For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Luke 19:10

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Street Work in England

Jim McMaster, a full-time commended Gospel worker along with his wife Janet and son David, labors in Newcastle, England. He is a frequent contributor to the Gospel Hall Forum. In response to our request for an update on the street work in which he is engaged he kindly provided this report.

In the mid nineties after a period of frustration and disappointment the Lord graciously and tenderly took strong dealings with me and changed completely the sphere in which I was to bring the gospel to the people of our nation. 

Two Things that Bothered Me
At that time two things particularly troubled me. The first was my seeming inability to reach folks with the gospel in the normal, long established activities. Often it seemed my preaching was predominantly to saints and empty seats yet we lived in a country which allowed the free and public preaching of the gospel in the open streets. Secondly was the frustration that even when opportunity arose it seemed as though the people who were hearing were failing to properly comprehend the message. Coupled with this was a study of the life of the Lord Jesus and His ways of reaching and touching the population around Him and a growing craving to be like Him in every way especially in the way I reached souls with the gospel.

The Eye and Heart Opener
By God’s grace He brought me in contact with a brother who laboured late at night among the homeless population of one of our nation’s largest cities. That single late night on the streets changed my life. It was a most wonderful experience to see the radiance of Christ displayed in the evidence of good works as a precursor to pouring the good news of the gospel into weary and yet receptive ears and hearts. From then till now the Lord by His grace has patiently borne with us as we seek in a very stumbling way to bring the gospel to the homeless, addiction ridden, strand of society here in our part of the world.

Stepping Outside the Box on to the Sidewalks
Beginning with late night trawling though the streets with flasks and tracts the Lord graciously gave us many contacts that began to trust us enough to talk about their situation and listen with respect to the gospel. 

From this we developed a Soup Kitchen work which means that we reach lots more people in a much more efficient way. On a Sunday evening immediately after gospel meeting I am privileged to have the fellowship of a few local Christians as we take up our pitch in the street in a car park in the centre of the city. We base our 'open air kitchen' around a small 'Good News Van' which the Lord has recently provided for us.

During our time we are able to feed between 40 and 80 people every night with a warm main meal, some dessert and tea and coffee. From the van we are able to provide some basic necessities of life by way of sleeping bags and blankets, toiletries and some basic clothing to relieve immediate hardship.

Wonderful Opportunities
Over the years these things buy us wonderful opportunities to not only show the love of Christ in action but share the gospel in word and by way of suitable literature. The most important factor that we need to keep in mind is “FOCUS”. It is so easy when dealing with these people to become so engrossed in the depths of their misery because of addiction and the accompanying social, financial mental and various other problems that we lose sight of the real reason why we are there. We are there PRIMARILY to share the gospel and use the material help only to open the door and the hearts to receive the word of the Lord. 

Keeping a Strong Gospel Focus
So we employ a variety of means to keep the gospel in the forefront of the work even if we are not able to engage in personal conversation with each one. The van we use is covered with the message and texts, we have a book table to provide good testimony books that are easy to read and free to take, stands hanging on the doors which contains suitable tracts, gospel CD’s and DVD’s and invitations to the meetings. Each one of these aspects of the work allows us innumerable easy opportunities to engage in conversation and bring the gospel to my friends with urgency and compassion. 

We strive constantly in prayer and in our heart to keep from being distracted into the material aspects of the work and remember constantly that many of our contacts could easily lose their life through addiction or violence at any time.

Pray for the Work
The work at time is hard but the over the years the Lord has encouraged us greatly. Likewise there is a growing awareness of the importance of this type of work all over the UK and many believers who we know do this and similar work without ever being heard of or written about. Please pray for all who are launching out into the deep with the gospel in this way.  (Submitted by: Jim McMaster )

For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: 
I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: 
I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
(Matthew 25:35-36)


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