what a strange term, wouldn’t you agree? We usually associate the word pastor with a church office and ministry. Those are people who lead churches and preach on a Sunday. So what is a Street Pastor, The Guardian describes the Street pastors as “…inter-denominational Church response to urban problems…”
(if you are experiencing difficulties playing the video, click here)
Street Pastors are Christian volunteers who go out on a Friday or Saturday night and patrol the streets of their city helping people who have used excessive amounts of alcohol, to put it bluntly people who are drunk. They would help them get a taxi, call their parents or friends who would give them a lift. They will hand out flip-flops to girls who after few drinks can’t exactly walk on those high heels shoes, so they walk barefoot. They will talk to people, calm them down, listen to their stories, give them comfort. They often prevent drunk girls being taken and advantage of and make sure they end up at home. These are people who have felt the burden to go out and serve the community. They believe this is where Jesus would be “making sure people are saved and safe”, as Zoe Thomas says.
…this is where Jesus would be making sure people are saved and safe Zoe
At the beginning of 2013, the Street Pastors in Swansea commissioned iNNOVATION PHOTOGRAPHY to make a promotional video for their work. I have never been out on the streets of Swansea at 12-4 o’clock in the morning, especially when the temperatures are under the 0. It was an eye opener to the reality of the night life. So many young people, so much alcohol, SO MUCH DANGER. It was overwhelming.
I went out almost every Friday and Saturday night in March 2013, shadowing the teams, observing and filming their activities, how they talk to people, how they help them, how they watch for potential troubles, coordinating their actions with police, CCTV, doormen, etc. I was most impressed by their professionalism and efficiency. It looked like they were trained to do that kind of job. Well, it turns out they are. You cannot become a SP unless you go on a training course. However, what touched me most was their selflessness and sacrificial love for people who wouldn’t even remember next day who was it that got them a taxi or gave them a pair of flip-flops.
The idea for the project was to come up with a 5min video that will showcase what SP are all about and also give a first hand account of their work on the streets. Well, easier said than done. After the first few nights I realized this is not going to be easy. There was so much to film, so much going on, so many stories. How can you do justice to something so important and significant in just 5min, impossible. We ended up having enough material to do a whole documentary on Swansea Street Pastors. Editing was a real nightmare. We wanted to show bits from the field work but also get the personal story of some of the people who get their hands dirty, literally.
Zoe Thomas is one of the long time pastors who’s got so much passion for this work. She is such an enthusiastic person who will talk the talk and walk the walk. Her hart for Jesus and for the people who need help is incredible. She has this special and very personal approach to people who open up to her and trust her. She had some very powerful stories, unfortunately they didn’t make the final cut, 5min remember.
Another pastor I got close to is Andy Bell, he was great at giving us a more technical side of the SPs. operations. I watched him in action on the streets and his team was well prepared to face every kind of situation. We also interviewed a Prayer Pastor, Morfwyn Oldham, she is such a star. What an inspirational lady, so much passion there for God and for people. She is one of the many people who while the Street Pastors are out and about will gather together and pray for the SPs and every situation they bring to them. The SPs call them and inform them about certain people or situation they can pray for. They also listen to the radio, what the CCTV and door staff report, and when a problem comes up they are or on it in prayer. “We need man and woman”, says Morfwyn, “who will pray for the Street Pastors, when they are facing challenges on the street ”. Absolutely fascinating, very impressive.
We ended up with a video slightly longer than 5min, but the compromise was worth a while. For me this was not just a project, I was part of this noble work, I saw first hand the benefit of such service to the community. I’m not surprised everyone on the street knows who Street Pastors are. I’m not surprised the local Police works with them and considers them their most valuable partner. It was an amazing experience walking side by side with a Street Pastor.
We would stay in touch with SP and work with them in future because to quote Andy Bell:
“It’s a marvelous ministry, it really is”.