“I dread to think what London would be like if it wasn’t for the Churches,” someone said to me yesterday. “Especially the way social services are going. The churches are the ones with the childcare facilities, the Alcoholics Anonymous groups, the soup kitchens… That is what the message of Christianity is all about, the caring for people in need.”
What was so amazing about this statement was that just a minute before this, the person in question had told me she was a Pagan – after exploring English history, she had come to realise that all the earliest religions had been wiped out by these jonny-come-lately Christians (she didn’t quite use those words), who had forced everyone to adopt their religion, so within a generation or so, the memories of the old ways had been forgotten and the religions dwindled out (she did use those words).
She works for a heritage charity, helping to raise funds to protect and repair buildings of historical value in London, and of course, many of them are churches.
I was struck by how negative she was about some areas of Christianity (and we had earlier been talking about the Catholic faith, too), but what an advocate for church-based community service.
I was also delighted to hear that she had had such a positive experience, and didn’t find churches exclusive or cold, but warm and welcoming.
The media may paint a different picture, but the people on the ground with direct experience find churches a place of refuge, help and support. Let’s praise God for this reputation, and continue to work to sustain it – there’s plenty of negative press trying to suppress it.
And if you’re involved in ministries of any kind which reach out to those in the community, be encouraged – your love and dedication are not in vain. Even the Pagans see and appreciate it.