"Next time you come, bring the Church..." were the words spoken to me by the community leader of one of Bradford’s toughest estates.
At this time of year, you may have been involved in or asked to pray for ‘Halloween alternative’ events to help shine some of God’s light into local communities. What about the challenges of Bonfire Night, especially when combined with the frustrations and fears around local COVID-19 lockdowns? These events are fast approaching and can often be a really busy time for the emergency services. There is a small element who take part in anti-social behaviour which causes fear for everyone in those communities, especially amongst young families.
Pam Kershaw (our Impact Team Leader, based in Bradford) is calling on us all to pray for estates like the one she recently visited in Bradford and all others around our nations where fear and chaos can take hold at this time of year…
Last Sunday afternoon, I visited a community in the heart of one of the city's toughest estates. It has a predominately Asian, East African and a growing Eastern European population.
Every year around the time of ‘Mischievous Night’ (the Friday before Halloween) and Bonfire Night, chaos descends in this community. Fireworks are dangerously thrown, residents are terrified to come out of their homes and an escalation of violence and disorder fills the streets.
As a response, a large number of volunteers from the community take to the streets to address these behaviours of predominately teenage gangs. The police, by their own admission, don't come into the area in the height of the troubles because they become the target, as do all frontline services. It is left to the volunteers to deal with the situation in whatever way they can.
What can we do to help this and the many other estates like this across the UK and Ireland? We’d love to plant an Urban Saints Group into communities like this and God willing, in the future we will. Right now though, let’s avoid the temptation to react with disgust for those that may do these things and instead we should all to cry out to God. What better time to do so than as we approach our time of 24/2 prayer (starting on Thursday 29th – click here to sign up for an hour or maybe more!). Please join us in praying for the brokenness of these young people and mistrust they are experiencing. Pray for their lack of vision and hope for better days and a true meaning of life in Christ.
My heart stirred, I shared with the community leader (a Muslim friend of mine who has engaged with Christianity throughout his life):
"We need some divine intervention alongside all your physical doing over these nights."
He smiled "We do indeed need 'the Good Lord".
(I held back the tears and excitement for I just found this amazing!)
Watch this spoken word video recorded as a response to this experience.
Below are some prayer points, drawn from a local police report outlining the needs in the community.
- Friday 30th October - Community Atmosphere
- Saturday 31st - Gangs & youth: Anti-social behaviour
- Sunday 1st November - Residents of the neighbourhood & volunteering
- Monday 2nd - Fireworks & safety: Fake fireworks, real consequences
- Tuesday 3rd - Parents & children: Education in parenting teenagers
- Wednesday 4th - Lack of youth services provision
- Thursday 5th - Police & frontline services: continued protection & trust to be built / maintained
- Friday 6th - Schools: Teachers to help educate & equip all to thrive & lead positive lives
- Saturday 7th - Road safety: fast, uninsured cars & a risk-taking culture
- Sunday 8th - Peace & prosperity in communities
The date to start falls at the beginning of our 24/2 prayer time so if this can give a focus to our prayers for young people over this time that would be great. I’d love you to join with me in praying for this Bradford estate but I will also be praying for all similar communities as well as for the chance for churches and organisations like Urban Saints to get stuck in to serving the young people in these communities.
I am standing and believing for miracles, for undeniable encounters and interventions of God and His heavenly hosts. May the goodness of God be seen in the land of the living (Ps 27:13) and may His Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Are you with us?
Pam Kershaw, Impact Team Leader
You can still sign up for one or more hour-long slots to join us in prayer for children and young people as well as praying for all that Urban Saints are doing to support and disciple these young lives for Christ.