Ministers of the gospel are among the long list of people who have been recognised in the 2019 New Year’s Honours List.
Pastor Adegboyega Omooba – Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Also known as Pastor Ade Omooba. He was honoured for voluntary service.
Pastor Omooba the co-founder and director of Christian Concern, an organisation that has grown over the past ten years into a movement that advocates for Christian values and for Christians to be at the centre of British culture, once again. The movement has been involved in countless rallies and campaigns on national and regional TVs. As well as on radios, newspapers and magazines.
Its sister-ministry, the Christian Legal Centre, has also supported hundreds of Christians who have found themselves ousted from their jobs, barred from public speaking, and in danger of losing their families, all because they have held onto their Christian values.
Before receiving his MBE, Pastor Omooba calls himself a “Modest But Excellent” person. He told Testify Newspaper, “I strive daily in life to be a personification of ‘Modest But Excellent’ and that’s what MBE means to me.”
This honour from the Queen simply humbles me and encourages me to remain relentless in my pursuit of Modesty but Excellence,” he said.
Christian Concern is also devoted to teaching and bringing up a new generation of young Christians to boldly and unashamedly proclaim the gospel, and every year puts on an annual event for young academics and professionals called the Wilberforce Academy. As culture becomes more opposed to Kingdom values, the organisation seeks to train the next generation to speak of Jesus Christ in public life, bringing his hope and comfort to the nation.
Another minister recognised in the New Year’s Honours List 2019 is Pastor Alex Gyasi.
Alexander GYASI – Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
The Founder and Senior Pastor, Highway of Holiness Church was honoured for services to the community in Haringey, London.
Highway of Holiness is a community oriented church which aims to reach out to the homeless, lost, destitute and the marginalised in London Borough of Haringey. Pastor Alex’s Highway of Holiness church also run a charity by the name Kingdom Lifestyle Mission, which offers free supplementary education in deprived areas for underprivileged children in South Sudan, Ghana, Ethiopia and Bulgaria.
It all started in 2009. Pastor Alex’s church at the time was predominantly Africa and Caribbean congregation. He came across two alcoholics during the coldest winter in the country for 30 years. The alcoholics were Eastern-European immigrants. He fed them and offered them shelter in his church in Haringey. Little did he know that that act of kindness would lead to a ten-year ministry to thousands of people who are destitute, offering shelter, food and other forms of support. They often turn up in his church with cigarette and beer cans in hand, accompanied with litter scattered in front and around the church, plus antisocial behaviour. But, in all these, he saw an opportunity to show the love of God to the less privileged and to preach the gospel to them.
In an exclusive interview with Testify Newspaper, Pastor Alex said, “Those of us [church leaders] who came from the African churches are often misunderstood. People think we just want to take from the society and not to give anything back in return. Our ministry to the homeless shows that we have come to give to our local community.”
Joel Edwards – Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to tackling poverty and injustice
Joel Edwards was General Director of the UK Evangelical Alliance from 1997 to 2009, an organisation that seeks to represent evangelical Christians in the UK. After his tenure at the Evangelical Alliance, Joel Edwards went on to lead the Micah Challenge International, a global movement aimed at uniting the church to help end poverty.
Mr Edwards is a writer, conference speaker and broadcaster and has also served on a number of government bodies, including the Equality & Human Rights Commission UK, the Advisory Board on Human Rights and Religious Freedom with the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and the Metropolitan Police’s Independent Advisory Group (IAG).
Stephen Addison – Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to young people in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
Former gang member Stephen Addison turned his life around after a bad dream in which he saw himself being sent to prison for murder.
He went back to church, studied for a business degree at university, and went on to establish Box Up Crime, teaching boxing and social skills to young people in Dagenham and Barking in East London.
The initiative has helped 4,000 children forge a path away from crime since it was started in 2013.
His motivation is to help young people find a sense of purpose for their lives through boxing, particularly those caught up in gangs and crime like he was.
Addison told the BBC, “I want to see those dirty diamonds shine again.”
He continued, “They just need someone to believe in them, motivate them. Young people can look at me and look at my life and say, ‘Stephen was involved in gangs… Stephen was involved in all this messed-up stuff just like me but he’s been able to turn it around and I can do the same thing.’”
Margaret Atkinson – MBE for services to the church and the community in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Margaret Atkinson received the MBE in recognition of her work with the United Reformed Church and services to the community, which included serving on the bench at Kirklees Magistrates Court for 16 years. She also served in the family court and on the drug panel. Now retired, she remains active as chair of the Huddersfield Choral Society and plays the piano at chaplaincy services at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
Rev Paula Vennells – CBE for services to the Post Office and to charity
The Reverend Paula Anne Vennells has been chief executive of the Post Office since 2012 and has served in senior roles within the organisation since 2007. She is also a trustee for the Hymns Ancient and Modern Group.
Gary Streeter – Knighthood for political and public service
Gary Streeter has served as Conservative MP for South West Devon since 1997 and is also a committed Christian, presently the Chairman of Christians in Parliament.
In addition to serving his constituency, he also mentors younger members of Parliament.
“I want to dedicate the award to my wife and family for supporting me through the last quarter of a century at Westminster,” he said.
He added, “I think it is important that we try and nurture the next generation.”
“After all, our democracy, if it’s to survive, has got to attract good people and they’ve got to be trained up and pointed in the right direction.”
Rev Janet Lesley Jackson – OBE for services to bereaved families in North East England.