Father God we thank you that you are good and loving and that you are a life-giver who loves each and every one of us.
We thank you that you have called us to partner with you towards seeing your Kingdom come and your will be done on earth, in the here and now, as it is in heaven.
Right now we come against this evil and life-destroying coronavirus. We pray for those who are seeking a cure - for drugs to be found and for this to be made available worldwide.
We pray for the families of those who have died and for all those who are affected, we pray healing.
We pray for sense and wisdom to replace fear and indifference.
We pray for those in governments and those advising governments. For the right steps to be taken to prevent further unnecessary spread and for wisdom in all they do.
We stand with those in our communities who are vulnerable. We thank you that people are rising up to ensure that all in our communities are supported and cared for. We thank you for the opportunities in these days for your church to be the light in the darkness, to be bringers of hope and the comfort that your Holy Spirit gives.
We pray for nations beyond this virus - for businesses, employment, economics, health systems and education to be restored. We seek the peace and prosperity of places and nations.
Through all this Lord we thank you that, even though we don't understand or comprehend all that is going on, you are ultimately in control. We stand against this evil of coronavirus and Satan who seeks to destroy and steal. Lord help us be a people who bring your life, love, hope and joy and not ones who give in to the fear and panic that the enemy desires.
Matthew 5:13-16 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven."
I have just returned from 2 days in Pendle where, in 1652, George Fox was prompted by God to climb to the top of Pendle Hill and once at the top he had a vision which led to him setting up the Quakers. George Fox wrote in his journal:
"As we travelled, we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high. When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered."
Sometimes God asks to do something - it is in that faithfulness to the prompting that a fresh vision and new plan is revealed.
For me in 2005 when God prompted me to go into Halifax and look at the night-life a fresh vision and new plan was revealed that led to setting up Street Angels which saw crime reduced and the project replicated around the world. Out of that someone else had the vision for work inside club venues leading to the asking in a PubWatch meeting our of which a new vision and plan of Club Angels was started. Another person had the prompting to get involved with Leeds Festival - an approaching to them led to the setting up Festival Angels, which was at 16 music festivals in 2019. Someone else had the prompting of sharing Jesus in a relevant way at these festivals which led to contacting a designer who created Jesus Loves Festivals which now has become a whole range of designs which have shared hope and love and started conversations with thousands.
If you feel a prompting from God to do something or go somewhere - do, go.... In that faithfulness (and often difficulty) fresh vision and new plans may well be revealed...
A visionary will see what can be and become frustrated that is not yet! A visionary will often frustrate others because they live a life that isn't satisfied with the way things are but are always dreaming of and working towards the what is to come. A visionary will seek to be prophetic in words and action. A visionary will be frustrated when others don't get it. A visionary can easily be frustrated with lack of movement, the over-emphasis on the detail, the caution that prolongs growth and development. Visionary people need to stay in tune with God who has the ultimate vision and is the ultimate vision-giver. Visionary people can be wild and unpredictable, frustrated and frustrating. We need visionary people and we need detail people. We need those who love the here and now and those who love the what could be and we need them to work together but not shackle each other! We need to understand and release the gift the visionary brings - to let them have and work towards the vision they see. The visionary sees the sub-plot God has written and is writing into people and communities. #JustThinking #CalledToBeAVisionary
Paul has pulled together a new resource for CNI Network - 30days Prayer and Action guide. This can be downloaded for free from here.
Paul and Acting Inspector Marie Reavey were featured on BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme on 1st December as part of a feature on #FaithAndPoliceTogether - listen at 16:50
Just over 14 years ago we had this thought that the 'Wild West of West Yorkshire', Halifax town centre on a weekend evening, needed people who care to offer love and support to those who became vulnerable. As Christians we believed our town centre deserved better than this Wild West image! We approached Churches Together and the YMCA with the idea of opening a cafe they ran between 9pm and 3am on Friday and Saturday nights. They said yes! We then approached the police who said an even bigger YES and asked if we could start something 2 weeks later - Friday 25th November 2005 (the start of the busier Christmas season and the day the licensing laws changed).
We said ok - not much else happens for people involved in church communities at this time of year! Our initial aim was to run a safe place drop-in cafe. A team of 6 committed to this and we turned up not having a clue what we were doing or what to expect! Amazingly 50 people turned up that night to volunteer - people from church communities across Halifax who believed our town deserved better than the binge drink, sexual assaults and violence that seemed to be so prevalent on weekend nights.
With too many people to just sit in our small cafe we decided (with permission from the police) to offer patrols alongside the safe place drop-in and Street Angels was born!
It worked! Helping over 60 people in our first 6 weeks and with Police, Home Office, media, business, church and community support we carried on once our 6 week trial was over.
This simple idea to help our town centre contributed to a 42% reduction in violent crime within 12 months! Other town and city centres were watching and started to visit to see Street Angels in action. By the end of 2007 we had supported 26 communities to set up similar projects with much of this growth coming via Police and Local Government encouragement to the local church to replicate what they are doing in Halifax!
In July 2008 we started the Christian Nightlife Initiatives Network - we sensed that what we were about was bigger than a name (Street Angels) and we wanted to offer support and resources as well as celebrate all that God was doing through His church, community partners and volunteers in the night-time economy. By the end of 2008 we had grown to 36 projects within the CNI Network family and 29 interested towns across the UK and overseas. We also connected in 2010 with the amazing NightLight in Northern Ireland and Street Chaplains in Scotland who were running long before us!
Our journey is an amazing story of faithfulness to a vision and the willingness to grow and develop as the vision increases.
We are now at around 130 local projects - working on the streets, in clubs, at festivals, around train stations, at sporting events, with communities and with young people.
Collectively the CNI Network family have: received awards; met with Royalty and Prime Ministers; expanded the concept; become one of the 21st century missionary movements as we export overseas; featured on TV, radio, magazines and newspapers; held several conferences and receptions; seen crime and anti-social behaviour reduced; and, most importantly, equipped thousands of volunteers to impact local communities and people through the simplicity of loving the person in front of them!
As we celebrate 14 years, and enter our 15th year, CNI Network honours and thanks all those who are within our family - all those who volunteer, pray, support, organise, fundraise and keep quiet on Saturday and Sunday mornings to allow those who have volunteered to sleep!
CNI Network is the church and community working together to help make our streets like new again. We have helped and assisted tens of thousands of people, picked up tens of thousands of bottles, handed out countless pairs of flip-flops and stopped numerous fights with the offer of a lollipop! Thank you to all who are part of the 14 year adventure!
Paul Blakey MBE - founder / CEO Street Angels, CNI Network
Below a cartoon based on Northallerton Street Angels drawn by Chris Bambrough....
Last week Paul was in Boscombe to visit the Boscombe Angels for the 10th celebration. He presented certificates to long-serving volunteers and joined the team on patrol. Paul also met with Rosie from Big Church Day Out and Christine from FlyJesus. Back in Halifax Paul, in his role of Chair of Trustees for CICS (Christians in Calderdale Schools) hosted a Supporters Evening / Annual Meeting. A few weeks ago Paul was in Watford to speak at the Watford Street Angels / Town Centre Chaplaincy Annual Meeting and visited the Christian Resource Exhibition to catch up with friends.
The last 2 Saturday's have seen Paul and Jean visiting Street Angels projects - firstly in Barrow-in-Furness and then Blackpool. They met with the steering groups to offer advice and support and heard of plans for growth and development. They then joined the teams on patrol. In Blackpool they also met Jenny and Keith from Revelation Daze who wrote the song and produced the video 'He's Sending Angels'.