Street Pastors in the arts

The man who sold me a pear

Posted on Sep 3, 2016 in Street Pastors in the arts

We invited you to write 1,000 words – fiction or non-fiction – about people who put the Christian ethos into practical action.

The man who sold me a pear, by James Webb, is the winner of the “Today’s Good Samaritan” writing competition, run jointly with the Association of Christian Writers.

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We were in the supermarket to buy a pear for Imogen. She’d been asking for one all day, ever since she saw a picture of a pear in the morning and been reminded that they existed. There were no pears at home, so I found myself in a supermarket, a single pear in my hand, queuing up to pay.

And I felt embarrassed.

It had been a tough six days, on top of a tough six weeks, which had come off the back of a tough six years. I was tired, and had been worn down by the harsh reality of living and moving and having my being in this tainted world. We had returned to the UK from Australia just under a year ago, and were gearing up for our fourth house move in as many months.

I had been wearied by the dehumanising journey of simply trying to secure a place for my family to live. I had spoken to countless robotic voices, and a fair few human ones, giving and taking various details. I had been dragged through the mill, weighed on the scales and been found wanting; judged by our absence from the country and by our inadequate income.

Whenever I described our situation I encountered awkward pauses, credit checks and patronising explanations as to why we needed to jump through a dozen impersonal hoops. After all that suspicion and contempt, my embarrassment made perfect sense.

Today's Good SamaritanYou see, there I was, surrounded by shoppers with bulging trolleys and heaving baskets, holding one pear. Do you understand? We were wasting their time, me and my pear. Me, the less than human, offering something that was barely worth their while to sell. What would be the response of the worker at the till? Mockery? Contempt? “One pear? Couldn’t you have at least bought two or three?” Would I even be worth any emotion? It’s a difficult thing to find yourself in a place where the best that you can hope for is to be ignored.

I was called forward to a till. An older man, not old, but older than me, with a scattering of awkward teeth left in his mouth, like Stonehenge after an earthquake. I prepared myself for the worst.

“Just one pear today,” I said, offering my feeble excuse to the God of the Till, hoping to stave off his wrath. If I make light of the situation perhaps I can escape with just a disdainful smile. I think I could handle that.

“Just one pear,” he repeated, but there was no judgement there.

I handed him the fruit. It was duly processed.

“Fifty-four pence, sir,” he said, without a trace of sarcasm.

Did you hear that? He called me ‘sir’. Me, with my solitary Forelle pear! Surely I did not deserve a ‘sir’, not for fifty-four pence, but it was given anyway.

Emboldened by this kindness, I passed over a five pound note.

“Thank you, sir,” he said, as though the tedium of having to count out four pounds and forty-six pence worth of change was a precious gift that I was passing on. How much effort would he have to expend for my pittance? How much of my fifty-four pence would make its way to his pocket? Surely none, and yet …”Thank you, sir,”

He passed over the handful of gold, silver and copper shrapnel. I received it as though I were receiving a communion wafer.

“There you go, sir. Would you like a bag?”

Nowadays you have to pay for the privilege of a bag, but not then.  In those days, they were free.  And he makes the offer.  A free bag for my one pear!  What generosity of spirit!  What grace!

“No, thank you,” I said, smiling as I passed the fruit straight on to my delighted daughter.

No bag, but the gesture meant more to me than a thousand bags.

“Have a good afternoon,” I said. I meant it.

“You as well, sir,” he replied. He meant it too.

I swear to you, in all seriousness, there were tears in my eyes as I walked from that till-bound saint and out of that supermarket. Until that moment, I hadn’t realised just how bruised I was, and neither had I realised just how hungry I was for a little kindness.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,” said Jesus, “and I will sell you a pear.”

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Who are the second and third prize winners?

Find out more about the “Today’s Good Samaritan” writing competition.

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Writing competition results

Posted on Sep 3, 2016 in Street Pastors in the arts, What's happening?

For our recent writing competition, which we ran jointly with the Association of Christian Writers (ACW), we invited you to write 1,000 words – fiction or non-fiction – about people who put the Christian ethos into practical action.

