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'.
Paul was at Bishopthorpe Palace, the home of the Archbishop of York, for a day looking at Spring Harvest in Harrogate. The day was hosted by the Archbishop and was attended by key church leaders from across the North of England. We looked at how Spring Harvest can celebrate and resource the church in the North. For more details on the event in 2020 see here.
Paul was interviewed on Premier Christian Radio News Hour (and repeated in news bulletins) around a survey on kindness - he chatted #Do1NiceThing, the work of volunteers, the role that Christians can play in volunteering and the need for prayer and action to go hand in hand - listen here at 50 minutes
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