i’m reading a book called “theirs is the kingdom”. it’s stories from the inner city about serving, ministry, compassion and frustration.
and so im wondering how?
how do Christ’s people help bring about the kingdom in the city to those who live there? how do we do the things Christ called for: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the inmate, care for the sick, when it can cause as much hurt and humiliation and degradation to try and help? this book is full of wonderful stories of the situations you run into when you are in the process of living, working and doing ministry where there are great needs and hurts.
- the family that has to be poor enough to qualify for our help
- the father that is humiliated by the christmas toy handouts but knows his children would have nothing under the tree if it wasn’t for those donated gifts
- a system to curtail the greed of free clothes at the thrift shop that makes people jump through hoops
how do we do what Christ wanted and yet still see each person as valuable and worthy of person-hood? how do we get ourselves out of being always in the power position? how can we help without hurting and humiliating? how can we suspend our judgements, or should we, when we are being played, manipulated and lied to because someone is tired of having to “qualify” for help?
we are called, but need more equipping and mostly more heart to see and hear people and find a way to be a part of finding justice in their lives. we need to see more examples of what can work and what systems so that we can keep trying.
the more i think about our last 9 years of trips roseland, the more i wonder how i’ve portrayed Christ to those who live in that neighborhood. have we helped without harming? have i been a partner and friend or just some guy who thinks he’s a bigshot for being so involved? have we really tried to build relationships or are they just surface? does running back to the suburbs each night say we don’t value these friends in the city who stay and don’t leave? do i secretly, way down deep, think more highly of myself than i ought to because of everything we do there? why don’t i cry at the pain and hurts of those i call my friends who live there? though questions and makes me wonder about what are the reasons we should even be there in the first place.
i know that we’ll keep trying, but i just don’t want to hurt and degrade anyone in the process. and i want our students to keep coming alongside because maybe this next generation will get it right!