provide education that empowers and allows individuals to explore their culture and history for themselves. It’s a passion that is rooted firmly in Eleasah’s and Tracey-Ann’s faith.

Eleasah shared, “Our responsibilities as Christians are to help people find truth and uncover mistruths that cause oppression, whether it be because of the colour of their skin or their class.”

Coming from very different upbringings, both ladies drew inspiration for CMC from their backgrounds and experiences. Eleasah, a theology student, shared how their unique experiences have impacted their joint initiative. “Tracey was born in Jamaica, to an Afrocentric mother who was aware of her culture, which she passed onto her children. I was raised in Brixton and brought up in a Christian, Irish and Jamaican family. I went to a Black school, and was surrounded by Black role models within my community. However, we both got to a place where we felt cheated. Questions weren’t being asked or answered regarding our colour and faith, so we decided that building a culture-based library and resource centre providing educational services would be a positive and constructive answer for people within our community who shared the same experiences.”

Having three successful CMC events already under their belts so far, Tracey-Ann shares her excitement at seeing the project coming together at their 2014 Black History Month event, held at SOAS University in London, “…During the event, we had an Ethiopian communal meal together (with Ethiopian music playing in the background), and it was amazing to see everyone dining together. I sat back and looked at the set-up and all the different shades of people and thought: This is what Colour Me Cultured is all about.”

Both Eleasah and Tracey-Ann have tremendous plans for the growth of CMC within the next five years. “The CMC bus will be running, and we would like schools, local councils and churches to know who we are and what we do. We see CMC clubs, classes and plans for supplementary school developments and so much more!” says Tracey.

Wanting to see individuals excited about their cultural history, and how they can honour it through education, Tracey-Ann and Eleasah have created a niche platform through CMC, where any culture and individual can learn something.

Visit www.colourmecultured.com for more details, or follow on Twitter @colourmeculture/

Donna-Marie McDonald – Sharing a positive image of singleness

Any optimistic person would say that their single years are a time of freedom, self-development and career progression. So why does the term ‘singleness’ within the Church sometimes carry a lonely label, and individuals feel like they’re being overlooked and left out? Well, one woman who wants to put a new spin on the word ‘singleness’ and put the SASS back into single is CEO and Founder of VEP, Donna-Marie McDonald.

The name VEP stands for ‘Very Eligible Person’ and this is Donna-Marie’s definition for singles. Donna-Marie, aka @MsVEP, believes that singles shouldn’t wait for perfect circumstances, but instead should create them and, as a single Christian herself, that’s exactly what she did. VEP’s core mission is to celebrate, support and encourage singles in their purpose. Knowing all too well the frustrations and challenges of single Christians between the ages of 23 and 37, Donna-Marie knew that there needed to be a space where Christians could socialise and network in a safe environment. “The vision was to create a VEP community, and host a range of varied social events, from luxury bowling to beautiful annual dinner and dance events.” Explaining how the idea came about, she says, “It was literally the Lord’s. I kept finding myself caught up in ‘single pity parties’ and it felt as though the topic of singleness was the focal point of every conversation at the events I attended.”

Donna-Marie launched her first VEP Suite’s SASS (Sip And Strike Sunday) event in April 2013, after being asked to visit an upcoming singles event for the purpose of marketing it to the singles in her church. “I’m naturally very analytical, and found myself assessing the night in great depth, trying to figure out what was missing and how I could improve it. This spiralled into a ball of creative solutions and, before I knew it, I was on a mission to create a contemporary event that was both fun, yet sophisticated, which is how Sip And Strike Sunday, aka SASS, was birthed.”

Held in the All Star Lanes venue in Shoreditch, all SASS events have had hugely successful turnouts. Guests such as Premier Gospel DJ, Lady T, commented: “The VEP event on Sunday was dope!” and motivational speaker, Kunle Oyedeji, and gospel artists, JayEss and Jake Isaac, have all made appearances.

The VEP ministry isn’t just limited to socials. When VEPs (Very Eligible People) aren’t striking up conversation and bowling pins, they can tune into Donna-Marie’s YouTube series, ‘Waiting Well’. “I’ve recently started a new and exciting vlog, where I offer practical tips and advice, spiritual insights and coaching for single Christians,” she says.

Big things are in store for the future of VEP. Donna-Marie plans to launch an interactive lifestyle site, where VEPs can feast on features and blogs on health, fashion and beauty, as well as write a book documenting 365 days of singleness. Dedicated and determined Donna-Marie wants singles to ditch the lonesome label and pursue their purpose!

Like on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vep.suite, follow on Twitter @VEP_Tweets or visit YouTube channel VEPsuite.

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