Originally I was not supposed to be doing Club Mission last night. However, every single person I spoke to who had signed up to it was both in Group 1 (last night’s) and was going home yesterday. So that presented us with a problem – how would it run when there was only one person able to do it. Answer: draft in as many volunteers as possible at short notice. I wasn’t particularly keen on doing it this week at first, not so much because of doing it but because of the physical repercussions (e.g. tiredness) for today and the fact that I have two essay deadlines next week and today is my day to write a bulk of that! However, I couldn’t face the idea that Club Mission would be cancelled on one of the busiest SU nights of the year, or perhaps worse, that there would be very few people trying to help out the masses.
Therefore, this time 12 hours ago I was outside the Student Union. There were four of us at first, and we started an hour later than normal because we had been told that the queue was massively long and this could have put us at risk and depleted our supplies before the night had properly begun. When we arrived there were a LOT of people making their way down the hill having been turned away and a LOT of people in the smoking area outside the SU (I have no idea what the situation was like inside but I imagine it was packed). Luckily two more people joined us soon after we started!
When you look at what we have at the beginning of the night it’s hard to think of how we can give out so much water, doughnuts and crisps. I don’t know the exact numbers of what we have but we cover two picnic benches and more with provisions and then have bags underneath to ‘restock’ too. I guess with it being a 1250 capacity venue (and trust me we don’t have enough to hand out water and food to THAT many people) I shouldn’t be surprised that we don’t have enough for everyone though! And it’s sad in a way at the end of the night that we have to tell people that we’ve run out of water – last night I think we had about 50 doughnuts left when we’d handed out all the water and I definitely thought ‘how are we going to shift all of these without water’. But less than an hour later we’d finished.
Of course, it’s not just about giving out water and food, but being there for people. I felt so privileged last night to get to chat a little with some of the people who came over. Sometimes it was just reiterating that it was free – we got many thank yous for that. A few people asked why and were pretty surprised that it was to love people at the university because of how Jesus loves us. Everyone who came over was quite drunk but no-one said a bad word to us, which is really surprising but a great blessing. One of the nicest things about doing Club Mission is the people who stop and talk to us for longer. We had one girl come over and chat to us about the loss of a family member and then she kept going on about how she was sorry about being an emotional drunk – she didn’t need to be sorry at all, it was great to chat to her and make sure she was OK! I don’t think we really see drunk people, we see vulnerable people who could do with some water and food and a helping hand. Other people came over and chatted about churches and how they wanted to go to church and CU, and some wanted to discuss the Christian response to issues like homosexuality – a challenge at 2am but good to talk through!
Before we headed down to the Student Union we had a time to chat and pray about the night. Gideon came up, and after seeing what happened and how many people we were able to help even though there were only six of us it really did remind me of Gideon. He was outnumbered in his fight and God decided that his army actually was too big, yet he still won despite having far fewer troops than his opponents and indeed that he could have had. We weren’t fighting a battle, but we were certainly lower on manpower than we would like, yet God still worked in us. And he is always at work, even in the smallest of ways – like making me surprisingly awake this morning!