Last Friday I took part in The Manchester Sleepout. I slept rough on the grounds of Manchester Cathedral under the stars and in the rain.
I attended alone and as soon as I entered the cathedral I realised that many people had come in big groups. This was a little daunting and increased my nervousness ten fold! I had no clue where to sit so I walked towards the icon of Jesus above the candle lighting stand. I often stand in front of the icon and pray, so I did my familiar routine, and asked Jesus to keep me company and help me not feel alone. I sat down and tried to relax.
Five minutes later a member of the street orchestra, who were performing soon, sat next to me and talked to me for around fifteen minutes! I was grateful for his company and for Jesus answering my prayer. The man left to take a toilet break, and then five minutes later I saw a friend of mine from university. She and I chatted until the speeches began to start, for the whole time I had not been alone! I was so happy and thankful for my prayer to be answered again.
Going out into the cold and finding a patch to sleep was challenging. The mud was the biggest issue, the ground was saturated so as I unrolled my mat it got covered in leaves and mud. Next was getting into my sleeping bag, my sodden boots filled with mud streaked the inside. I didn’t complain, I knew in reality I had it easy, hundreds of people do this every night. I prayed for them.
There wasn’t a moment where it was quiet in the town centre. Sirens from emergency vehicles rang out, shouting from happy revellers, construction of the Christmas markets, arguments, and the occasional fast walk of a passer by kept my brain on high alert. I woke with a start because someone was stood near my head and, on other occasions noises panicked me.
At 5am I was woken by a rain shower, I put a plastic sack over me and lay for half an hour. I was exhausted, but I was getting saturated so I packed away everything with clumsy hands. I couldn’t help thinking about if I had to do this again the following night with a wet, mud filled sleeping bag.
I sat in the cathedral soaked and tired but I’d done it, I’d raised £260 for the Booth Centre.
Helping the homeless has been a focus for me, especially since I started my foundations course.
On my first session I saw a man outside Tesco so I bought him a sandwich and a drink.
On the second session I had to call into an ASDA before I left and I saw reduced sandwiches, I had the inspiration to buy three. On the way to my my course there were three men in a group who needed food.
On my third session, I once again had the inspiration to buy sandwiches but also to get cashback from the transaction. After feeding three men I saw a women who wanted a hot drink, I had the cash (thanks to the cashback) to buy it her.
Yesterday I hadn’t had an urge to buy any food, I trusted God and went with it. Walking down Deansgate I saw a man near Tesco, I felt terrible that I had nothing. I carried on walking and saw another man and a voice told me to turn around and go back and get some cash from the cashpoint. I asked for twenty pounds, thinking I should ask the man if he wanted food or money, the cash machine gave me a tenner and two five pound notes, my question was answered.
I will keep helping as much as I can, guided by the Holy Spirit.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…” Galatians 6:9-10