A walk in the park
By Sammy Jordan Project Lead HOPE For Every Home
Last year we invited people to, ‘turn your daily walk into a prayer walk’. One year on we review how it’s going, hear how God can take us by surprise when we walk with a story from Sam Daniel of Urban Saints, and find out what March as their ‘Our Big Journey’ month is all about.
Have you done much prayer walking over the last year? In lockdown when the daily walk was all I could do it was easier; but as life has returned a bit more to ‘normal’ (whatever that is), I’m finding it harder to fit in. Life is busy and I haven’t got time for ‘extras’; and that’s the thing isn’t it…how to make prayer and prayer walking a habit, part of what we do rather than an extra we don’t have time for. I sometimes wonder what the difference is between a prayer walk and ‘just’ a walk. I think what makes something a prayer walk is intentionality, recognising that God is with us as we walk and being willing to embrace opportunities…surprises he puts in our path. That certainly seems to be the case for Sam Daniel from Urban Saints whose walk in the park was anything but...
I came across the story in my regular Urban Saints mailing and got excited at how God had used Sam’s intent to create a kingdom moment. It gave me goosebumps…how about you?
Crusaders/Urban Saints was founded by Albert Kestin in 1900 after he met a group of boys in a park. 121 years later Sam Daniel, a newly employed Impact Team Leader for Urban Saints, went for a walk in a park, praying for lads to invite to a weekly group to talk about Jesus. After spotting a group of 10 or 15 with hoodies and bikes he parked his own apprehension and went to talk to them.
Sam noticed that one of the lads was detached from the others and decided to chat. Sam began talking about how life throws so much at us, and then went on to tell the lad the story of how Albert Kestin had chatted to boys in a park and how it had birthed one of the largest youth organisations in the country. The lad was impressed so Sam shared that he was a Christian, and the lad said he used to go to church with his mum and sister but now lived on his own in a council flat. Sam asked who the other lads were, they looked to be between 15 and 18, some wearing school uniform. The lad explained to Sam that they were his “runners” (they sold drugs on his behalf.) The lad Sam had just happened to bump into during his walk in the park, was the leader of the local drug gang!
Sam and the lad continued with their conversation and realised they were the same age, 28. The lad felt the system had failed him, there was nothing for young people to do so they were on the streets. So Sam uttered the (almost!) infamous line, “If I started a youth club or something here, would you help me lead it?”
The lad said, “No, but if you give me a call, I'll bring everyone to you. Every kid here knows me.”
All it took was for Sam to make his 15-minute walk in the park a prayer walk and God just ‘happened’ to direct Sam to the leader of the local drug gang who knows every child and young person in the area! Amazing! Have you got goose bumps yet? It gets better…, and this is the bit that really got me. The park Sam was in was the same park that Albert Kestin had walked in 121 years before.
At Hope for Every Home we want everyone, everywhere to know Jesus; to reach every street and every home. It’s a huge vision but it starts right where we are, in our everyday, our parks, the places we walk or journey to.
Over the weekend of 25th-27th March Urban Saints are encouraging everyone involved in Urban Saints to take part in ‘Our Big Journey’. It’s a reminder that making disciples and being a Christian is a journey; and like the best journeys, it’s better done together. Urban Saints Group Leaders, volunteers, supporters and team from across the UK and Ireland will take part in their own journeys – an act of unity and togetherness that for many will involve praying for the local communities they travel through and the young people in those communities. The journeys will all be different - long or short, challenging or leisurely, significant or silly (fancy dress has been mentioned!) - the important thing is that they journey together, alongside one another and cheer each other on. One of these journeys will start in the very park mention in Sam’s story - the park that gave birth to Urban Saints.
Like Urban Saints, could you go on a journey through the places and communities near you, praying as you go? Pray for the streets and places you visit and for the people on them. Like Sam, be open to what the Holy Spirit is showing you and embrace the opportunities God puts in your path.
One of the ways that Hope For Every Home are tracking prayer for streets is through the OIKOS prayer app. Hope for Every Home : The Prayer App It’s free to download and simple to use, simply tap the screen on the street you are on to tag a prayer. Urban Saints are supporting Hope For Every Home and will be encouraging the use of the OIKOS app as part of ‘Our Big Journey’. In the same way that Urban Saints are gathering their movement together as one, we at Hope For Every Home also recognise that the best journeys are done together; and reaching every street, every home is definitely only possible if it’s a journey we all go on together.
You can find more information about Urban Saints and Our Big Journey by visiting their website. Urban Saints | Who is discipling our young people? | Our Big Journey and if you feel a connection with Urban Saints, they would love for you to get involved - whether by organising your own journey over the weekend of 25th - 27th March or by joining in with one of the other journeys being planned. If the Urban Saints story has inspired you to take prayer walking seriously in 2022, why not find out more about how you can play your part in Hope For Every Home. www.hopeforeveryhome.org