When we met Mike Roberts earlier this year, we were struck on how he makes a bigger difference in his role as a Railway Chaplain.
Railway Chaplaincy has been in existence since 1881 when it was seen as a church for the people who lived and worked on the railway. Today it is seen as a support for people of all faiths and none. More than often it is about people of no faith. He told us:
“I have spoken to more non-Christians in the last six months than in six years in church”
While he spends half of his time building relationships, the rest of the time he spends dealing with the consequences reacting to events. In a Liverpool Echo article last week Mike talks about ‘the traumatic aftermath of suicides that take place at railways stations or on the tracks, since he started the work last August.’ You can read the article here.
Mike covers a vast area in the North West from Stafford to Preston; Widnes to Huddersfield. This includes 11 companies; 11 depots; 115 stations and 50 signal boxes. He is also a chaplain to the British Transport Police. He works under the auspices of the railway mission www.railwaymission.org
He believes that ‘God is as much at work on the concourse of a railway station as the altar of a church’ and imagines his work ‘of sitting holding an umbrella over someone in need, sheltering them from the storm, then after a while handing them that umbrella which they may use for themselves or hand on at some point’. For him that umbrella has Jesus written all over it.
And he gets as much from his ministry as the people he ministers to, telling us: “People who you minister to are a source of light for you as well.”