Street Outreach is for me, a walk through the streets of Paisley with a simple goal: I look to engage with someone and let them know that there is an organisation that can and will offer practical help for this individual to find a better life.
We meet every Tuesday, staff and volunteers, in a café in Paisley. We share a bible devotion, then we pray before going out in pairs onto the streets of Paisley. We take Street Connect flyers that summarise the help offered by the charity. We offer the flyers and people have the choice to take one or reject the offer. If someone wants to talk, we allow them the space to tell us what is troubling them.
For me what I like about this approach is that we are not forcing people to listen to us tell them the ‘good news’ that they may not be ready to hear or digest. However, we do offer ‘good news’ – that may be, a cup of tea and a hot pie, for someone hungry, or it may just be encouraging the person that there is hope for a better tomorrow for him or her. For me, the message of the ‘good news’ of the power of Jesus Christ to transform a life normally comes later, after we have built a positive and strong relationship with those who engage with us.
There is a participant who has been engaging with us for around eight months. This individual has asked me, “Why do you do this for me?” or words to this effect. When I hear things like this, I realise we are within Street Connect doing something right. Often people need to see we care before they will ever hear what we say.
“It made a difference to that one” – this is taken from a great story from this video online. A man sees a young boy on the beach, surrounded by hundreds, probably thousands of starfish. The tide is going out leaving the starfish to die on the beach. The young boy is throwing the starfish back into the sea and the man asks him what difference he is making considering the magnitude of the problem – too many starfish for this one young boy to rescue. The young boy launches one into the sea and says, “It made a difference to that one”.
Street Connect cannot save every lost, broken, human soul, HOWEVER, we can reach out and with the help of a loving GOD, save some. Even if it is one, “It made a difference to that one”, it is worth it. My Pastor used to say the only thing we can take to heaven is souls. There is something in this.
A great story is told of the woman who came with expensive perfume (Mark 14:1-9) and poured it on the head of Jesus. Some who were present who didn’t know better, criticised the woman, but Jesus said, “She did what she could”. Street Outreach – engaging with people experiencing difficult situations – requires ordinary people like you and me to go and do what we can, make a difference to that one, and who knows where the person we meet and help may end up in their life. Maybe, just maybe, he or she will become a starfish thrower.
This blog post was written by David Connell, Partnership Coordinator at Street Connect.