8 April 2014 by Donna Uning CM –
Working the streets on Friday and Saturday nights from 10 pm to 4 am braving the cold, meeting strangers and picking up the fallen are nothing new for street pastors Jane and David from South London, England.
It’s the fourth visit for Ps Jane; and the husband and wife team speak about their ministry while traveling here in Kuching with friends a few days ago.
“We work under the umbrella of Ascension Trust, which is a movement of a Christian organization in England,” she explained.
“We go out in teams of four walking the main high streets, clubs, pubs, eating places,” she continued, saying they show love to the people who needs it in a practical way. Their teams stay in one area of England. There are currently 250 teams in the United Kingdom and some 9000 trained volunteers.
“We wear special uniforms with the words ‘Street Pastors’ on it; and is part of a corporate uniform with street pastors,” said Ps David. “We show practical Christian love to the people on the streets.”
“Many people don’t go to church or know God,” added Ps Jane but, “we show love and care and many need help in various ways.” She told how people can be vulnerable, especially the ladies; some need people to talk to, get help getting taxis, or just have someone to listen.
“That’s when they start asking why we do what we do; we tell them because of our love of God and that’s when they start asking about faith,” she told. The team would answer their questions and were often asked to pray for them.
“We don’t discuss spiritual things and we don’t force,” she said they would talk about God only when asked. “Some people wait for us to come (to their areas); often they ask us to pray for them or they have questions or just simply talk about their problems.”
“The people know they can trust us,” she said.
The teams are equipped with information on centers, organizations, and hospitals. The street pastors are linked to some of the hotels and pubs; and they work in conjunction with the police. The teams have been working in the area for about five years and they have built up good relationships with the door staff and management of the establishments.
“We work within a community of different denominations,” she said telling they are mostly volunteers of committed Christians. “We make people feel comfortable and they can trust us with confidence; we are a safe place to share and keep things confidential,” she continued.
While they roam the streets, a team of prayer pastors are praying at their base. “They are others who pray for us at home throughout the night and most of them are elderly people,” she said.
“We do come back to re-stock and to get out of the cold,” she told, explaining about the rucksacks they carry with them on their runs. “We carry provisions such as water bottles, first aid, silver thermal cover, flip flops and other essentials.
“The idea is to show practical love of God and not to convert them. People respond to the love, they share and know we’re non-judgmental,” she said. “We don’t condemn and we administer to all nationalities.”
The couple gets invited to meetings all over to share their experiences, train, and build relationships and connections for the Lord. They speak at churches, home groups and “see how God leads.” In Kuching, the pastors gathered with other Christians at Kg Rituh and Annah Rais hot spring, outside of Kuching.
References for pictures