On Monday 26th February at 9am, Christians convened in the Belfry Hall to hear James Odgers, a cattle farmer from Somerset.
James is the ‘father of the Besom project’ and quite rightly so, as he was called ‘besom’ as a child by his family because he was always sweeping up leaves.
The Besom project has been running for almost 20 years in London, out of HTB and York is the 31st Besom Project to be launched. The Besom aims to ‘sweep away suffering’, and became the vision of James Odgers after he saw the abject poverty in Hong Kong when he visited the work of Jackie Pullinger.
Unlike other systems that are around, the Besom doesn’t help the poor – it focuses on those who want to give.
Besom is a bridge for Christians who want to help the poor or want to give money, time or things. Besom doesn’t collect rubbish and doesn’t give it away either. Broken refrigerators are not a speciality of this ministry. Working alongside social services and other long term care providers, the Besom receives referrals from these agencies and then surveys what the people want.
The next thing is for the Besom volunteers to pray in what is needed – be it a good quality sofa or someone with paint who can decorate a room. The Besom always seeks to give good quality workmanship or products to the referred home.
James Odgers pointed out that Jesus hung around by preference with the poor and only by invitation with the rich. He also reminded us that the impact the church has in the UK is relatively small and that to see revival we must also see social change.
Roger Simpson had a vision to see the Besom come to York and appointed Rob Ainsworth to manage the project. As of today Besom is off the ground!
We were also privileged to hear Steve Winks from Sheffield who runs the Besom project there. In 2 years he has lost count of the miraculous ways God has supplied the needs of people in great poverty.
The Besom is a ministry for the whole church in York and we trust that we will all be challenged over the coming months to have a long term commitment to showing the love of Christ practically as well as proclaiming the gospel to our city.
You can contact the Besom in York from their website.