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the Peter in Peterborough

By Alexandra Khan | 17 October 2012

Chris Duffett in Peterborough

Last week I travelled up to Peterborough, to film a short promo for 40acts 2013. Apart from the drizzle - which, miraculously, only seemed to start in earnest just as we stopped filming - the team had a great day of generosity, good conversation and Nando’s chicken (Peri-Peri sauce helps with the creativity, you see).


People queued up to sit on the sofa in the middle of the square, where Chris Duffett boldly proclaimed ‘I WILL LISTEN’ for the entire town to see.  And that’s what he did. For a good chunk of the day, Chris just listened to people. They came to talk about their problems, their day, their love-interests, their anger at religion, and their admiration for what Chris was doing.


As the day wore on I realised something quite profound: lots of people just want someone to listen to them.


Perhaps nobody more so than Peter, who spends all day trying to get people to listen. Peter is a street fundraiser for a children’s charity: clipboard, rain-mac and a big smile. We bumped into him on the high street, in-between handing out donuts to builders and making a balloon dog for a nearby toddler.


“I don’t envy your job,” I said to Peter, as yet another pedestrian ignored his attempt to win their attention. He smiled and shrugged it off.


“What’re you folk up to then?” he asked, noticing my tripod and 40acts badge.


Chris explained a little about 40acts and our generous mission.


“We’re..uh..Christians you see,” Chris said.


And that was it.


“Don’t you ever say the word like that!” Peter cried. “You Christians shouldn’t go around with your heads down, ashamed to admit what you believe! It should be as easy to say you’re a Christian as it is to say you’ve got brown hair. You people do some great work, don’t hide it!”


I think Chris was a little taken aback. I was quite sure he hadn’t meant to hesitate. And I was even more certain that he wasn’t ashamed to say he’s a Christian. But then, how many of us – even seasoned evangelists – occasionally falter before revealing our faith?


“You say you don’t envy my job,” Peter continued, “But I don’t envy yours. It’s not easy to be a Christian in the world today, doing good things for people who don’t want to know.”


It was a challenge to me. I wore a 40acts badge last week, but I wear Jesus’ name on my forehead everyday. Do I do ‘great work’? Am I evidently generous, and is it for God’s glory or mine? Do I keep my head down or stick my neck out for the Kingdom?


I walked away drawing parallels between Peter’s job and my own Mark 16:15 mandate. There are a lot of people in the world who don’t want to know about Peter’s children’s charity or about the Gospel, but it’s important that we do our job anyway.


Follow 40acts on Twitter and Facebook, and watch out for some exciting announcements coming soon.

Posted by Alexandra Khan

Alexandra is a digital marketing executive for Stewardship. Originally trained in music, she went on to spend a few years in the videogames industry before making the leap to the NFP sector. Follow her on Twitter: @alxkhn


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