From June 5th the Care Centre will start opening on Monday evenings as well as the usual Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Please pray for all the clients, staff and volunteers there. Wendy, a BCM volunteer, talks about a typical evening at the Care Centre…
I have been working at the Care Centre for about a year now. Usually on Tuesdays we have both Jon Tiley and Steve Bagnall on duty. We also have Andy, Jonathan and Anthony (who volunteer at the Resource Centre). Then there’s Maureen and David, who source clothes and toiletries for our emergency clothing supply; Dolph, a natural born evangelist who just loves to sit at the tables alongside the guests and comfortably share the gospel with them; and usually Joan and Elaine cooking the food. We often have Seth with us and Julie; and more recently Bridget, Vicky, Chris, Dionne (who also serves at ElderLink) and Jess. Jonathan, a BCM missionary, and Elisabeth on BCM’s internship programme are often with us, ready and able to share the truth of God’s word and explain and testify to their faith. Until recently we had Jon’s wife, Judy, and Judy’s sister Kathryn, on a regular basis. We are a mixed bag of personalities, each bringing a unique quality and a different gift to the evening. This means we are able to reach many different types of people with God’s love in many different ways.
Our evening begins between 5pm and 5:30pm when we share tea and cake and a time of prayer in preparation for serving our guests. The guests usually queue outside for some time, eager to come in and sit down at 5:30pm prompt! The Care Centre seats a maximum of 40 guests. Tables seem to fill up within minutes and we find we are busy serving hot and cold drinks for the next half-hour or so. Food is not served until 6:30pm so this allows a good hour to sit and chat to our guests and offer a listening ear, a kind word, a compassionate response or even some practical advice.
Come just as you are
One of the things the guests seem to love is the laughter they can share with us. Many have said that they appreciate coming somewhere where they feel accepted ‘just as they are’ and not judged. They know we’re ready to listen to their personal story and we do genuinely care about them.
At 6:30pm, food is ready to be served. There is always soup with bread rolls, usually followed by hot pasties and/or sausage rolls and either beans or vegetables and potatoes. We always have cakes to follow, courtesy of Greggs Bakery.
The main course
While guests enjoy the main course, we take the opportunity to share the gospel message of God’s love with them. We have a number of different speakers who are willing to come and talk to the guests and again, each does so in a different way. We try and ensure that the message is given consistently, but in a relevant and engaging way. Our guests vary widely in age from 18-70s. Attention spans are short and guests wander off if the message is longer than 10 minutes; so we find ‘short and sweet’ works best. We use Bible stories, cartoons, worship songs, testimonies, trying to be as creative and engaging as possible. We always offer to pray for people. Sometimes prayer has already been happening quietly at the tables. It never ceases to amaze me how open people are to our testimonies.
Anyone else for tea?
While guests enjoy cakes and more tea, we busy ourselves with the clear-up operation. This often lasts beyond 7:45pm, when the last guests leave. Many leave with bundles of emergency clothes. All leave with a full stomach. We pray they all leave with renewed hope in humankind and with a fresh watering of gospel seeds planted over previous weeks.
We always close with a time of prayer, asking God our Father to look after our guests in the days until we see them next. We would ask you to join us in prayer for them all, and to pray for us as we serve at the Care Centre.