Thought for the day -Radio Bristol 8-2-18
I have just trained as a street pastor. Small teams of people go out around the streets of our cities – Bath is mine – on Friday and Saturday nights – 10 o’clock to 3. Equipped with hot drinks, snacks, blankets and flip flops (for those starting the evening in high heels, and then taking their shoes off to walk home, risking cuts from broken bottles). We have dustpans to sweep up the glass. It’s not unusual to hear a “thank you” – or “God bless”. Somehow folk know we are from local churches.
There is a great camaraderie - with street marshalls, doorkeepers and the ambulance service – it reminds me of A&E - in often a harsh place – with crowds, parties and drink. The overall mood is to keep people from harm. Many students go out into town – it is one of the rights of passage into adulthood – and we help see them home safe.
Alongside the camaraderie, and the drunkenness, is sadness too. Some people are just lost in their own world, in tough times, homeless, sleeping in doorways. I often wonder what a persons’ back story is. Why has life happened this way for them? Who loves them – or loved them once.
And the men and women who are homeless are vulnerable in the freezing cold. Sometimes Night shelters open early. They can go and sleep there.
But others also refuse help, and stay outside. Why? I don’t know, but it is their right.
It’s one aspect of society life – and where people need care. We have all had times when others have helped us – and made a great difference.
Street Pastors start and end a shift with prayer. “Open our eyes, Lord, to see”. We try and look differently – a friendly face. And that care can lead to change – some even seeing and believing. Lives can be transformed – both theirs and ours – this too is part of God’s plan for us – I believe.
University of Bath