Recently a small group led by the Colchester Boiler Room Community has been meeting to pray for our town centre and its people on a Friday night from 11pm to 3am. Last night I was able to join them for the first time.
We met at a town centre church and prayed before straying onto the streets in pairs at 12. The aim was firstly to pray around the town and where appropriate opportunities presented themselves to chat to people and pray with them if they were open to this. Many were.
Two policemen we chatted to found it almost unbelieveable that we were out in the town and not getting drunk. They then came over all protective and kept repeating that we should stay within sight of the CCTV cameras and not go anywhere dark. They seemed a bit nervous – did they suspect we were out trying to ‘evangelise’ drunks? Did they think we’ve never been for a night out in Colchester before? Wrong on both counts.
At the end of the evening a couple of lads pointed to us and said, “you look really happy – and you haven’t been drinking!” They were from the Army and had both recently returned from Afghanistan. We chatted to them for about 15 minutes as they shared their stories and their atheism with us. It really all boiled down to the age old question, “Where was God when…” Craig came from a split family, had been shot at in afghanistan and his best friend had committed suicide the week before. I couldn’t help but feel the guy had a right not to believe in God. Yet, through his atheism, he wanted answers.
This week we’ve got a meeting with the people behind Street Pastors to explore the possibility of getting a SP project going in Colchester. The Friday night prayer on the streets isn’t attempting to be Street Pastors, but seems to be laying a foundation of prayer. I hope we can go for it. People like Craig need a place to share their grief and question their faith and the street looks to be a good place to start.