A miracle happened last night.
I was out with the Plymouth Street Pastors. As usual, before we went out on our first shift, we had a group prayer. We were told that as we were out on the streets, Jesus would be there with us.
Now, within 10 minutes of starting out, I kid you not, we were passed by a young man with long hair, a beard, white robes and a crown of thorns! I’ll grant you, the tin of Fosters in one hand was a little incongruous, as was the plastic bag of shopping in the other. His clothes had a vague hint of cheap fancy dress shop origins. But still, I’ll take my miracles where I find them.
For those that don’t know, Street Pastors are a group of volunteers from different churches who gather together on a Saturday night and patrol the main nightlife areas. As anyone who’s visited a typical British town late on weekends, there’s plenty to keep an eye on. The drink flows pretty freely, so there’s plenty of opportunity for people feeling sick, having fights, getting teary and emotional and arguing with partners, and unfortunately even deaths and sexual assaults.
When we’re out, we can do a lot of good. We carry with us a big bag where we keep first aid kits, a dustpan and brush to sweep up broken beer bottles, drinks of water for the worse-for-wear, and (what we’re best known for) flip-flops for those slightly inebriated, stumbling young ladies in high heels.
We can also be a great preventative measure. If you see a group of people in uniform nearby, you might think twice about throwing that punch, or following that young lady down the dark alley.
We’ve also saved several lives. A couple of people have been resuscitated by Street Pastors. Our medical help (or at least our calling of ambulances) has prevented deaths. Several suicides have been prevented by our interventions.
But many hundreds of people have benefited us in smaller but no less important ways. We’ve been the shoulder to cry on, or the person to help you into a taxi, or to wait with you until your friends can find you.
We’re really appreciated by the people out of the town, which makes walking the streets until 4am seem worthwhile!
P.S. The title of the post is, following this blog’s tradition of never-knowingly up-to-date cultural references, from a Kanye West song.