Fremantle Street Chaplains has commenced. A new territory, unfamiliar pathways, uncertainty and even trepidation. After patrolling Northbridge for three years the area became home. We fear the unknown, once known, we lose the fear. I sat praying for most of the day prior to this first night in Fremantle.
You want to make a good first impression, to the police, the general public, taxi rank security personal, bouncers and store owners. The Chaplains are always under scrutiny.
That day whilst praying I studied anatomy (part of the requirement of a nursing degree). Specifically the brain and the brain stem and...the Cerebellum. To be honest, prior to nursing, I never really knew we had one let alone tell you the function and the ramifications of it being damaged. After completing study and prayer, in addition to reading Ephesians, I ventured out.
At the Police station a new Chaplain was welcomed. Whilst new to chaplaincy, this lady was a veteran to mission, an experienced YWAM senior. Another senior Street Chaplain joined us, in addition to a towering Fijian man with a handshake of iron. The team was complete.
We introduced ourselves to the on duty Police Sergeant who proceeded to give us an incredibly informative welcome, complete with street level information concerning the area. Already you felt part of the team. All this on the very first night? This was not the case three years ago in Northbridge. We all sensed the Lord's hand and felt the many prayers being offered for this new chapter.
We left the station encouraged and gathered together for our own prayer. The streets were empty. It was Easter Friday, almost a full moon and the sombre message of Christ crucified seemed to spill over into the cold lonely streets. The pubs and clubs were all closed. The quiet setting was a wonderful opportunity to give a spiritual and physical tour of my new town. After living here for three months I knew every corner and had prayed in them. The stillness allowed the team to bond and settle as we patrolled. We ventured much further than the cappuccino strip. Later we would see the Lord's direction in this.
We headed to the large Anglican church (a spiritual area, however, one where there seems to be much violence and disturbance at night). The large trees in the adjoining park have a surreal feeling about them. Fremantle is an incredibly spiritual place for the aboriginal people (or rather it used to be). It is home of the Noongar people's original spiritual gatherings. Sometimes thousands would gather here. Under the bows of the majestic giants in the area you wonder at what spiritual dances were potentially made amidst their arms.
Today the remnant of this people is one submerged in the pain of past genocides, stolen generations and ongoing racial prejudice. May God use the Chaplains to heal some of this pain. No sooner had we entered the park than my feelings were confirmed. A man had been violently mugged and his laptop stolen.
We approached him and offered compassion. He quickly related how two men had assaulted him (he had been punched hard in the chin) and had ran off with his laptop. The area has WiFI available so students and backpackers often sit outside till the late hours contacting home. This particular man was homeless though and was using the net to email his estranged daughter. He had contacted the Police who were now looking for the thieves. As we waited with the man the Police arrived in their van. Walking over to them it was the first connection of Police seeing the Chaplains actively involved in helping someone. Amazingly we were at the scene of the only real incident of the entire night! God's guidance for certain.
A moment later God would show His guidance even more.
As we stood alongside the man the Chaplain phone rang. It was the Police Sergeant. He asked how our night was going and what the streets were like? A phone call from the police on our very first night in a new area? In Northbridge we waited a full long year for that first call! God is moving fast in Fremantle!
The Lord's prompting was obvious, as this Sergeant called we were standing with some of his men and the mugged man! Coincidence? A million to one. We told Him we were with the mugged man (knowing He would have know of the incident) immediately he asked if we could walk him back tot he station allowing his men to continue patrolling! We readily agreed. We were part of the team and being used - again on the first night within the first two hours.
As we turned to head to the station and ambulance arrived! I jokingly said to the victim all we need now is a helicopter for you. The police and the man laughed. It was obvious a lot of attention was focussing on this man's plight. Shortly God would reveal why...
The ambulance officer diagnosed the man much more effectively than a first year student nurse (much to my own humbling). On questioning the victim, he mentioned how he felt a cold sensation in the base of the rear of the skull. I was almost in shock. Not four hours earlier I had read that an unexpected blow to the head can cause damage to the cerebellum (exactly where the victim was pointing to). Here I was standing beside what was potentially an incredibly serious injury. I knew the Paramedic was thinking the same thing.
He checked the man's pupils to discover one fully the dilated and the other not. One large, one small. Something, other than drugs, was wrong. He was taken immediately to hospital. As the victim left he turned to us and clasped his hands as if in prayer and whispered 'thank you'.
We debriefed back at my apartment, everyone was shown the opened anatomy book sitting on the dining table. Open to the brain stem and the cerebellum. We were all amazed. The Lord Jesus had made His presence felt in more ways than one.
Jack Jones, Editor of The Christian Network and Street Chaplain - http://www.thechristiannetwork.com, Australia's most comprehensive Christian Web Magazine.
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