Stephen Ramshaw is the Evangelist at the Sheffield Centre of Mission, which works in partnership with the Methodist Church and Salvation Army to grow new expressions of Christian community and inspire mission and evangelism within the Diocese of Sheffield. Stephen had never been to church and was working full time in construction when he encountered Jesus. This encounter set him on a path to becoming a full-time Evangelist – something he never expected.
What do I want to go to church for?” was my answer when my mother asked me to go to an Alpha course at her church. I had never been to church, and I had no intention of going, but my sister called saying my mam had asked her to persuade me to go. I thought, “Well, it must be important to her, so I’ll go along.” But I really didn’t want to. I thought to myself, “As soon as they ask me for a fiver to fix the roof, I’m out of there.” I was really suspicious and was ready to have a bit of a row, but they threw me completely off my guard, as they were so nice, and everything they said made sense. They explained Jesus to me, and I thought, “Wow, this is brilliant! Why hasn’t anyone told me any of this before? This needs to be shouted from the rooftops.” I had obviously heard of God before this, but it was the first time I had encountered Jesus. That night completely changed my life!
I was working in construction at the time, and I had the foulest mouth. I would break up a word to put a profanity in it, but after Alpha, I just couldn’t swear any more. I had to learn how to speak without swearing – it was like a whole new vocabulary. My wife and I found a church, and the vicar there was brilliant; his name was Michael. We had the same accent, and I discovered we grew up in the same area. He really took me under his wing, and I think he was pleased to have us there. Michael lost his life six months later in a car accident, which had a huge impact on me.
About 10 years later a new vicar joined the church, and one snowy night he knocked on my door and he said, “I think God is calling you to be a Church Army Evangelist.” He told me to pray on it, so I did. I got an application form, but it took me three weeks to fill it in. I had always worked in construction, so this was new to me. I got an interview and I thought, “If it’s God’s will, they’ll say yes.” And they did! Since then, I have worked in Newcastle, the Medway Centre of Mission, and now I’m in Sheffield.
I work between the city centre and a district called Arbourthorne. Every day, I walk around 24,000 steps looking out for the people most people look past or pretend aren’t there. They’re citizens of Sheffield, but the streets are their home. They’re not always causing trouble, but people don’t want to see them. Most have really chaotic and difficult lives, struggling with self-worth, addiction, homelessness, loneliness and lack of hope.
I want to let people know how much they are worth. No one is a lost cause, and God can do anything with anyone. All we need is a bit of love and nurture. I can relate to people really easily. I have always loved people, and I like to see people doing well, and God is involved in that. Recently a guy who likes a bit of a drink has asked me to pray for him
to stop drinking. People are asking for God’s help with their problems and that is a big starting point.”
Prayers in Focus
- Pray for the continued unity and cooperation of the churches and other organisations as we look to share the love of Jesus across Sheffield city centre.
- Pray for our recovery work in the city centre and our addiction awareness training. Pray that people will join this much needed ministry.
- Pray for our Oasis Community – that we continue to grow in depth and numbers, for more people to know Jesus and that we remain a beacon of the amazing light, love and hope of Jesus.
- Pray for all of the midweek activities we have planned for our Oasis Community at 35 Chapel Walk.
- Pray for our work in Arbourthorne and the Men’s Group starting.