Street pastors have had plenty to say in recent weeks about the publication of the new Street Pastors NIV Bible. Ros Davies, author of the introduction to the Street Pastors Bible, put some of your questions to Eustace Constance, Operations Director at Ascension Trust and Joanna Davey, editor at Hodder Faith.
RD. The main job of a street pastor is to provide practical care. If a street pastor carries a Bible isn’t that a challenge to the ethos of Street Pastors?
EC. I agree that the first job of a street pastor is to provide practical care but a Street Pastors team always has a Bible in their rucksack. This is nothing new. Street pastors will tell you that as well as caring for people in a practical way they also engage in lots of faith-based conversations and there are times when they are asked about the Bible. We want street pastors to be ready for those times.
RD. How does this Bible help someone connect with Street Pastors and how does it help someone to start reading the Bible?
JD. We believe that the DNA of the Street Pastors movement (who you are, what you do and what you represent) will be an entry point for some people to a better understanding of Christianity. The introduction speaks about why street pastors do what they do and the Bible also contains a short ‘Getting started’ section with some things to think about based on Luke chapter 1.
RD. So what’s the difference between a street pastor signposting someone to emergency accommodation and a street pastor getting the Bible out when someone asks them a question about faith?
EC. We want street pastors to be able to respond with the right help at the right time, and sometimes that means answering a burning question about faith or listening to someone’s point of view. We are often asked ‘Why are you doing this?’ and our answer is that the teachings of the Bible are what motivate us. We are representatives of the Church – we are the Church in action – and we care about the whole person, whether they need help to get home safely or whether they want to talk about why their mum died.
RD. What message does this new Bible send to the Police and local authorities who support and scrutinise the work that street pastors do?
EC. The people that street pastors work with in the night-time economy – door staff, licensees, the Police, emergency services, local authorities – know that we do not encourage our volunteers to give out Bibles. We are valued as an important part of the infrastructure for local safety, and our faith is what makes us distinctive.
JD. We followed the comments and posts on your Facebook page and we are always pleased when people are thinking and talking about the Bible and its importance.