Beachy Head is a famous landmark on the South coast of England. It is a high bluff overlooking the sea and it ends in a sheer drop.
The cliff is a historic suicide location.
In 2004 a group of Christians decided to start the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team. A group of trained volunteers teamed with a handful of paid professionals patrol the cliffside area 24-7 to try to stop suicides.
You can read more about their work in this article in the Daily Telegraph.
There is a man on the edge of the cliff who looks distressed. He’s pacing up and down the line, just a few steps from the drop.
This is Beachy Head, where the ground falls away suddenly, hundreds of feet down to the rocks and sea below. These bright white chalk cliffs are beautiful but deadly.
“We need to get to him fast and see if he’s okay,” says Mark Pybus, director of the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team which patrols here 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The chaplains don’t mince words: they say they are looking for the lost and the broken-hearted and trying to prevent suicide. The director watches through binoculars as his colleague rushes to the man on the next headland, then suddenly slows. This is to make his breathing regular and his voice normal. “We don’t want the other person to become any more agitated than they are.”
This is inspiring stuff. It is exactly the sort of positive, pro-active, professional work Christians should be doing in our society today.
Not neglecting the apologetics, the arguments, the culture wars and the debates over marriage, abortion, sexuality, theology and so forth, but also wading in, rolling up our sleeves and getting out there doing the work of the Lord reaching out to people in need.
This is where Christians need to work together across denominational boundaries and across boundaries of faith or no faith at all–but leading the way showing the world what it means to be a follower of Christ. I’m super impressed with this group–spending long hours in the dark, the damp, the miserable conditions to seek and to save those who are lost.
They remind me of that famous picture of the Good Shepherd reaching over the cliffs to rescue the one who strayed.
I’m buoyed up by reading this article today.
I hope you are too.