29 May 2014
New book launched at Street Pastors conference
Founder of Street Pastors Rev Les Isaac's fourth book Faith On The Streets launches today at the Street Pastors practitioners conference in Manchester Cathedral.
Les Isaac, founder of Street Pastors in Brixton in 2003, also founded and is CEO of Alliance member organisation Ascension Trust, which trains and develops individuals to serve their local community and beyond. Street Pastors provide a late night outreach service in high crime areas of Britain to tackle the issues of guns, knives and violent crime.
There are more than 280 Street Pastor teams across the UK out on Friday or Saturday nights from 10pm to around 4am; Christians from different denominations, all concerned about the safety and well-being of people in their community and willing to regularly give up a night's sleep for others.
Faith on the streets is an account of the positive impact of street pastors and begins with an account of Les' childhood and teenage years and his journey to Christian faith. It contains interviews and powerful testimonies from police officers, church leaders, street pastors, school pastors, head teachers and the Mayor of Lewisham.
Born in Antigua, Les was a Rastafarian involved in London's gang scene before he became a Christian. Having been called into ministry, he went to work as a church leader for over twenty years, always seeking to engage with the same hard-to-reach communities that he came from.
Les said: "The guys on the streets know they are in a mess. Their communities know they are in a mess. But taking them straight into a church won't help because what happens when they leave the church on a Sunday afternoon?
"If we can intercept them, then they have a chance. If they get involved with the police, then we're talking prison and prison becomes their university."
It is a Church response to urban problems, engaging with people on the streets to care, listen and dialogue. It has seen some remarkable results, including drops in crime in areas where teams have been working.
Volunteers undergo 12 days of intense training in order to voluntarily patrol the streets of towns and cities at night, helping and caring for people in practical ways and referring them to greater help if need be. Each Street Pastor team consists of at least three groups of four, working a minimum of one night a month, usually from 10pm to around 4am.
Faith on the Streets follows Les' previous books Street Pastors, Relevant Church and Dreadlocks all of which discuss the urgent need for Christians to take the love of Jesus to the streets and engage with their local areas.
"There are those who say we have lost two generations of young men and the only thing we can do is lock them up, " adds Les. "I disagree. There has always got to be hope."
Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance, said: "I love the thought that if people ask 'where is the UK Church on a Friday and Saturday night?' the answer comes back: 'They are out on the streets in their thousands, until the early hours of the morning, handing out water and flip flops, getting people safely onto transport home and working alongside the police to see peace on our streets'. Street Pastors is the business of heaven and I cheer it on."