After attending the Belladrum festival with Street Pastors, it was back to my regular monthly Street Pastor round in Hilton. It was a dreich night (Scots for drizzly rain – like drookit), but the rain was quite light, off and on, and it did not inhibit us walking about. The evening began with a short interview on the street from two teenage schoolchildren who had chosen to do a school project on Street Pastors in Inverness.
We had a discussion with a mother and her children about the London riots. They thought the behaviour of the rioters and looters was because they had no hope in life. We discussed the hope of the Gospel, which is always available no matter one’s circumstances in life. Jeremiah had hope even in his dungeon (Lamentations 3:7,9,21,34). Then we talked with about half a dozen drinkers having their smoke outside Dow’s Bar – their form of getting ‘a breather’ or ‘fresh air’? I discussed the dangers of cancer-sticks, my term for cigarettes.
Law and Gospel
We moved on to the playpark where four teenagers were on the roundabout. Grace wanted to be a marine biologist or a lawyer. She had never heard the phrase “Law and Gospel”. I explained that 16,000 policeman on the streets of London stopped the riots after four nights, but they didn’t change hearts. The Gospel changes hearts. When she mentioned other religions being taught in school, I pointed out that these religions are about keeping laws or rules in the hope of getting to heaven, but Christianity changes hearts in order to get to heaven.
Many of my readers will have heard Amazing Grace being sung. I explained to her what her name Grace meant – God’s love to those who do not deserve it. Some people think that by keeping the rules of their religion that they deserve to get to heaven, but grace is God’s love to those who don’t deserve it. She did not know this and it gave her food for thought. It is a privilege to be able to explain the Gospel to those who have never heard it before. They have heard the clichés and some Bible stories, but not the substance of the Gospel. ‘Changing hearts’ is just another way of saying ‘being born again’ and ‘grace’ is another way of dealing with self-righteousness and salvation by works, rules or law-keeping.
Then four primary school boys arrived on their bicycles seeking ‘their lollipops’, which we ensured they would clear with their parents. Three loved maths (a surprising percentage, but ‘birds of a feather flock together’) but the fourth didn’t like school. However, he did like Design and Technology, so we worked on this and encouraged him to have a more positive ‘can-do’ attitude to his schooling.
We handed out a pile of leaflets advertising the Commissioning Service arranged with the civic dignitaries of Inverness for later in August. We now have 51 active Street Pastors in Inverness, covering the city centre and Merkinch and Hilton communities at the weekend. More people have been trained, but some have moved on to other places. Street Pastors have a lot of “street cred” in Inverness, building on the good work done in many of the major cities of the land where there are now over 9,000 Street Pastors at work. Our network enabled a national Street Pastor prayer initiative to be sent out last week for the riots in London and elsewhere. Prayer Partners (those who pray for us on the streets) remain an important feature of Street Pastors. We have sometimes managed to defuse some tricky situations, and we are thankful to the Lord that thus far there have been no injuries to a Street Pastor throughout the UK.
We made our rendez-vous with the other Street Pastor team at the Hilton Community Centre where our first aid kit was put to good use cleaning up the bleeding face of one of the lads outside. It was another interesting night bringing the practical outworkings of the grace of the Gospel on to our streets.