For Nourish in April, a few people from the 1830 Pastorate went to help at Café Casa where every Sunday from 1 to 3, free meals are served and more than 200 people are fed. There is a long queue every time with people that would you see begging on the streets, but also people with fresh clothes and full time jobs, people of all ages and different nationalities, and people with children.
I went three times so far and every Sunday we read a different passage of a Gospel, going from one table to the next to share the Bread of Life and offer to pray for them. For many it is their church and when you come to their table they expect you to read the Scriptures, and for many, who are new, they are happy to listen to your message of hope.
I like to chat at every table and ask them what they know about the Bible and what they know about Jesus and depending on what they answer I share the Good News accordingly. The majority of them already have a faith in Jesus. You would be surprised!
Patrick (who runs Cafe Casa) prays the Lord’s Prayer at each table he visits. He asks the people that became his friends to put their hands together and he recites a prayer so many of them would have learnt at school, and it makes a lot more sense now. “Give us today our daily bread” “Lead us not into temptation” “Your Kingdom come”.
Upstairs there is a space to pray. A few volunteers are gathered and pray for the people downstairs. Anybody is welcome to join. On the Sunday we came to help, two homeless men joined us in the end when we prayed together. Patrick told there were few volunteers but an increasing number of people coming. He said, sometimes, like the week before, it is hard. The homeless man that I wish I knew his name, said, half asleep, half intoxicated and in a burst of tears “yeah sometimes it is hard.” That heart breaking moment was followed by his friend saying “no mate it’s not too bad, sometimes there is miracle, like you wake up and someone left a twenty pounds note next to you.” As the conversation starts again, the first man exclaims in another burst of crying “you think twenty pounds is a miracle.” I always leave café casa with a heavy heart and a lot to think about, that week I was left wondering if doing to others what we would have them do to us is a miracle.
The first time I went to Cafe Case, I chatted to a man, Nigel, about the Bible and he knew more that he first confessed. At the end of the conversation we agreed about everything but what I found surprising was that he added “I will tell the other guys.” The next week, I saw him again, he was sat at a table with a friend that he introduced me to. As we were talking, Nigel said to his friend Richard “See that’s what I told you”. We had a conversation about why Richard didn't believe and together we prayed about it. I realised that when he had said he would “tell the other guys” he really meant that he was telling the other guys on the street about Jesus! I left wondering too that day. I made a friend that I believe has a gift for preaching and he lives in the streets of Bristol. Jesus says it is the least among us who are the greatest, and I thought about that a lot too that week. When I go to Café Casa I realise that I am not befriending the homeless, the poor, the outcasts, but I am befriending the rich in Heaven! And while I'm drained out every Sunday after Cafe Casa I'm also overjoyed. It is privilege to share Jesus with them and hearing the stories of the great in Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is a Kingdom upside down so let us pray together “Thy Kingdom Come".