A new year, a new location for the popular Pause for Thought column.
A new year, yes, but some things remain the same. And why? Because they are doing such a good job.
Street Pastors, for example. Launched in February 2010, their credibility in and around the town just grows and grows.
Rob Smillie, leader of Suncoast Church, describes his experiences following a couple of nights out supporting the team.
“Having been asked to provide training for the new Street Pastors on the subject of Good News, I thought that I would be in a better position to provide a balanced session in terms of practicality if I understood what one of them might encounter on any given evening. Another thing that prompted me to go out as an observer was that I, like many Christians, have been frustrated over the fact that the UK church in general has struggled to get the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have not heard.”
He is of the opinion that there is widespread cynicism towards those who follow
the Christian faith. “In recent years our message has been somewhat drowned out in the ears of the wider community due to the necessary exposure in the media of the lamentable and tragic moral failings of men and women who supposedly represent the church and the betrayal of the ones they are meant to serve. But I knew that there was tremendous potential in the practical outreach of the
Street Pastors and I wanted to see if this was indeed happening.”
Rob reports that he was able to witness the possibility of the Street Pastors
conveying their faith by living it as well as telling it. “They quietly went about their business of helping anyone who needed it. It was also a tremendous lot of fun, with many laughs together, plus a few serious moments when people asked us why we ‘did God’. I was also quite impressed by the friendship the Street Pastors had formed with the local on-duty police officers and the door staff of the various pubs and clubs with whom they regularly came into contact. I note that the crime rate in the area has dropped by one per cent per month since they commenced their work. That is no coincidence!”
While the teams are out on Fridays and Saturdays, a small group of devotees
remains at the Prayer Centre to pray that they might be kept safe and have wisdom and sensitivity in all their contacts. Rob Smillie affirms that “they are absolutely vital. John Wesley once said, ‘God does nothing but in answer to prayer.’”
In his training, Rob incorporates that words of Jesus from the Amplified Version of the New Testament: ‘Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble and good deeds, and recognise and honour and glorify your Father who is in Heaven’ (Matthew 5, l6).
The final comment from Rob? “I would definitely go out again, next time from
midnight till 4am, rather than take the early shift!”
Dedicated indeed. But then, aren’t they all?