Series following chaplains in Liverpool. At Alder Hey Children's Hospital, the chaplains give support to a young mother whose eighteen-month-old son is seriously ill.
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Chaplains are modern-day disciples.
Excuse me, are you Jewish? Have you got any Jewish pals here?
They take the word of God
out of the church and into the places we work and play.
This is what Christ did. He came and
walked and talked and lived amongst people
and this is really what a chaplain does.
They're employed in our hospitals and universities,
at the football ground, on the street.
We're here to help everyone who's vulnerable, right?
-We are very vulnerable.
I think all chaplaincy is front-line ministry
and it means you're actually out where it's happening.
Tonight, the chaplain praying for a homesick student...
..and you know how he's feeling.
..on patrol with the street pastors...
We are part of the church out on the street.
..and the mother whose baby faces his 10th operation.
He's gone through so much, you know, he's got some willpower.
We're following chaplains in the city of Liverpool,
the work they do and the people's lives they touch.
At Liverpool's Alder Hey Children's Hospital,
head chaplain, Dave Williams,
is doing one of his regular ward rounds.
God bless you, little fellow. ..Hasn't he got a lovely smile?
200,000 young patients are treated here every year.
The chaplains offer support to anyone that needs it,
whether they're religious or not.
I think this is very definitely where Jesus would be,
amongst the sick and amongst those who don't know him.
That's where Jesus would be.
So you fell down the stairs from a whole flight of stairs?
-A full flight of stairs.
-And you're weak on one side?
Yeah, and I also hit, like, my neck and everything.
-We'll have a little pray together, is that OK?
Father, just thank you, and ask your blessing on her,
that she may be well and strong and whole.
In your precious name, we pray. Amen.
-Bless you. Take care, love.
-Good to see you, see you soon.
I must be the clergyman with the cleanest hands in the diocese, I reckon.
'We meet all people here.
'It's what I value about this job more than anything,'
I think, that we meet people who aren't churched,
but have suddenly found themselves in a situation,
which is a crisis, if their child is in here
and suddenly feel that, maybe,
there's more to the world than just what we see here, you know,
so it's good to be in that situation with them.
Are you going to sleep? Eh?
Is that you're tired?
-Kirsty Harris's son Carson
was brought here shortly after his birth.
He's now 18 months old and he's been here ever since.
He was born at 27 weeks, weighing two pounds five. Very small.
And this is one of Carson's first nappies,
which was too big and we had to fold over.
He actually fit in my hand, that is how small he was. Scary times.
He's had a bleed in the brain, which was quite a big bleed,
he's also got brittle-bone disease, um, he's got a heart defect.
He's got chronic lung disease, um...
-he has eyesight problems, hearing problems...
-SHE TURNS IT OFF
-He has a cleft palate.
He has spina bifida occulta
and he has a tracheostomy fitted, because, during the night,
he doesn't breathe at all for himself.
He'll never be able to feed normally through his mouth, um...
I think that's it. I think I've covered everything.
Kirsty's been told many times that Carson won't make it
and he's always proved the doctors wrong,
but his future is still uncertain and he's going to need more surgery.
Get off them wires.
I think the kids have got special spirits
and I think the way that the parents just alter their lives
to cope with huge bits of news,
that they've got long-term treatment, I think they're amazing.
I never cease to be amazed the way parents cope.
Every weekend, thousands of partygoers head for Liverpool's clubs and bars.
Out there, keeping the streets safe are the police and the church.
The street pastors are the city's new frontline ministry,
a group of Christian volunteers who offer practical help
and a listening ear to anyone that needs it.
It's Saturday night and over 250,000 people are out clubbing.
Carol is on patrol again
with fellow pastors Hazel Dickens and Dave Collier.
-The church needs to be on the streets.
Out in the community and this is what we're doing.
We are part of the church out on the street.
There's no good us sitting in church expecting people to come to us,
-because they're not going to come.
So we go to them and that's what we're here for.
Come on, hard-core.
We are off to Stanley Street
and then we'll go into Matthew Street, which is usually manic.
-On the way back.
-On the way back. I love Matthew Street and all.
-You just go for a wander, sort of thing?
See if we can find anybody who needs us. Homeless...vulnerable people.
People who just want a chat.
One of the best clubs in Liverpool there, man. Oh, what.
