Bristol is beautiful! So busy and full of life, our team has been thrilled to be able to live in this colourful, musical city. We arrived Saturday night and moved into a little Christian Centre building located a convenient 30 minute walk to the city centre and a 20 minute walk to the church we are primarily working with.
We barely set our bags down before we launched into our ministry plans. Sunday we split into two groups, one to share in Cairn’s Church and the other to take part in Victoria Church serving coffee, tea, biscuits and toast.
Monday was busy with numerous events. After a delicious hot breakfast at the Salvation Army (a welcome break from the usual toast and cereal) we chatted with one of the pastors of Victoria Church, Helen Paynter. Helen gave us a run down of the history of Bristol and some of the challenges facing the church. After this we walked through the streets praying and taking in the surroundings, noticing which areas have been stereotyped as posh and which have been deemed rough. That night a couple of us helped out with the Boys Brigade, which was a lot of fun.
Tuesday we had the day off so we explored the city and enjoyed time to wander and drink hot drinks and eat Asian food.
The rest of the week was filled with different events, gardening for some elderly folks, advertising for the Harvest Sunday, hanging with moms and toddlers group, running youth groups and some street ministry.
Saturday was a really cool day. We all went to the city centre and prayed about what we should do. We ended up randomly blessing someone with a five-pound voucher to Starbucks and a few of us got to have some really great conversations with some people.
One moment, which was really impacting, was at the end of the day on Saturday. A couple of us were handing out flowers to people and we had a few left over. Some people were really surprised by the flowers but a lot were suspicious so it wasn’t going particularly well. So we decided to sit on a bench and wait on God. Soon after, Chloe spotted a girl across the courtyard she felt she should give flowers to. She went over and gave the rest of her flowers to a very excited and grateful recipient. It was the most positive reaction to the flowers we had experienced yet.
Soon after, around four-thirty in the afternoon, a woman sat down nearby with a bottle in hand. She was clearly intoxicated as she was having a full on conversation with herself. I felt the Lord pulling me towards her so I went and sat with her for a while and she told me a bit of what was going on in her life. It was heartbreaking to hear of the painful experiences she had gone through, and the hopelessness she felt. I couldn’t help her situation, other than give her someone to talk to and tell her God loves her. I don’t know how much she will remember, or where she will end up, but I know when I handed her the flowers, promised to pray for her and gave her a smile it meant something to her. It was a small moment in her life, which I hope she was able to get a glimpse of who Jesus is.
Sometimes we think we need to wander around the streets and find people to share God’s love with. But sometimes, all we need to do is sit and be aware of who is already there.
This week has been so incredible with so many different stories to share. We are all really excited about this next week. A little exhausted, but definitely excited!!