It was such a privilege and an honour to be there. Thanks too for all the support. I will never forget the experience – some thoughts that I wrote on the Monday, just after I was back:
I had the absolute privilege to join the Response Pastor team deployed in Manchester on Saturday and Sunday following the terrible event there last Monday night. The team had been there since Tuesday. Saturday saw 12 of us and Sunday 7 in and around St Ann’s Square. Many of you may have seen photos on the TV of the mass of floral tributes but the pictures do not do this justice nor can you sense the atmosphere there. What struck me most though was exactly what Frieda had shared with the SP team just on Saturday before the events on the Monday. 2 Corinthians v1 – “Therefore since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart”. And then from v 4 – 7 “Let light shine out of darkness” Apart from the flowers the amazing number of candles reminded me of a recent message I listened too that the light (of God) shines through the darkness and the light always overcomes the darkness.
Yup – lots of emotions too and lots of tears and hugs needed right from very young children up to many older men and women. No anger (now) but just a sense of ‘why’. What amazed me was we were not once asked why did God let this happen.
Just such an honour to support loads of people who just wanted to talk, individuals, groups and whole families. So many things I could share but just two here. The 22 year old chap R, already in the army but on leave and crying his eyes out feeling that he had personally let the 22 casualties down by not being able to prevent this. Then on the pavements around the flowers were loads of messages chalked. I watched the young lad write just two simple words “Forever Young” and that’s when I needed the tissue!
It was the big run in Manchester of the Sunday and so many runners, having finished the race, brought flowers and left their race medals.
Such a fantastic response too from the police for our presence. Quite strange to be chatting with them in all their gear, guns ready. Particularly poignant when once on Saturday and twice on Sunday we were asked to help (as the police wanted a lower profile) when families of the victims were escorted in to the square see the tributes. No words, just prayer for them and their families, the crowds so silent too except for tears.
Just do not really know how to end this report so sorry but I will just leave it there.
Please continue to pray for all those impacted.