The Good Samaritan – Ft Augustus & Invergarry

April 29, 2013
Invergarry Church of Scotland

Invergarry Church of Scotland

The following are my notes from an opportunity to share about the work of Inverness Street Pastors at Fort Augustus and Invergarry Churches of Scotland on April 21st.

Many thanks to Rev Tabea Baader and Margaret Allen for the opportunity to share about the work, and for the generous hospitality my family and I received…

The Reading: Luke 10:25-37, NLT

25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

A few years ago Princeton University psychologists conducted an experiment on a group of people studying for ministry…

They met with each student individually, explaining that the student was to complete a questionnaire on why they wanted to be in the ministry and prepare a short talk on the parable of the good samaritan… some of the students were told that they had little time before they had to present their talk in an adjacent building, others were told that they had plenty of time and just head over to wait their turn.

The researchers ‘arranged’ for the students to  come across someone in the alley between the buildings – this person was lying on the ground, head down, eyes closed, groaning and coughing as they went from one building to the next.

All the students answered the questionnaire that they were entering ministry in order to help people – however of those faced with being late for their presentation on the good samaritan only 10% stopped to help… (some literally stepping over the body in their rush to their presentation)… and rather surprisingly only 63% of those who had plenty time stopped to help.

These students are like us… we know that the most important commandment is to Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength… and to love our neighbour as ourselves… but we can become easily distracted by the business of life… and fail to stop.

For me, a street pastor in Inverness – the parable of the good samaritan is very close to what we do.  We’re nothing particularly special – no super men or women, most of us are not ministers, or pastors, or elders, or deacons… we’re simply volunteers from 18 different churches who work together to show mercy to those in need in the city…

and I think the key difference between us and the ministry students in the experiment above – is simply intent.  We are intentionally looking for opportunities to show mercy, and making time and space available to allow us to respond to the needs we see.

We are intentional about where we go… we go looking for where there are people in need.

The parable of the good samaritan tells us that the man was on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho – historically this was known as a notorious place, a place of robbers and thieves… it was not unusual for someone to be robbed, beaten and left for dead.

Inverness City Centre on a Friday and Saturday night between 10pm and 4am is a very different place to the city during the day…

1000’s of people are there drinking and partying… sometimes this can spill over into aggression, arguments over misinterpreted slights descend into anger.

Young women, scantily clad, coming out of very warm clubs into a cold -5 night, high heels in hand as they can’t steady themselves any more – somebodies daughter, someones wee girl… dazed and bemused, can’t find a taxi home – vulnerable.

Young men with sad stories to drown – tales of broken families, destroyed hopes and growing fears… Some with unresolved memories of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places around the world.

Some of those we see are penniless and hungry – some homeless – some deep in substance abuse.

The parable tells us that the samaritan saw the need, and it stirred in him compassion – He didn’t judge the man for being in a notorious place – and we as street pastors intentionally follow his example in showing mercy…

We are not on the streets to preach at the people we meet, we are there to demonstrate Gods love in practical ways…

  • We are there to pour oil, and bind up the wounds…
  • Here the street pastor teams –
  • help calm aggression, by being peacemakers;
  • clear glass from a path in case a girl in bare feet comes that way;
  • giving away flipflops to those who need them;
  • helping people get home safely – occasional paying for a taxi;
  • helping others find a safe place to sleep for the night;
  • wrapping someone in a foil blanket to keep them from getting colder;
  • sharing a hot meal – or a hot chocolate;
  • calling an ambulance when someone is in need of medical assistance…
  • Referring someone in need to services – to Highland Homeless Trust, or Social Services, Drug and alcohol services…

Sometimes we get asked “why?” – and then we get to share about Jesus, about how to become reconciled with Father God, and to pray.

And we are received well by nearly all those we come across – in the 5 years in Inverness none of the 60 street pastors has received any injury, or been hurt as part of the work.

The Nightime City Centre is only one part of the work – we also operate in two communities; Merkinch and Hilton… places where there is deep poverty and deprivation… Street Pastor teams here have ministered to physically and emotionally abused women, frightened children and broken men.

We also work in the City Centre during the day – specifically on days when court is in session as this draws people into the city from all over the highlands – we work to reduce anti-social behaviour, and with people for whom substance abuse, chaotic lives and homelessness are a lifestyle rather than a recreation.

And in the day time service we work closely with the Council/Housing, NHS & Social services, Police, Businesses, the local charities (HHT, APEX, Calman Trust, Blytheswood) and churches to meet the needs of those we find in the city. Meeting with key service providers on a fortnightly basis to identify solutions to issues currently identified in the city.

In 2012 the 60 street pastors have had nearly 7500 conversations with people in the city and the communities… and some of these are faith related.

A local businessman gives us his coffee shop on a Wednesday morning to operate as a drop in location for the people we meet and would like to find out more about God.

Many of those whom we help directly tell us that what they have seen in street pastors has helped them have a more positive view of church… and some have returned to church attendance after years of being away.

… This and much more is how we as street pastors respond to Jesus’s words “Now go and do the same”…


One comment

  1. Ha! Only just got to reading this…

    Did Tabea say C&I were preaching there only a couple of months ago?

    TKF invades everywhere eh?!!



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