Back to Grass Roots – Be confident

A Street Pastor believes that the streets of our towns and cities are places of opportunity to help and care for people.  Street Pastors greet people respectfully and non-judgementally.  They listen to them and show them love in small acts of practical care.  They attempt to understand rather than condemn.  Street Pastors have the capacity to soften and absorb the aggression that dominates many communities and lives.

In the 1st Century Christians had a zeal and a passion for Jesus, a boldness to speak out about Jesus and a strong conviction about how the poor and marginalised should be cared for.

The Street Pastors scheme has helped many Christians of all ages by showing them a way of expressing their faith in a practical and tangible way.  It is a structure for Christians to safely engage with people on the streets, demonstrating the love of God.  When we go to where people are things begin to happen.  

Many Street Pastors sense an awareness of God’s call to engage with their community.  How is gun crime and gang violence relevant to more rural communities? Street Pastors seeks to engage with the broader issues, competition, bullying, peer pressure, lack of role models and the desire to belong.  The search for identity and security are everywhere in our society.

Street Pastors main to care.  It means being present in someone else’s context/circumstances.  Street Pastors listen so that they can understand where people are coming from.  Out of good listening skills comes the opportunity to help.        

 Good Samaritan (Luke 10) shows a whole lot of helping going on.  Helping means binding up the wounds, sorting out transport, seeking out relevant care and attention and, if need be, paying for it.  The Good Sam knew exactly where to take the injured man and presumably he had a relationship with the innkeeper.  He was allowed to pay later.  A level of cooperation and the innkeeper was prepared to care for the man.  Presumably he was moved by the Sam’s generosity and was inspired to play his part.

Street Pastors has helped the Church in Britain to rediscover its relevance in society and communities.

So what’s happening on the Streets of Sheerness?  Binding up wounds – check.  Sorting out transport – check.  Seeking out relevant care and attention – not so much.  Providing relevant care and attention – definitely.  We are very well trained.

It has been fairly quiet during the winter but the space blankets have come in handy.  We expect to be giving out a lot more water now it is warmer and of course the lollipops are popular all year round.

It is very encouraging that we are being recognised a lot more now and less people ask us who we are.  Sometimes they will actually announce who we are and what we do.  We get a lot of respect, which is expressed in various ways, and people genuinely seem to appreciate the fact that we are out there until the early hours of the morning.

One of the most exciting things that we are being asked for more and more is prayer.  People are quite willing to stand and be prayed for on the streets of Sheerness and usually the request comes from them.

Recently I spent an evening with our power house, also known as the Prayer Pastors, and it brought it home to me again what an amazing job these people do.  God clearly directs their prayer because on several occasions they have been praying for things without knowing that that was exactly what was needed out on the streets.  Also, the things they pray for happen.  For example, one evening they were praying that the Street Pastors would meet people who used to go to church and could encourage them to go back and rediscover their relationship with God.  Quite specific, right? When the Street Pastors came back they shared they had met a couple who used to go to church and had wanted to talk about going back.  Naturally, excitement all round as everyone acknowledges God has been answering prayer AGAIN.  

It is also rewarding that we are meeting some of the same people out on the streets even though individual Street Pastors are only out once a month.  We are able to catch up on what they have been doing – latest court appearances!!!- They are very impressed when we remember their names.  Sometimes they even remember ours.

Oct – Steve, moved from Wales to be with pregnant girl-friend.  Had left everything behind and was sat drinking outside Tesco because his girl-friend had had a go at him.  We had a good chat with him, encouraged him and called the Prayer Pastors for prayer.

Oct – David, drinks, homeless, child by ex-partner and another on the way with current girl-friend.  Caught driving while disqualified and hoping to be sent to prison so that he can sort his life out.  Pleased when the Street Pastors phone in for prayer.

Nov – Rachel out drowning sorrows after funeral.  Asks for prayer.  

Doorman at Tantra had lost ID tag previous week.  Found it for him.

Assist Ambulance crew to find an address.

Dec – took Dave to Police Station as he had had his phone nicked

Jan – met David who had come out of prison.  Moved we remembered his name.  He had cleaned up his act and things were looking good.  Asked Street Pastors to pray for him there on the street.

March – Sam and Gareth.  Sam, a very distressed young man.  Non-believer quoting lots of the Bible.  Team able to untangle some of his difficulties with the Bible, then he opened up and talked about his mother who has drink problems.

Matt – Had given him First Aid last summer.  Showed us the scars!! Up in court on Monday for the damage he had caused that night.  Coincidence?

May – Lad asked for prayer for his friend who had died that day.

Met Lady who said Street Pastors in her daughter’s area had helped her.  Grateful for prayer.

June – great conversations with Lithuanians.  Wanted us to know they weren’t causing problems and that they worked hard.  Clearly had experienced discrimination from what they said.

As you can see we meet a wide range of people and situations every month but the absolute key to what we do is prayer.

So, interested.  Would you like to be a part of our amazing team? You only need to be 18 and have a reference from your church leader.  If anything you have heard tonight has got you excited then respond to what God is prompting you to do.  The next training programme starts in September so come and speak to me.  You too can be part of this adventure.

Elizabeth Gregory