We have just under three weeks left of the 21-22 season of the Overnight Welcome Centre this year. How did that happen?!
This season has certainly been a journey. It feels like the quickest one ever. As I write this, we have seen 347 unique individuals come through our doors – all interesting and full of stories. When it came to planning this season, we really did not know what was happening until literally the last minute. We had planned multiple scenarios of what the winter project could look like and just had to trust that the Lord would lead us to the right one.
Our set-up has looked similar to last year but operationally, it has been slightly different. We have worked closely with the Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) to ensure the best support is given to our guests, and have continued to link in with our various partners who have managed to be on site more this year.
Our guests have accessed our service by two main ways. One, our low barrier easy access to emergency accommodation, which has been our setup for the past twelve years. And two, through the allocations team at the HSCP.
When we first started, we walked into a hotel already occupied by 29 guests. Being completely honest, it wasn’t easy. We were going into a space that others called home and were trying to create a space that felt more like our home. During that first week, I worked pretty long hours trying to help the team adjust and one night when I got home I just needed a walk to clear my head. Have you ever felt like that – when you just need a moment to switch off? This was my moment. So I put in my earphones and took a walk. I decided I would listen to the plan I was going through on the Bible App and I found myself in Daniel 6. Here, we find the famous story of Daniel being put into the lions’ den. When I was listening to the chapter, I found myself relating to it.
We began our season going into an unknown territory that was already established by someone else. I wonder what was going through Daniel’s mind when he heard he was going into the den full of hungry lions – would he have been anxious or would he have been confident in his God? For us the start was actually quite tense but we broke through it. We were able to build up trust with our guests and make them feel valued. Others noticed the change in the hotel and the impact we were making even in the surrounding area.
A key part of Bible chapter happened once Daniel was released from the den of lions. Kind Darius issued a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and revere the God of Daniel. He declared:
“For he is the living God
and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
his dominion will never end.
He rescues and he saves;
he performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions.” (Daniel 6:26-27)
I have believed this for us throughout the past three and a half months. We have served, and continue to serve, the living God – who endures forever, whose kingdom will not be destroyed, and whose dominion will never end. I prayed during that first week that we would see people rescued and saved throughout the season, and that we would see God perform signs and wonders amongst the guests and us. We have experienced some incredible encounters over the past few months and we have been able to show compassion and love to some of the most chaotic individuals in our city.
We went into what felt like a lions’ den but have come through it and have been celebrating what God has done. We couldn’t do any of what we do without the Holy Spirit leading us. It’s been an honour to serve Him for another season. Who knows what next year will bring!