You could feel the menace in Liverpool ONE on Tuesday afternoon. The Apple store (where I had an appointment with genius John Bootle) was already locking down at 4.00 pm. All iMacs, i-Pods and i-Pads were being removed to safe storage. The security guards looked nervous. Facing us was North Face which had been looted the previous evening. The whole place was preparing for onslaught.
I felt like an intrepid war correspondent boarding the C5 for Toxteth. Everyone else was heading in the opposite direction, at least that’s how it felt. Eventually I was the only passenger left on the bus. I would not have been surprised had the bus driver had stopped and said to me: “This is as far I can take you. You will have to walk the rest from here.”
Actually we stopped just outside St Cleo’s in Beresford Road and the cumfy bus continued on its circular journey. I had arrived safely for their specially-convened prayer meeting.
For as I emailed on Tuesday, for spiritual warfare you need spiritual weapons. So we prayed for the safety of Toxteth, for those upholding law and order (truly a gift from God – read Romans 13:1-7 ) and for those young people caught up in the adrenalin rush of violent confrontation.
Curate Tom Wilson read Psalm 27 – “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.” That’s how it felt.
I was reminded of Simon Guillebaud, the main speaker at New Wine from the previous week. The recent city riots in the UK are a cakewalk in comparison with the situation in the central African warzone of the Congo, Burundi and Rwanda, where Simon is based. Here life is stripped to its basics – and so in the Christian faith.
You can get an idea of Simon’s mission – and his message – from this clip;
In fact, Simon told us of one event when a friend and his family were surrounded in their remote house by well-armed rebels intent on plunder. They prayed through the night – to find themselves alone the next morning. Only much later did they find out from these men, now Christians, that they had been saved by angels.
For when it comes down to it, only Christ can touch those parts which social and economic policy, urban planning, community work and volunteer action cannot reach – and when Jesus touches the leper, there is healing and hope. And so we are called to share this Christ wherever we may be, whatever the cost. It’s our responsibility.