From wrecking cars in London to building a garage for mechanics in Kenya
By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
ROEHAMPTON, ENGLAND / KENYA, AFRICA (ANS) — REGENERATE is a ministry formed in 2000 out of a realization of the social and spiritual needs of young and old on a British housing estate.
That realization led to dreams of a changed community, “where the gospel was demonstrated as well as spoken about,” according to its ministry website.
“The needs were huge. Being one of London’s largest estates, the Alton estate was high in deprivation, child poverty, street crime and drug addictions,” the site states.
Over the years REGENERATE’S work has developed. It has run projects for both young and old including — mentoring schemes, football clubs, outings, children’s church, lunch club for the elderly, a visiting service to isolated elderly, drop-in youth center, residentials and trips overseas.
Now REGENERATE is in the process of building a car mechanics garage on the outskirts of Nakuru, Kenya, in the heart of Africa. The garage will provide opportunities for up to 35 young people to learn a trade and gain employment, helping them out of the poverty trap.
The vision for the garage came from Luke Clifford who first visited Kenya with a group of young people from Roehampton in 2005. The trip changed his life and he came back with the idea to build the garage. He has since raised over £6,000GBP ($12,000 USD) for the project, and been back three times to help with the project.
On the next trip in February 2008 the garage will have its official opening, with Luke being able to see the dream become reality.
“It took me some time to persuade my friend Andy Smith to visit Kenya with me, as I felt his church needed a third world focus as well as the great work he was already doing in the Roehampton Estate, which is one of the larges council estates in Europe,” says Adrian Hawkes the London-based leader of a ministry that plants churches, works with asylum seekers, and provides aid to children in Sri Lanka.
“Andy was a little squeamish about coming with me to Africa, even though some of the stories he told me concerning the work on the (Roehampton) estate made me somewhat careful. Things like the fact that if you want home delivery Pizza then you have to phone and arrange to meet the delivery man on the other side of the main road — they won’t deliver on the estate because they lose their delivery bike, money and pizzas. Great place to live it seemed to me, give me Africa any day. Andy took to Kenya like a duck to water so to speak,” Hawkes said in an interview with ASSIST News.
That was in 2004. The following year (2005) Andy decided to go again, this time with some of the young people from Roehampton including Luke Clifford, who was famous on the estate — or rather infamous — not only because he had dropped in to the Regenerate club but also because he took a liking to stealing Andy’s car and rolling it down hills into brick walls.
“Just for fun you know. Seemed a bit surprising to me that Andy was still willing to take him with him, but he did,” said Hawkes.
Kenya turned Luke Clifford’s life around, along with giving him a vision for a garage, the trip changed his life and he came back with the idea to build the garage to help people by supplying work. He has since raised over £6,000 GBP ($12,000 USD) for the project, and been back three times to help with the construction.
Hawkes continued: “He came back from that first visit and told us he had found God, more than that he was determined to help young people there. From his own small wages he gave Andy money each week and made it quickly possible to buy land and prepare for his dream of building a garage for the youngsters there.”
Last February, Luke won the Anthony Walker Memorial Prize, the top Champions of Respect award from the Evangelical Alliance in the United Kingdom. Luke was honored for initiating the garage project in Kenya.
Local press and Premier Christian Radio in London have all picked up on Luke’s story, and some have even donated money for the project.
Back in Roehampton, Luke has now stopped trashing Andy’s car and is helping to facilitate all the other good work on the estate there, such as the Juice bar, drop-in site, the Bus program, and the many, many other things to change the people’s thinking on the estate.