Blog — 4th January 2022
Combating Social Injustice: NTC Alumnus, Pastor Mick Fleming
As we enter into one of the most challenging times of the year for those who struggle with addiction, homelessness and poverty, NTC recognises the gifts and value of servants like Pastor Mick Fleming and so many other NTC alumni and students who contribute to the fight for social justice.
Since Pastor Mick Fleming first hit the national headlines in 2020, God has continued to work through him. Mick and his team of volunteers and co-workers at Church on the Streets (CotS) help, support and bless the people most desperately in need in Burnley, Lancashire. NTC has played a small, yet vital part in Mick’s journey.
Serving God through Church on the Streets (CotS)
Mick is well known in Burnley as a ‘gangster and drug dealer turned Pastor’. This label does not seem to go far enough in recognising the contribution Mick and his team make in the lives of individuals supported by CotS. The doors of the newly opened CotS building rarely close and even when they do, Mick is more often than not on 24/7 call, ensuring that those most desperately in need of physical, mental and pastoral support receive it. However, as Mick recognises, the support needed is never-ending. The recent publicity has generated new offers of financial support for the ministry and services Mick provides, but the need continues to rise as more people hear of the services on offer.
Shortly before his work in Burnley hit the headlines during the COVID pandemic, we were privileged to have the opportunity to catch up with Mick and learn just how God was at work in his life.
Mick reports, “The ministry has grown so rapidly we are now in other areas in the North of England, not just Burnley. There are so many issues, especially addiction. We’ve also got a smaller place in Barnoldswick. I don’t have a model to plant Churches. I’ve learnt to follow the Spirit and me follow behind. Barnoldswick, it’s a café Church. Each of our churches is different and meets the needs of that area. It might be housing, the need for showers or food banks, issues with hepatitis and other sexual diseases. We work with lots of other places and the NHS too. A lot of what we do is controversial, but we do what needs to be done. In the last year, I don’t think I have ever been as hated and loved as much at the same time for what I do.”
Mick’s contribution to social justice and his valued membership of our alumni community has also encouraged current NTC students to join him in his work in Burnley. Dave Allen, a third-year undergraduate student has recently been on placement with CotS. Many others volunteer alongside the team of servant-hearted individuals set on making a difference in the lives of others.
From Failing First Year to Achieving a 2:1
Mick’s journey with NTC did not start smoothly, but the intervention of our Principal, Revd Dr Deirdre Brower Latz, ensured Mick was able to continue on the path he was being called to.
Mick recalls, “I failed my first year, and had no money as my loan money was stolen from me. Then Deirdre heard about my situation and rang me and asked to see me. I will never forget her kindness and generosity without agenda. She offered me a room at NTC (it was like a hotel to me!) and got me food, and when she learned that I could do maintenance work, she offered me work which would help to pay off the fees.”
Some might say that there is little teaching that can prepare students for the realities of life in our communities most in need. However, NTC helps individuals to recognise their own gifts, encourages their development and equips them to serve in a vast multitude of areas.
As Mick explains, “NTC enabled me to mix with people from so many different cultures and nationalities. It opened my eyes and enabled me to become so diverse and open to diversity as a human. It was the relational aspect of NTC that changed me. When I started, I couldn’t read or write. The staff had such an impact on me. I had felt stupid all my life and instead they all treated me like an equal. Deirdre just looked at me and gave me a food parcel with such love. For that one food parcel, I have now helped to share over 5,000 more. Each one, we have given in the same way in which Deirdre gave that one to me. Julie Lunn helped me understand what it meant to be born again and it happened to me in her office. Doug and Linda Cooney from Canada. In them, I watched how a married couple should be and thought it was amazing. They inspired me to be a better person and I saw how Doug treated Linda. It was real. I wanted it too. That’s what’s happening now. I am now married and it’s because of the community NTC showed me. What I do now is live out Christian community, as it was shown to me at NTC.”
As a College, we continue to be humbled by the part we have been able to play in equipping Mick for the work he has committed his life to across the North West. You can read our previous interview with Mick on our blog and learn more about the work of CotS or make a donation on the CotS website.
NTC welcomes applications from individuals from any background. Some of our most successful alumni have doubted their ability to complete academic studies, yet have gone on to excel. At NTC we are proud to offer the level of support that enables people to achieve their best – in a safe, encouraging, warm and welcoming environment.
If you have considered studying theology and biblical studies, or want to explore how you can serve God in a practical way, please get in touch with us at email@example.com. We have levels of learning accessible to all and would be delighted to discuss your individual circumstances with you.
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