Diary of a Street Pastor 8 - Blessed are the Peacemakers
My work as a street pastor continues and the issues for us remain the same. Lack of funding and a lack of volunteers. The issues on the street also remain the same, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, gangs, anti-social behaviour. I’ve mentioned previously that I have yet to come across a homeless person without an underlying addiction. Well I’ve got more news for you; many of those begging on the street are not really homeless. The bible says:
8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
So why do we bother?
40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
We have a ministry of small acts of random kindness. We are not evangelists, our job is to sow seeds and trust in God that the reapers will gather the harvest.
We recently found out that one of our “homeless” chaps had been living in accommodation provided by a housing association. But nothing had changed, he was still dishevelled, dirty, unkempt, extremely smelly (I’m just being honest). Even basic accommodation would have bathing facilities but you would never have guessed. I would be surprised if he had any furniture, one day we actually saw him with an old filthy mattress that someone had thrown out, I’d put money on that being his bed. His lifestyle did not change despite the accommodation. Sadly he has now been evicted, the reason; he built a small fire in his living room. Suffice to say he didn’t have an actual fire place.
A lady we have got to know is now couch surfing. Her previous accommodation was at her boyfriend’s flat but they have now split up. Apparently he is to blame for her recent heroin addiction (she is a long term alcoholic) but the lines on her face and her lack of teeth tell a different tale of long term alcohol, drug and methadone abuse. We may be Christians but that does not make us naïve. Until she takes responsibility for her own actions she will never be free of her addiction, that’s if she even wants to be.
The Romanians are long gone from our patch (although I’m sure we’ll see them again) but they too had accommodation and were claiming benefits. For them it’s a way of life and doesn’t feed an addiction. The women do not have the same standing in their culture as we do in ours. They are forced to beg and do not return home until they have enough money.
So we feed them.
I firmly believe that you cannot take advantage of me if I know that you are taking advantage of me: does that make sense?
I do not expect a pat on the back and I am happy not to see the fruits of my labour because I know that I am about my Father’s business. However, I think this is why I find our work with the students of Manchester so rewarding. Yes, we know that some of them drink too much, that they should wear their coats on a cold night and that they will break their necks in those shoes but on the whole they are happy bunch just having a good time. They are often pleased to see us and when they realise that we are volunteers they are truly grateful. Believe me, we don’t do it for their thanks, our reward is in Heaven but it is nice to be appreciated. We never tell them how to behave that’s their parents’ job. But we watch over them as if we were their parents especially in the early hours when they are worse for wear and especially vulnerable.
The Bible says;
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
It is an honour to be a son of God.