In Manchester – hope after terror

Former British Red Cross frontline response worker, Derek Alder, shares Little Book of Chaos in Manchester one week after the bombing attack that took 22 lives and left 116 people injured.

Derek Alder was among the tens of thousands of people – including our VerseFirst team – who attended Big Church Day Out (UK) at the end of May. During the festival, he came across the VerseFirst exhibition stand and the brand new Little Book of Chaos booklet, designed to help young people facing stress, anxiety and depression.

Sharing his history of emergency response with the British Red Cross, Derek explained that he had booked a trip to Manchester in light of the attack, and needed resources that would comfort people in the midst of chaos and confusion. We were happy to collaborate with Derek and gave him 100 copies of Little Book of Chaos, Little Book of Help and Little Book of Faith. The booklets remind all of us that we’re human, the struggles are real, it’s ok to not to be ok, and that God is with us through it all. Here’s a glimpse of what Monday 29th May looked like for Derek … one week on.

06:00 – Surrey to Manchester

You are the God who sees me (Genesis 16:13 NIV) – Bible verse included in Little Book of Chaos

Big Church Day Out was fantastic this weekend, but with a jam-packed week before that, I’m quite exhausted now. Saying that though, I’m ready to go and meet the people of Manchester and help those who are hurting and caught up in confusion. I’m grateful for these booklets from VerseFirst because it’s an incredible way to open up conversation in such sensitive situations. Just two more hours until I arrive in Manchester!

13:00 – Mixed Emotions

When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown (Isaiah 43:2 NLT) – Bible verse included in Little Book of Chaos

This morning has been a quiet one – especially for a Bank Holiday Monday. There’s been a tangible sombre presence and although it’s now picking up somewhat, you can sense the grief in the atmosphere. As I chat to a few people who are walking through the city centre – most in their early to late twenties – they tell me that “the past week has been full of mixed emotions”. A particular group of young guys take interest in Little Book of Chaos and express their thoughts. “It’s pretty sad that it takes something so awful to have a lot of us come together like this,” says 24-year-old Michael. “But I’m glad that we do come together. Even though I don’t know what’s in this book, I’ve got hope that somehow it’ll ease my mind. No idea how but it’s needed.”

17:00 – Stronger Together

I have cried until the tears no longer come; my heart is broken (Lamentations 2:11 NLT) – Bible verse included in Little Book of ChaosAfter speaking with people from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences in life, it was truly touching to know that differences didn’t matter. I spoke to them about real life situations mentioned in Little Book of Help such as money, friendship and work, and we all agreed that anyone can go through times of trouble. What matters is how we respond. They were very eager on taking copies for themselves and were shocked they were free.  I also met with churches and organisations this afternoon and the recurring anthem has been “do not let this turn to hate, do not turn against each other – together we are stronger.”

22:30 – Night Vigil

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and he saves those whose spirits have been crushed (Psalm 34:18 NCV) – Bible verse included in Little Book of Chaos

I’m gathered with hundreds of other people in St. Ann’s Square to pay tribute to the victims in Manchester one week on from the attack. I take the opportunity to approach people using the VerseFirst resources that I have left, and speak with them to hear what’s been on their mind over the last seven days. To my surprise, I start seeing smiles. Some tell me they don’t believe in God but were interested in Little Book of Chaos so took some copies. One man in particular shook my hand, thanked me for caring about them and said, “It’s touching to meet someone who has such a deep concern for people to travel 200 miles up here and share a reassuring message with hurting people through these beautiful booklets.” He wasn’t a Christian but I think a seed was planted that night.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5 NIV) – Bible verse included in Little Book of Chaos

(Note: The new Little Book of Chaos is not yet available locally, and will have a full book launch and events in Australia-New Zealand during Mental Health Week in October 2017)

Have you had a similar experience?