Mission InPeckhamable: Cruz Control

Having spent years navigating the fast-paced world of advertising and marketing, I encountered a wide range of personalities and projects. However, few individuals left a lasting impression like Doug from London City Mission.

In my world of branding and marketing, where trends shift and campaigns come and go, it’s refreshing to encounter someone whose passion burns with unwavering intensity.

Who Is Doug? What is London City Mission?

During my time working on marketing strategies, I had the distinct pleasure of collaborating with Doug on campaigns for London City Mission.

Doug Cruz carrying a cross in London

LCM shares the gospel alongside the local church of London, equipping everyday Christians to lovingly bring a message of hope in Christ to those least likely to hear it.

Throughout our working relationship, Doug’s enthusiasm was infectious, and when the opportunity arose to interview him about the organisation’s incredible work over Easter weekend 2024, I jumped at the chance.

This interview looks into Doug’s specific role within the Southwark region of London, offering a glimpse into the vital services LCM provides and the impact they have on the local community.

Would you like to tell everyone what you do and provide some background on your role within London City Mission

I am a missionary Team Leader with the London City Mission.

My team and I seek to reach many diaspora communities in the borough of Southwark where we serve London City Mission’s church mobilisation and outreach programme.

I work alongside church leaders in the borough, teaching church members to prayerfully engage in systematic outreach, lovingly connecting with the community, building relationships and inviting them to follow Jesus.

 

What motivated you to become involved with London City Mission, and what specifically drew you to work with the community in Peckham?

My family are emigrants from India, moving to Croydon in the ‘70’s, when there was a lot of racism.

Facing such severe challenges, whilst growing up in a new society and trying to figure out my identity led to gang life and crime and police involvement got me thinking twice about my future direction.

It was then that a spiritual experience led me to explore Roman Catholic missionary priesthood, and I went off to study in a seminary in the mid 80’s.

After my ‘novitiate and a year of philosophy’ (studies in priesthood) I left the RC church and embraced a new spiritual life as a born-again Evangelical Christian through adult baptism.

The desire to serve God as a missionary was rather fervent, so soon I left with a group of people to help start churches in a number of countries in Southeast Asia, and later the Middle East, traveling through dozens of towns and villages to plant churches all over the region for the next 18 years, helping to raise up local leadership as I moved from place to place.

I also helped to set up large charity projects to serve the needs of local disadvantaged communities, projects which were recognised by the UN & WHO.

I came back to London (primarily due to family facing persecution) to focus on family life.

Because of my charity experience I worked with many Christian charities for the next 15 years, primarily as a fundraising manager.

Two years ago, I responded to the Spirit’s call to return to full-time missionary work, this time in urban London.

The Lord is using my travel and church plant experience in diaspora ministries with LCM, now helping to mobilise churches for practical outreach in Southwark where there are complex needs of people from many ethnic backgrounds from around the world.

 

Looking ahead, how do you foresee your role evolving within London City Mission, and what are your aspirations for future community outreach and engagement efforts?

I would like to see as many churches as possible mobilised for mission in London. I believe even if a small percentage of Christians in churches see their responsibility,- as the hands and feet of Jesus to take the gospel into their lost neighbourhoods, our city and the wider society would be a radically transformed place.

Doug Cruz standing on a river bank.

At London City Mission we believe in Mission. That’s our DNA.

While we may do a lot of other things to help the needs of the local community, above all we want to see everyone in London invited, personally and lovingly, to enjoy an eternal, life-giving relationship with God.

And that can be achieved by building up and equipping, what we believe to be the most precious and powerful community in London, the Church.

There are thousands of evangelical churches across London. There is such great potential for gospel sharing, along with those who already have a desire to share their faith.

Sometimes Christians don’t feel confident or equipped to speak about Jesus,

particularly with people who are different to them, from other cultures and languages.

Imagine if all these churches across London were trained and released to lovingly and boldly share the good news of Jesus with those around them!

 

Could you share any details about specific projects or initiatives you are currently spearheading or planning to undertake in Peckham or other areas served by London City Mission?

We work with a number of churches, by coming alongside them. This is not just by teaching, but primarily showing, step-by-step how outreach can be done systematically, patiently and relationally.

Practically these can be by teaching to door knock, street evangelism, book tables, outreach to seniors, council estates or reaching the youth.

The local area demographics and people groups determine what we do on the ground.

Considering the challenges inherent in community work, what are some of the key obstacles you anticipate encountering, and how do you intend to address them?

Getting people going is the first challenge. Most Christians think outreach is to be left to an elite group of theologians who have answers to life’s precious questions or most even say that’s not ‘my cup of tea’ as it’s not ‘my gifting’.

We can all do our part if we truly love Jesus. So, LCM missionaries practically shrink everything down to bite-size, small actions growing with each step.

Fears in speaking to a stranger turns to smiles with ‘I can do this. It’s not as difficult as I thought’ response.

What excites me most is when a Christian steps out in faith, then God takes over. They see their friends and neighbours come to faith in Jesus and then they are so excited that their life’s problems start diminishing and they start shifting their focus on Jesus.

From your recent interactions with the local community in Peckham during the Easter break, what were some of the most significant insights or discoveries you gained?

I remember meeting a very reserved person called Catherine about a year ago. She was eager to share her faith, because Jesus had transformed her personal life. That’s all it took.

Within months she was reaching out to hundreds of people at her local estate. She is now discipling others who have become Christians as a result of her stepping out in faith.

During Easter, at one of the churches we were working with, some of the members of a church in Peckham decided to invite their family and friends.

On Easter Sunday there was no room in the downstairs space at church so that they had to usher people to the balconies!

I’m interested in understanding how individuals can support the projects and initiatives you’re involved in. What avenues or opportunities are available for people?

Churches can request our Everyday Evangelism resources. It’s about all of us doing mission.

Mission isn’t just for the missionary, it’s something that’s part of living out the gospel, (faith & deeds).

Once we’ve accepted the gospel for ourselves, it’s our duty to share that good news with others.

LCM is here to help equip every eager church member to reach those people who are least likely to hear that news.

Everyday Evangelism is a great place to start, as it gives you tips, advice and resources to help you share your faith with those in your community –> https://www.lcm.org.uk/resources/everyday-evangelism/


We hope you’ve enjoyed this look at Doug’s journey in obedience to God’s calling for his life and the incredible work London City Mission is doing in London. What’s your mission and adventure? It may be just a step away!

If you wanted to, you can help by donating to the work LCM do right here.

You can also connect with London City Mission on social media; on X (formerly Twitter) they’re @LondonCM or Doug himself who’s @doug_cruz.

They’re also on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram

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