Seek and Pray for the Peace and Prosperity of Places - Paul Blakey MBE:
The last 16 months or so have proved a challenging and difficult time for our High Streets. Long established businesses have gone and we have seen massive change and shift in the way we shop and socialise.
As we move, hopefully, out of lockdowns, town and city centres are faced with a new reality as more people move to online shopping and we see an increased number of empty units as we wander along our high streets. In order to survive and thrive I think places need to change to become destinations that major on the uniqueness you can't receive online: places of independent retail mixed in with the established brands; places of leisure and relaxation; places to meet and connect; places you want to visit.
This is a challenge! But where does the church fit into this?
In 2005 I set up Street Angels which has become a movement of volunteers partnering with God to bring community change. God's Kingdom demonstrated as a reality for people and our communities.
I have visited towns and cities across the UK and overseas meeting and connecting with volunteers, church leaders, police, business owners, town centre managers, local councillors and MP's. I am always struck by how passionate people are about the place they are based. As we wander the town or city centre at night I hear stories of history, stories of connections, stories of life and stories of hope.
In my home town of Halifax the Piece Hall reopened in August 2017 after a £19million regeneration. On that day 22,000 people visited this place. Cash machines ran out of money, every cafe and restaurant had queues, the town had national media attention and the atmosphere was lifted. As I stood on the balcony, taking pictures, I felt God say, "pray for the peace and prosperity". Later I looked this up and found the verse in the Bible, "Seek the peace and prosperity of the city... pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers you too will prosper" (Jeremiah 29:7).
As Christians we are in some way responsible for the peace and prosperity of our places!
Out of this day I set up the4Ps.org - a collaborative of people who are intentional about Seeking and Praying for the Peace and Prosperity of their Places.
In these months ahead can I encourage you to become part of the4Ps Collaborative to seek and pray for the peace and prosperity of your places. the4Ps vision and aims are:
Join us on our quest of the4Ps - PRAY, PEACE, PROSPERITY, PLACES....
the4ps.org / facebook.com/the4ps