The poor and abused have become my teachers.
My highest hope is to honor them by inviting lessons from their lives to reshape and inform my own. I cannot speak for them, but my friends have so much to offer. Life with them lately has been teaching me a lot regarding the role of the church in the healing of the world.
These are my words inspired by their lives…
I have yet to see a child with chains around her wrists or physically tied to her captor, she doesn’t need to be. He has her heart.
We were made for intimacy and for belonging. Sadly, sometimes nobody seems to understand or leverage that more effectively than those with evil intent.
If we want to change the world, we don’t need to add another program or outreach to our church calendars.
In my experience many congregations are willing to “reach out” into the lives of the poor and lonely but are rather hesitant to embrace and draw them in close.
I mean, how would we feel about the homeless, drug addicted, prostituted, transgendered showing up on Sunday morning or at a midweek small group not designated specifically for the homeless, drug addicted, prostituted or transgendered?
Sometimes our language and outreach events highlight the segregation between the “ins” and the “outs”and everyone there knows which camp they’re in.
I’ve been wondering would happen if we swung the door wide open?
What if we were committed to the messy message…You don’t have to believe to belong. You don’t have to look like us to be with us.
What if we preach Bible, live grace, lay down our rights and self appointed roles in sin management and focused on living fully and contagiously alive?
A great big glorious mess.
I think we’d lose some people, gain some critics and change the world.
I’ve held a child kicking, wailing and begging to return to the people renting her out every night. Another is still angry we arranged a rescue from her pimp. It’s not a matter of whips and chains, it’s about fragile hearts and gaping voids and human connection.
In our work in very poor communities, there's no shortage of well-meaning groups offering food hand outs and used clothes drives, but few stick around when invited to fill the greater human needs of acceptance and genuine friendship.
But where light pulls back, darkness rushes in.. spewing lies, winning affections, collecting hearts and tightening its grip.
The challenge has not been lack charity projects but of invitation into relationship within the church. It's not uncommon for a church (of any religion) to proudly list the poor as a ministry focus, but not treat them as equal or as friends. Maybe a need is met but everyone keeps divided up and in their place.
It's not the richest, most well groomed, or best resourced churches God will use. But those trading aspirations for tallest steeple for being home to the loneliest person.
Governments, education and nonprofits can make the world better. But I am convinced only Love can heal hearts and make it whole.
Love means hurdling barriers and coming in close
skin to skin
life on life
a place called home