“What’s essential for us to fulfil the mandate of the church? Keep it simple. Be filled with the Spirit.” Simon Hol… https://t.co/sXoZLPsmvY
“Staying at the night shelter saved my life,” Bill said over a mug of tea. “The night shelter door was open and gave me a safe place to stay, when every other door was closed.”
That morning, Bill had knocked on the night shelter door and the team invited him in. As they talked, he revealed he’d been homeless and stayed at the night shelter 20 years ago. Over that time his life has completely changed. He was on his way to pick up one of his five children and was now happily married.
At King’s Arms Project, we’ve been supporting homeless people in Bedford for 30 years. In that time, we’ve been a part of thousands of people’s stories on their journey out of poverty. We’ve seen God move in powerful ways amongst the most vulnerable in our town and because of it, we’ve never been more convinced that there is no such thing as a hopeless case.
We’ve been inspired and provoked by the parable of the banquet in Luke 14: none of the usual guests have accepted the invitation to the party so the master sends the servant out onto the streets to bring in the poor to take their place. Many attend but there is still space at the table, so the master tells the servant to go again, but this time to go further; to the highways and the hedgerows - those on the outside of society, the poorest of the poor.
This inspired us to expand and diversify the services we offer to ensure that none of the poor in our town are being forgotten.
I was in a council meeting about British homelessness when the Syrian refugee crisis was on the TV and in our newspapers. At the end of the meeting, the council said how they wanted to resettle some families and asked if anyone could help.
Instinctively, almost involuntarily, I said ’We’ll help…’ My colleague gave me a kick under the table...and she was right to. We didn’t know how to respond and we didn’t have the resources to respond. We had limited experience of working with refugees but instinctively we knew we needed to help. It is part of our DNA, as a church and ministry, to go further; to help people who are on the outside of society and find solutions for all homeless people.
We now work with 10 refugee families, supporting them with accommodation and integration. In addition to the families, we now provide English lessons, are qualified to give immigration advice and support other groups across the East of England who want to get involved in helping refugees.
We’ve been sent out to invite those, who the world forgets, into the banquet and into the church community. Over the last 30 years, our services have been there whenever people have needed us and we’ll be there for as long as it takes to end homelessness in all its forms.