It’s hard to believe that the month of January has almost gone. The arrival of February signals the start of our teams returning to ‘active duty’ this coming weekend with our Friday team 3 and Saturday team 3 heading out to launch the year. The highlight of January was our ‘In Day’ on Saturday 21st at Auldhouse Community Church. A packed room engaged in in thanking God for His goodness as we worshipped together. During the course of the morning we heard updates about finance from John Ralston, the Safe Zone from Irene Eastwood and Prayer Pastors from Willie Henry. We were privileged to receive a visit from Brain Gibson the city centre area commander for Police Scotland and to be reminded by him that we do ‘make a difference’ by being on the streets. 

We recognised those who in the course of the year had stepped down from active service and special mention was made of the retirement of one of our ‘senior’ Street Pastors, John Beresford.

The afternoon was unforgettable with an inspirational message from our chairman Alistair Duncan and then the commissioning of 16 Street Pastors. We were grateful to have Sandy Scrimgeour, CEO of Ascension Trust Scotland with us to lead us through this memorable part of the day. We left with a sense of gratitude to God for what He has done and a sense of excitement and anticipation for the greater things He will do in 2017.

Within a matter of days after our gathering we received £4,500 in grants and other donations, a sign of the favour of God on Glasgow Street Pastors! As we enter a new year of ministry I’m reminded of the words from Micah 6 v 8 ‘He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’.

As we continue to ‘listen, care and help’ may we do so out of humble dependence on our just and merciful God who calls us to be like Him in all our engagement on the city streets. 
A very happy New Year and a big thanks to you all for the commitment and interest you have shown during 2016 in the work of Glasgow Street Pastors. Over the final two weekends of the year we managed to have 29 Street Pastors out in teams and 14 other volunteers working in the Safe Zone backed up by the support of our Prayer Pastors, demonstrating once again the commitment and passion to ‘listen, care and help’.

On some occasions the city centre was very quiet, this was particularly evident on Christmas Eve and the Friday before New Year. Our ‘presence’ on the streets however, regardless of weather or numbers, has been a witness to our partner agencies and the media, about the passion we have for the work we do. Nearly 80 expressions of thanks were recorded from the public, not including the people and their families who also expressed thanks for the way in which they were cared for by our teams in the Safe Zone.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, Jan 1st, the city was ‘alive’ giving our teams a very busy second half on the streets. Almost a full bag of flip-flops were given out at MacDonald’s in Sauchiehall Street, as shoeless females of all ages seemed to ‘appear’ out of nowhere! A team found a very drunk man on Argyle Street and requested Police assistance. The Police took him to the Safe Zone where it transpired he was a French visitor to the city and was reunited with his friends after being looked after by the team. A young man from Nottingham was ministered to in the Safe Zone both in a practical way by tending to his external wounds and through prayer and counsel the grace of God was poured into his inner wounds.

We rarely get to see the ‘fruit’ of our ministry apart from the gratitude expressed by people on the streets, however it is more than enough to know that we have carried the grace and compassion of the Lord Jesus into the streets and lives of the people of our great city. May we be fired with the same passion to continue this amazing ministry in 2017 of ‘listening, caring and helping’.
The last two weeks has seen an increase in the number of people visiting the city centre for ‘work nights out’ and parties. This is reflected in some our figures. We issued 164 pairs of flip-flops and a staggering 283 bottles were lifted from the streets. During this period we also supported a ‘bottle mapping exercise’ at the request of Community Safety Glasgow. We helped 33 people to safety or reunited them with their friends and assisted 18 people who were overly drunk. 39 people, mostly brought in by Police Scotland officers, used the Safe Zone. Some of the ‘life stories’ that we have heard during this period have been heartbreaking, a reminder that many struggle at this time of the year. A street team responded to a call to a venue where they found a man with serious suicidal intentions due to personal tragedy. The team brought him to the Safe Zone where he was cared for and counseled for a prolonged period. To ensure his immediate safety our St Andrew’s First Aid volunteers called an ambulance and he was taken to hospital at 4am. Without the presence of a Street Pastor team and the Safe Zone pastors, who knows what would have happened to this man?

Paul says in Gal 4v4 ‘But when the time had fully come, God sent his son’. The arrival of Jesus into the world was perfectly timed. God’s continuing intervention in the lives of people is always just at the right time and it is an awesome privilege for us to be able to be His agents in meeting the needs of vulnerable people. God seems to plan it that the right people are in the right place at the right time. How wonderful is His wisdom!

Pray for the teams who will be on the streets this Thursday and Friday night. The Safe Zone will also be open as usual on Friday and Saturday this week.

