Patricia and I were in London for a few days this week catching up with our offspring who live there. For the past few months, our son has been working with a ministry to homeless people in the Waterloo area at Webber Street. We were eager to see the neighbourhood and the facilities at Webber Street, and to understand a bit more about this work.
The Webber Street ministry is currently carried on under the auspices of the London City Mission, but its origins date back to a ministry known as the London Embankment Mission which began in the 19th century. Each day they offer breakfast to around 100 rough sleepers, mostly men, who are known as their “guests”. With a mug of hot, sweet tea in their hands, the guests listen to short talk on spiritual matters before enjoying a hearty breakfast of toast, beans, tomatoes and bacon.
The Webber Street ministry also provides their guests with new clothes, hair and beard cuts, and medical advice. The shower facilities are limited so that they can provide showers for only 15 guests each day.
It is a challenging and exhausting ministry, both physically and spiritually. Many of the guests are Eastern European who have come to London looking for work, but who end up disappointed. For others, homelessness is a result of alcohol or drug abuse, failing relationships, unemployment or mental health issues. Many are lonely, disoriented, and in need of human friendship and support.
Those who work at Webber Street are committed to seeing their guests move on in their lives and they spend time talking to them, writing referrals, and helping them to find accommodation or work. By word and deed, they seek to share the love and grace of Jesus Christ. It is an impressive ministry among a group of marginalised and needy people.
This year the London City Mission celebrates its 175th anniversary. The mission of LCM is to share with the people of London, patiently, sensitively and individually the transforming love of God in Jesus Christ, and to enable them to join his Church. It’s track record of ministry and mission makes it a worthy object of our support through our prayers and our giving. In a wide variety of ministries, with a great team of gifted and committed people, LCM gives credibility to the gospel. Webber Street is a wonderful example of that credible, gospel-centred, mission.
As I walked around Webber Street, I thought that if Jesus was physically alive on earth today, I imagine that he would be there, showing love and support to the “guests”. And then I realised that by His Spirit He is there, in the words and actions of his servants.