How much difference can one person make? How much difference can one church make? The answer is: a very great deal, if that person and that church are willing to live out their love for God missionally, with a vision to transform the lives of those whom society in general, and the education system in particular, is about to abandon.
Out of the Ordinary, written by Tim Morfin, tells the story of TLG: The Education Charity. Today it either runs, or works in partnership to run, a growing number of Education Centres and Early Intervention Centres around the country. It has an impressive list of partners who support the work, helping it to meet its corporate social responsibility requirements. It encourages the creation of lasting partnerships between schools, churches and the communities which they serve. It offers internships and welcomes volunteer workers. But it wasn’t always that way.
TLG began with one person, one church and one vision to serve the local community. After studying for a business degree, Tim Morfin settled in Bradford and committed himself to youth work with his local church. As a teenager, he’d seen the need for the church to be relevant, to be where people are and to speak their language. Little did he know that this was the beginning of his vocation. Years later, as he questioned where desolate families and disengaged young people could find hope, TLG was born. It all began by offering help with maths and English to just one young person who had dropped out of school.
Tim weaves case histories into the narrative, recounting TLG’s growth from a single student to an award winning, nationally respected education charity. He writes passionately about the needs of the young people they serve, galvanising churches to get involved. He charts how just the right people came along as just the right time, explaining how the team formulates and implements the growth vision and strategy.
As you read the book, you can’t help but be inspired. Like so many great works for God, TLG started simply, with just a few people who saw a great need and who responded with compassion, commitment and a fierce determination to make things better. You can’t help, either, pondering on similarities with other Christian advocates for social justice: Thomas Barnardo, John Wesley, Lord Shaftesbury and William Wilberforce.
There are parallels, too, with John Pounds, the founder of Ragged Schools. He responded two hundred years ago to the same social desolation and hopelessness to which TLG seeks to respond today. This is a book that every Christian should read – to inform, to inspire, and above all, to prompt action. Anyone can get involved in bringing hope to thousands of young people and their families.
The book closes by bringing the story full circle to Lewis, the young person with whom it all began. He is now a TLG volunteer. He has qualifications and a job in sales. He writes that his biggest achievement is ‘just being the person I am today, rather than the person I used to be’. He knows that God loves him and that he can rely on God.
That’s what can happen when ordinary people do out of the ordinary things with God.