With a few people from Church, a few months back we went to help at a Café that feeds the homeless of Bristol. In that café every Sunday from 1 to 3, free meals are served and more than 200 people are fed. There is a long queue every time with people that would you see begging on the streets, but also people with fresh clothes and full time jobs, people of all ages and different nationalities, and people with children.
I go there regularly now and every Sunday we read a different passage of a Gospel, going from one table to the next to share the Bread of Life and offer to pray for them. For many it is their church and when you come to their table they expect you to read the Scriptures, and for many, who are new, they are happy to listen to your message of hope.
I like to chat at every table and ask them what they know about the Bible and what they know about Jesus and depending on what they answer I share the Good News accordingly. The majority of them already have a faith in Jesus. You would be surprised!
Patrick (who runs Cafe Casa) prays the Lord’s Prayer at each table he visits. He asks the people that became his friends to put their hands together and he recites a prayer so many of them would have learnt at school, and it makes a lot more sense now. “Give us today our daily bread” “Lead us not into temptation” “Your Kingdom come”.
Upstairs there is a space to pray. A few volunteers are gathered and pray for the people downstairs. Anybody is welcome to join. On the Sunday we came to help, two homeless men joined us in the end when we prayed together. Patrick told there were few volunteers but an increasing number of people coming. He said, sometimes, like the week before, it is hard. The homeless man that I wish I knew his name, said, half asleep, half intoxicated and in a burst of tears “yeah sometimes it is hard.” That heart breaking moment was followed by his friend saying “no mate it’s not too bad, sometimes there is miracle, like you wake up and someone left a twenty pounds note next to you.” As the conversation starts again, the first man exclaims in another burst of crying “you think twenty pounds is a miracle.” I always leave café casa with a heavy heart and a lot to think about, that week I was left wondering if doing to others what we would have them do to us is a miracle.
One of the ladies who helps, Isabella, is an older woman who wears glasses and one Sunday she was very annoyed with herself because she had forgotten her glasses at home and therefore could not read the Scriptures to the homeless. She stayed upstairs praying for the people downstairs, but one of the homeless, on his way to the toilets saw her there and asked her to come and read the Bible to his table. She said she couldn’t read today but as she was happy to see her friend requesting her company she went to his table. There she opened the Bible to the passage of the Gospel that they were reading that day and she said to one of the guys. “You read it.” That man started reading, and as he was reading the words of Jesus he started weeping and weeping, so much that he couldn’t read anymore, and she passed the Bible to the man next to him. She said that everybody in the Café was looking at this grown-man crying at the words of Christ and everybody was amazed.
The first time I went to Cafe Case, I chatted to a man, Nigel, about the Bible and he knew more that he first confessed. At the end of the conversation we agreed about everything but what I found surprising was that he added “I will tell the other guys.” The next week, I saw him again, he was sat at a table with a friend that he introduced me to. As we were talking, Nigel said to his friend Richard “See that’s what I told you”. We had a conversation about why Richard didn’t believe and together we prayed about it. I realised that when he had said he would “tell the other guys” he really meant that he was telling the other guys on the street about Jesus! I left wondering too that day. I made a friend that I believe has a gift for preaching and he lives in the streets of Bristol.
That first week I helped at the cafe a famous American preacher was in Bristol and I thought, surely that man led many people to faith, but Nigel too and he will never be famous for it. But Nigel is a super star in Heaven! In this cafe every Sunday the Gospel comes to life. Jesus says it is the least among us who are the greatest, and I take that implication seriously. When I go to Café Casa I realise that I am not befriending the homeless, the poor, the outcasts, but I am befriending the rich in Heaven! And while I’m drained out every Sunday after Cafe Casa I’m also overjoyed. It is privilege to share Jesus with them and hearing the stories of the great in Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is a Kingdom upside down so let us pray together “Thy Kingdom Come”.