Manna interview: the streets are paved with prayer

28th June 2022


One of the speakers at the Celebration of Lay Ministries is Dave Knight Chairman for Taunton Street Pastors.

What are Street Pastors?

Street Pastors are trained volunteers who care about their community and patrol their local area on weekend evenings and during the day. The Taunton team comprises about 75 volunteers covering Taunton, Bridgwater and Wellington.

What do they do?

We have a different approach in each place, but most of the time it is simply a case of being present. Talking to those who want to talk and to those who are lonely. We are not there to preach but we do talk about Jesus a lot, – it’s just that we let the other person lead the conversation rather than us pushing it People may think young people are not interested in spirituality, but that’s not the case. And in the intense evening atmosphere the conversations we have very quickly turn to spiritual matters.

What about the other times?

Every night there is a potential for challenging situations, which may or not be realised. We know that we save about two or three lives a year and prevent a similar number of rapes, but you can never be totally sure. Our priority is looking after those who are alone, after perhaps becoming isolated from friends, who are in a potentially vulnerable position. We get involved in calming aggression – not piling in, but just standing there and praying. Just our presence, and for that read the presence of God, seems to calm situations down. We then deal with the aftermath.

Is it safe for you?

We take safety very seriously and our training is very thorough. We know what to do, and we always stay together. When I first heard of Street Pastors I was reluctant to get involved as I felt it wasn’t safe, but it really is. Three years later I heard a talk on Street Pastors at my church and responded - 10 years on I’m still doing it.

Despite the challenges we experience, people today are generally much better behaved than in the past – I think the current generation of young people has a different culture that is actually less dependent on drink and drugs.

Why do you do it?

It is amazing ministry! It may sound serious but we really do have a ball out there. You are in this hotspot of activity, the front line, and where street pastors have been going for some time, those streets have been paved with prayer so you are not alone when you go out, you are taking all that power and presence of God with you. It has to be seen to be believed.

Is prayer an important part of Street Ministry?

Everything that we do is built on a foundation of prayer and at night we have a prayer team behind us – and we won’t go out with that prayer support. Some of the team will be at the prayer base, some will be out and about on patrol, some will be at our Safe Space out in town. We also pray when we are out and about. We will pray with individuals and we will pray as a team. And we see so many answers to prayer. I see more answers to prayer on an evening as a Street Pastor than I do in the rest of my week put together.

How do people recognise you?

We are deliberately very distinctive. We wear at least three elements of uniform and always wear a hat so we are clearly identifiable. We always work as a team, never alone, so we are very visible and very well known, and in general loved, in our area.

You were one of the first to offer daytime Street Pastors, how does that differ?

There are less alcohol issues, but the two biggest things we encounter, day or night are mental health issues and loneliness. So we still talk to those who are lonely, we talk to homeless people, some of whom may not speak to anyone else that day, we chat and listen to everyone. Whoever we talk to it is important that they know, that whatever is going on in their lives, they know that there are still people who love them, that God still loves them.

Find out more on the Street Pastors website.

A sample of this interview first appeared in the July 2022 issue of the Manna mailing which you can download here.

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