I’ve been working at the the Coventry Jesus Centre since 2004, mainly under the ‘admin’ banner. It means I go to the bank, sort out time sheets and create invoices for groups that hire our rooms for their own events. But more recently I’ve been taking time to hang out in the ‘Bridge’, our daily drop-in, and it’s been great to be on the ground, meeting the guys that see us as a safe and friendly place.
I had this brilliant thing happen the other week.
One of the things that stops me from talking to people I don’t know is that I get a complete blank when it comes to knowing what to talk about. All I really know about is music and with that I’m no expert! So the other week, I’m sitting in the Bridge with a cup of tea wondering if I should get talking to any of the lads when there’s a raised voice and a small scuffle. It’s quickly diffused but one of the guys, a young Latvian wasn’t happy that he’d been caught up in it. He looked pretty down so I decided to have a chat.
It was a bit of an awkward conversation to start with, him still being wound up and me not knowing what to talk about. Then he mentioned that he’d seen me play guitar. So we started talking about that and he told me he played saxophone and that he’d played in the Latvian Youth Symphony.
Now, to be honest, if I had a cake for every person that told me they could play guitar or drums or whatever, I’d be able to put Mr Kipling out of business. As well as guitar I play saxophone, though not very well, and I decided that I’d bring my alto in to let him have a go.
The next time he came in I bought the sax in its case down and handed it to him. The way his face lit up was like nothing I’ve seen! He carefully took out the sax and began to play, and man, could he play! For 20 minutes he came out with some amazing jazz and soul playing.
He came the following Sunday to our evening gospel service and joined in with the band. The next Sunday he came for the day and we sat down and talked about his life, his family, his music and his future. We prayed together.
One of the things I love about what we do is that there’s room for everyone, whether that’s the immigrant looking for somewhere to belong or the clumsy administrator who can’t talk to strangers.
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