One of the Light project students was teaching some young people in a workshop at a youth week called ‘Street Invasion’ in Peterborough. One of the exercises is to get them to think about their story. We set them a challenge to think about their faith and come up with a 6 word story. They only had 3 minutes to think about it but what they come up with blew us away. It was so powerful. So much so that they hey grabbed some old cardboard and wrote them up. In the city centre they held up their signs for people to see. It was quite unusual, to say the least, but people stopped to look at the young people showing their six word stories.
Why not offer free hugs to people wherever you are? Without stretching the evangelly-jelly truth we can honestly write that we’ve have hugged thousands of people over the past few years by simply standing with a free hug sign! It simply works, to reach out to people the free hug just speaks where words can’t.
The free hug as ‘a connection’ reaches out to people in ways I have never seen in a street context. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a gimmick or methodology wrapped in covert real intentions to share the gospel. I hug because I love people. The moment I stop caring for how people are is the time I bin the free hug sign.
When passing in their trucks, vans or fire engines I have seen people stop, jump out and receive a free hug. One woman today turned up for one of our hugs. Why? Because last week she had one. It was her first hug in TWO YEARS. No joke. She hadn’t been embraced all that time and on finding a willing lady to hug her the offer to come back for a second hug was too good to be true! She came back this week.
Have you ever tried just giving away something for free? You might be surprised by the response.
A few weeks ago some friends and I asked God a question: ‘What 10 shops or people can we bless this afternoon?’ We bought 10 milk tray boxes of chocolates and had a desire on our hearts to simply give them away, without any lengthy explanation or long winded writing of messages. Who was it that God wanted us to reach out with a symbol of grace?
The 10 reactions were all very different. Some wanted to know what the catch was; others thought it was some kind of set up or dare. Geoff was quite tearful as we passed on a box to him with our love for his wife, who was due to be in hospital the following week. He had shared his worry with us on and off in-between his job as a street cleaner.
The simple gesture seemed to connect something of the exuberant grace of God. Yes, it was simply a symbol and sign to the gift that is lavished upon this world, yet it in part pointed to that old story of grace that is new every morning.
Glyn Jones, who heads up The Light Project in Chester, took a small team to a car boot sale on an early Sunday morning with the express purpose of wanting to show what grace is like. The team had come up with the idea of having a stall like no other made of all kinds of bric-a-brac collected from local churches.
Amongst the usual car-boot items were some valuable items. An iPod, pictures and some items of silver ware. When punters enquired how much certain items were the reply went something like this, ‘Well, for you, its, ummm, how can I put it, it is, eh, well, it is free!’ Soon a crowd gathered and there was a mini-uproar. ‘This is absurd!’ One man declared. You can’t just give stuff away!
Glyn and the team insisted and then stipulated that the only condition in taking any of the objects on offer was that they couldn’t then in turn offer anything back. It couldn’t be swapped, or exchanged for kind offers of tea, coffee or bacon butties. The condition was simple. If they wanted an item, it had to be freely received. That’s it. One young lady spoke to her parents who had gathered at the stall and who were quite upset by this unusual car-boot stand: “Don’t you see mum and dad; they’re trying to show what grace is like.”
In what way can you show grace?
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