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'Street Pastors' Serve Others on London's Streets

Every night a group of Christians in London don blue jackets and baseball caps and roam the streets. They call themselves the "street pastors." As they walk the streets in middle of the night, they help to diffuse arguments, listen to people's problems, minister to the homeless, help a drunk get to the right bus or taxi, or hand out bottled water. The influence of these dedicated and lay leaders has been remarkable. London's metropolitan web site states: "Almost every London borough now has a street pastors team and the most immediate result in every case has been the drop in crime in areas where teams have been working." A former bobby (policeman) told the Spectator his district "would be much, much harder to police without the street pastors."

Every street pastor begins his/her evening with prayer and meditation on Bible verses. They all acknowledge they have many people who pray for them. Communities respect their work but the comment they hear most often is "You're mad." The author of the Spectator article writes: "This spirituality makes itself felt not through any ostentatious zeal but rather, I sense, through a feeling that it is entirely natural to be out at 2 a.m. helping people get home."

The Spectator writer spent an evening with a team and noticed two things:

[First], almost everything they do is utterly mundane and obvious. Our first stop is at a couple of corner shops, just to say hello, ask how business is, talk about the weather. When we pass a rough sleeper in a doorway, they go over, check what he needs and offer him an extra blanket; afterwards, they can inform homelessness services. When a drunk man comes out of the pub, a couple of the team wander over to make sure he knows where he's going. When we pass a few skater kids, Philip pauses for a chat. It is pretty low-level stuff—but it is exactly the low-level stuff which can be missing from British cities, especially after dark. The second thing I noticed was my mood steadily lifting: the street pastors' good cheer is infectious.

http://www.streetpastors.org/ (watch the 6 minute video)

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