Wow, what a night! My second experience of going on the streets between 9pm and 3am yesterday night was one of utter disbelief in God’s amazing forgiveness and grace. And I am not (yet) talking about his love to others here.
My last week was one where I made lazy, wrong and selfish decisions, where I let self doubt flood me as a result and felt thoroughly unworthy of any sort of affection. And yet God is willing to send me out and do good to others while I am allowed to trust in his protection. How awesome is his love!
We met fantastic people who were having a great time out. One man had been celebrating the birthday of his 4 year old niece together with 27 other 4 year olds. Another guy was spending the night catching up with old friends while on a business trip over from Malaysia to East Grinstead. He was missing his wife a lot but was enjoying meeting old friends for a drink. Another man stood in front of the kebab shop, leaning against a bin for support, sporting a blue costume with banana peel cuffs and shoes. Unfortunately, “Banana Man” wasn’t having such a good night out as he hadn’t been allowed into the club where his mates, Banana, spiderman, superman and Beer man (!), were enjoying himself without their mate after he had had one too many drinks. A couple of women in their 40s asked us whether we’d fancy patrolling during Bonfire Night at the fireworks. What a good idea!
We also met the newest acquired rugby talent from New Zealand whose task it will be to boost the efforts of the East Grinstead team. We especially admired their “dad” character who sported impressively well groomed facial hair. They always waved from afar whenever our paths crossed again that night. A little later on, we helped a man who was stranded at the station after the last train left. The door staff and police were really rather relaxed yesterday and readily accepted lollipops from us.
When the nightclub kicked out, we were able to give away loads and loads of lollipops and I made a point of approaching the fiercest and most aggressive looking guys who were always taken aback that somebody was giving something away for free. Watching the police, they were also deploying the women into the crowd as friendly faces while their male counterparts waited at a little distance in case they were needed.
We encountered several young girls who were walking on socks or even barefoot rather than on their high heels after dancing the night away. They accepted our flipflops very readily. One girl who was clearly very upset and sat slumped on the floor in front of the public toilets was touched because we made a point of trying to do her good. It was lovely to be able to give her a tissue, a bottle of water and some flipflops. We made sure her boyfriend was as close by as she said he was so she wasn’t completely by herself.
We patrolled along the car park behind the fitness club in the town centre causing several cars to first switch their lights off to try and hide and then to leave very quickly. While looking to pick up bottles, we found a £10 which will certainly help towards buying more lollipops.
On our way back from the station, we came across a group of 4 young men who were just getting into a scrap. We decided to walk a little closer but then just hovered closeby. We could tell the youngsters were aware of our presence and sure enough, they soon walked off in different situations, especially as the police patrol car had also spotted them and was driving past every minute.
After mingling with lots of night revellers and looking after them while they made their way home, we headed back to base ourselves. Interestingly, our leader wanted to go a certain way but listened to my suggestion that we should go an alternative route. We came across a youngster who from afar looked like he was hovering in front of an empty office building with not much on. Coming closer, we found him and his mate looking after their female friend who was puking her guts out. She had clearly relieved herself over his shirt. We made sure the guys were sober enough to look after her and left them with water, tissues and flipflops. What was amazing about this was that we had actually run out of bottles of water. But when one of the street pastors looked inside his backpack, intending to rummage in the bottom under a few pairs of flipflops, he saw a last bottle right at the top of his bag. My team mate is quite certain that he had run out of bottles completely and that there were definitely no bottles near the top any longer. God’s provision was just awesome!!! We went home on a real high.