We love the guests at Webber Street, and we get emotional about the people here sometimes.
Many of our guests have a living Christian faith, but for whatever reason, they can’t get out of the situation they are in.
One guy we saw for a number of months and was in a terrible state. When he first came in it was difficult to hold a neutral expression – he was dirty, smelly, and seemed completely stuck. Some people in his condition have taken their own lives because they can’t wait for God to take them home.
After a while he stopped coming to us. That happens here – people go away, and we often don’t know what has become of them.
But he came back a while later. He was clean and had started to go back to church. At the time he was with us, he’d thought God had forsaken him and couldn’t see a way out. But he managed to find a way back.
Another man struggles terribly with alcohol. The Bible says some people’s sins go before them, and that describes him perfectly. His sins are on full display. Most of us can manage the appearance of our sins quite effectively, but his are obvious to anyone on a first meeting.
He’ll tell everyone he’s a Christian, but it falls on deaf ears because they know him and his failings. I always feel sad when I think about him.
In his past, he was involved in Christian ministry, but something went wrong.
There’s pain that he is dealing with, and he’s not yet found deliverance from it. For now, his only way of dealing with that pain is to drown it in alcohol.
Sometimes it’s appropriate for us to share details of our lives – how we too are broken and being given a new lease of life. Guests are sometimes surprised to hear us tell them that we’ve got a lot more in common than they think, but it is true.
Some people think that we are motivated by pity for people who have been broken by life. But it is not pity that motivates us but knowing that this is our Christian responsibility. We serve a God who will pull people out of a pit.
That’s why every day we exhort our guests to respond to the gospel. I think of it not as preaching but exhorting people to come to Jesus. There is a sense of urgency at Webber Street as we all know that anything could happen any day and we might not see each other tomorrow.
Our guests often describe Webber Street as an oasis – a place of calm, respite and refreshment, a retreat from the chaos of life on the street. Sometimes our role is to be alongside people who in the depths of despair until they are able to come through the other side.
We want to be in the place where – one day – we can all look back at this together and think it was worth it.