The ‘Churches in Bicester Refugee Support Group’ was inspired by this challenge to prepare the local community to welcome refugees and help Cherwell District Council to house and support them under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (SVPRS). Steven Rand, of Orchard Baptist Church, explains how.

‘This powerful mutuality of purpose (and crucially, finances) enabled 15 churches in Bicester to collaborate on the purchase and renovation of a Hope into Action house specifically for refugees. ‘Bicester Christian Action’ (the umbrella organisation through which money comes in and goes out) receives the rent directly from the council, then distributes any interest due to investors. Cherwell District Council quickly got on board with the principle of housing refugees in homes managed according to the Hope into Action model. The fact that Bicester Christian Action is a single entity really helped when it came to Council processes.

Through the ‘Parable of the Talents’, Jesus warns against squirrelling wealth away,
instead encouraging to invest wisely. Rather than ‘bury’ our reserves under a stone, we encouraged the church that we must put our trust in God. The response from the church was incredibly positive and so Orchard Baptist Church put in £10,000 from its reserves, to encourage others to follow suit.

Steve explains: ‘In the end, we attracted 27 investors and were able to amass £266,000 in order to purchase a house for refugees.’ Investments varied in size from £5,000 – £20,000 and those who hadn’t the resource to contribute to the bricks and mortar have provided stability and structure for the tenants in myriad other ways. Volunteers from ‘Churches in Bicester Refugee Support Group’ provide practical help, including furnishing this house (as well as a couple of other houses used for Syrian refugees), befriending, orientation and language support. It’s positive for the Council to know that the Church is playing a proactive and practical role within the community; the fact that the church itself puts money into initiatives like this shows in very real terms that the Church has a vital, very active role to play in supporting and enriching the community as it evolves. Life can be unpredictable, and by consolidating the contributions of several investors, any perceived financial risk can be spread.

Should an investor need to release their capital due to a change in circumstances (job loss, bereavement, serious illness, for instance) they can sell off their share once another investor has been identified. The larger the group of investors involved, the wider the pool available from which to fill any gaps that might crop up.
Simply put, if you have even a very modest amount tied up elsewhere, your nest egg could be used to work for the good of God’s Kingdom.

Hope into Action takes away the hassle of vetting tenants and
collecting the rent, so it’s a win-win situation all round. You’d be amazed how many more investors step forward when you share your progress and tell the church family ‘we’re getting close to the finish line, we could get there with a few more
contributions…’ It just goes to show that the sum total of many people’s modest ‘rainy day’ savings can make a HUGE difference to others’ lives NOW.’

Find out how you can get involved by clicking here or Contact us