Serving God in schools and on the streets
Many Christians are often very surprised just how open passersby can be, writes Mark Roques. Creative storytelling, warmth and kindness goes down amazingly well with all kinds of folk - as it did serving hot chocolate in Leeds on Valentine's Day
Here at RealityBites we aim to tell real-life stories that unlock Christian faith and get people thinking about Jesus. We work in schools where we deliver sixth form conferences and the feedback has been excellent. This is what one sixth former said about our “Mafia, Evil and Jesus” conference. “Your lecture today about the philosophy behind the nature of evil through the medium of the Mafia was exceptional, exquisitely formulated, undeniably engaging and utterly thought-provoking. I look forward to a time I may hear you speak again.”
RealityBites also works on the streets serving students, homeless people and passersby with Christian hospitality and good-humoured conversation. It is very encouraging that our team of two has now grown to five people (Hannah Childs, Joel Cribbins, Andy Eaves, Mark Yeadon and me, Mark ‘Rocky’ Roques). Hannah and Joel are both youth workers and Andy is a gifted evangelist who has worked in Brazil as a missionary. Mark is a patent attorney and he invited me into the ministry several years ago. He has a PhD in engineering.
One recent example is Valentine’s day. We set up our stall opposite the Library pub situated on the edge of Hyde Park, next to the Leeds University campus, arriving at 9.30 pm.
Here’s how it worked.
Hannah had the great idea of bringing chocolate hearts to the party. This meant that we were offering tea, coffee, hot chocolate, biscuits and chocolate to anybody who wanted to stop and chat. We do this to show God’s love and hospitality. God is thrilled to bits with His amazing creation and chocolate fits in very well to this narrative.
Our passion is to create a safe and fun place in which we can share life and faith with anybody God brings along. So often people want to pay for the beverages and nibbles but we insist that everything is free. Grace is our message.
Sometimes we say we are ‘sent to serve’. Sometimes we say: “We are here to challenge the individualism and materialism of our culture. We want to be good neighbours so enjoy this chocolate on us.” This goes down very well.
Here’s a vignette to savour. A group of three men and a woman were out looking for a place to have coffee. They stopped by and sampled our brews and chocs. I asked them if they knew about the island where the locals worship the Duke of Edinburgh.
They giggled a bit. This kickstarted a conversation about faith and before you knew it we were talking about human trafficking, materialism and the Christian faith. I outlined in about sixty seconds the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes and how this materialist faith is destroying families, communities and the environment. They were listening attentively.
I noticed that the woman was very moved by this presentation. It was very exciting to see the Holy Spirit at work.
We then had a very genial and enjoyable conversation about ‘mental illness’ and how role models like Cheryl Cole can foster incredible insecurity in young people. I told them a story about a 15 year-old girl who killed herself because she thought she was ‘fat and ugly’. This allowed me to talk about the good news of Jesus. Materialism can destroy our sense of self-worth but Jesus has come to restore us and heal our relationship with God.
As they were leaving I gave them my RealityBites card for possible follow-up conversations.
Thirty minutes later they came back and the woman said to me. “You’re RealityBites aren’t you?” I concurred. Joel then asked them if we could pray for them. They were very happy about this. This was wonderful to behold.
Many Christians are often very surprised just how open passersby can be. Creative storytelling, warmth and kindness goes down amazingly well with all kinds of folk!
I can only describe the evening from my point of view. I know that Mark, Andy, Hannah and Joel had great conversations too.
For God so loved the world….
Image | Erik Mclean | Unsplash
For more about RealityBites go to my blog at: thinkfaith.net/realitybites/blog
Mark Roques preaches in Cragg Hill Baptist Church in Horsforth, Leeds. He is the director of RealityBites which is part of the Thinking Faith Network based in Leeds
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