This morning the UK woke up to the devastating news that a concert at Manchester Arena had become a target for a suicide bomber. A concert filled with thousands of young people and families. People gathered outside the Arena waiting to pick up loved ones.
As an organisation we work in and around streets and clubs in town and city centres and at music festivals and sporting events. We are there to help, to chat, to care, to sort out problems when things go wrong. Our teams help people to have a safe and fun leisure time.
Yet last night one person (that we know of so far) was intent on bringing chaos and disruption, fear and injury, death and destruction to a place many will have visited.
First of all remember and pray for those who are affected. Those who are injured. The families and friends of those who lost their life. Those who attended the gig at the Arena. The emergency services who responded. The staff at the Arena, the singer and all those involved in the show.
Secondly we need to begin (or continue) to tell the better story. Not to focus on the perpetrator but on the hundreds who last night, and each and every day, create community and help make Manchester (and the UK) a great place. Those who opened up spare rooms, those who drove people home for free, those who offered first aid, those who stepped up for the sake of others, the emergency services who ran into a situation of carnage to help save those affected.
In Manchester CNI Network has helped to set up Manchester Street Angels and has connections with the Village Angels and Street Pastors. These teams are part of a massive movement of people intent on creating an amazing city. Not far away are Oldham and Bolton Street Angels, several Redeeming Our Communities projects, some great church communities together with hundreds of other groups intent on creating an amazing region.
God's Kingdom is a Kingdom of peace, love, hope, joy, purpose, security, life.... This is the heart of all we do. We do what we do to help make that a reality for here and now in community after community, person after person. Yes it is right to pause, to pray, to mourn, to wonder, to question but let us commit to doing even more that shows evil for what it really is.