He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth;
He saves them from the clutches of the powerful
So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts its mouth.
A major part of Glasgow City Mission’s work is street outreach. Every day, we reach out to the people who beg on our city streets. Sometimes we are able to do something practical, such as provide a hot cup of tea. Mainly, however, our aim is to spend time with them, offer a listening ear and convey to them that they are loved by God. It is a privilege to get to know them.
‘L’ sits surrounded by plastic bags. “Hi L,” I say. “Oh hi,” she says brightly. “How are you?” I ask. “Fine,” she says. But that is all L has to say. It’s as if uttering these few words exhaust her completely. She goes back into her thoughts, smokes her cigarette and looks away. “Bye L,” I say. “Bye!” she says.
Violence on the streets
A little further along we meet P. He sits in the same place every day. P has accommodation but has a long-standing drug addiction. Today he has stitches in his head because someone hit him with a bottle and made off with his stuff. He is feeling unwell and his mood is low. David, my colleague, knows him well. He says, “I’m worried about you. Come down to the Mission – we can help you start to sort things out.”
“I’ll think about it,” says P.
I see people looking at us. I can feel them thinking, “What are they talking to him for?” I am reminded of Lamentations 1:12: “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”
R is sitting outside a shop. He tells us that he turned to drugs after he lost his daughter. Then his marriage broke down and he became homeless. He has an abscess on his leg caused by dirty needles. R is living in one of the hotels provided by the authorities during lockdown. He doesn’t know what will happen to him when the hotels shut. “The only thing stoppin’ me fae jumpin’ in the Clyde is the thought that I might see ma wee granddaughter again,” he says.
“Come down to the Mission,” we say. “We can help you to make changes in your life; we can phone a few people.”
“Aye, I’ll dae that. Maybe tomorrow,” he says. He sinks back against the wall as we walk away.
Often, the people we meet on the streets speak of feeling hopeless. Often, addiction has meant that they have lost everything. So many are broken – by trauma after trauma and by people who prey on them and exploit them.
But we know that things can be different – we know from experience that God can transform lives.
Where people have lost hope, we dare to hope on their behalf.
Please pray for the outreach teams as they reach out to people who are broken, build up relationships and help bring hope to their lives.