For over 30 years I worked in Government service with Armed Forces personnel in a cosseted environment. It was an “Ivory Tower”, remote from real life suffering and tragedy.
During the last 10 years however, moving in an environment where suffering and tragedy abound, I meet up with it all the time, albeit at arm’s length.
Today I met a guy who seemed drunk, as he found it difficult to walk in a straight line. He had a severe injury that made walking upright difficult. As we chatted he cursed the day he ever took heroin, “the worst mistake I ever made”. He is an ex-offender, struggling to cope with everyday life. He was sweating profusely, an indicator of drug withdrawal; he admitted he’s still a user.
Some time back he threw himself in the local canal; fortunately he was spotted and rescued by the Police.
I prayed briefly for the pain he was suffering. It improved very slightly, but he was still suffering. He wasn’t inclined to carry on with further prayer.
I told him to not give up; there is always hope if you believe in God. He said he did believe. I asked if could read and he said he could, so I showed him a small booklet called “Finding Hope”. It is an excellent little booklet produced by SGM Lifewords. They produce this booklet in several languages http://www.sgmlifewords.com/uk/resources?search=finding+hope
I had a long chat with a guy who came in for food. He had been to church in Wales as a youngster, but had drifted away as he grew up. He had lost some family members in the last few years and had felt their nearness on their passing away. We discussed God and belief, and he thought there was “something there”, but he was not really interested in pursuing the question in his life. I gave him the gospel basics, and tried to encourage him to reach out to God, but didn’t get very far. Later that day I was thinking over of the phrase: “Not THY will, but MY will be done”. It’s really on that basis that we end up either in Heaven or in Hell – our eternal destination is what we ourselves choose in this life.
I also thought how many are happy to say “I believe in God”, but go no further than a mental assent. It reminds me of the evangelist’s use of the parachute as an illustration of what faith involves. I can say I believe in parachutes, but that belief means nothing until the day I’m in an out of control aircraft, reach for a parachute and put it on. It’s only when I put it on, jump and full the ripcord that I really do believe in parachutes!! It’s the application of faith that determines whether your faith in “x”means anything at all.
A younger woman came in and I recognised her as “J”, a street drinker I used to see regularly when I did mission work on the streets. At that time she was a vulnerable girl, very self-willed, who wouldn’t listen to our requests to go back home to her Mum, whom she lived with. When she walked in I could see she was intoxicated, so nothing had really changed. As we at down to chat, she told me that she’d had “a 5 month old dead baby” and started to cry. I really felt for her, poor woman. Clearly someone had taken advantage of her, and even that had had a tragic outcome. Eventually the supervisor called a local unit where she was staying for transport, as she needed to get across to the other side of town and clearly couldn’t get there under her own steam.
A young guy turned up later. He told me he had mental health issues and suffered from a type of psychosis. I asked if he’d done drugs in the past. He admitted a long use of cannabis, then latterly a serious heroin habit. He was now on a prescription for Subbutex, a heroin substitute designed to wean you off the drug. He’d been given accommodation by a local charity and was hoping to get back on his feet.
If you know of anyone who has become a Christian recently, please point them to the website http://www.newchristian.org.uk This site has over 280 pages and caters for church leaders too, with several hundred links to church resources for pastors and leaders.
Spent some time today printing out and laminating some little cards with “Is There A God?” and the website URL http://www.is-there-a-god.info/ on them. I am doing some evangelism work in the Christian tent at the Counties Show tomorrow, and have added this little resource as an extra for giving to those I chat to. Have got a load of different resources together including tracts, gospels, Million Pound Notes, my own website cards, etc etc.
I will post again after the show with any feedback from events of the day.