Today I was invited to lead a Bible study at an incredible homeless project in the centre of Manchester called Barnabus. This was my first experience of doing anything with the homeless and I was slightly nervous. I wanted to pitch it well, neither patronising nor over-complicating anything. I was told to expect it to be busy (it usually is) and spent most of the morning thinking through what I would bring and how to lead the response. All morning I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was going to be a really special time.
When the time to begin arrived, there was just one guy sat there looking lost and nervous. He popped out for a cigarette and never came back. If I’m honest, a part of me was slightly relieved.The team were unfazed and we began the worship regardless; three leaders, no guests. The presence of God was tangible and I found myself so lost in worship that I never noticed another man arrive. He was just sitting there at the back, quietly listening to the music.
At the end we were chatting and he told us that he had been walking the other way and for some reason, he wasn’t sure why, he decided to turn around and come to the GodSlot. He said that he just wanted to rest. I thought to myself that he doesn’t look too old but I guess its hard to tell when you have lived on the streets for a while. He went on to explain that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and has only a few months to live. The tumour has spread through his system and the doctors are talking about palliative care. He is in extreme pain every day. He expects to die on the streets. He probably will.
My heart was breaking for him and I could see that his eyes were full of desperation for some source of hope. We offered to pray and Neil, the manager, prayed for complete healing. The peace that filled the room as we prayed was undeniable. His eyes were wet with tears. Afterwards he confessed that he doesn’t believe in God but that he believed that there must be a reason that he turned up today. I can’t help but agree.
The truth is that he would never usually have allowed us to pray for him. He is far too self-conscious. However, today the usually busy group was totally vacant. It was almost as if everything was set in place for him to be able to receive the prayer that he needed. The perfect environment. I don’t know what God was doing in that moment but I am praying that I will see him again and that this is the beginning of a new chapter full of healing and life.
Whenever you plan for groups like this you hope for big turnouts. I am so glad that God had a bigger vision than me.
If you read this then why not take a moment to pray for him as well. Thank you.