The faith that brings you to the city is not enough to keep you there.
I'm tired. It takes a lot of effort to get a program year off the ground, as any teacher or youth pastor can tell you. Two weeks in, we have hit stride. But it seems like this week was full of punches to the gut that have kept me from really enjoying the fact that we are off and running. Experiences and facts that make this urban ministry task feel too big. Experiences and facts that I probably couldn't have imagined when I entered into this thing with an air of idealism. But also experiences and facts that make me understand how important it is that God has allowed me to be a part of this thing that is way bigger than me.
Monday morning my coworker attends a funeral. Last week, the dad of one of our kids was murdered. Shot in the back of the head when someone robbed him as he was driving a taxi early one morning. Stupid. And it makes me really angry because it was one of the few dads in the neighborhood who was an engaged parent. He was a good dad, he was a good husband, he ministered to his neighbors, and now he's gone for no reason.
Monday afternoon I drive down Prospect to pick some kids up from school. Passing 27th and Prospect is always depressing because of the activity that happens on the corner. This particular day, it was more depressing. News vans. A yellow police line blocking off the liquor store. Come to find out the owner of the store shot and killed a would-be robber.
Tuesday, the police helicopter was in the sky all day. Pounding out a beat. Circling. Searching for someone who had done something that was not good. As we prayed with our leaders, I almost got up to close the windows because the thumping was so loud that I was having problems focusing. I didn't like the feeling of walking out to my car and having to be on alert, knowing that someone was running.
Yesterday I had to swing by a kids house because his mom wasn't returning my calls. As I walked up on the porch, I realized that she and three other people were doing drugs. The conversation ended up being shorter than it needed to be.
Last night I thought about stopping by 7-11 on my way home after I had dropped a kid off. Decided not too. Too late. Too many people outside. Come to find out today that there must have been some lingering bad vibes from the night before. 23 hours earlier a clerk had shot and killed a thief. Oh. And this 7-11 is right across the street from a police station.
Part of me wants to cuss. Part of me wants to cry. Part of me wants to go to comfortable churches and challenge the people of God to be the light of Christ in this city. The problem is that I'd probably hear someone complaining about how their investments lost a ton of money this week, and then I'd start the cussing and the crying right there in the church lobby. An emotional and incoherent tirade about how people are dying and kids are starving and teens are giving birth to babies and jobs are evaporating from the inner city and absentee landlords are causing a silent housing crisis in the urban core and F your investment probably isn't going to speak the truth in love. We need something a little more measured than that.
But then I breathe. I read psalms. I lament a godly lament. I remember that faith brought me here. I thank god for developing in me a deeper faith that keeps me here.
Renew and Restore