Spotlight on a volunteer

Spotlight on … David

Posted on May 25, 2016 in Spotlight on a volunteer

Spotlight on … David

Name: David

Age: 69

 

Why did you choose to volunteer for this role?

My wife and I moved to Taunton in November 2007 after retiring from leading a village church in Essex. As newcomers to the area, it took us quite a while to settle in and I began to look for ways to connect more with the local community and be involved in some form of Christian ministry in the town. We had a number of street pastors in our church and they all talked enthusiastically about what they did and how God was blessing the ministry, so I felt that maybe this was an answer to my prayers and I should follow it up. The training programme was great and I got really enthused and became a fully-fledged street pastor in May 2012.

Which parts of your role do you enjoy most and why?

I believe the principal role of a street pastor is to show the love of Jesus in practical ways: helping to keep people safe on the streets; helping them out when they get into difficulties through too much drink; caring for the rough sleepers – and it’s good to feel you’ve played a little part in this. But, for me, the most satisfying times are when people, quite unprompted, ask questions about faith or share about issues in their lives and we have an opportunity to speak about Jesus or even to pray with them. There is a real sense of God being in those encounters.

What do you do when you are not street pastoring?

Being retired, I now have plenty of ‘free time’. Over the years, church life and ministry have always filled a large portion of my time and I still like to be involved where I can.  I enjoy being a ‘hands on’ grandparent – our daughter and her family also live in Taunton. I love playing the piano and have just joined an art group in the town. I like walking, particularly hill walking, and the opportunities for doing this have increased greatly since we moved to this part of the world – there weren’t many hills in Essex!

What has most surprised you about being a street pastor?

One of the things that has surprised me most is how enjoyable it can be! When I started as a street pastor I feared that it would be a struggle to get through the night and that most of the people we would meet would be hostile and most of the situations threatening. However, thankfully, my experience has been different. The time soon passes, out on patrol, as we chat with members of the team or interact with those on the streets, and I am always greatly encouraged by the numbers of people, particularly young people, who go out of their way to thank us and express their appreciation for what we do.

What would you most like to see change in your town or city?

Like most believers, I would love to see our town impacted and lives transformed by the love of Jesus. I believe we play an important part in that as we live out being His ‘salt’ and ‘light’ in our community.

What do you do if you are finding an incident or an individual difficult?

I’ve found that the best thing to do is to pray – to stay alert and engaged but at the same time involve God in the situation. We are not alone on the streets, God is with us and we always have people praying back at ‘home base’. God can and does transform difficult situations.

How has being a street pastor changed you?

Being a street pastor has given me a greater awareness and experience and, hopefully, a better understanding of a different aspect of life in our community: the night time economy; interacting with the police, ambulance services and club door staff; dealing with the homeless and just talking with ‘ordinary’ people out on the town. We may all have different things going on in our lives but the one common factor is we all need Jesus.

Find more volunteers in the spotlight!

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Spotlight on … Roy

Posted on Mar 7, 2016 in Spotlight on a volunteer

Spotlight on … Roy

Name: Roy

Age: 69

I’ve been a street pastor for five years.

 

Why did you choose to volunteer for this role?

After spending many years in the church it was time to get out there where the people are and engage with them on a practical level, taking Jesus Christ to them instead of expecting them to come into the alien world of the church.

Also it is the best outreach I have experienced, bringing Christians together from different denominations with a common purpose and vision.

I have found that being  a street pastor is not all about giving out, but a great training ground for thinking through what we as Christians really believe, and learning (sometime from others) how to communicate it to those who need answers.

Which parts of your role do you enjoy most and why?

Conversation, because it usually means people are curious about what we are doing and why.

What do you do when you are not street pastoring?

I retired recently. In my working life I was (at different times) a butcher, farmer, home renovator and gardener.

What has most surprised you about being a street pastor?

How generally well received we are.

What would you most like to see change in your town or city?

More Christians getting out of their churches and engaging with people in a practical way.

What do you do if you are finding an incident or an individual difficult?

