Monday, August 6, 2018

A Cambridge God Adventure 77) Edgy living.

(*please skip if you have not been following this story).  My first church secretary commented many years later that he reckoned this was the most significant series of my ministry.   Others have told me how they experienced this series somehow (by the Spirit) brought us to a sense of engagement together so that as a community we experienced something new.  We moved towards a freshly discovered edge of living in the kingdom.

I have noticed how the language of 'ministry on the edge' has recently become fashionable in some circles.  For us, this immediate challenge of living out the values of God's upside-down kingdom with the homeless felt edgy!  And the highest highlight of my many church member meetings was when we faced the proposal of making our main Upper Hall a safe place for the homeless to sleep.  Early discussion repeated several hesitations, some of them serious.  We prayed as a people seeking to do God's will, knowing that it involved overnight staffing as well as altering our premises.  In our ears the challenge of living in God's kingdom echoed.

To my wonder (our wonder I think!) the meeting was unanimous that we should offer our hall.  The full-time coordinator of Winter Comfort, Nick Dykes, came to speak to us about the consequences of providing such accommodation.  And during the Winter months of 1991/2 nightly attendance varied from 10-25 with 114 different people sleeping.  Through dedicated follow-up some 25 of these people were eventually found alternative accommodation.   The following Winter numbers were up and for 4 months a total of 50 volunteers (many from our own church) formed teams in overnight shifts.

As envisaged there were some difficulties.  One of those sheltered was found murdered the next day. Interruptions to church daily life were more common.  But there were joys too.  Some members set up a Bible study for those who wanted to attend and many experienced surprises as these vulnerable people shared their stories and reciprocated friendship.

The story was to roll on and in a few years our sister Baptist Church, Zion, gave their adjoining Sunday School block to become a homeless shelter called Jimmy's which is still in vital ministry. 

No comments: