Norfolk churches challenged to join fight against drugs
Following a challenge from the chair of the National Christian Police Association to join the battle against drug crime and addiction, churches and Christians from Norwich and Norfolk are praying for transformation. Biddy Collyer reports.
In August, Norfolk Police Inspector Marie Reavey, who is heading up the national initiative called Faith and Police Together, and is the chair of the National Christian Police Association sent out an open letter to local churches encouraging them to pray for addiction to be ended in Norfolk and the UK.
In that letter, she outlined a vision God had given her to imagine the transformation that would take place if a heroin addict and his partner turned to Jesus, and the knock-on effect that would have if it was multiplied across the county: less victims of crime; reduced demand on the police service, the criminal justice system, the prison service, the probation service, the NHS and social services. Even the education system would benefit as children would then be in a stable home and encouraged to go to school.
The economic and social costs of drugs supply is estimated to be £10.7 billion a year. A report in 2011 estimated the annual cost of maintaining treatment and paying benefits to the 320,000 problematic drug users to be £3.6 billion. It will be even higher today.
Her letter continued: “I believe God is calling the church to step up and start to tackle the issue of addiction which is so often not considered when social action is being looked into. Yet it is probably one of the most significant factors to the poverty and breakdown within our society.”
As a result of her challenge to the church locally, a prayer meeting to pray for our police and for a breakthrough in the battle against drug crimes and the burden of addictions was held on November 23 at St Stephens Church, Norwich. The prayer-focus was the overload now experienced as a result of various addictions.
Speakers included: Marie Reavey (Norfolk Constabulary), Rachel Foster (former officer), Andy Sexton (CEO, Matthew Project), Danny Doran-Smith (ENYP) and Clare Elkins (local prayer-walker) - and time was given for much-needed praying.
Nigel Fox, one of the small organising group, underlined the seriousness of this call to prayer with a challenge to others to join in, asking:
"What would it take for this to become the start of a wider prayer movement, all standing together? What would it take for Church (much more of the whole Church in/around Norwich) to stand together and cry: “Enough!”? What if our 40 became 200 and more, or we needed multiple sites to meet in to pray as a simultaneous event?"
"These problems won't just go away. Now is the time for Church to awaken, arise, engage and pray!"
Pictured top; Marie Reavey and below: People gather to pray at St Stephen's church