January
27
Author
Marie Reavey
Faith and Police Together

What are the issues – or wounds, as one friend calls them – in your community?

So often the deep needs and problems within our communities are hidden and churches that want to meet the needs of heir neighbourhoods don't know where to start.

As a Christian and a police officer I have often been perplexed by local churches’ lack of understanding of some of the deepest needs within our communities, or how to address them. One person told me, “We don’t have a problem with drugs here,” although I knew the area had a drug problem – there are very few areas of the UK that don’t. Someone else said, “Youth group is their church. It’s the only time they get to learn about the Bible. Relationships and drugs education is taught elsewhere.” Yet schools or other agencies that teach on relationships and drugs will not be explaining those things from a biblical perspective and how Jesus relates to those issues.

If you are wanting to learn about the needs in your area, or you have seen the needs and want to know how your church can help, as well as where you can go for support around certain issues, a great way you can find out is by engaging with your local police, Social Services or council. They will all be able to give you insights into what your community needs and what facilities already exist, and will often welcome your help to fill the gaps.

Many of the issues police officers face such as addiction, mental ill-health, and missing people will never be resolved by police intervention alone. We will never be able to arrest our way out of a drugs problem. We will never be able to arrest our way out of a gangs or violence problem. We will never be able to arrest our way out of issues of neglect or abuse. The root causes of these problems need to be addressed. The only way these issues can be dealt with are by working in partnership; police, statutory agencies, voluntary agencies and faith groups all have their role to play. The whole community needs to come together for the greater good to see those caught in the trap of oppression and poverty being set free, to see those who have little to no hope of a bright and meaningful future being given hope, purpose and meaning. To see those families and individuals whose lives are in chaos and turmoil gain peace and stability.

Many of those involved in drugs and gangs, or who are homeless need community away from their current location and contacts, and someone who cares about them to get free. They need a place to belong, where they can feel valued and loved. The Bible is full of stories where those who society writes off, God writes in. Rahab, a prostitute, became part of the people of God and even entered into the lineage of Jesus. Jesus spent time with those on the edge of society; he loved them, he gave them hope, and he brought them healing and freedom. We are called to be Jesus to those within our communities today and yet all too frequently we are not going to those on the edge of society. They are seen as hard to reach yet they should be seen as people we need to reach.

I believe that when the Church goes into those dark places, and reaches out, stepping into the gap between services, meeting the needs and extending the Kingdom we will begin to see more individual lives and communities transformed. If you want to develop a deeper understanding of the Father’s unconditional grace, mercy and love towards us, I can’t think of a better way to do it than to come alongside those who are trapped in these places.

Over the last 14 months I have been working on an initiative called Faith and Police Together. We are particularly looking at ways in which faith communities can help to tackle addiction, serious youth violence, homelessness and loneliness. There is some fantastic work happening but more needs to be done, and done in a way that makes best use of the resources God has given us filling the gaps, meeting the actual need and not the perceived need. For example, there are already many groups donating food to the homeless, and in some areas food is being wasted because there is more than enough to meet the need. No one wants this for their resources of time, skill or money.

I have produced a guide as part of my work called The Faith Communities’ Guide to Engaging with Police. The guide is full of information about how you can pray for the police and where to get information to fuel your prayers for your community along with ideas and case studies to help inspire you. Why not download it, read it through prayerfully, perhaps with others from your church, and see what God draws your attention to. Some will naturally feel comfortable around those who are older and need to get out of a situation, some will naturally feel more comfortable working in a preventative way to help stop people from going down the most destructive paths in life, but we can all do something. (And don’t forget to find out what your area actually needs, before you put too much time and effort into planning.)

You can find out more and download the guide from www.faithandpolicetogether.org.uk  

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Marie Reavey is an Acting Inspector from Norfolk Police. Since 2018 she has been working on a new national initiative called Faith and Police Together. Their vision is to see the police service across the UK working in partnership with faith groups to build safer communities and reduce demand on policing and other statutory services.

If you want more ideas and advice on how to influence decision-makers, please contact us at Jubilee+, and keep an eye out for our new book on the topic, out summer 2020.