I fell down them stairs that many times.
-The oldest and friendliest club?
-Love that club.
Best club in Liverpool!
Picking up empty bottles is a simple way of making the streets safer.
-What did you pick the bottle up for?
-Um, because it's a potential weapon.
Or...they can smash it and cut their feet on it.
I'll find a bin and put them in it when I find one.
So we just walk around and, obviously,
you see some of the same people each time you come out
and they just get to know us and they're more trusting then, you know.
They know that we're not "Bible bashers". We're here for them.
At Alder Hey Hospital, when Kirsty Harris gets
a rare moment away from her son Carson's bedside,
she heads to the room that's become a home from home.
Ronald McDonald House is
a place where parents can stay while their children are having treatment
Have you got my bag, Paul, please?
-There you are, dear.
-Thank you very much.
'When you first come, it's very strange.'
We've been here quite a long time now, so we...
It is like a second home now. We know all the staff pretty well,
we have a good relationship with the staff.
We call it the house that never sleeps,
because there's always somebody,
no matter what time of day or night, coming and going and lots of noise.
Kirsty's family have been separated by Carson's illness.
While she lives at the hospital, her other children
are back home with her partner and mother.
This is my room.
Yeah, so on the wall here we've got Layton, and Ethan, Lewis and Chloe.
So...they're always with me.
It just makes it a bit more homely.
It's been very hard to deal with the guilt of, um...
splitting yourself in two and you can't physically do that.
Father, we just thank you for this time
to come together and to take time out of a busy day,
just to come rest in your presence, and to worship you and to give thanks
and give to you all the little ones and young people in this hospital...
VOICE ECHOES AND FADES
Kirsty isn't a churchgoer, but from the start,
the chaplains have helped her through the darkest times.
Are you looking up there?
Alder Hey's Catholic chaplain, Caroline Ferguson,
has always been there to give Kirsty support.
I couldn't agree with you more.
'As a chaplain at Alder Hey, we do get to know some of the patients
'very well, especially the ones that are in for a long, long time.'
Just so wonderful, when I walked in to TCU the other day,
-and there he was sitting there upright on his own.
-It was just brilliant. He's done so well recently.
-He has come on, yeah.
Come on in leaps and bounds.
'To begin with, we wasn't keen speaking to Caroline.'
Just we had a lot of other things going on, um,
but as she started coming around more often,
our conversations got longer and more in depth
and it was just really nice to have somebody to speak to, um,
that wasn't medical, that wasn't telling me how sick Carson was.
She was actually asking how I was feeling,
how the family was doing at home, and it was really nice to have that.
'Carson is a very sick little boy
'and Carson and Kirsty have been in Alder Hey for a very long time.
'One day, Carson will go home, but he'll keep coming back to Alder Hey'
and she'll be there for him and I'll be there for her.
If he can do what he's done, then we can get through this,
and we WILL get through this, and we will become, hopefully,
a stronger family unit because of this.
University is a time when many young people
lose touch with the religion they've grown up with.
At Liverpool, chaplains are working hard to keep faith alive on campus.
Today, Anglican chaplain, James Harding,
is meeting up with students who need his help.
'I want to be there for those Christians
'who're away from the home for the first time
'and they want to just let loose
'and experiment and see everything that life's got to offer them,
'but I am not the religious police.
'I cannot, because of my own experiences say, "Though shalt not do that."
'That is not my job. I believe that's the job of the Holy Spirit.'
I choose to spend all my expenses
on buying coffee, cakes and drinks for the students that I meet,
because I believe that's Christian hospitality.
I believe that Jesus was a generous person and I want to be like that.
Dan is a first year student looking for a new church in Liverpool
and he's about to discover there's no such thing as a free lunch.
So, Dan, I'd really like to invite you to my church, because...
because we've got a real need for a musician like you.
You know, I think you would be just perfect in the worship teams,
because, last year, we had a great guitar player and he graduated,
so really, we've got a hole that we need filling there
and I think you'd be a great person to do that.
If you want to come and play guitar for me, that's fantastic
-if you want to do that.
-Definitely, mate, I'll come and give it a try.
Yeah, I think it is the best way to find out
whether you want to be involved or not, because if you don't try,
-you don't really know, so...
-Yeah, that's true.
