My First Night with Jesus Cares I am currently filling in for a friend from Church as the Volunteer Co-ordinator for Jesus Cares Ministry, which is an interdenominational charity that […]
My First Night with Jesus Cares
I am currently filling in for a friend from Church as the Volunteer Co-ordinator for Jesus Cares Ministry, which is an interdenominational charity that has been operating since 1987. It primarily focuses on serving the marginalised, poor and vulnerable by providing gospel literature as well as practical assistance for the homeless. Such assistance includes sleeping bags, warm clothing, sanitary products, food and drink. This is currently achieved by teams of volunteers travelling in a van to the Sydney CBD on Friday and Saturday nights and Thursday morning breakfasts at Belmore Park (near Central station) in the city and in the grounds of Lakemba Uniting Church witnessing to the Muslim community there.
In short, it can be described as a ministry of salt and light in terms of comfort given and gospel made known
I will share with you my first experience on a Saturday night van ministry.
Saturday Night 4 June 2022
Due to Vivid, the traffic congestion saw a slow start to the Saturday Night Van Ministry, so the van did not arrive until nearly 9:00 pm at Martin Place. It was due at 7:45pm. Despite the traffic and huge pedestrian numbers, we found parking immediately, praise God!
The team decided to perform an “express service” to the 40-50 people who were waiting so as not to be too late for the Belmore Park service. The night was cold and windy. Scarves, gloves and blankets “flew off the shelves” and the hot food, coffee and tea were much in demand.
Express service completed. Traffic flowed reasonably well southbound in the city, and we arrived at Belmore Park not too far behind schedule.
A volunteer opened with prayer and about a dozen or so of our street friends began to drift in and service commenced. Then we heard a ruckus a little way off in the park but police were in attendance. Meanwhile, our street friends welcomed the warm food, hot drinks and clothing.
Nearing the end of service, a large person of indeterminate gender approached the van and began cursing and abusing those present. Our street friends remonstrated with the interloper and things became very tense. As the food service was drawing to a close the coordinator decided to pack up, sing praise and leave.
Most of our street friends had moved away as the interloper continued ranting, abusing and cursing.
A courageous volunteer placed herself between the interloper and one of our street friends and she became the target.
Fight or flight? I was feverishly thinking. Unbidden, Romans 12:18 came to mind and kept repeating: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
While I was trying to concentrate on appearing calm, peaceful and benign, the interloper joined us and was in our midst.
And then, in rich melodious tones, a volunteer began singing “Amazing Grace”. Other members of the team joined in (some prayed). A rough prayer and praise circle had formed. The clamour continued and then strangely, fell silent.
After a brief pause, the interloper said in a loud voice: ” Father, Forgive me! I have sinned against you and these beautiful people’. More was to follow in a similar vein and then the person apologised and walked quietly away.
The team praised God, finished packing up, and went home joyfully.
Please pray for the interloper and the continued intercession of the Holy Spirit.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51 :17).
Street ministry can be confronting at times but is always rewarding. For more information on donating time, money or non-perishable goods visit the website www.jesuscares.com.au
- David Brooker