On Sunday 6th September, Jacqueline H shared with us all about her involvement with the above organisation after she had been presented with a certificate to mark 300 hours of service given with Southampton Street Pastors.
Shirley Baptist Church: An every day church for everywhere people.
Southampton Street Pastors: offering reassurance, safety and support through listening, helping and caring.
An every day church for everywhere people and an initiative offering reassurance, safety and support through listening, helping and caring. What a combination!!
As many of you will know, I have been involved with Southampton Street Pastors for about 10 years now. I initially became a Street Pastor, which I thought would be completely out of my comfort zone, when I was called, or should I say compelled by the Holy Spirit. I, like Moses, felt that I was not the right person or equipped to do this. I thought this call was a huge mistake and a misunderstanding on my part. Also, a bit like Jonah, I really did not want to do it.
Nobody could have been more surprised than me when after one Sunday service, I went forward for prayer to ask yet again if this was really what the Lord wanted me to do; somehow, praying into it with someone else clarified things and clinched it. Anyway, that is history now.
For the first three years I served on the Night Time Economy Patrols in the centre of Southampton. Since then I have patrolled with the team at Cantell School and, after I was ill, I briefly helped out in the Street Pastor office. I have served as a Prayer Pastor for the Community Patrols in the City Centre and Millbrook. No Street Pastor patrol goes out without Prayer Pastors, either at base or in these Covid times, from their homes on the other end of the phone and praying. Prayer for what is going on in the streets is in real time, and it is amazing how the answer to those prayers comes, in real time.
There are so many ways to serve within this worthwhile initiative. Street Pastors, like all Christians, come in all shapes and sizes and all have different gifts to bring. Some are quiet and prayerful; others are loud and energetic, some are like Dot Cotton and can quote chapter and verse from the Bible, some are practical doers, some are gentle soothers and some are just plodders. All very different except for their love of the Lord Jesus and a passion to serve and help others.
As I speak, I am looking out into our church auditorium and can see the flags of the many countries that are represented within our fellowship. On the streets of Southampton there are people from all these nationalities and many, many others, as well as from our own. How wonderful it would be for the people we meet if the Street Pastor who came alongside them to help when they were feeling at their most lost, helpless and vulnerable, were from their homeland and could speak with them in their own language.
I thank God that He compelled me all those years ago to serve Him in this way. It is an honour and a privilege to be able to do so.
- Street Pastors are well trained and receive 45 hours of training (next training starts in early October).
- Southampton Street Pastors has about 120 volunteers who are drawn from over 50 churches.
- We are in our eleventh year.
- As a ministry we are nearing 60,000 hours of volunteering.
- We pray with hundreds of people on the street.
- We have kept hundreds of vulnerable people safe.
- We work closely with the local authority and the Police.
If you have ever thought about engaging with Southampton Street Pastors but, like me, thought “I can’t do that”, “I’m not equipped to do that”, please think again. Just that you are thinking about it could be the beginning of a wonderful, rewarding adventure for both you and the people God wants you to meet on our city’s streets.