Article for the Living Faith column of Walsall Advertiser, to be published April 7th 2011.
It is 3am in Walsall town centre; an 18 year old girl lies unconscious on the street. Kneeling down beside her, checking her pulse, and ensuring she is kept warm while waiting for the ambulance to arrive, are a group of Street Pastors. This was the scene in Walsall a few weeks ago.
The Government has been talking a lot about the 'Big Society', but this is not a new thing, the church has been doing big society for more than two thousand years. The launch of Walsall Street Pastors in March is the latest in a line of church led initiatives serving the people of Walsall.
In the Old Testament, God says through his prophet Jeremiah, "seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you…. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." (Jeremiah 29:7) This is what the church through projects such as the Street Pastors and other initiatives is striving to do. Through Jesus we want to see changed lives and transformed communities. It is about a living faith that makes a real difference in our world.
It has become more and more common these days to hear people say "faith is a private matter and should be kept to oneself." But for me, faith is not a private matter, because real living faith should express itself in every aspect of our lives, in our values and attitudes, how we go about our business, how we use our time and money, and how we relate to other people. Therefore by its very nature it cannot be a private matter. The Apostle James says that faith and works (the way faith is lived out) go hand in hand, you cannot have the one without the other (see James 2:14-26).
That is what motives Street Pastors, who will again be out patrolling the streets of Walsall this weekend, seeking to live out their faith in a way that makes a real difference to the whole community by being a caring, listening, helping presence, and in doing so, helping to make Walsall a safer place to be at night.
For more information about Street Pastors, please contact the co-ordinator Mark Desorgher on 07505 121 934 or email firstname.lastname@example.org