Diary of a Street Pastor 4 - Alcohol
Bit of a strange title this week but this is more of a confession that a diary.
I’m not tee total; I do enjoy the occasional drink (or 2). In my younger days I could drink with the best of them and I have been really, really drunk; only on 3 occasions and never that drunk that I couldn’t remember (unfortunately).
And the point is ?
I had become really intolerant of drunks. Not so much the occasional drinkers or even young adults who had yet to learn better, it was the habitual drinkers and alcoholics that had become the source of my contempt.
5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
I remember being in A&E with my youngest son one Friday evening, there was an intoxicated gentleman (and I use that term loosely) who was making a nuisance of himself, he was rowdy and argumentative and I was trying to ignore him. He then managed to fall over and landed on my son. I was furious, partly because of that overpowering instinct of the mother protecting her young, but also because he was drunk.
Anyone that knows me will immediately understand that the man in question was more than aware that I was furious; I tend to let people know when I’m unhappy. His answer? “It wasn’t my fault”.
“Why did someone force you to drink? Did they pour it down your throat?”
And the problem is? My faith teaches me to love my neighbour, the Bible is quite clear;
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
I realised some time ago that I had a problem.
You see as a Christian you cannot pick and choose the bits you like, it’s all or nothing. I needed to learn tolerance. And in order to become more tolerant I had to go to the people I needed to be tolerant of. But this was God’s plan not mine.
It’s only as I’ve been going out on the streets meeting the people who live there and getting to know them that the realisation has hit me. They are still people, human beings made in God’s image.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Every one of them has a story.
There is one man we see occasionally, an educated man who had worked in the theatre and TV. Ill health had eventually prevented him from working; he lost his battle with alcoholism and lost his home. He now lives on and around the curry mile.
The lady who begs in Fallowfield, she isn’t homeless but her need for booze is great. She hasn’t seen her 3 month old grandson yet because she cannot afford the bus fare to Eccles. If you see her and give her the money it won’t be used to go to Eccles. Sad but true.
I’m getting to know these people, I look out for them and worry when they’re not around. I bring them food and warm clothes but never money. I have no right to judge them even if I have walked in their shoes.
God must have a sense of humour and I can hear him laughing as I hold the hair of the student midwife who’s vomiting in the gutter and as I pass out water to the young man from South London who has never had alcohol before.
As for me? I have a real love and genuine concern for people, but not just the clean living sober kind, all of them.