Have you ever been in the situation where you didn't know where you could stay for the night?
When I was young, my parents drove us to Italy for our Summer holiday and decided to just book what we could when we got there. However when we arrived, we found out it was an Italian Bank Holiday and each and every single hotel or B&B we could find was full. We were about to resign to sleep in the car, when we prayed and at a petrol station, a man who spoke no English showed up. We asked him through a little pocket phrase book, if he knew of anywhere and he signaled for us to follow him. He took us through all the back streets, he took us to little tiny hotels that we hadn’t even seen, but all gave the same answer. No room. I remember quipping at the time - “not even a stable!”
You’d expect any average person would shrug their shoulders, say sorry and leave, however he wasn’t the average person. He brought us to his home. His wife gave us cold drinks. They cooked us dinner and he got on the phone. He didn’t just go the extra mile, he went completely above and beyond. His daughter spoke some English and we were able to barely communicate. In the end, after many hours, he found us somewhere to stay.
He drove with us there and waved us off. It was an unbelievable act of kindness and we called him our “angel”.
Our Partners are like this angel. Many people are facing incomparably worse options than we did, with literally nowhere to stay, no money and no hope of finding somewhere. They are desperately looking for help and for many, if it wasn’t for our Partners who are standing in that gap, reaching out, their prospects would be bleak. Statistics of homeless deaths are rising and fill us with sadness, even anger. How can a country like ours be in such a state as this. Where’s the compassion? Where’s the humanity? Where’s the hope? And we pray for things to be different across this nation.
For Tony*, life had become a living nightmare. He was trapped in a horrendous modern slavery situation in Europe. When he found an opportunity to escape, he took it and with little resource, he managed to make his own way back all the way to the UK, taking him a few months. He was totally exhausted as he arrived back to his home town and found some temporary accommodation with a charity that was set up to help those who were experiencing homelessness. It was warm and safe, but not a long term solution. The charity knew that they needed to provide more for Tony and they got to work.
Reaching out to Green Pastures for help with the new project, it came together almost faster than they anticipated with Partnership and a house. Within a very short amount of time, the keys were handed over and they were able to offer their very first place to Tony.
Within a couple of weeks, he was settling in well to his new home. He started to engage with the charity, drinking coffee with people and accessing the different provisions they had available. When he turned up one Sunday, he decided to attend the church service that was being held there.
After a few weeks of getting to know people, feeling heard, sharing his thoughts and listening to others, he started to feel part of the community. One week someone was talking about how you need to love yourself before you can love others. He heard a message about how unforgiveness and rejection can grab hold of your life, but there is freedom in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. With tears in his eyes, he responded, saying this had been his life, but there was something happening in that moment that was moving him and he could feel something he’d never felt before. He wanted to respond to Jesus and invite Christ into his life. Even though he could hardly talk as he was filled with the revelation of Jesus, he prayed and a beautiful thing happened in his heart. The things that no programme can reach, the inside of a person’s life, the pain, the hurt that is all your own, was given over to a God who heals and restores beyond understanding.
A most wonderful man from the church has started to get alongside Tony, discipling him and each week they share time together. He has become a loving Father figure to him, unlike anyone he’s ever had in his life before and his whole life is changed. Such is the power of God when a church lives in community focusing outwards.
The miracle of answered prayer among the homeless is happening this Christmas all across the nation through our amazing Partners. Churches and charities who are the hands of Jesus are reaching out of their comfort zones and choosing to go the extra mile and beyond. Green Pastures’ heart is to resource and release churches and charities even when they have little to no experience, to set them up for success to help the homeless in their community. Property, paperwork, training and ongoing support is all given in order that you can do what you do best - show the love of Jesus to those around you.
Churches are becoming the centre of transformation in their communities. People like Tony are experiencing life in all its fullness and prayers get answered because people like you are responding to the call of God to help the poor and needy.
If you would like to find out more about becoming a partner, click here.
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*Names have been altered to protect identities.