Well done to all of you who entered the Today’s Good Samaritans competition! The judges enjoyed reading writing from a wide range of points of view. We’re now pleased to announce the top three entries.

First prize:  ‘The man who sold me a pear’, written by James Webb

We were in the supermarket to buy a pear for Imogen. She’d been asking for one all day, ever since she saw a picture of a pear in the morning and been reminded that they existed. There were no pears at home, so I found myself in a supermarket, a single pear in my hand, queuing up to pay.

And I felt embarrassed …

Second prize:   ‘Mealbank’, written by Carol Purves

Meg was putting the finishing touches to the tea table when the door bell rang.

“Maisie! How lovely to see you! You’re looking well.” As she grasped Maisie’s arms, drawing her towards her in a warm embrace, she had never seen her look so radiant.

“Meg, this is Scott.” Maisie pulled back, grabbing hold of the hand of the young man waiting silently in the background …

Third prize:  ‘Surrogate’, written by Sue Row

It started with a flood. A real flood, not a trickle of water. A flood that in places reached 16ft and made over 800 homes uninhabitable. The December 2015 floods, caused by Hurricane Desmond, was widely reported, but what is not always realised is the devastation to each and every family involved …

You can read the first prize entry here and in the next edition of ACW’s quarterly magazine, Christian Writer. Watch this space for for the second and third prize entries – they will be posted on this site soon.

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Still time to enter our writing competition

Posted on Jul 12, 2016 in Street Pastors in the arts, What's happening?

The last day for submissions in our new writing competition is 31 July 2016.

We invite you to write 1,000 words – fiction or non-fiction – about people who put the Christian ethos into practical action – Today’s Good Samaritans.

Our partner in this competition, the Association of Christian Writers, is a charitable organisation for writers that offers fellowship, prayerful support and encouragement alongside professional standards of training and advice for writers with a Christian faith.

Writing competition

You may choose to write your competition entry about street pastors, or, perhaps, about school pastors, Foodbank volunteers, befrienders, people who run job clubs or support families in debt. We want you to write creatively about Christians helping in their communities, their challenges and the impact they have. You choose the angle and the point of view!

For specifics, entry fees and details of prizes, please see our How to enter guide.

This competition is open to all and is also advertised on ACW’s website.

Winners!

Our prizes are small but lovely! You could see your story in a future edition of Christian Writer magazine (subject to the editor’s approval). There are book vouchers for the top three entries plus a fantastic Street Pastors mug!

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Enter our writing competition!

Posted on Apr 15, 2016 in Street Pastors in the arts, What's happening?

Writing competitionWe’re launching a new writing competition in partnership with the Association of Christian Writers (ACW).

Today’s Good Samaritans

We invite you to write 1,000 words – fiction or non-fiction – about people who put the Christian ethos into practical action – Today’s Good Samaritans.

Writing competitionOur partner in this competition, ACW, is a charitable organisation for writers that offers fellowship, prayerful support and encouragement alongside professional standards of training and advice for writers with a Christian faith.

You may choose to write your competition entry about street pastors, or, perhaps, about school pastors, Foodbank volunteers, befrienders, people who run job clubs or support families in debt. We want you to write creatively about Christians helping in their communities, their challenges and the impact they have. You choose the angle and the point of view!

For specifics, entry fees and details of prizes, please see our How to enter guide.

This competition is open to all and will also be advertised on ACW’s website.

Winners!

Our prizes are small but lovely! You could see your story in a future edition of Christian Writer magazine (subject to the editor’s approval). There are book vouchers for the top three entries plus a fantastic Street Pastors mug!

 

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Sample another slice in our gallery of Street Pastors-inspired cakes

Posted on Feb 29, 2016 in Street Pastors in the arts, What's happening?

Another slice of celebration for our gallery of Street Pastors-inspired cakes!

This one was made for the commissioning of new street pastors and prayer pastors in Scotland.

Street Pastors cake

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