Challenges in our Midst
Alongside these blessings, there have of course been challenges.
According to one shelter worker, the biggest challenge has been the poor health of several guests.
It has been a real struggle this year to support those “guests to realise how ill they are, and to accept the help that is on offer to them…but.at least the shelter can make sure they are as healthy as possible- before they have to go back out on the streets again.”
But Always God’s Presence
Throughout the highs and the lows of the season, the living, moving presence of God has been made known.
As one volunteer affirmed: “God has been present in the guests, the volunteers, the buildings; and through the support of our shelter staff.”
Present with our guests, as they constantly move from place to place: (Joshua 1:9)
Present at the dinner table and in the breaking of bread; (Luke 24:35)
Present in the lives and faces of all those who are still so often rejected and stigmatised as “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40).
The Journey on
It feels very poignant to me that it is usually in Lent that our Shelter scheme comes to an end.
Just as Christ begins his journey into the wilderness, our guests pack up the few belongings they have, and are on the move again.
As one volunteer said to me recently “we can learn a lot from the homeless”.
Amen to that.
I’d like to thank all our guests, our volunteers, our staff and trustees for their fellowship this year. Too many to name, but thank you.
And as we pray and reflect about what’s next for ECWNS, I wanted to leave you with a question to pray and reflect on, for all Christians concerned about the ongoing problem of homelessness in 21st century London:
“In the end, the crucial question, especially for those who claim the name of Christ, will be: ‘with whom did you stand?’”
Ken Leech, 1939-2015