John Mark Hobbins, Games Pastor
John Mark Hobbins works for London City Mission but the next few weeks will see him doing something a little different. During London 2012, he’ll be serving as a Games Pastor at King’s Cross, St Pancras and Euston, three of the busiest railway stations in the UK. He talks more about his role here.
Published 27 July 2012
CT: Are you nervous about the challenge?
John Mark: I really don’t know what to expect. I know there will be a lot of people. It will be very, very busy and that will be a big part of the challenge.
CT: Have you been briefed about what a Games Pastor is expected to do?
John Mark: It will be similar to Street Pastors and what they do. They are there for when people are out clubbing or in the pub with their friends. In a similar way, Games Pastors will be there for people who are around those stations because of the Olympics. People are travelling in from all over the world into those stations and we will be there for people to help them practically. In doing that, we also want to share something of Christ’s love in a practical way and emphasise this when it is appropriate to speak about faith.
CT: What kind of problems do you expect to be dealing with?
John Mark: Maybe people who don’t know their way around, maybe they feel anxious or vulnerable. If it’s their first time in London they might need some reassurance. There might be people who have lost their Olympic ticket. We can help them to work out these problems in a practical way.
If families are feeling stressed, we can do something to help. I know for me with young children I have always been grateful when someone has stepped in to help in some way, whether that’s to guide or to cheer the children up.
There are little things that will just provide that link in the chain and demonstrate something of Christian love to people who are maybe outside the Christian community. We are called to love our neighbours as ourselves and through this we can show love in a practical and real way.
If it’s anything more serious, we will refer them to the chaplains on the ground. Hopefully we will contribute to the role of the permanent chaplains and consolidate and support what they do. We would like to leave a legacy of strengthening their role.
CT: Has the issue of terrorism been raised with you?
John Mark: We are not there in a formal sense so we are not trained to deal with that. If there were to be a terrorism incident, we would be asked to effectively stand down and become part of the crowd. We’re just praying to God that we won’t see anything like that. We’re praying for the peace and welfare of the city.
CT: Where will you be positioned around the stations?
John Mark: We’ll be mainly on the forecourts and out on the streets outside the stations. That’s where we’ll be focussing our presence.
CT: Are the main station staff aware that you will be there? Are they supportive of that?
John Mark: The station management has given the green light for this and it is supported by the station. There has been some senior level liaising between LCM and the senior managers.
CT: What made you want to get involved as a Games Pastor?
John Mark: I was approached by LCM but I also see this as an opportunity to demonstrate both practical love and concern, and to show this to people from all over the world. There will be opportunities to love our neighbour and speak the word about Christ to people. It’s those two things: practical action and evangelism because we want to love our neighbour and glorify Christ.
CT: Will you have time to tune into the Games?
John Mark: I’m going to be doing five days a week and I’m not able to go to the Games in person. I might be able to catch the 100m dash and the swimming. But with so many people moving around London, it’s always an opportunity. Acts 17, God decided the times and places for us to live in. People will be in London because God has brought them here. In that context, God will be speaking to people and we want to participate in that.
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