BCM City Missionary, Alasdair Nicholson, has worked alongside Quinton Evangelical Church in its neighbourhood for over 10 years. Here he explains how, even as he encounters great need and suffering, he is often blessed by those he meets.
Over my years in Quinton I have met people with many different backgrounds and stories.
I met Derek a number of years ago. He lives on his own in a tower block, suffers from emphysema and was bankrupt in the past. He has very little. I have brought him food parcels, particularly around Christmas time, and a scripture calendar. While he has various struggles, he has surprised and blessed me by asking for a BCM collection box and giving it to me full of change several times. I was very moved.
Mike, in his 60s, is a another regular contact whom I visit to study the bible. He is genuinely interested in the answers people may have for his questions, like ‘Does God intervene in the affairs of the world?’ Mike also has struggles, one of them with mental health. He too lives on his own and has few family members who care. I have been able to help him practically with furniture from the Resource Centre. The most recent item was a comfy chair – his previous one had worn out. He was delighted with the new one. Like other people I meet on my patch, this man is concerned about suffering and pain in the world. I am grateful for the opportunity to share with him.
Encounters are many. There was a man struggling with drug addiction and epilepsy at the gates of the church car park one Wednesday. He had been doing drugs since he was 15 and was desperate to get off them. There was a young Polish man who came to church one morning. He had drifted away but was keen to ‘live for God again’. And a Portuguese lady who visited the church. She was delighted to take a small booklet in her own language – her eyes lit up when she started reading it.
My prayer is that the words of Isaiah 35:10 will become true for many of these folks: And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Recently I had the pleasure of speaking about the work of BCM at a coffee morning arranged by Joyce Lockwood (pictured above), a long-standing and faithful supporter of the Mission. Joyce told her own story:
‘I was brought up in a Christian home, so I don’t know exactly when I became a Christian, but when I was about 11 years old, after one mid-week children’s meeting at Cromwell Hall, the church we went to in Winson Green, I went into the room at the back of the church because I wanted to talk about becoming a Christian. I was baptised many years later and that was when I grew more in my faith.
I’ve supported the City Mission since the late 1980s, when BCM helped out at Cromwell Hall, which has since closed. I’ve been at Bearwood Chapel now for 25 years. I’ve always had the monthly newsletter, and whenever I’ve had something that could be used to raise funds, I’ve given it to the Mission. Last year in June I moved into Hadley Lodge Retirement Living and they got to know about my work supporting charities. We have a regular coffee morning on Tuesdays at Hadley Lodge and last Christmas we collected toys for ToyLink. This year we had a Harvest food collection for the Resource Centre. I am grateful for the huge support of the Lodge Manager and all the people at the Lodge. We collected so much food. Very often there’s a knock on my door and somebody has brought clothes or something else to pass on to the Mission.
BCM does such a good work for such a variety of different sections of the community. It’s what the two hands represent in the logo – helping both with the spiritual and the practical. That’s what as Christians we’re called to do.’