The car park is noisy when I arrive for my first day,
two people are fighting, the rest gather round yelling them on, some to try and stop them, some to egg them on, some just cackling with amusement as the comedic ballet of two drunk people swaying and missing each other. Tables go over, hot urns are moved out the firing line. Shouting and swearing fill the air.
It smells, spilt coffee, cannabis, ancient alcohol and sweat.
There is an assortment of people you would normally rush by, dressed sometimes in Rags, sometimes surprisingly well (some really do work on their appearance). How they look is hardest to describe because their clothes are as varied as the handouts and hand me downs, the availability of clean water, and hair cuts
Then there are the helpers, trying to not lose todays food which someone cooked and brought to the car park, trying to stop the “guests” as they call them from
a) Hurting each other
B) encouraging the police who sort of put up with us from arriving
c) losing too much of tonights much needed food.
They never worry about themselves, whether they get hurt, always the kitchen and the guests. Over our years we see that time and time again, as they almost fought to be the ones that served through the worst of Covid. Not all the youngest either, so very much taking a risk.
Me and Paula pull back our car somewhat, filled with our first night gifts of clothes, blankets and food. If it wasn’t for those things we may have drove off.
I would have missed out on the place i felt God more often than any other, more consistently, more thinly than any other. Because as our scripture shows us this is where he would be if he were alive today.
And we worship a living God, so this is where he is.
Every week I go, I always know he’s here, always feel him and try to be steered by him.
This is church, this car park of life’s damaged, misfits.
which is also of course is what we all are
But this was week one and it was Paula who said come on, lets get out, Paula who dived in found a place straight away, serving food, chatting to the other ladies.
I found my place on the fringes, albeit at the time I saw it as lost and confused. Now we all know it, mike goes to find those to scared to come into the light….
This is some of their stories
The first person I meet, says the weirdest thing to someone hes never met…
Why does god hate me?
On my first night a young pregnant lady with a baby in a pram lands in our car park with very skimpy clothes. she had been thrown out by her pimp because the baby cried so much. she was from foster care and had fallen apart, and fell into the oldest profession all of them were blue when we found them
Joe and his guitar the car park is a happy place, joe used to sing all the old 60s songs on his old out of tune guitar . we all sang along, and laughed and loved him. some lads smashed his guitar up as he slep one night..
he lasted three winters
Trevor whom I loved because he was so like my dad. but he wasnt lovely when drunk, and was often violent. He was abused by his dad, and had boxed for england, he sobered up many times, but always got drunk and violent. he lasted 3 winters.
The man and his dog – I fed the dog and got picked up
the man shot into nationwide and hurt someone and will never find forgiveness in his eyes, to anaesthetise his guilt he drank
the street pastors
those on the edges who wont join in because they have been left out so long crowds scare them
Abuse makes them
the ones who want to be out,? They are a myth really, they are just damaged in another way, the few that I have met, really are just damaged enough to have lost anchor, never know where to stop, sometimes they want too, but then old shadows catch them up, abuse, parensts, drubgs drink. they arent wandering minstrels loving the open air, they are running away and moving on stops there demons from catching them
the ones who the police say never to leave a women around
Lionel who had come to feed those who looked after him after his wife left him and his brother
Happy tomshare these stories if ever you ask.
Now we are at St Vincents, and when I dont go I miss it
This is where I want to being Jesus, here I am his voice, his hands, and feel most Christian, I feel like I truly am his eye, hands feet when I am in this place,
Ill always go I always will to join him in his car park