A few Sunday nights ago Ashton Church of the Nazarene hosted a talk by several members of the Greater Manchester Street Pastors, a group who spends weekend evenings (and very early mornings) spending time with (and showing God's love to) club kids, addicts, and homeless folks in Stalybridge, another nearby suburb in Tameside.
Our expectations weren't that high; the Greater Manchester Street Pastors blew us away anyway. The following are some snippets from their inspiring, encouraging, make-you-want-to-stand-up-and-get-involved presentation:
"We make up one-third of what's called the 'Urban Trinity:' the local police force, local government, and local churches. We're not about preaching; we're about offering practical help to vulnerable people.
"We are called to love our neighbors. In Stalybridge, our neighbors are often drunk; they are sometimes covered in vomit; and they are quite often very loud. But we are still called to love them!
"It's not just talking to people on the streets; it's chatting to the door staff and police as well...we provide girls -that is, young women- with little rubber stoppers that make it harder for blokes to spike their drinks! We carry flip-flops to help avoid foot injuries; we carry little brushes and dustpans to sweep up broken glass and get bottles off the street. It it's not there, it can't be used as a weapon.
"After six months of Street Pastors in Stalybridge, there's been 60% less violence; 70% less public disorder; we've removed 1,000 glass bottles from the streets; we've had more than 4,000 conversations and helped more than 50 vulnerable persons seek assistance."
"The good news is that Stalybridge is no longer the leader in night crime in Tameside; the bad news is that now Ashton is."
Long story short...yeah, we're probably going to look into Street Pastor training. :)
Because it's absolutely where Jesus would be if he were alive and walking around Ashton in 2013. It just is.