It’s easy to forget, living in a city where everyone maintains strict control over their personal space, no one makes eye contact if they can help it, and you definitely, definitely don’t disturb the concentrated peace and talk on the Tube first thing in the morning, that the people who live here are actually pleasant, largely well-meaning, warm and receptive. On the odd occasions when we burst out of their self-contained bubbles of individual protection and engage with the people around them we discover, to our delight, a willingness to chat, share and express community.
So last night, in an act of reckless craziness, some people from my church decided to wander the streets around Clapham Junction talking randomly to complete strangers, to find needs and to express care. We met up first, prayed and then wrote down locations, descriptions, names and needs onto a piece of paper, and then set out to find the people who matched them. Some would say this is a highly prophetic way of doing evangelism. Others would say it’s mental. I think I probably sit somewhere between these two camps. I’m not sure it really matters what’s on the piece of paper – it’s just a tool to help us get out of the restrictions of our British reserve and a way of talking to people. Some people were polite but that was it. Others were glad to have the opportunity to talk to someone who would listen and care.
All of which makes me think that, regardless of your motivation, the more we talk to strangers, the less we consider our neighbours to be a threat and the more we learn to trust one another.