A charity shop with a difference

OM International | United Kingdom

Tucked away in the heart of a London neighbourhood sits what must be one of the most thoroughly stocked charity shops in the city. Every corner of this shop is full of children’s toys, books and DVDs, and the walls are lined with rail upon rail of clothes.

OM workers have been supporting this little shop since it opened in July 2017, but not for its quirky sales plan. The shop has a strategic position in a community of people from least reached places—in particular, Turkey and Kurdistan. Fuelled by donations, this shop exists not only to provide affordable products for the poorest members of the community, but also to create a neutral space for people to explore questions about Christianity.

Philip, an OM worker in the UK, volunteers his time to staff the shop three days a week and to build relationships in the community. “It’s about sustainable mission,” he says, explaining that its profits cover the cost of outreaches, while the shop itself is a helpful addition to the neighbourhood.

“We’re very new here—we opened in July,” says Philip. “But by September, we’d already hit the sales target. It’s a miracle, actually; I thought it would take us six months to hit it, at least.”

God has blessed the shop in other ways, too: the team have been amazed by the sheer quantity of donations the shop has received. A contact in one of the wealthier hotels in the area donates any unclaimed items that holidaymakers leave behind, and a couple of shop owners were so taken with the vision of the charity shop that they donated the rest of their brand-new stock upon their retirement.

OM has been present in this area for years, running an outdoor book table. Team members found it frustrating to have a weather-dependent ministry, and the fact that they had to change locations week by week made them difficult for people to find.

“We wanted to have a hub for the community,” Philip says, “a neutral place, where people can come and see us, without having to go into a church. That can be a really big deal for them. This shop is for transitions.”

The volunteers are implementing a regular hospitality ministry: a chance for customers and staff alike to enjoy Turkish tea and a relaxed space for deep conversations.

“We just share the news of Jesus wherever possible,” says Philip.

Please pray for Philip and the other volunteers as they make connections with the community around them and try to share the love of Jesus with those who haven’t heard. Pray for more Turkish-speaking volunteers to help run the ministry.

Published: Thursday, 20 December 2018
Credit: OM International
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