-Thanks a lot, mate, see you soon. Bye.
'I really think that Dan's the kind of guy that I can support'
and disciple and mentor at his time at university
and he's going to make an excellent contribution to church,
you know, and that's how he'll feel
a real sense of satisfaction and fulfilment in his life.
Dan's now playing guitar, bass, keys and drums at James's church.
At Alder Hey Hospital, Carson Hartley is
about to undergo his 10th operation -
four hours of surgery on his saliva glands.
-Does it ever get any easier?
-No, no. A lot of people ask me that,
"It must get easier after, you know, so many," but no, no.
Every time's the same.
I think, because it's so unnatural, how he goes to sleep
and, obviously, it's out of your hands what's happening to him.
As always, Caroline, the chaplain,
has come along to give Kirsty support.
-Hello, little man. Hello! Are you enjoying that? What's this?
-Oh, that's right.
-He says, "Bash Caroline!"
-So you're going down to theatre in a little while?
How long's he going to be in for? Have they given you a time?
No, about four hours, I think, altogether.
He was here when he first came in, wasn't he? This was his...
-Wasn't it here?
-I think he's had every bed space.
-I'm sure he has.
-This was his first one.
MAN: Where are we off to, mate?
'Obviously, when he goes to theatre, I have little silent prayers.'
'I do say things in my head, like, "Please make sure he'll be OK."
'Every day I look at him, he amazes me that he's still here,
'that he's fighting, he's strong, you know, he's got some willpower.'
'It is a miracle. He's brilliant.
'You know, he's had to come through so much and yet,
'at the end of it, he smiles every day.'
In the hospital chapel,
Kirsty's asked Caroline to light a candle for Carson.
I firmly believe that, when I light that candle now for Carson,
and in my mind, I'm saying, "Jesus, look after him,
"take care, make him better, look after him, look after Kirsty,"
I'm firmly convinced that what I'm saying, with the help of the candles,
is wending its way up there, somewhere,
through the golden gates to Jesus
and I believe that and that's part of my faith.
I've had a few days where I've just thought, "I can't do this no more,"
and then I just look at him and I think, "How can I think that?"
You know, he's gone through so much,
he's actually going through this, and he can do it, then so can we.
At the University, Anglican chaplain, James Harding, has had a call for help.
OK, I'm on my way to meet a student called Tom.
Tom is a Christian, he comes regularly to the chapel,
so I know him quite well, and Tom is going to go home today.
I'm going to meet him, because I think he's feeling homesick.
'I'm going to talk to Tom, listen to him, pray with him,
'but I'll take him to the station as well, so he just knows there's someone that's here for him.'
-How you doing?
-Good to see you.
-Is this the longest you've ever been away from home?
-Yeah, it is, it's seven weeks now.
Yeah, so what are you missing?
-I'm missing my mum's cooking, definitely.
-She's a food technology teacher.
-Right, so you get well fed at home?
Yeah, I'm looking forward to that. Also, I miss my church quite a bit,
because I had a lot of friends there.
I'm always worried about students going home too early.
I've seen it so many times in my time in universities that,
if you go home too early before you've made friends and made good new contacts,
then you can kind of find it difficult to reintegrate.
How about, just before I take you to the station, I just pray for you?
-I'd really like to pray for you.
Father God, thank you for Tom, thank you that you've brought him
and called him to Liverpool...
'I believe, you know, when the lights go off,
'and the door closes, and that students are alone in their room,
'the realities of life hit them then.'
"There must be more to life than this.
"There must be some direction and purpose in my life."
And, hopefully, I'm there to help people through that.
I mean, my own experience of being a student was very mixed.
I came to Liverpool to study when I was 18 years old.
I'd never been away from home before.
I cut the apron strings and I partied really hard for two years.
I really pushed the limits of what was acceptable, in terms of drinking alcohol.
I really pushed the limits in terms of what was acceptable in terms of experimenting with drugs.
And it was a Christian friend that picked me up
and cleaned me down and loved me back into church.
-OK, God bless.
-Thanks a lot.
-Have a safe journey.
-OK, see you soon.
'So I want to be there for people that are in that situation.
'This job is so rewarding and so fulfilling,'
because I get to share people's lives, share people's journeys,
I get to walk with them a little bit
and I believe I'm right where God wants me to be.
