In recent months through this blog I have been encouraging people to find their place of serving in the church. One valuable and effective opportunity comes as churches in a town or city combine their people-resources. I have asked one of the members of CCK who is involved in such a programme, Lizzy Dalby, to share some of her thoughts.
For the last 3 years over the winter months, a different church has opened it’s doors each night of the week and welcomed 15 guests for a hearty meal, warmth, a bed for the night and breakfast before they start each new day. The volunteers that make this happen join in with conversation, offer a listening ear, and participate in games and prayer as requested. These volunteers are a vital part of the ministry as they contribute in so many ways.
Recently, when I visited ‘our’ night at the church building one Monday in dreary February, I noticed the van which brings the whole week together. In a very practical way this driver demonstrates love ‘behind the scenes’ as he faithfully transports the camp beds and the guests’ bedding from building to building each night of the week. Such a practical consideration meets an essential need for the guests and enables churches to work together more effectively.
Meet a need
We all like a cosy bed and those who would otherwise be homeless are no exception. The bedding is washed weekly and individually named for each guest. As well as providing warmth within the safety of a manned building, by looking after the bedding in this way, the guests know that we genuinely care about them. We pray they will know that we take seriously the place where they rest and we will help them get through the week with one less thing to worry about. We can practise love both individually and as a church. When someone, who may not have known friendship or security for a long time, is receiving the same loving practical message every night, we are surely promoting unity, care and the message of Jesus for good. Phil is satisfied:
People are friendly, nice large place to sleep, food very good and you all make us feel very welcome.
Serving people living in poverty is a privilege while also being busy and tiring. This work is no place for ‘one-man bands’ or for those expecting be superheroes. Teamwork, whether it is between a group of ten volunteers one evening or across the churches, is essential to ensuring that caring for people with damaged lives is done in a rounded, considerate and generous way.
When that van turns up each night, the team receiving it steps into responsibility for the night ahead. The next day, the team can send the van to the next location knowing that they have played a key part in the bigger picture.
In Galatians 6:2 Paul wrote, we are to ‘share one another’s burdens’. This is true both literally and figuratively of the Nightshelter in Brighton and Hove.
This is a good place to be for food, shelter, friends and kindness.