A church in London is offering refuge to people who want to change their lives.
Senior Pastor Tobi Adegboyega of SPAC Nation Church says they now have 23 safe houses for gang members who are willing to turn their life around and escape from a life of crime.
Adegboyega says, “In our community now, teenage years are drugs and knives. Most times it’s [the project] their first chance. These guys haven’t seen the other part of life. Then they can make a decision if they want to live right or not.”
The 100 young people who have taken part in the program have also been helped with education and employment during their stay.
The church has been known for focusing on tackling violent crime and it is reported that 55 per cent of the congregation has been previously involved in crime.
Pastor Nathan Oki from SPAC Nation tells Premier, “There was never actually a plan for it. These things happen so naturally because there was a need for an initiative.”
Pastor Oki runs one of the safe houses in the church’s network.
“You have young people that are enrolled in gang activity and they are aware that they need to be removed from a place of immediate danger,” they say.
Oki sees many stories of danger and desperation turn into ones of hope: “I’ve got a young man who is living with me currently The young man is 19 yrs old. When he came into the house – he’s from an area that I grew up in – the young man told me his story.
“To give you the severnes of this: he was thrown off a landing. … Survived and he was just in immediate danger. His whole life, all he has ever know, he has never seen a way out,” says Oki.
Oki says he is now living on his own, part of the workforce, and has turned his whole life around.
“This is a 24-hour job,” says Oki as they understand many churches cannot offer the same type of support to people.
“What I would say if you are not able to do this, but put all your energy and power into those who are working in grassroots. It doesn’t have to be financial.”
Written by Alissa Moffit