Over the last five years in Belfast, there has been a movement called, StreetReach. It has been an initiative to encourage young people from Belfast to go into areas of the city that they may never have gone before, so that they might minister to people and see Christ at work in these places. The teams would do some hard work in gardens and in cleaning streets, but also connect and pray with people. These certain communities have been places that have been effected by poverty, division, and the Troubles. The first year StreetReach happened, there were a handful of people doing this work on the Shankill. By the fifth year—last year—there were over 1,000 youth going into over 30 areas around Belfast! Wow!
When StreetReach ended, a prayer was that many people would do their own versions of outreach, and that the movement would multiply.
Wells Church (which is an Anglican church plant just outside of Belfast), YWAM Ireland, and a few other churches and people gathered last week to participate in a few days of serving our area, the upper and lower Shankill. It was called FWD, or Faith With Deeds. The back of our cool t-shirts said, “I’ll show you my faith by what I do,” from the book of James.
I loved this part—we were put into groups to serve in, and they were called our “church” for the week. We spent time praying together and sharing in those little groups. I had very deep experiences of God in those groups. I felt as we prayed for people we met, that God was really doing something powerful.
Every day we met in the morning at had times of worship and prayer. Those times filled us with purpose and drive to go and meet people, pray for them, tell them about Jesus.
Each night on the lower Shankill (where I worked) we had a barbeque for the community. One particular night, I believe we served over 100 burgers! There were lots of people there, and the sun was shining. I loved meeting with moms and families that some of us have known for years through the local Breakfast Club we do at the primary school.
But beside the BBQs, we did a lot of praying, knocking on doors seeing if we could help with anything, and playing with the kids in the local parks.
As we were debriefing the week, I said that even though I’ve lived here for a few years, to me, this feels like a new neighborhood. I’ve never met so many people in such a short amount of time—people who were thankful to have been met! People were open to prayer and open to hear about the love of God, through words and actions.
Many of us in YWAM were very touched by our experiences during FWD, and we’ve already been talking about doing something like it more often. Who knows how, but I believe our love for the communities we live in has been somehow re-kindled. We continue to trust in God for a sweet move of His glory throughout these places, and in our hearts, too.