Yesterday, I had an unusual and unexpected experience, but one that did make an impression to the extent I am blogging about it now. One of the volunteers at the night shelter I was managing up to recently happened to mention a little while back that the church in which he was involved, Southend-on-Sea Community Church, was organizing for want of a better phrase a holistic health fair in the centre of Southend (in the pedestrian area opposite the Odeon cinema). Despite doing a full time and demanding job, he was the co-ordinator. Having had experience organizing outside events and knowing what is involved, as a token of friendship and gratitude, I offered to help. So bright and early I joined the team helping to set up, although a fair chunk of that time was putting up gazebos and taking them down because of the wind. One bonus was meeting and chatting with some of the folk that were involved in the event and also three rough sleeper friends who happened to be in the vicinity.
Having done my “bit”, I went home to do other things, but later in the day, along with my wife, went to the town to do some errands. As we were in the vicinity, we decided to visit the “fair” which seemed to be going well, with lots of visitors. Part of the attraction was bands and musicians playing gospel and other music. I was persuaded to have a health check, which was led by a doctor, and which revealed things about my health state that I needed to know. The health theme was intended to cover all aspects of health, including mental and spiritual, and the volunteer helpers were keen to share literature and their testimony with the passers by. There was also a collection being made for a project the church was involved with – which included helping folk in a poor part of the world with some of their health needs.
I came away strangely encouraged. Being part of the early morning setting up team when everything to begin with looked higgly piggly, it was difficult to imagine how it would all turn out, but I am pleased to report that the event went as well as it did. It struck me what can be achieved when a few folk have the vision and the determination to serve in this way. I have no doubt my friend and the members of his church network achieved a good deal of good as a consequence of putting on this event. It also seemed to me to demonstrate what can be achieved when groups like this act as they did and serves as a model for other Christian groups wanting to serve their communities and share the good news of the gospel.