Today has been such an interesting day.
Every Wednesday we will be going out into the community to serve and love on! I am working with Here’s Life Inner City working with a church that does an afterschool program. We got there and could tell very quickly that this site was in a dark part of town. Frankly it is in a shady part of town and not where I would probably go shopping, but it is where the Spirit and the Lord’s grace are needed the most.
We saw the kids and melted. They sang us their camp song and immediately welcomed us with open arms and hearts. Due to rain we played inside a little bit but then we got to go to the park. Mind you, this park is the best park I have ever seen and I was excited to get to play outside with these adorable kids! The park is a little ways down from the church so we have walking buddies. As we exit the gated parking lot, I notice we are headed under the highway and that is when I see the people. There are a variety of homeless people sitting on both sides of the road and I had this feeling that this crowd lives and interacts under this bridge. We walked by the people and crossed the street towards the park but the people stayed in my mind.
I think the reason they stayed in my mind and heart is because this was the first time I had ever been near the homeless and impoverished. In Urban Sociology this past semester I read a book called “The Corner” which is about a corner in Baltimore where drugs are sold and where drug addicts and people whom are stuck (not able to afford to leave the neighborhood). When I walked past these people my mind went immediately to this book and I had a sense that these people are using drugs, alcohol, whatever. This is the closest I had interacted with people who I had studied in classes but never really gone out to interact with. They had this presence around them that was hopeless, dark, without light both literally and spiritually. I was a little nervous because I have never interacted in this setting before, but neither did I fear for my life because this is where Jesus would be. He would not be hanging out at the Ventura Country Club talking with the elites and brushing elbows with the good people, Jesus would be under that bridge living life with the people.
This also transfers to the children I will be interacting with. These children are not much higher up in the economic chain, for all I know their parents are regular customers down there. (I know I am making assumptions, but there were so many things that pointed to this being a central social location to interact and even swap drugs, I cannot explain why I have this feeling of absolute certainty other than the Spirit being heightened to the problems of the people around me.) And even though I am working with a church that doesn’t mean the children understand what a relationship with Christ really is. I cannot bring them up to my level of intelligence or even economic standing, I need to put those biases and prejudices and cast them out and love on these people as Jesus would. I need to be on their level and truly see them for the beautiful creations formed by God. I am so excited to learn from the children and even the people under that bridge this summer because I see God using them in my life and if I am willing, used in their life to plant seeds.