Lurgan man Andy Burns launches new book revealing unique work of street chaplains
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Andy set up the local Christian outreach group, Lurgan Street Chaplains, which helps young people in the town centre some Saturday nights.
The Lurgan-born man founded Scotland’s first street chaplaincy team when he decided to start ROCK Street Chaplains in Dundee in 2000. Since then, the unique street ministry has been established in several towns across Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Andy grew up in Lurgan before moving to Kilkeel in 1987 to become a child evangelist with Mourne Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF). Two years later he married Kilkeel nurse, Marina Campbell, and they soon moved to Dundee where they pioneered the work of CEF and raised their two children. In 2000, Andy said he felt led to reach out to the young nightclubbers of the city and soon called his team ROCK Street Chaplains which stands for Reaching Out to make Christ Known.
“From tract distribution as a young Christian in Lurgan, to buying the Good News Bus in Dundee, we eventually began nightclub ministry, reaching young people in nightclubs and bars in the city of Dundee and other towns in Scotland. We don’t preach at people, we are there to lend a helping hand to people who are sometimes vulnerable and we share God’s love through our words and actions”, Andy explained.
Andy, who will mark four decades in full-time ministry in a few months’ time, added: “Many have helped us along the road, many have tried to hinder and discourage, but God has been gracious and the little we have done for Him has hopefully sown the seed of God’s word in many hearts.”
After 24 years in Dundee, Andy returned to Northern Ireland in 2016 where more recently he has started further street chaplaincy teams in Lurgan and in Newcastle near his current home in Annalong. He is also chaplain for Warrenpoint Football Club and the Schomberg Society in Kilkeel, having also been club chaplain of Dundee United FC until recently.
In recent years, the work of street chaplains has been featured on BBC NI and has received several civic awards. In 2019, Andy was awarded a BEM in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for services to the community.
"When the pandemic struck in 2020, the work of street chaplains was severely impacted. I took it as an opportunity to do something that had long been at the back of my mind - to write a book about street chaplains and how the Lord has worked through me and others to bring it about. However, putting pen to paper was easier said than done.
"Fortunately, one of our volunteers, Callum Bowsie, offered his writing skills. I want to thank Callum who has always been an encourager to me while doing this book.”
With an Ulster-Scots flavour, Andy’s new book begins with his upbringing in Lurgan and Northern Ireland generally, before giving a personal, frank, and sometimes humorous account of the joys and challenges of children's ministry and latterly nightclub outreach.
The book launch will take place in Lurgan Baptist Church on Saturday, November 18 at 3pm where signed books will be available for £8 each, with proceeds going towards the work of the charity.