Over he last couple of weeks we have given out 16 sleeping bags at Church Without Walls Westminster alone. Here are some of the stories of the people we have met and given bags to.
Viewing entries in
Real Life Stories
On Saturday 7th June a group going to Church Without Walls Westminster, saw two guys sleeping under blankets in a doorway they stopped and offered the guys sleeping bags and sandwiches, when giving out any sleeping bags the team always make it clear that God loves the person and that the sleeping bags are a gift from Jesus, the team members also always pray with anyone receiving the bags
Last March on a very cold dark morning we arrived a Church Without Walls Ilford and found a man late twenties huddled under the bridge, lets call him Ben. Ben was cold and wet, we put a fleece on him gave him a hot egg and a sandwich. As we talked with him we realised he came from Havering area and we contacted Kim, Hope4Havering. We took him to our local cafe where he had a hot breakfast then took him to Kim's house,
Lantern Of Hope is our new outreach programme where a group of volunteers go out onto the streets after midnight until the early hours looking for people who are sleeping on the streets in need of a sleeping bag to provide them with one to fulfill an immediate need.
This is the story of our first night:
On a Saturday morning recently, a young girl came to Church Without Walls with her boyfriend. She was 3-4 months pregnant and she received a sleeping bag and prayer from the team, specifically for somewhere to live. She was a regular visitor for several weeks, until one week she arrived alone, limping and using a crutch. As the team spoke to her, they discovered that she was shaken and traumatised following an attack by her boyfriend.
It has been really encouraging to hear of the number of homeless attending Church Without Walls who come to faith in God. Four from Ilford and six from Westminster have been baptised this year. The baptism of the Westminster homeless men (and our very own founder, Steve) took place on the beach at Broadstairs in July. Steve had hoped for a quiet baptism, with no fuss and was reminded of God’s humour when it turned out to be the hottest day of the year, with several thousand people watching from the beach!
We still hear stories each week from grateful recipients of our sleeping bags, some of whom have owned an original AUOS sleeping bag for over two years! Recently at Ilford, one of our trustees was told: ‘It’s great! I get in my sleeping bag and I’m in another world….’ This is the message we are receiving on a regular basis from those who benefit from one of our sleeping bags.
We have recently received an update from CWW Ilford, who told us: “Just a short email to encourage you all. On Sunday morning, we were at church without walls as usual and Tony, who is a severe diabetic, came to sit on the seat and he was shaking he couldn't even hold a cup of coffee. He was sleeping behind Sainsbury’s in his sleeping bag but was suffering from the cold and his sugar levels were very low. We believe if he had not had an AUOS sleeping bag, he wouldn't be alive now. We brought a silver foil blanket from the car and together with our body heat he soon came back to correct body temperature and managed to eat a sandwich.”
There seems to be no end to the need for our arctic-grade sleeping bags – they are still in great demand. Since the charity was set up in November 2010, we have distributed 809 sleeping bags and 361 fleeces. One recipient, a 46 year old man in Ilford who has been homeless for about 30 years said, “It’s the best thing I’ve ever had! I carry it all the time and don’t let it out of my sight.”
On arrival at CWW, Westminster, we came across a man who had been discharged from hospital the night before. During the night, temperatures had plummeted to well below zero and he was wearing just a lightweight jacket and was shaking so much with cold that he couldn’t even grip a cup of tea. Immediately, he was zipped into an AUOS sleeping bag and a warm hat was pulled over his head. It took an hour to warm him up, but by the end of the service he was able to enjoy a cup of tea and some hot porridge. Until this man can find shelter, at least he will be warm and dry at night in his new sleeping bag.
Our sleeping bags were described as ‘Absolutely amazing!’ by one recipient at Church Without Walls, Westminster this weekend. When asked what difference it had made to have one of our arctic-grade sleeping bags over the cold winter months, the grateful owner told us: ‘It saved my life!’ He went on to explain that it was large enough to keep his boots in so that they didn’t get stolen at night. His smaller friend is able to keep all his belongings in his sleeping bag with him, so not only does it provide essential warmth and comfort, it also brings peace of mind to these two grateful recipients. A heartfelt thank you from the guys if you have purchased one of our sleeping bags over the past year. They really are life-saving.
Early on Easter morning, team members and rough sleepers gathered for a Praise Party on the streets of Ilford. Val and Judy led celebration songs, accompanied by Lucky (one of the regular rough sleepers) on the tambourine. Seventeen men attended the service where they heard the Easter message and all had the opportunity to share and receive prayer