It's not a job, it's a calling and I'd I do it
regardless of whether I got paid or not.
Tom came back to Liverpool and, with James's support,
is settling into university life.
Carson Hartley is recovering from his 10th operation.
But the surgeons have given Kirsty some bad news about his future.
They've said that he's probably not going to speak. Um...
I was obviously upset. It's not a nice thing to hear.
Like I said, it's just another thing to add to his list.
And they actually confirmed that he has moderate hearing loss
and he's now getting fitted for hearing aids.
You know, sometimes, when he looks at me, I think, "Why you? Why us?"
You know, um, and then, when he smiles at you, you think,
"How can you smile?" you know, "What reason have you got to smile for?"
We've come this far,
so it doesn't matter if it's going to take another five years,
10 years, 15 years, we're going to be there 100% behind Carson,
um, and they are little steps that we have to take
and each day's an extra step towards, hopefully,
a better future for him.
You know, as long as he's here, we're going to be here behind him.
Here you go, girls. Are you going to put them on?
At their base on Church Street,
the street pastors hand out water and free flip-flops.
Oh, yeah, thanks. Thanks for them. Thank you.
Go on, you can put them on now.
There's nothing worse than staying in heels all night
when you feel sick, cold, like on a night like this,
and you want to go home. And you just, you can't be bothered
walking two miles for a taxi in shoes like that.
Here you are.
People are coming up now and they are saying to us,
"Are you the people who sell flip-flops?"
And we say, "No, we give flip-flops away," so they still haven't
quite got the message that we're not out to make money.
-This is what they did.
I feel amazing.
They made my birthday.
It just shows you how many young ladies walk around with nothing on their feet and, er,
you might've noticed earlier on, we picked up a few bottles as well.
The reason behind that was because, you know, they get broken,
they're walking around with nothing on their feet,
It's dangerous, you know, for 'em and, also, they can be used
for weapons as well, of course, so, er...
if we remove them from the street, it makes it a safer place.
It's 3am and the city centre's busier than ever.
The pastors don't preach, but if people ask questions,
it's an opportunity to get their message across.
I believe that Jesus exists, yeah, existed. He's dead now, of course.
Well, he did die, but he rose again.
-I believe that he taught people how they should live.
-OK, that's OK.
-And for those people to teach again.
-That's their test.
-Well, that's us.
-To teach again.
-We're used as his disciples.
-That's a good, that's a good message to portray to the world.
Jesus gave us freedom.
-With respect I've got to go.
It was amazing, because it was them that were asking all the questions.
-What where they asking you?
well, they were asking about Jesus and they were asking about God
and, you know, what an opportunity
to, er, answer them and they were ready to listen.
I was made for this job, because... been there, bought the T-shirt.
But I haven't been there, got the T-shirt and all that,
but I still know I'm in the right place
-and it's not for the same reasons.
It's because I know there's a lot of lost people out there
and, yeah, and they're just searching
and until they find that hole that only God can fill,
they'll still go on searching in the emptiness.
There's more to life than this.
Kirsty and her son Carson are still living at Alder Hey Hospital.
But last summer, before his 10th operation,
they both got a brief taste of a better future.
Carson was allowed to leave hospital for the first time.
It's your big day!
It was only for a few hours,
but after 18 months in hospital, it was a huge step forward.
Going home, I think him going into his own house for the first time
is going to be...amazing. It's going to be brilliant, yeah.
Yes. Seeing his bedroom for the first time.
Hey, are you going to see your bedroom?
Oh... We never ever thought this day would come ever, um...
-It means everything.
-< It does.
Bye! Say, "Bye-bye!"
-SHE KISSES HIM
Next time, we join Carson on his day trip home.
Where are we?
This will be your bedroom.
What do you think? Eh?
And we meet Muslim convert Adam Kelwick,
who tells how a trip abroad changed his life.
I came back to the UK with a beard, a wife and a dress on, and that's the short version.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
At Alder Hey Children's Hospital, the chaplains give support to a young mother whose eighteen-month-old son is seriously ill and about to undergo his tenth operation. Across the city at Liverpool University, Chaplain James Harding is busy providing much-needed support to homesick first-year students, and the street pastors are back on patrol, handing out flip flops and spiritual advice to clubbers, who appear to have more woes than just their sore feet.