The modest pension pot of a 56-year old pastor led to housing 1,000 homeless people. It’s a remarkable story. Posted on November 15, 2019November 15, 2019 by Celia Bowring At first sight you’d never imagine 76-year old Pastor Pete Cunningham to be someone bringing hope and housing to over 1,000 formerly homeless people. Pete seems so unassuming and ‘ordinary’. Looking more like Captain Birdseye than a ground-breaking deliverer of shelter for those once on the streets. Yet that is exactly what Pete is. And his remarkable and inspiring story involves some very interesting conversations between him and God. Faced with the heart-breaking problem of so many living on the streets in his Southport community, some 20 years ago, Pastor Pete prayed. And the answer, he told me was, ‘God made clear he wants the church to eradicate homelessness, starting with Merseyside.’ ‘But I argued with him’, Pete admitted. ‘There was no way of raising the money to meet such a great need. And anyway, these people would probably wreck any place they were given – with graffiti and smashing things up.’ But the issue just would not go away. The homeless where still there. And God kept ‘nagging’. So, age 56 and at a time in the normal run of things he would have been planning his retirement, Pete did the unthinkable. He cashed in his £6,000 pension pot. And, with contributions from two others, purchased a couple of flats. Which is how the life-changing Christian social enterprise Green Pastures was born. Because of Pete’s simple act of obedient sacrifice, today there are – Over 1,000 formerly homeless people with a place to live Ten new beds becoming available each month 150 participating churches helping make this happen £25 million available to buy properties as the result of 1,040 loan stock investors A fifth of residents growing in their Christian faith At the heart of it all is someone who not only sacrificed their pension pot but is living their years of active retirement to the full. Now 76, and still going for broke, its clear how Pete has drawn on his work-life experience to now serve others. Used what he had – plus God Thanks to his early employment in the London Shares Market, Pete was able to identify the distinct investment model that is at the heart of Green Pastures’ success. It involves guaranteeing investors a return of up to 5 per cent per annum with their money used to finance the next purchase. Then, as a pastor, Pete learned how to care for people, hear God’s voice, and share the good news of the gospel in word and deed. Today Pete’s conviction remains that God doesn’t want anyone sleeping on the streets of the UK and expects Christians to sort it out. ‘To put it bluntly,’ Pastor Pete says, ‘Jesus commissioned the church, not the government. Christians may say they pay their taxes so the government should sort it. But the Bible has numerous accounts of the church of God stepping in and we should do the same today. God wants the church to end homelessness.’ And the need is not just people who have been forced into sleeping rough. There are also the ‘unseen’ homeless that need help. Pete points to the thousands of extremely vulnerable people staying in rundown, overcrowded temporary accommodation. He told me, ‘Families are often broken up. And unless they are reconciled, where they can look after themselves, the children are likely to become young people who go off the rails. So we must we get them into suitable, stable housing as soon as possible.’ A shining example Pete is a shining example of an older person serving the Lord. He’s making an incredible difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. He’s the father of six children with thirteen grandchildren and still devotes himself to the task God gave him. At 76, Pete shows no signs of slowing down. He’s got big dreams for the future. Perhaps you could be part of them? He challenges those with a financial cushion to consider becoming investors so that more people living on the streets can have a home. Through Green Pastures’ ethical investment programme properties are purchased for homeless people to be housed – and they also will be supported by local churches. Or there’s a more hands-on approach, where those in their active after-work years offer their wisdom and skills in a church that signs up to help and provide volunteers. Pastor Pete believes that if enough churches joined in, homelessness could indeed be eradicated. Based on his example, you have to believe him. For more about this remarkable initiative and the stories of lives changed through it, see Green Pastures. If you have found this helpful please share it using the links below. Celia Bowring Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!