It was on one those really hot days a few weeks ago, walking along the river with a friend, when I bumped into a familiar face. I really love those moments in life – when you see someone you recognise. Sometimes I get that awkward rush that makes you want to jump into a bush and sometimes I feel my whole body spill out into “hey! Long time, how are you? How’s life?” This was the latter. Standing the required two meters apart, on either side of the towpath, Pippa and I recounted the latest in our highlight reel of life.
Pippa is one of the few people I know who can make anyone feel at ease, just by talking to them. We first met at Tearfund, where I saw this first hand. She had the incredible ability of helping the guys in the IT department, come out of their shell and say hello to the world. Since then, it’s been a constant string of paths crossed scenarios: birthday parties, weddings and Kingston riverside.
Pippa is someone totally motivated by her love for Jesus and her care for the most vulnerable. Currently she is giving her time to Kingston Meals Project and when I heard about how she is, once again, running the show at Kingston Food Hub, it was a no-brainer that we would feature her in our blog and as part of the Pray, Act, Give campaign.
Over to Pippa –
Tell us a little something weird and wonderful about Pippa Coupland.
I absolutely love to sing Christmas songs all year round!! The office team at the Food Hub have mixed reactions – one hates it, the other joins in!
Can you tell us about your journey with justice?
I have always worked in the charity sector, but it was a trip to Haiti with a group from my church that really changed my perspective. I had never been that interested in travelling to a country like Haiti, but my Mum was going and she (after many attempts) convinced me that it would be a good thing to do! While I was there I saw and experienced things I never thought I would, and God changed my heart. I worked at a children’s home for a period of time, and was struck by the injustice of the fact that if those children had been born in this country, their lives would have been a lot longer and much easier. On my next trip two years later, I found out that one of the little boys who I’d formed a close connection with had died. No one knew how. He was four. From that moment I knew I wanted to be with those children more than anything, and I went on to travel to Haiti another couple of times before going to live there in 2019.
Micah 6:8 is our anchor verse. What does this verse mean to you?
It means not only seeing people’s pain and suffering, but walking with them in it, no matter what that looks like. It can be chatting to a neighbour who may not have been talked to for a couple of weeks. It may be staying longer than you might like at a friend’s house, because even though you’re tired, you know they need you. It’s looking across the world and seeing others as you see yourself and your friends, recognising that although you can’t do a lot, you can definitely do a little. And in all that, doing everything through the strength of God, not through my own power.
How has your pursuit of Jesus, changed/challenged your perception of those most vulnerable in our world?
I think it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by the problems of the world – to see things as insurmountable and therefore ignore them. Through Jesus I can see the individual, whether that’s in Haiti with the one child, or the isolated woman in Kingston who just needs a bit of a natter while I deliver her groceries.
What would you say to this reader about justice and caring for those most in need?
I would say don’t be afraid of it! I think the word ‘justice’ can be very daunting – but it doesn’t have to be grand gestures or huge shifts in how you live your life (like moving to Haiti!). Start small. I started by being woken up to the issues that people in poverty have to live with day by day, both in this country and abroad. What is happening in your neighbourhood? Do you know? How can you change that? What gifts and skills do you have that charities or organisations might appreciate? And remember that you don’t have to do this in your own strength. God is on hand and to be honest, he’s way better at it than you, so trust that he’ll point you in the right direction!
You can sign up for the Kingston Food Hub at Kingsgate Church, Kingston here.