Open Air: While We Were Sleeping

Reading last week’s OA newsletter, you might have noticed that not much was said about those who were present on the day, apart from giving their Christian names and a little about what they happened to be doing on that occasion. You might be forgiven for thinking that these men and women just step out for an hour or two on Wednesday afternoons, and that’s that for the rest of the week. It isn’t necessarily so. Here is Peter’s account of his activities during one weekend earlier this year.

He wrote it at my request, and under difficult conditions - i.e. balancing a pad on his knees during one of his many lengthy bus journeys across the country. I’ve typed it out and tidied it up a little, but it’s essentially his account.

Manchester Homeless Outreach: 4-6 March 2022

Peter, Paul, Brian & Nancy

Nancy travelled from Harrogate in her Traveller’s van. At Paul’s flat we packed the van with clothing, shoes and sleeping bags. We met Brian at Leeds railway station which took two hours. We stopped at Birch motorway services for a break. Nancy has a cooker on board.

We arrived in Manchester at 4.00pm at the Britannia Hotel. Brendan was waiting for us. We had a lot of luggage to unload to put into the hotel room. Nancy had to park elsewhere. The van was her home for the weekend. There was a Travellers’ wedding taking place in the hotel. We went to Wetherspoons for dinner, then we went back to the hotel for a rest.

We set off for the outreach about 10.00pm, heavy laden with gear. The texts on my sandwich boards were: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46.1), and “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8.12).

In Piccadilly we gave clothing and a sleeping bag to a man who was grateful. We met a man called Colin on Deansgate who was also grateful for what we gave him. There were thousands of nightclubbers in the city, many taking tracts and observing our work. Many stopped us for tracts.

We had breaks at McDonald’s for coffee. Then we met some homeless women from eastern Europe. Nancy fitted them with coats, hats and sleeping bags. Paul was praying for us. Brian’s hands were sore from carrying heavy bags.

We returned to the hotel at 3.30am. The hotel was noisy with stag and hen party weekends and football fans for Manchester City playing United on Sunday.

On Saturday morning we walked to Piccadilly after breakfast at Rowntree’s Cafe. Two Open Airs were taking place. Two women were preaching... We were able to hand out many tracts. We chatted with two homeless men who had cockroaches in their hotel room. They were open to the gospel. Then we met Vinnie and Danny. Brendan joined us in the afternoon. We went back to the hotel at 5.00pm for a rest. I bought a bible at Waterstones because I had left mine at home.

We had a bite to eat at the Tandoori in the Northern Quarter. I enjoyed my vindaloo with naan bread and bhajis, but Paul and Nancy’s countenances were not happy. It gave them bad stomachs.

We set out about 9.00pm for the second evening’s work. We met some men who shouted to us from their car. They wanted gospel tracts. I left them with John’s gospels. In Chinatown we met a homeless man who wanted clothes and a sleeping bag. There was a young man on his way home to Rochdale who broke down in tears and took a gospel from us.

In St Peter’s Square we met a homeless woman with a black eye. She was fitted with size six boots. Her shoes had holes in. On Deansgate we met two more homeless. We had a long chat with nightclubbing women who were interested in the gospel. We handed them John’s gospels. We stopped at St Anne’s Square McDonald’s for coffee. We met another homeless man and an African woman who was sharing the gospel with him. We met a man who was asleep in the Arndale. He was cold. We left him with a coat and a sleeping bag.

We got back to the hotel at 3.00am on Sunday. There was trouble outside the hotel, and sirens were going off.

We set off back to Leeds on Sunday morning. Nancy’s van had a flat battery, so me, Brian and Paul push started it. We arrived back in Leeds safe, thanks to the grace of God.

[Explanatory note. The above was part of our normal Open Air newsletter a few months ago, the rest of which I have omitted, along with the prayer requests, since they sometimes contain personal and/or sensitive information. If you are a born-again believer, and would like to support this work in prayer, then you can give your email address to our pastor, and he will arrange for you to receive the newsletter in full.]

Every blessing!