When the street pastor initiative started up in Inverness I always thought that it would be something that my husband would get involved in. Unlike me his is a people person. I like the four walls of my house and pottering around inside. He likes to be out there among people.
I discovered last night that my husband like his own four walls – the inside of a pub! We were on our way out for a meal last night to celebrate my birthday. We hadn’t booked anywhere. We planned to have a meal and go to the cinema but were not sure which way around we would do it. In the end we plumped for the meal first.
We didn’t factor in meeting up with a friend of ours. Once he found out it was my birthday, he insisted we join him and his girlfriend for a drink, except it wasn’t just him and his girlfriend and it wasn’t just one drink and it wasn’t just the one pub either!
Everywhere we ended up, people beamed as Joe walked through the door. There would be handshakes and hugs – who says that the church has a monopoly on getting tactile?
At each venue I would be introduced with the line “And this is my wife..” I am sure that if Joe had been introducing them to the Blessed Virgin Mary, she couldn’t have got a better reception. Their high respect for Joe just transferred itself to me! I don’t know what Joe had said about me, but I was treated almost like royalty!
Over drinks Joe just distributed the love of Jesus.
Just as the pen and paper and words are my natural environment, I discovered that for Joe, the pub is his. He was in his sweet spot – talking to people, listening, giving advice and encouragement, gently rebuking where necessary. He dealt with everyone with such gentleness and he exuded joy. Part of the joy was because I was with him and sharing a part of his life that I hadn’t really experienced before.
I was very conscious of my own behaviour while I was there. I am really quite a shy person (aye right!) and my natural inclination is to withdraw. Some people can misinterpret that as being stand offish so I made a grand effort to initiate conversations. I didn't want to let Joe down. It is not my natural environment but I adapted to make myself at home.
Over the meal – we finally made it to a restaurant three hours later – he told me, “Maybe none of those people will ever make it through the door of the church, but they know who Jesus is because I have told them!” He told me one story after another of all the broken lives we had met that night and how he tried to be Jesus to them – not judging, not pushing them, just loving and accepting.
Joe isn't a street pastor. He is a pub pastor - without the jacket!
I was so proud of him last night.