Benny Goodson is doing a gap year with us, as part of which he has two placements, one at Webber Street, a day centre for homeless people in Waterloo and Husk, a Coffee Shop and creative space in Limehouse.
What does the ministry at Webber Street involve?
A typical day involves opening the doors at 9am, a rush by guests for the queue to put their name down for a shower, a short gospel talk, breakfast, and then a few hours to chill out, have a shower, get clean clothes, have conversations and make steps to move forward with life.
Would you say it’s harder to share the gospel at Husk?
It takes time to develop deeper relationships with people using the coffee shop, so the gospel is shared quite gently. We rely a lot on the Holy Spirit to be at work in someone’s life as we only catch glimpses when they come in.
However, there are people who come in and spend time with us every day and our friendships are blossoming. I was having a conversation with an elderly lady who comes into Husk every day and she mentioned to me that although she was raised a catholic she doesn't like to pray because she tends to fall asleep. My response to her was to tell her about the closeness of God and that as he's our Father, he loves it when we fall asleep in his arms.
What have you learnt about sharing the gospel through your time with London City Mission?
I've learnt that not all people are the same. They've all been formed by their different experiences and so you can't use a 'one-size fits all' formula to present the gospel to them.
For instance, we have people coming into Webber Street thinking they need our services, they need food, they need a shower, they need XYZ. And we do give them those things, but during the process we also share the gospel with them.
The difference at Husk is that people don't really need to come and get free Wi-Fi and excellent coffee. They've chosen to leave their house and be around people but could easily go somewhere else if they choose. This means our duty as Christians running a coffee shop is to take the time to develop those relationships and really create a hub that people feel they can call their own.
When I see Billy Fray (Husk team leader) I see the way he takes time with almost everyone who comes into the coffee shop. I see the difference that makes practically to their experience of Husk. And then I see Billy’s prayer book and the spiritual side of what he is doing, it is really inspirational.
What would you say are the key things you’ve learnt this year?
God has really been teaching me to rely on his strength and power this year, and to realise that nothing is happening because of what I do but only because I'm allowing him to work through me.
That’s a very humbling thing to realise.
I think as a young person embarking into ministry it’s really easy to come out all guns blazing and thinking "I'm gonna be really great at this, I wanna see XYZ results from this ministry and it’s all gonna be really quick and easy."
But eventually you run into God and realise that, since he's in the business of turning people’s lives around, it can really take a lifetime of grinding out tough conversation after tough conversation. That’s been an important lesson for me to learn.
Gain experience and training in urban mission on our City Vision scheme. Apply now for September at www.lcm.org.uk/gapyear