I’ve just been on a training course for Healing on the Streets, run by Stockton Parish Church. I’d been familiar with it before as it has been running for two or three years back in Cheltenham, and although I did not join it then I was really excited to hear that it is starting up here in the north-east.
The guy doing the training was Mark Marx, who started the movement at the Causeway Coast Vineyard church in Coleraine in 2005. He himself has been a street evangelist for twenty years, but has found this form of ministry to be incredibly powerful and effective. He has personally seen people healed of cancers, those paralysed in wheelchairs able to walk, and blind eyes to see.
I get really excited about ministries like this, where the Kingdom of God visibly breaks onto the high street. However I am aware that not everyone who reads this blog feels the same way, so I thought I’d highlight the “Five distinctive marks” of Healing on the Streets, adapted from the training manual.
- The presence of the Holy Spirit – we carry the Holy Spirit wherever we go, and we are totally dependant upon him as we minister.
- Peace – we create the place of ministry so that it is a haven of peace in the middle of a bustling environment.
- Gentleness – “The streets are full of broken, hurting people. We minister with gentleness and sensitivity” (direct quote from the manual)
- Love – we’re empowered by God’s love, not our strength. Whether people are healed or not, we minister and communicate the depth of God’s love.
- Compassion – our motivation is for “the lost, hurting and broken… expressed through our words and action”
Prior to the start of the course, I went on a quick birding trip to Greenabella Marsh, near where the seals lounge around at Greatham Creek. I’d heard that the avocets had returned to the area for the summer. I had seen these charismatic waders before as a kid, on a family holiday trip to the RSPB’s reserve at Minsmere, so was eager to see them again. I was not disappointed: eight were skimming the water for food, with the smokestacks of Teesside in the background. And if that wasn’t enough, a short-eared owl appeared and flew low over the ground across the marsh.