Sheila shares her story of how God has given her a ministry of hugs, that enables her to show God's love to the people she meets.

Sheila’s story was produced by the
Evangelical Alliance with the support of
 

And I really felt that God had given me a ministry of hugs.
Because I had all sorts of people coming for hugs.
My name's Sheila, and this is my story.
I've been involved with city centre chaplaincy for about five years now.
When it started, we put tables and chairs outside.
And we sat at the table offering prayer and hugs.
I was amazed how at home I felt with it.
And all sorts of people were coming for hugs, from people who were just astonished to see somebody standing there with a 'free hug' sign, to people who hadn't had physical contact with anybody for a long time, to people who had real problems, and I could always tell when I hugged them if there was more that they needed to say.
So I was able to ask if they needed prayer for anything.
I've hugged the big issue man, I've hugged the homeless people, it doesn't matter who they are, they're all worthy of a hug.
Sometimes I cry with them and I laugh with them, and I just love it.
In sharing my faith I think prayer is very important and I pray for everybody I speak to.
And as you start to pray, so you become more able to pray and you become stronger, and prayer becomes a matter of course.
If someone feels nervous about spreading their faith, the message of their faith or talking about their faith, I try and encourage them to think beyond how they're feeling but just think of the message that they're giving out to people, and the chance for them to know God's love and so to be brave, take a deep breath and once you've done it once or twice, it becomes much easier.
I was in the fish and chip shop the other day and an elderly man told me, it was his turn to do the tea, because his wife wasn't well.
And he was very tired, so I asked him could I pray for him.
He was astonished, but he was really glad.
And I prayed for him in the fish and chip shop.
People do say to me: "well it's ok for you, because you find it easy."
But I think we can all find it easy if we just take that initial step.
I'm not special in anyway, I'm just a mum and a grandma, and I just have a conviction of my faith.
And I always, after I've hugged them, say that it's from the Lord.
It's a gift from God to them, to express His love.