How Do You Know That God Has Called You?
As homelessness continues to affect many in society, Mike Goldsmith shares how listening to, and responding to, God's call led him to take action.
How do we know God is calling us? How do we recognise His voice? Not everyone will have a burning bush experience like Moses.
For me, God’s call is often a combination of a gut feeling and a number of “coincidences” which convince me that God wants me to do it – whatever “it” is.
Through my work in printing, I have printed flyers for St Patrick’s, Soho Square, London, for 10 years. Two years ago, another St Patrick’s flyer arrived, entitled “Open House”, when volunteers serve around 60 homeless people for a two course hot meal.
I immediately thought this looked worthwhile and decided to go to Soho, which is where I found myself that night. I helped set up and prepared to welcome our guests.
I am naturally gifted at chatting to people. I met some lovely people with unfortunate stories, such as Ian, whose past was very similar to mine: we were the same age, both attended Grammar school and loved rugby. But for his misfortune, we might have been friends going to Twickenham.
I thought this evening may have been the end of my efforts until Fr Alexander said to me, “You look very comfortable with our guests. I think the Holy Spirit has brought you here tonight. A young lady was due to start a night shelter here but she cannot do it. I think you can”.
That really grabbed my attention! Considering whether or not I could run the shelter, I realised there was nothing that was beyond my natural gifting. I felt confident in gathering a team and had great support from my wife, Maureen, who also wanted to be part of it. I agreed to Fr Alexander’s request.
Getting To Work
After asking the guests at the current shelter what they preferred sleeping on, I sourced 20 sleeping bags and camping mats. I recruited a wonderful team of 30 people with a range of gifts and talents, from setting up and washing up, to cooking, chatting to guests and clearing away.
At the shelter, before the guests arrive, I remind the team about the evening’s key points, such as updates of guests who have left or who may be joining us for the first time.
I underline the main principle of the work, as expressed by Fr Alexander: “We should not expect to be bringing Jesus to these guests. Jesus will be walking in here with each one of them. Receive Jesus and them equally “.
We explain to the guests that this is a Catholic Church, and show them the chapel where exposition takes place. We tell them that they are welcome to pray there, regardless of religion. Some Muslim brothers and sisters come with their prayer mat and happily pray.
The night shelter is physically hard work. I lost 10lb in weight after four months, whilst staying overnight every Friday for 4 months meant little sleep.
I had only previously met Fr Alexander a couple of times and he only knew me as the man who supplied flyers-not as someone who runs night shelters. However, it appears that the Holy Spirit knew better. He knew I could set up and run a night shelter, and it is so worthwhile.