In my last few posts I’ve shared about what I can see as an issue in Stockton on Tees (and surrounding area) with people struggling and with homelessness. I want to explain a little on how things so far have set in place and its certainly not been a short journey.
There has been a vision of change for many years and it first really started back in 1999 when I was first a steward transitioning from an attendee to one that helped with friends. I was in an active church with active youth church too and we met regularly and prayed regularly for each other. I miss that, but always used to have difficulty doing the whole prayer out loud thing as I still do.
We were away at a celebration when I saw that I was in multiple spaces of time simultaneously. Where everyone was in worship and I was there but it was not all then. It was as though time did not exist, and we were seeing multiple time periods simultaneously. I could recognise some as past as many as not yet, and this was around 2002. Since then I’ve seen them again but been in the moment – one of those moments was last years spring harvest when we were in the mixed range group in centre stage.
Another time I was standing and praying and found myself in a large building – it seemed like a block of offices that on every few levels had a mixture of shops or services on it and some had green spaces with trees and grassy areas. I was to discover that this was actually a place for those struggling in life from addictions to homelessness to those soon out of work. It was somewhere they could live and get the support they needed all in one place.
And that got me thinking, should I be on a mission? – I explored the various charities and mission groups and every time I looked into it, I got the message that “mission starts at home” and that I was not to go away but to work and help the area I live in. But what can I do? and then everything went on pause. Work was not really happening and the funding of life became difficult and everything was work, try to work etc and pause, the dreams always hung in the back of my mind but I didn’t really do anything more with it.
I attended and helped at various events usually to do with youth work, sometimes Harvest and sometimes IXth hour. I would get the message that I could one day be one of those on stage, sharing Gods message to people but I couldn’t even stand up and chat to 3 to 4 people, never mind 500+ and thought that could never happen and dismissed it but consistently was reminded that I should try. When I attended message 2000, I froze completely in front of strangers and no words came out and others came to rescue me – I got over it the next day but it was not easy.
In 2011, I felt a pull to study law at university – another thing I thought I’d never get through. I went not to get a degree but to learn how to protect peoples rights, and keep people safe. I’d always advised people of the logical sense of arguments but I wanted more, I wanted to know what I was saying would protect and not just advise and as I’ve found, the law is not quite as logical as it would be thought with many exceptions to many incidents. I am better informed now, and that is now finished as of yesterday and awaiting results – I actually got through it!
I still struggled with presenting, and found a group named Toastmasters which helps people get the confidence to speak and how to project yourself. The group didn’t last long in Teesside but I attended for about 9 months and did stand up a few times and gave talks… it was terrifying and still it was difficult at university until one time that scared me a lot. I was sharing my faith with friends in a group setting, a group that takes the mic out of most things and for the first 40 minutes, it was awful but by the end they were talking and working with me and asked what is next week excited. I did 3 to 4 sessions with them, each about 90 minutes… and when it came to a university presentation later that year, talking about a subject I knew about it was a lot easier.
I’m not saying presentations is something I enjoy and I really do get nervous sometimes but it was seeing a youth leader that I’ve known present for 20+ years getting nervous before going on stage and then he was full of confidence then back off full of nerves. When I chatted to him, he told me it happens almost every time – it doesn’t get easier and that gave me confidence too. I also chatted to several other I know talk well publicly and they all said nerves gets to them too.
Several years later and I was at SH helping in the Big Top (the only year I’d done Big Top) and on the stage was someone from my home town talking about the poverty of my home town and how Spring Harvest could help. Money was raised and sent there to help with projects but the passion hit me hard. I got through the stewarding but afterwards I was useless to everyone, broken inside and people could see. Friends helped me back to the stewards lounge to rest and I just was broken with joy.
I tried to get involved with the charity, but it was a charity for women and young people only so I didn’t really “fit” there but it kept on my mind. Last year I got the message that the time to wait is over and to get started, and this year I saw how I could use much of what I’ve learned this year to start something – the only issue now is to figure what that something is.
I think its to create a place where people can get the help they need like the building suggested above though I am not sure where it will go, or how it will be funded or anything like that but all ideas come from somewhere and if there is a passion behind it, something can usually be found.
No matter if it was my imagination, it is something I’d like to see if can be done.
So what now…?
Well yesterday I submitted my dissertation so now is the time to get started with the thoughts on how to proceed and research on how to actually get something in progress. Over the past few years, I have worked with organisations to help out at things and was always told, if I ever needed help to go back and ask so that is where I will be starting as soon as I work out how to make some sort of business case or plan of the aim of what I want to achieve.
I may even need help with that – If you feel you can help, please get in contact with me. I have a contact page on my johnc.info website and would love to hear of your insights too.
Thanks for reading. Until next time….