29 April 2005

that's not who we are...

I'm not sure yet what I am going to say about this yet, but here goes:
This morning, my mom, myself and another lady (Mary) from my church brought donuts and bottles of water to a local park, to give to people who were there. We mostly expected that we would meet homeless people or "transients." And that was the case. We did this in response to a challenge from our Bible study and the 40 Days of Community our church is going through.
When we got to the park, there was a small group of about 5 people talking at a picnic table. We offered them all donuts and water. Some accepted the donuts and I think all of them accepted the water.
We ended up talking a bit to a man named Larry and he asked who we are. Mary quickly answered, "We are from Hillside Church." While she said that, I thought to myself, that's not who we are...We go to that church, but it isn't who we are. We also introduced ourselves, by name to him.
Over the next 2 hours several other people came and went, the group we met first "helped" by offering the donuts and water to others who came. Like I said, it was mostly transients, but also a man came and typed on his laptop for a bit, and two Muslim women brought their children to play in the park. I spoke to one, Anisa, and she asked if we were from a church and said that her husband has spoken about Islam at many churches in the area. I got his name and e-mail address because it sounded like it would be a great resource to have.
In the last half hour a man named John came by. I offered him a donut and some water. He was a little hesitant at first. He asked if I was "advertising" something, and I said no, we were just offering them to everyone. And he asked where we were from, and I said that we were a small group from a church. And (a little later) he asked why we were there. And I told him that our group was challenged to reach out to the community and that we decided that we would come and share donuts and water. And I said, "Do you think that was a good idea?" And he responded positively.
After a little bit of "small talk," he seemed to be thinking about leaving, but then said, "Do you have time to talk?" And I said, "Sure," and we sat down at the picnic table and he just starting talking. He told me about how he felt that the State was trying to get all his money, how all the people at the halfway house he was at are crazy, and the thing that hit me the hardest was when he told me about being in juvenile hall at 16 or 17 and seeing a film about Jesus and going back to his cell and crying because he was so moved. And then, the jailer came and told him he was stupid to believe that stuff, to quit crying and then John was beaten by the jailer. He told me that he decided that he shouldn't try the religious stuff after that. Although later, he said that sometimes he feel touched and spiritual. All this time, I just listened. I think that is all God wanted me to do. Just listen. That is all John needed right then. He didn't know me. He just wanted to talk to somebody. To be heard.
Leading up to this morning, I was very tentative about going. I knew I was going, I just was a bit "weirded out." I think that the mental state of most homeless people has just made me feel a bit intimidated. I feel ashamed to have more than them. Now, I hope we go back.
Lord, I was willing to do your will this morning, and I pray that that is what took place. I pray for Larry and Anisa and John and all the people we served this morning. I pray that we were able to meet a need and to look like you in the process. Please guide us in future relationships with them. In Jesus' name. Amen.


Fo Sho said...

Glad to hear it went so well. You make an interesting point about Hillside Church not being 'who you are'... I'm not certain in what sense you meant that, but it is true, you are not defined by your local body, but by being a part of the Church Catholic. You ARE defined by being a member of Christ's Body, with Hillside as your locality. We cannot be defined by anything other than our election-cultural definitions, etc.

Gina said...

You know, Liz, I really liked the part about how you said that Hillside Church was not who you were. Afterall, that's not why you were there. I think that was an awesome idea. If you ever feel like doing it again, give me a call, I'd love to be a part of that. It would be cool to do it on a sort of regular basis and develop relationships with these people. Thanks for listening to John. If I were someone searching and not sure and had a hurtful past I'd really appreciate someone listening and not giving me answers, solutions, or cliches. Liz, you rock.

Danny said...

Which Hillside Church are you speaking of? I know of one in Rancho Cucamonga and I was just curious if it is the same one.

What would you say is the "purpose" (exuse the pun) of going out and getting connected to the community?