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Celebrating Black History Month: writing history

Tearfund is taking Black History Month in the UK as an opportunity to celebrate some history-makers of our own. People who are making their lives really matter.

Written by Tearfund | 25 Oct 2019

History is not just about dead people. History is about life; the stories of humanity being written. Within Tearfund, people of all ethnicities, all over the world are writing history with us. Ending poverty. Seeking justice. Transforming lives. Doing things that matter. Making their lives matter.

We love to celebrate the stories of transformation that Tearfund is part of globally, but for this moment we’re taking the opportunity of Black History Month in the UK to talk about some of our own black history-makers.

SETH PINNOCK: Building the tsunami

We’re used to seeing a tsunami in terms of its negative consequences, but let’s consider for a minute the way one works. A movement in one place, deep on the ocean floor, affects the water above. The wave it forms travels, carrying power and influence with a reach that can affect giant areas far from where it started.

At 17, Seth started a tsunami of hope.

Each year, he used his student loan and money earned bag-packing in local supermarkets to host an event called Midnight Oil. Its aim: to inspire and empower people to find and fulfill their God-given potential.

Just over a decade later, its legacy includes prayer and leadership events, a choir, a dance ensemble and even an orchestra. Hundreds of young people have become Christians, signed up to further education, reconnected with family, started businesses, volunteered  and even written books as a result of the ministry. 

Seth has launched his own clothing line, record label and design firm. He was named one of the ‘UK's Top 10 Black Students’ at the House of Commons (he’s an architecture graduate), and fronts the award-winning gospel group, A New Thing. 

He brings to his work at Tearfund a passion to embody possibility in his own life. Through this he hopes to empower people to live lives that matter – to show the world that they can be all that God has created them to be. As Seth says, ‘to not die without living.’

PRECIOUS AGBABIAKA: A voice like thunder

‘When you’re the youngest in a Nigerian family, no one listens to you,’ says Precious. 

But when God creates thunder, it gets heard.

Precious is a young woman with a voice. She also has a courageous faith.

From the small girl that no one listened to, she has become a young woman brave enough  to hear the promptings of God and to choose to follow them.

It started with pursuing a church internship in Nottingham, when everyone said she should come back to London. But she was more interested in God’s voice than the fears and expectations of the people around her. She says the year she spent there has shaped her.

A talented journalist, photographer and videographer, her voice has been heard in publications like The Guardian, Stylist and Glamour magazine. She’s had a blog post go viral –  after 90,000 people viewed it, it even got mentioned on a New York radio station. 

Now, apart from bringing her communication skills to Seth’s team at Tearfund, she is currently studying for a Masters in Race, Media and Social Justice. 

Everything she does is driven by a passion for social justice. Compelled by a deep desire that the things that need to be said, will be heard. That those who are not listened to, will have a voice. 

Precious says she picked Tearfund to work at because, ‘Jesus told me to’.

Precious may be young and female and black in a world that sometimes dangerously underestimates the value of each of those attributes, but God has given her a passion and a voice. And a passion to hear his voice.

Let the thunder roll.

From one small flame, a giant blaze starts. 

Hannington Muyenje started out as a broadcast engineer in Uganda, where he was born. He worked on setting up Christian radio stations for seven years before he became CEO of one of them...and discovered that he had a voice. The power to shape the message being shared – and to transform lives. 

Through his radio broadcasting, he created a movement among young people – encouraging them to talk about HIV and bring the change they needed in a dangerous epidemic. The impact was so great, the Ministry of Health called. They wanted the model. 

He’d started a fire that would change the landscape.

Hannington’s great success was not pointed at himself, but at the empowerment of every student who had become an advocate for the rescue of their own community.

He now works at Tearfund, where he is responsible for supporting global advocacy work in five countries.

In places facing extreme poverty – where not having enough to eat or provide for your family is a daily reality, things like climate change can seem like fluffy concepts. Hannington is passionate about turning abstract ideas into information and actions that demonstrably improve people’s lives. By making big topics accessible, he is helping to give people a voice and the power to transform whole cultural (and physical) landscapes for good.
‘We shouldn’t be content. We should be dreaming bigger. There is no point in having a good message if there is no significant change in quality of life for people we find in poverty,’ says Hannington. ‘We came to create transformation. The question should always be: “What more can we do?”’ 

Tearfund is proud to have people like Seth, Precious and Hannington working with us, alongside many other men and women around the world with inspirational stories. A global team, aiming to change landscapes, raise our voices for justice and to be part of real transformation stories as we follow Jesus where the need is greatest.

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Written by  Tearfund

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