Ray and Ray Elastic bands on the streets Sporting acceptance for children Cold-knocking for the Kingdom Wonders at woodwork
None of these stories, which I’ll speak about in more detail below, will make front-page headlines this week. In fact most of them would find it difficult to force their way into a newspaper at all.
These stories won’t be featured on TV and radio news bulletins because they lack the spice that counts: there is no scandal or duplicity, nothing macabre or contentious! In short, they’re too unexciting and not bad enough!
And yet, these stories have thrilled me in recent weeks as we have travelled around the territory meeting salt-of-the earth (in the true sense of Matthew 5:13a*) Salvationists. These amazing individuals are the answer to the prayer of the Church, Let your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven, because every time a follower of Jesus shares the love and grace of God – by lip, life or ‘lifting’ – heaven meets earth.Ray and Ray – (Not quite their real names) have become companions. One is a sex worker and the other is a young Salvationist who is part of a team of disciples making themselves available to sex workers in order to share grace and minister in any way necessary. The relationship is being built as barriers are being torn down. Elastic bands on the streets – Street pastors have a new piece of equipment in their pack: elastic bands! As these pastors live out being the Church in the late hours of the night and encounter revellers, they use the elastic bands to tie back the hair of inebriated merrymakers, preventing the need for a hair wash as their bodies reject the volumes of alcohol consumed. A new form of the principle of “feet washing” that Jesus encouraged us to practice! And the point with this exercise is that you have to get up close to practise it! Sporting acceptance for children – A teenager chooses to spend part of her holiday helping out at a camp for children who might otherwise miss out on a summer break. She uses sport to teach tolerant behaviour, sound values, clean living and, most importantly, the gracious acceptance and love of Jesus, in whose name she interacts with the young people. Cold-knocking for the Kingdom – He has firmly rejected the oft-repeated proposition that contacting complete strangers to share the good news of Jesus is not an effective method of evangelism. So he goes out, cold-knocking on the doors of strangers, inviting them to attend his Alpha course at his corps… and they come… and they meet Jesus! Wonders at woodwork – He was unable to look them in the eye at their first meeting, his disabled condition contributing to his total lack of confidence. As he was helped to master a woodworking skill, his gaze began to lift and today he not only looks them in the eye but confidently initiates contact and conversation.
These “none-headlining” stories are replicated across this territory. All over the place, God is answering our prayer as his kingdom comes time and again in the transformed lives of people whose paths have crossed those of faithful, obedient Salvationists.
In contrast, the media was saturated with the news that the Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo will earn over £1million a month for the next five years at his club Real Madrid. That’s £1,712 per hour (even when he’s sleeping). Meanwhile, his new team-mate Gareth Bale will earn a paltry £700,000 a month over the same period.
Now that’s the stuff of headlines!
The five stories I spoke about earlier involve volunteers who share what they have without any thought of being paid. Unfortunately in our topsy-turvy society, these anonymous kingdom-builders won’t make the headlines. That’s a pity because the world could do with more good news.