FACT Mission Statement

We are :
From various churches
Assisting and serving our communities
Christians working together
To make a difference

Saturday, 15 August 2009

HOPEFrome Tea van

Well, I'm sitting here on Saturday and am feeling the effects of only 4 hours proper sleep ! I didn't get in until 3.45am and no I wasn't out on the town ! Well actually I was ! Last night I spent 6 hours working with the HOPEFrome team and their late night tea and coffee van. What an experience- it was both enjoyable and empowering. What a great idea and one which really reaches out to people who otherwise wouldn't have any contact with the churches.
Having never been into our town centre late on a Friday night it was quite an eye-opener ! We started at 10pm and within a few minutes we had customers. The early part of the evening was mostly a younger crowd ( 16 and 17 year olds ) who obviously can't get into the pubs and clubs and wanted somewhere to go and spend time socialising. I didn't expect to get into the sort of discussions that ensued. Interestingly the most popular question was centred on Creation. They all seemed to want to chat about "The Big Bang" and Darwinism and it was fun and interesting to discuss Christians' answers to these questions and their own opinions. Another customer asked me "Has God a plan for me?" and it goes to prove that these young people are searching for the answers to the big questions in life such as "Why am I here?" and "Whats the point to life?" The refreshment van is a great way of gently guiding ( and all the discussion was customer directed ) towards what we as Christians know are the answers to these big questions. In all probability they won't come to Christ in the near future but who knows when the seeds which were planted last night will bear fruit in their later lives .
The other question I heard asked again and again as we offered tea etc was "Whats the catch?" many of our customers found it hard to believe that we would give up our time and put the effort in for no other reason than doing a good deed. It was interesting to see their response and it was all favourable ! When they say my collar they realised we were a church group but were again surprised that this was not an overt evangelising exercise. Wearing a collar in such situations is not an easy decision but it turned out to be the right one. It gave me an identity which was easy for all to see, it broke down barriers and allowed people to talk to me as they knew what I was, even if most hadn't a clue what a deacon was and used the word "vicar" to describe me. One amusing comment was made as I walked up to Mike and James, one of the lads talking to them said, watch out here comes the boss. He was taken aback to hear I was just one of the team and not the leader.
The response to finding out that we came from different churches and denominations ( 4 and 2 on Friday ) was also interesting. Some said isn't it good you're working together, another lad said "I thought you hated each other" Interesting response and maybe we need to work on this public side of things to show that the conflict which is sometimes the media face of relations between churches is the exception not the rule.
There was one scary moment when an argument amongst some of the people near where a group of us were engaging with revellers ( handing out the ever popular jelly babies, which incidentally prove a good way of defusing the early stages of trouble ) broke out into a fight. It was great to see one of our team, very discreetly praying for those involved in the scuffle. Public prayer wasn't needed but this private prayer certainly was.
This ministry is a great example of "Unity with Diversity" and I encourage you all to sign up and take a turn. I can guarantee that you will find it rewarding and enlightening. Gary Lee of Holy Trinity is the co-ordinator for the rota and can be contacted through HT Office.
Well done to all the team. See you next time.

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