26.1.06

Social action - Jesus Army Life, Day 195

Today I'm on a day release from work to do voluntary work at our local Jesus Centre. It's one of the advantages of working for a business owned by the church community - as well as creating money in order to fund the work of the gospel and helping the poor, the businesses are now releasing manpower.

I guess that's fairly boring information but it's pretty good for me. It's always challenging to work with people whose lives are on the edge. It's good to remind yourself of the realities some people face and not be proud in the riches you have - whatever they might be. Poverty comes in all shapes and sizes, and there's always someone worse off than yourself. I think we dare to ignore it at our peril.

But the work we're doing here at the Jesus Centre, which doubles as our church hall on Sundays, continues to go further. We're not just providing food and clean space for people who spend most of their lives isolated and on the streets, we've set up schemes to help people find money to get into accommodation. There are classes to help people with basic education, skills and health care too. We're trying to work with other agencies and working with other people in need such as refugees and providing a usable space for the wider community as well.

In all this, we've been adamant that we can't turn away from the priority of the work of the gospel. While it's a wise choice not to preach at people we saw a dozen or so baptisms last year which were connected with this social action work.

So there you go, it's amazing to think how a day off a fortnight can help...