Imagine the scene, it’s a boiling hot day and you’ve just jumped into the back of your colleagues’ car (complete with dog hair and no air conditioning) to get to the Hayes Centre in Derbyshire. Green Pastures Annual conference here we come for Paddy, Ali, and Hilary from the Restore team. Having been to the conference a few years previous I knew we were in for a treat. Green Pastures (GP) are a charity that helps churches and Christians to do the kind of work we do. If it wasn’t for GP then Restore wouldn’t have got started 12 years ago.
The event started with a funfair, where we were very keen to sample blue candy floss and popcorn – yes it did turn our mouths blue with one bite. We acted like kids winning large sunglasses, inflatable saxophones, and blow-up microphones on the ball in a bucket and shooting targets stall while wondering if this was actual work?!
Then for the real event, a chance to meet people passionate about ending homelessness in the UK. People committing their lives to housing the people that society often looks down on. It was inspiring to hear of the projects large and small up and down the country, but the real inspiration was the stories of lives transformed. One resident from a project stood and gave her story, she didn’t say she was the finished item, but she was honest about her struggles. Something that maybe each of us needs to do more often. She was listened to and heard by a few hundred people in the room, she encouraged and she challenged. The bible talks about “defending the cause of the poor and the needy” Jeremiah 22:16, and that is what we do, day in and day out at Restore.
The main talk on the first night was about being on the brink. It’s easy in this line of work to give and give and burn out. The multiple encouragements were that doing this alone and keeping quiet wasn’t the way forwards. Let’s remember our God is victorious, trust in him, spend time in his word, and speak to him. Also find someone you can talk to, someone you can trust and open up and ensure your lifestyle is healthy. Mental health is so important to us all and it was great to hear about ways GP will be supporting organisations like ourselves in this area going forwards.
Green Pastures are growing and want to equip organisations to reach those that are at the margins of society. A home shouldn’t be a reward but a right. The rest of the conference was filled with talks, seminars, worship, and lots of networking. Alongside the yummy food that was served we bonded as a team and alongside other Christians. Did we go away inspired? Yes. Did we go away feeling like we weren’t the only people having the same daily battles at work? Yes. Did we go away knowing that we can’t do it ourselves and that we have to rely on a God who is bigger than us, that loves us, that through his grace uses us to serve others? Yes.
Green Pastures – Churches ending homelessness through ethical investment