Hayley Teague writes about a group of homeless men her Street Pastors’ team have met and how their new friends have given them a glimpse of the kingdom of God in practice.
A few months ago, the Merton Street Pastors’ team that I am part of made some new friends. Four people sleeping rough in a bin cupboard. Some, like us, helped them but not all were so generous – neighbours complained to the police and council and tried to have them moved on. As well as providing tea and food, our team of Street Pastors did what we could – we tried to refer them for emergency shelter but were told it wasn’t cold enough. We spoke to council officials about their situation but discovered there was little they could do. They all came over from Eastern Europe and initially found work with accommodation.
When the work dried up they were asked to leave and made homeless but because they had not registered with the authorities on arrival they are not entitled to any help now.
In January they had to move on as someone let off a firework in the bin cupboard that had been their home.
Their new location is some residential car parking bays by some flats. They have three bays, one has a mattress, the middle bay has a desk and chair with a clock on the wall and the third bay has another mattress. They have made it as comfortable and as much like home as it can be.
One of the guys recently got a job and the first thing he did when he got paid was to buy food for them all. This is what the kingdom of heaven is like, one person working and taking care of the others. It reminds me of the model in Acts 3 where the early believers shared everything they had.
Our new friends constantly thank us, but for what? We have provided cups of tea, the odd meal and referred them to agencies who have not been able to help them so far. No, we are the ones who should be grateful to God for allowing us, through them, to see what kingdom living really looks like.