”Chat, help, listen, care. PS: we’re Christians ask us more if you want!”
These are not normally the words you see people wearing on a night out in London! Yet, amongst the party dresses and high heels, you’ll find a bunch of young twenty somethings donning black t-shirts with those words printed on the back. There to chat, listen, help and to offer prayer, the Club Angels aim to promote and ensure a happy night out for all.
It all started back in Leeds in December 2011, with a group of Christian volunteers who wanted to extend Street Angels, another project part of Christian Nightlife Initiatives (CNI). Fast forward to London 2013 and I’ve joined the Club Angels for a night out to see exactly what they get up to. We’re at Croydon’s well known nightclub Tiger Tiger where the city’s students flock to for the best parties and cocktail combos.
We found love in a hopeless place.. we found love in a hopeless place.. blasts through the club’s speakers as we enter Tiger Tiger. This is Thursday also known as The Drop – a student night where everyone fills out the dancefloor, swaying and jumping to the club beats.
It was only the start of the night but these words that were being sung by Rihanna seemed so relevant. Lucy Hardy (Club Angels Co-ordinator for London) shared with us from the Bible how all people are looking for hope and prayed that God would guide us to people who specifically needed to hear of His hope. This all took place in the back of the club, a spare room where the team was split into pairs. Loaded with a bag of prayer cards for people to write on (also pictured in the photo above), homemade brownies to give away and a night of expectation ahead, we were ready to chat to some people.
Who would we meet and who would God lead us to?
Working alongside the club’s staff to ensure it is a safe night out for everyone is a big part of Club Angels and tonight was no exception. The security guards were the first people we greeted, ”would you like a brownie?” Lucy asked the door staff. You could see their eyes light up as they helped themselves to some freshly baked goods, all part of the tradition of Brownie Thursdays that Club Angels are known for. ”Thanks so much! This has made my night!!” one of the staff exclaims to us, it’s amazing to see how just a bit of chocolatey goodness can build bridges with people as well as opening up some great conversations.
The club is pretty massive and as we head upstairs, it is a quiet night with just one room opened yet nonetheless packed! We head to the ladies toilets where a beaming smile greets us. Lucy introduces me to Eve, one of the women who sells beauty products to the clubbers. Perfume, chewing gum for fresh breath, flip flops, lollipops…Eve’s got everything! She’s happy to chat about her family, her life and even asking for prayer. I could tell that some real relationships have been built up in the past year between the Club Angels and those that work at the club simply because of the genuine warmth I felt between both of them. It was great to see such an openness to be prayed for right there and then in the club toilets. Afterwards, it was cool how we ended up swapping our different dance moves!
Since its inception just over a year ago, staff have given the Club Angels some really positive feedback such as ‘‘You’re Christians, but you don’t preach at people – you just help people” and ”we miss you on the nights you’re not here. You’re our little angels!” When I’m there, I’m really encouraged to also hear from the different volunteers on the team that night who share how much they enjoy being a Club Angel: ”I’m still buzzing from all of it! I was just so amazed by all the conversations we had”… ”It was great to get stuck in and put some of God’s love in action”… ”I’m glad to be part of something truly amazing – it’s really given me the hunger to see God do more!”
Overall, there was a really happy atmosphere in the club with no fights or people getting lost (which have been a feature in past nights out according to one Club Angel I speak to). No night is the same, they can experience a really quiet night such as the one I’m on which is a great opportunity to get to know the bar staff more. Whereas other nights can be messy with more of a ‘sick patrol’ element. Thankfully, tonight is not one of those nights and to my surprise, people are really open to chatting.
We head back downstairs and swap our pairs, I’m in the other downstairs ladies room and trying to learn more of the staff’s names. Suddenly, a tall man barges into the room wanting to buy a lollipop off the toilet attendant. The lady waiting for a toilet to be free is not happy with this, ”what are you doing in here?? Why can’t you just get a lollipop somewhere else, hey?”The man doesn’t bat an eyelid, he hands over the money in exchange for the lollipop and walks out.
The lady ends up chatting to us and we have a great time introducing what Club Angels is all about, the lady we now know as Erica is really fascinated about this, ”so Christians go clubbing? I‘ve never heard that before! You know what, I’m going as Jesus to a Christmas fancy dress party next week. I’ve got my costume all ready!” she shouts in reply. ”You offer to pray as well? Let me introduce you to my boyfriend, he has to meet you!” So, we head out of the ladies room and Erica’s boyfriend looks a bit confused as to what is going on. ”These guys are Club Angels, look at the back of their shirts! They’re offering to pray for us!” He still looks a bit confused but this is understandable, considering that it’s not everyday you meet strangers giving out prayer cards in a night club.
Both of them write down their prayers, Erica writing a joke down and her boyfriend asking if we could pray for Erica. This has been awesome! I think to myself, I wonder what’s happening upstairs with the other Club Angels?
We head up to the dance floor, clearing up used bottles and glasses along the way and Lucy looks as if she’s talking with a guy for a while. The talk turns into a prayer with Lucy placing her hand on his shoulder, eyes closed and he seems as if he’s really receiving the prayer with a real need. I stand back and am just praying for the situation, when suddenly three guys ask me ”hey! Do you mind if you could take a picture of us on my phone?” Cue 3 Italian Stallion poses and lots of camera flashes. It’s funny how on one night you can be praying for one person and then do something as simple as being a photographer in the next moment, I look at my watch and it’s 2am. It’s time to meet up with everyone to chat and pray before we head off out of the club.
When we do meet back to catch up about how the night’s gone, it’s clear that God has definitely answered our prayers! Lucy explained how Mark, the guy who had chatted to her had initially started the conversation. He’d seen the writing on the back of the t-shirts and asked if she could help him. He asked if Lucy could pray for him and his girlfriend who really struggled with depression, even going on to explain that he had used to be a Christian and go to church.
It turned out that he had drifted away because he didn’t see how the church was relevant anymore in his life, he had found it hard and his girlfriend wasn’t a Christian. Mark was the person we were meant to meet that night because he was the one who needed to hear about hope. I guess it just goes to show how God can find us in the most unlikely situations, in the words of Rihanna: He found love in a hopeless place.
If you want to find out more about Club Angels check out their official website:
If Club Angels is something you think you’d like to get involved with then Lucy would love to hear from you!
Drop Lucy an email here: firstname.lastname@example.org