Night Street Lessons
Tonight I dove deeper into developing my role at Outreach. I went on a hunt of sorts. L, my fellow outreach worker, took me to a camp nestled between the mega-million dollar Lucas Oil Stadium (home of Superbowl XLVI) and the White River. There we encountered a strip of land known to some as "the Jungle".
We hunched down and went under the bridge on one side to see a scattering of used up travel shampoos, burnt plastic spoons, empty sanitizer containers and other evidence of a typical squat location. The array of needles and spoons made it clear that this was a popular place to hide and shoot up. This was a moment where I nodded my head and thought, 'this is it. this is reality.' This is the reality of the life these kids live, and the reality of the lifestyle they are on the verge of slipping into.
Its the reality of who my God is. He is bigger than all of it. He is capable of healing the hurt that leads to the hiding, and the breaking away from society. And, for reasons beyond my comprehension, He has led me into this position where I am reaching out to these image bearing individuals.
As part of my introduction into this position, I am reading a phenomenal book entitled When Helping Hurts. It is incredibly insightful to be meeting the people of this city in line with reading this book. The understanding of what Christ did with us, does with us and will continue to be doing in us helps me to further develop my view of what "working with the homeless" means in Indianapolis.
What is success in homeless ministry? Is it when they confess their need for Christ? When they pass a GED test? Land a job? Get an apartment? The answer lies in looking at our own lives. When am I considered a successful woman? When I graduated college? When I landed a good job? When I buy a house? When I get married? (Gosh I hope not!) Its no different in determining when 'success' is reached with homeless.
Just like me, they are not projects. They are people. People befriend people. They invest in people, they take time to genuinely get to know each other. This is called friendship. It's called living life. Success in ministry isn't in the accomplished projects or number of boxes filled in on a list, but in the process of loving someone. Is a friendship successful when you're close enough to go to their house, go to the mall, go on vacation together? None of that makes sense.
Of course in this 'field of work' there are milestones. Points when you look back and see progress, see progress done by an interactive and powerful God. Glimpses of renewed views of self, God, people and the world. Its a gradual morphing of unhealthy and untrue views of things into an understanding of truth that causes lasting change. An unveiling of how God sees you. It's what made me into who I am. I even spoke to a coworker and said today, "I am not who anyone thought or expected me to be. And that is completely because of God stripping away so many lies I thought about myself and Him and life and replacing those with truth."
So I pray, HARD. I pray for eyes to see the hurts that are rooted in lies. I pray for the nudge that I am learning to feel more and more that guides my into speaking truth in those places. I am in tears as I right this, hoping, yearning, praying with each click of the keyboard, to be a mouthpiece. To be a tool used in the story of some of these youth that I will meet that God uses to breath the fresh air of truth into places where healing has to happen to break chains.
Lord. Use me.