A huge thank you to the team leaders and members of each team who have faithfully ‘listened, cared and helped’ throughout 2016. Well done good and faithful servants. May the peace of the Lord be with you all this Christmas.
At the Friday night team devotions we thought about what it meant to be ‘lost’ spiritually. The conversations we often have with people are a constant reminder that without the Lord Jesus people are indeed lost and in need of the Saviour. With party season now in full swing we spent a great deal of time both on Friday and Saturday helping people who were physically lost and separated from friends in unfamiliar surroundings.

We met John (not his real name) on Saturday morning about 2am after coming out of the Garage on Sauchiehall Street. He was visiting the city with friends but had become separated and couldn’t remember the name of the hotel he was staying in. Numerous phone calls later we were still unable to locate his hotel or his friends. John decided he would be happy to stay ‘anywhere’ if we could find him a room. More phone calls but unfortunately, nothing, due to the high volume of people staying in the city centre. We walked with him as far as Cambridge Street with the intention of going to the Safe Zone. Quite ‘unexpectedly’ we were directed to a hotel on Cambridge Street that ‘just happened’ to have a room available. While all the practical arrangements had been going on for over an hour, another team member had been having a deep life and spiritual conversation with John, which enabled him to open up about his circumstances, his experiences and the pressure of the important job he does. We left him in his room with a copy of the New Testament in his hand, a relieved man!

The next day John sent a txt message. ‘Thank you very much for helping me out last night. I’m very sorry for causing so much drama and being so uselessly drunk. I seriously don’t know how I got so drunk, but I will be eternally grateful for the help and understanding you guys gave me. Please pass on my thanks to the lady whose shoulder I was crying on’.

Listen, care, help……It’s what we do!
As the month of November comes to a conclusion it was with an unusually quiet last weekend for the Street Pastors teams. Only 39 pairs of flip flops issued, 50 bottles cleared, 17 items of food issued to men and women begging or rough sleeping and 8 items of clothing. Our Safe Zone was open on both Friday and Saturday night and saw a total of 17 people pass through the doors. On Friday a girl, brought in by police, was helped to her home safely by taxi and her husband phoned to express his appreciation. On Saturday a homeless man who lives off the generosity of people he meets spoke of the place that reading the Bible had in his daily routine. Long conversations took place with distressed people and comfort was given, fulfilling our aim to ‘listen, care and help’.

The story of recent days however is one of God’s amazing provisions as we enter the final month of the year. Saturday saw the final training day for our 6 new Street Pastors who are going to be such a blessing as they join teams. Two grant applications have been successful ensuring funding for the additional opening of the Safe Zone and other aspects of our work. A cheque was received for £500 from a couple wishing to support ‘the great work we do’ around the streets of Glasgow. West College Scotland Clydebank campus gave us a cheque for £236.82, raised by students through a Harvest lunch.

As well as financial gifts we have seen donations of the clothing we issue pour in so that every space we store hats, gloves, socks is full and overflowing. Thanks to Matt Butler and the Salvation Army for an incredible contribution to this ‘overflow of blessing’. On Monday an unassuming Indian Christian gentleman took me to a warehouse and filled a trolley with additional items of clothing we will be able to carry in our bags through the month of December. Reflecting on all of this the words of Malachi 3 v 10 came to mind, ‘Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it”.

God is blessing the ‘work of our hands’ because He is good! May we never forget this truth! It’s His goodness we are seeing. In this season of buying, God is giving! His favour is on Street Pastors, not because of specific individuals, but because together, Street Pastors, Safe Zone Pastors, Prayer Pastors, Cycle pastors, we have set our face to honour the Lord and serve the people of our city. May that continue to be our motivation as the year draws to a conclusion and into 2017.

This was a very busy weekend for all the teams involved on the streets and in the Safe Zone. The combination of ‘pay day’ and Halloween made the town extremely busy, particularly on Saturday night. Our Safe Zone welcomed 21 visitors, 7 of whom required first aid treatment, keeping our wonderful first aiders busy throughout the night as well as our Safe Zone Pastors!  A street team brought in a man after being assaulted in Royal Exchange Square, demonstrating the working relationship between the Safe Zone and street teams. On Saturday the teams had to calm 5 fights as well as deal with a further 5 situations of aggression. Help was given to 12 overly drunk people. 139 bottles were cleared and 78 pairs of flip-flops issued.  It was obvious on Saturday that ‘our struggle was not against flesh and blood’ as Paul says in Ephesians, highlighting why Prayer Pastors play such a vital role every time teams go out. A reporter from Radio Clyde joined us an observer on Saturday and news bulletins so far today have carried her report, giving great exposure to the work we do.

At the Street Pastors conference in Perth, Eustace Constance from AT gave a keynote speech on Friday night in which he spoke about the passion and commitment of Street Pastors. He made the point that people engage with us because ‘we are there’ as a very recognisable presence. His final point was to emphasize that flip-flops and bottles are secondary to faith conversations and prayer!

The spiritual problems we encounter require spiritual solutions. Jesus and Jesus alone is the answer!
Glasgow Street Pastors
St. George's Tron
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