9am Sunday morning and I’m literally wrestling with a sofa, trying to get it on top of the car. It’s so stubborn and heavy and I’m hot and bothered and to top it all, my wife who is rather grudgingly helping me and also trying to lift the heavy beast of a sofa, isn’t too pleased with the whole ‘sofa idea.’ With a sweaty brow I begin to question whether my idea of taking a large sofa into the centre of Peterborough was really such a bright one. However, with the sofa finally loaded and tied onto the top of my car I set off with the hope that 1) the sofa doesn’t fall off and cause some kind of horrific traffic jam, and 2) that I will be able to meet hundreds of people throughout the morning and early afternoon to share something of my faith. As well as my sofa, I am armed with a graffiti board and a box full of face paints, expecting to meet many people eagerly anticipating the England/ Germany game who want to get in the mood with a painted red and white face. I also have a generous pile of Marks gospels with me which will be on offer.
10.30am the sofa is on the street and covered with a white sheet and England flag to cover up the fact that its an old battered pink tatty thing that I picked up off free-cycle and has cigarette burn marks and some worryingly odd and dubious stains. However, it looks like new with a bright white cover and I’m quite chuffed as to what a spectacle it makes. I am joined by a Deacon from the local Park Road Baptist Church, Stuart Matthers who is a youth worker in the city. With shoppers giving us some curious looks and happy smiles we sit on the sofa and pray for the day.
11.30am an hour in and we have painted a dozen or so children’s faces and explained to some families that we are encouraging people to think about God. The response has been positive and two teenage girls asked if they could help us. Even though neither had painted faces before they were keen to give it a go, the result wasn’t too bad, a bit smudgy (the red and white of St Georges flag made pink in some places) but overall not bad!
1.00pm all of a sudden we are inundated with people! Groups of young people take turns to sit on the sofa and talk and two ladies ask for their picture to be taken on it, to then stay for 45 minutes and talk and talk. They have so many questions and are confused as to what to believe. I listen. When they ask I talk about Jesus. They talk some more and I listen. In the end they agree that we should pray together and in the middle of a city centre, on a settee we pray for God to draw close to us and I pray that he would show how much he loves them. When they leave they are happy and they take a copy of Marks gospel with them too. While I have been listening and talking Stuart has had a constant cue of people wanting faces painted, as he does so he talks with people about Jesus and why we are in the middle of the street on a Sunday with a sofa! The reception we have had, I must admit has been awesome. People seem so happy to talk and take literature, and ask questions and write things up on the graffiti board.
2.00pm Two groups of young people have hung out with us for sometime now. It feels like we have made friends as we talk about life and what’s been happening, Stuart is able to advise one young lad who has been kicked out of his home and point him to support services for housing. We swap face book details and arrange to meet up again soon.
2.30pm Time to pack up. The football starts soon and the street has got much quieter. We have a final sit on the sofa and give thanks for the people we have met and the conversations we have had. Then, once more, I wrestle the sofa back on the car and head off home.