On Friday night I went out on the streets of Aberdeen with one of the Street Pastor teams.
Street Pastors is an initiative started in London in 2003 and now there are over 100 teams working in cities across the country. Aberdeen Street Pastors was launched in 2007 and since have made quite an impact on our city centre. I’ve known about them for a while but was too young to get involved, however, when I turned 18 our Assisstant Minister, who is one of their volunteers, invited me to come out with them as an observer.
I’ll admit my naive innocence, here and now, and say that Friday is only the third time I’ve ventured into the city centre after 10/11 at night. Drinking, clubbing, dancing – really not my scene. It’s a different city at night. There’s a tension you don’t feel in the day. It’s quite sad to walk through it too and see so many people who live in order to be there in a drunken state, when I can’t help but think they could be doing so much more with their lives and be so much happier.
But enough of this moroseness . . .
The Street Pastors are doing amazing work on our streets: helping and feeding the homeless, assissting those who’ve had too much too drink, providing first aid and flip flops to those who need them, diffusing potentially violent situations, picking up glass bottles that could be used as weapons and generally speaking to people/ helping people as the opportunity arises.
There’s a real respect for the Street Pastors, from the police, the door staff and the punters. People are intrigued as to who they are and what they are doing. People are very open to talking with them and receiving help from them.
There’s a buzz you get from being out there. And despite the dangers (though no Street Pastor has ever been seriously injured in Aberdeen), there’s a quiet joy and sense of peace in knowing you’re living Christ’s commands, sharing His gospel in actions and showing people that someone cares. Out on those streets amongst the lost and broken is where Jesus would be.
The best part of the night was getting to tell people Jesus loves them. It’s no surprise that when people are a little inebriated they’re more willing to talk, discuss their views and ask questions. Their questions keep you on your toes but their willingness to admit to believing in something and to respecting God/the Bible/the Church is encouraging. God’s at work in the hearts of the people in our city.
I’m told they’ve just started a team in Edinburgh. Maybe I’ll get in touch come September . . .