CHRISTIANS parading around Taunton town centre on Saturday night conjure up images of Daniel in the lions’ den.

You’d expect some flak from the young people, many roaring – as in drunk rather than big cats – who treat the patch as their weekend playground.

But everywhere they went, the Street Pastors were greeted by smiles, hugs and cheers as the County Gazette joined them on their 'snow patrol' back in February 2009.

The evening began at 9.30pm, when the nine men and women discussed tactics and prayed in North Street Congregational Church.

Half an hour later and four of them, with leader Adrian Prior-Sankey, hit the sub-zero streets in high visibility uniforms, equipped with radios and phones.

The others stayed behind to set up a hot drinks gazebo and maintain contact with their colleagues.

First stop for the roving pastors was the Perkin Warbeck for a noisy welcome.

“Evening, how are you?” one asked two smokers in East Street.

The pastors learn they are “cool” and doing a good job.

Several animated revellers offered their appreciation – “good people,” said one.

It was the same outside Shout nightclub, where they were cheered by a 50-metre queue.

They moved on and discovered a distressed girl in a shop doorway, who they accompanied to find her friends.

After a chat with the Deller’s doormen, Mr Prior-Sankey spotted three teenagers beside the river in Goodland Gardens.

The pastors approached only to discover they were taking photos of the snow.

Then it was off to Mambo and more friendly faces.

A sharp-eyed pastor noticed an elderly man he had seen earlier.

“Where’s your Zimmer frame?” he asked. The prompt led to him returning to the bar to collect it before heading home.

So what were generation gap-bridging Street Pastors all about?

Struggling to be heard over the din of excited revellers, Mr Prior-Sankey said: “It’s an initiative by churches throughout Britain in each community where they can provide practical care, listen and help anybody at all who is in the town centre late at night, whether it’s the influence of drink or just that it’s got cold and they hadn’t come prepared for that or they hadn’t thought about how they were going to get home.

“We try to bring practical ways to help.

"Quite often we get asked to explain what motivates us and we are able to share that it’s our love of God and our belief that He loves them.

“That stimulates us to stay up very late at night and quite often in the very cold.”