Visionary Rev Les Isaac OBE is a keynote speaker, an inspirational leader, founder of Street Pastors and member of the Evangelical Alliance’s One People Commission Core Group. He explains why change is necessary and why it has to start with us.

Coming as a young boy from Antigua to the UK at the tender age of six, how did that impact you and how did you adapt to the change? 

Navigating change from such a young age, experiencing cultural shifts, change in climate and experiencing racism were all things I had to contend with. But change is good. Change makes you more agile in the body of Christ. 

You founded Street Pastors 20 years ago, what was the vision behind it, and wanting to do evangelism in a different way? 


The vision was two-fold or three-fold, firstly there was a crisis on our streets in the cities: crime, gangs, drugs and guns. Secondly, there was a crisis of anti-social behaviour. We as the church needed to respond, but also to help and bring hope to young people. Thirdly, the church was telling people to come to it, and I have always said, that’s wrong, Jesus tells us to go! Creating Street Pastors provided a vehicle to do this and meet people where they were at. 

What do you feel is the biggest challenge for the church today when it comes to evangelism? 

The biggest challenge for the church today is Christians not having confidence in the gospel; I’m scared, I don’t know if I know my Bible, what if they ask me a question I can’t answer? And there is so much fear that Christians feel let me shut up and remain quiet and instead be an undercover agent, licensed to do nothing’! In creating Street Pastors we sought to combat this problem
and build up Christians with the confidence to go into these spaces and lean into these conversations. We wanted to contextualise the gospel in a relevant way.

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Why is it so important for the church to embrace change? 

Whilst the message of the gospel never changes, we have to change the methodology. Embracing change comes from wanting to see change and that is inspired by what should be at the heart of our core values and is a phrase I’ve coined called: Caring, Listening and Helping’. The world and our communities need to know that we care for them. As the church we are not just doing something because we want to get them into our building. There is a genuine concern and compassion. From listening we can be empathetic and thirdly, helping is our ministry, and our ministry is in the world, it’s in our workplaces, it’s in our communities, it’s in our nightclubs and in our pubs. To be able to do this powerfully we have to, as the church, work together. Not in silos. No one denomination, no one congregation. 

What are some of the complexities for church leaders when it comes to implementing change? 

You have to recognise that many church leaders are stressed out, many feel that I don’t want to do another thing, I have enough on my plate. So, when you challenge them to think about change, they are not just thinking about change, they are thinking about the obstacles, how much more work is required. Which is why many church leaders are not open to change.

"Jesus was the greatest example of humility and we need to reflect that. And when we are integrous we can be trusted."

Your pivotal speech at the Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast last year on humility, servitude and integrity was swiftly followed by the resignation of the secretary of state for health and social care. What inspired that speech?

I was raring to go because this speech had been in the making since pre- Covid. There were concerns with the organisers that asked me to change a few things because it was too political. But I expressed that I was speaking with a message from the Holy Spirit and to remind MPs that they are called to serve the people. Jesus was the greatest example of humility and we need to reflect that. And when we are integrous we can be trusted. That day was Les delivering what God had given me to deliver. It wasn’t with the intention to get rid of anyone, it was to offer redemption and support. That day wasn’t about me, it was about God and His Spirit to move Mr Javid to do what he did and to give up his position and to humble himself. The message was that ministers need to recognise that when you get on the pulpit, people are listening. We need to be men and women of prayer, in tune with God.

What’s next for you?

My wife and I pastor senior leaders. We are extremely passionate about pre-marital counselling and marriage enrichment. I am also committed to advocating for unity through building the intercultural church. I am dedicated to working with more and more church leaders in an intentional way to bring as many people as possible to the kingdom of God before Jesus calls me home.

Les Isaac is the founder of the Street Pastors initiative. Les was involved in London’s gang scene before he became a Christian. He went on to work as a church leader for over 20 years, seeking to engage with the same hard-to-reach communities that he came from. 

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