When we moved from various different locales over the years and found ourselves in Crimea Street, I was totally amazed at God. Never in my wildest imagining could I envisage the work of Glasgow City Mission being based at such a beautiful, considered and thoughtful building.
I fully recognise and know that ministry happens because God is present everywhere – it does not depend on physical surroundings. We have operated out of many different spaces over the years – some definitely not beautiful and God’s presence was still very much there meeting with guests, staff and volunteers alike.
When we moved to Crimea Street I was struck that God really cares about the detail and that His provision is vast.
Anthea, a Glasgow Art School graduate, and I along with others were given the task of looking at the building space and how it should be kitted out – with the brief of design being key. We both love design, so we embraced this endeavour with enthusiasm. It brought us much life.
We recognised that God had given us this building which would be used for His glory for many years and that we would have time to allow the work to take shape, and with that the design would flow out of this.
In many ways a part of coming into relationship with God is about being parented in the good ways of life. Really trying to find out and discover about how to do life well. Many of us as individuals, and I would suggest many who use the ministry of Glasgow City Mission, have not often had positive beginnings. There has been deep financial, environmental and relational poverty. The good news is that God, in His riches of life, is the antidote to this malaise.
When we are in poverty it sometimes takes us a long time to recognise the good things, the beauty around. We can be shut down in our souls, life feels very contained and horizons are blighted. Often the journey to Christ is to be met by groups of Christians who are consistent and show the love of Jesus to individuals. Their prayer and witness over a period of time often are the factors which help individuals to put their own trust in Jesus. When we are shut down inside factors like good quality food, clothing, consistent relational attention, blessings, kindness and times of surprise help defrost our souls and we are more susceptible to hearing good news. I believe that times of surprise can be found in a well-designed space. Initially you may not be able to articulate the experience of being in such an environment but over time there is something of the aesthetic quality that gladdens our souls, it helps brings dignity to an individual.
In the 1960s, Glasgow alongside many large British industrial cities took steps to “improve” peoples living conditions. Tragically, and I can speak for Glasgow, what resulted was a widespread demolition of architecturally considered neighbourhoods where there had been infrastructural and social cohesion. We were often left with large soulless schemes and much urban wasteland. For many in our city that was their experience. There have been studies in the USA about how urban wasteland deeply affects individuals psychologically in harmful ways. The good news is that God is about redemption of all things. I believe that by having a beautiful designed surprising environment for individuals to come into reflects in a small way the beauty and surprise of God.