I'm asking for prayer. I've just been prayed for by my good friend JD and I think that at this time I would like to ask all regular readers here to pray.
We have a problem with a planning application going through our local council to put a drugs rehabilitation unit next to our children's centre. Normally I would be completely supportive of any initiative that exists to make people's lives better. I am delighted that we have had, over the years here, a slow trickle of people on different rehabilitation programmes. But putting a unit distributing methadone next to our toddler groups is something that I cannot stand for.
In a way, I am touched that some of the members here, some of the really committed and godly people, have not been able to get on board with my call to be firm over our children's work. But I guess I'd ask them to think what they are saying when they ask me if we are "here for everyone", and perhaps wonder how often my kitchen gladly plays host to people with drug problems without comment or judgement. And it might not be a coincidence that the Home Office, the Welsh Assembly, the Archbishop, the chairman of Cytun & I all agree that drug rehabilitation programmes are good: putting them next to kids is bad.
The local council has ignored legislation that protects children. I have taken it to them repeatedly, showing them a remarkable range of neglected laws from Cardiff and Westminster; the Archbishop penned a magnificent letter of support. You'd think that would make a difference. It might.
I was pretty devastated this afternoon when I learned from the council that no more than a dozen church members had written in to them about this, though losing this battle could endanger our whole children's centre. (I got a stunning email today from the head of children's services in RCT; it made clear that such a loss was a conceivable result of this planning application - and totally acceptable to him.)
I can't give you the whole picture - it's too convoluted; but I can ask you to trust me and to pray. To pray what?
That God does something wonderful that blesses everyone. It's always right to pray that everyone is blessed.
What that might be I am not sure.
In my mind, possibly I see that the people who are proposing the drug unit might suddenly find a better site. One we can support. One that does not threaten our children's work. One that allows more work in our community amongst more vulnerable people to happen, not one that makes a choice - this or that. I don't want to say they can't or shouldn't come & do their work; I do want to pray they don't come to their currently proposed site, because it puts an unacceptable risk on the children over whom we have care. We want to grow our work in an open and welcoming environment, not with security locks, fences and fear.
And I want to pray that whatever happens, happens by Thursday afternoon so that these guys retract their application for planning permission - or that the Planning Committee of the local council rejects it. This will take a miracle. But as God is God, so I ask you to come before him with me and I would rather seek a way to bless as many people as we can.
Don't send comments: just pray. I won't be adding comments to this. This church and its work in this place is my life, and I can't abide the thought of what we have to lose here. I just ask you to join me in praying for something wonderful, and that this planning application as it stands not be granted, though at the moment it seems inevitable.