So, it’s 10,30 Sunday morning and I’m out on the streets, well actually, to be honest I’m in a cafe enjoying a double espresso with my friend and fellow Baptist minister Phil Tinson. We’re writing messages of hope on stones. They’re going to sit on top of a plinth with a sign encouraging people to take one.
We’re having a great time writing random messages of hope for people, praying as we do that our messages will match the people we meet who need to hear from God and receive hope.
The staff in COSTA think it’s a lovely idea to offer hope, the manager agrees we can use a table as a makeshift office/stone writing desk… Nice.
Once we’re all set up I feel we need to just allow people the opportunity to take a stone without any other pressure, in a way a non directive approach to evangelism. It’s difficult to do, to just observe, particularly when people stop and read the signs about the messages of hope, but we manage to resist talking to them, and simply allow them to choose a stone. In 15minutes of watching and praying only 3 people stop and consider the pile of stones and reach out to take one. One person puts hers back.
We then are joined by a couple who have been wanting to ‘have a go’ doing creative evangelism. Steve and Jenni are from Kings Gate church in Peterborough.
We decide that two of us should stand by the stones and invite people to take one for free and two of us would head off to secretly plant stones with messages in places where people may find them, on benches, in telephone boxes, ATM’s and door steps. This was a fun thing to do. Cheeky yet creative and hopefully it will connect with someone who randomly finds them.
There are three stories that stand out from offering words of hope. One lady was quite tearful when she picked up a stone that simply said ‘keep going…’ She explained that she had breast cancer and had felt as if God had been punishing her. She had been brought up a catholic and had somehow believed that her pain and trauma where being dealt to her by God. She had been depressed. She needed to know that God loved her and she needed to keep going and keep strong. My freinds Jenni and Phil prayed with her.
My friend John who I know from the streets took a stone that said ‘peace be with you.’ He looked at me and said, that’s exactly what I need.
The last story is of a young woman from Bulgaria who we found out after offering her a stone with a message of hope was very worried about her granddad who was back home. Steve who was working with me ran up to her and her husband and presented them with a stone each. On her stone I had written ‘do not fear God is with you.’ She felt God speak to her through these words.
This was such a simple thing to do. In many respects we could have just left the stones and the simple signs alone and allowed people to consider the plinth and choose a stone if they so wished.
However, being there gave explanation and some people loved the idea of taking a stone and reading it with us and wanting further explanation.