Radio back to base for prayer back-up.

Tell us one thing about you not related to street pastoring.

I  have five grandchildren and I enjoy being part of a model railway club.

How has being a street pastor changed you?

It has made me more pragmatic about how we communicate the good news of Jesus.

 

Are you a street/prayer/school/rail/response pastor who would like to be featured here? All you have to do it fill in the short questionnaire and send us a photo!

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Spotlight on … Vic

Posted on Feb 12, 2016 in Spotlight on a volunteer

Spotlight on … Vic

Name: Vic

Age: 73

I’ve been a street pastor since 2008.

Why did you choose to volunteer for this role?

I felt compelled to share the treasure that I have.

I came to faith when I was a local window cleaner and the love of God that I came to know was something I couldn’t help but share with others. It would overflow at times in conversation with people and sometimes I would pray with them.

Getting involved with Street Pastors, however, took a little while as despite hearing Les Isaac speak and being around when my local team started, it took three people telling me in one day that I needed to do the training and God striking my knee before I finally signed up. The coordinator even drove me to the first training session!

Street Pastors is the absolute perfect way to share the love of God. If you can go out there in love, if it’s love that drives and compels, then that is such a powerful force. Street Pastors allows us to share that love.

Which parts of your role do you enjoy most and why?

Being out on the street, because that is where God works in the unexpected. It is far from being pre-planned. It’s where you meet someone and you know that God is in it, perhaps giving insight into their need. The best part is when God takes over. Often they’re the most difficult occasions, but they’re the best occasions.

What do you do when you are not street pastoring?

My family is very important to me and it is a priority to keep in close relationship with my three children and seven grandchildren. I also go swimming to help to keep me moving as I have arthritis so I also have to make sure I do my physio exercises.

What has most surprised you about being a street pastor?

The way God works. It’s just incredible. You don’t always know it but when you get the feedback from the people you’ve spoken to it’s just amazing, awesome, incredible.

I remember specifically one night when it was pouring down with rain and a few of us weren’t feeling well. We got to the town centre and a guy came up to us and put his arms round me … practically lifted me off my feet. “I just want to thank you,” he said. He’d been homeless, we’d put him in touch with street rescue and he wanted to thank us because his life had been turned around. Another guy came out from a dark doorway and gave me a big hug and thanked me. “Did you know,” he said, “when you come up this alley, you are mixing with murderers and criminals?” He told us how he used to sell guns, etc. We just felt love coming up the alley.

What would you most like to see change in your town or city?

Revival. Less godlessness and more of our God.
Change. Transformation.
The Church involved in everyday life on the streets.
A greater sense of community which is so vital and important. Churches should be good at that.

What do you do if you are finding an incident or an individual difficult?

We were talking to someone who had been drinking heavily and he was always very angry with God. On one occasion, he was with a few others on a bench. He gave us a tirade of anger and abuse. Everyone else left, but we stood firm. It would have been easier to walk away, and often we would have done. However, on this occasion, we stood our ground and I was prompted to ask him about his family. He told us about how his mother and sister had died in a head-on car crash and it transpired this was the underlying reason for his drinking and his anger.

On other occasions, all you can do is walk away.

Tell us one thing about you not related to street pastoring.

I hated every day of school. It just wasn’t for me. That was one of the reasons why street pastors was so daunting because I thought doing the training would be like going back to school.

How has being a street pastor changed you?

It makes you aware of how totally blessed we are because of our God and having that treasure. It gives you an inner confidence knowing that we are not on our own. God is with us and will bring us to a place where we trust him more and more. He works through us to reach others. Security, trust and hope! We’re not on our own.

I now expect God to work. God is with us and all things are possible. Hope, expectation and anticipation. There’s no better place to be. Knowing that awesome power of God which is just so amazing. When God is there in whatever circumstance, it is like being in His hand. It’s a mighty and powerful place to be and I just wish I could be there all the time. So special to be used by Him. Awesome, incredible … beyond your wildest dreams.

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