Serving on the Streets
Written by Chris Brees
So often we can walk past people in need without thinking about stopping. It becomes almost natural to not care in this day and age, being so focused on our busyness that we can forget to look up and see who and what is around. But we have a God who cares. We have a God who shares. We have a God who loves. Street Outreach exists to share some of God’s love and care with those living on the streets of Birmingham city centre. It has existed in various forms for over 15 years, being a constant and vital part of what it means to live a life centred on God for the Oasis Church family.
We have the privilege of being a part of sharing God’s love with people sleeping rough in a variety of ways; we have teams going out onto the streets three times a week, we partner with an organisation in monthly café church events, and we run a missional community for those wanting to live a life devoted to sharing Jesus with rough sleepers.
The core of our ministry is Street Teams, where everyone (and we currently have people from all ages and walks of life getting involved) is invited to come out onto the streets and serve. We provide three types of support; physical; providing for their immediate needs of clothing, warmth, food and drink, and signposting to services which can help them get off the streets and addiction-free if needed, emotional; providing a shoulder to cry on and a friend to talk to about what is going on in their lives, and spiritual; praying for, prophesying over, and speaking truth and life into these people’s lives.
There are no typical encounters on Street Teams, but we regularly build up great relationships as we have done recently with Ben (not his real name). Ben has been living on the streets for several years, and as we have got to know him more, although he doesnt believe in God, he has been happy for us to pray with him. We have also been able to bring him comfort and support in some particularly hard times when he has been in and out of hospital, and suffering with depression and anxiety. We have learnt a lot about him and his troubled past, and it is a privilege to be able to stand with him and pray for him in all he is going through. Although we haven’t seen any healings or direct prophetic words come through for Ben, he is a great example of the work we do because we have been able to love him and support him, and share our lives and our God with him along with way.
“We love because he first loved us.” — 1 John 4:19
What an honour and a joy it is to be caught up in sharing such love.