RealityBites works in schools but we also work on the streets serving students, homeless people and passersby with Christian hospitality and good-humoured conversation. We set up our stall opposite the Library pub situated on the edge of Hyde Park, next to the Leeds University campus.
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 Rocky). 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!
Here’s how it worked last Friday (February 14) on Valentine’s day. We arrived at 9.30 pm.
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.
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….