Sunday, July 6, 2008

Re-breaking for the broken-hearted

After more than a year of doing ministry on the streets, it's easy to become slightly calloused to the unusual sights, sounds and stories that drench Hollywood and urban street life. Though I haven't asked other members of our team, I would guess they feel even more that way than I, after being out there even longer. Along with getting used to the strange lifestyle and personalities down there, I think spending so much time there has made ministry a bit easier, because I've gotten familiar with the area, the people that we see each week, etc. Which is a good thing. But at the same time, growing too familiar makes it difficult to remain compassionate, as broken-hearted for the lost, and as dependent on God. I don't have many days that I don't feel like going to ministry - most of the time I'm excited. I don't feel like I have to pray as much (even though I KNOW I do!) because it's not as scary or challenging. And I realized this week that I've forgotten how great the need is, how desperately people need God, and how lost and incapable I am without Him.

This past week was eye-opening for me. It was the July 3rd, the beginning of a holiday weekend. Which, to the rest of the world, apparently means party time in Hollywood. The street was packed this week, mostly with clubbers and boys dressed in drag. I don't think I've ever seen that many people out there. And I don't know if I've ever felt so out of place. I felt a lot of eyes staring us down as we walked the streets, from people who aren't there every week and aren't used to us. We got a few snickers from people as they observed our conservative clothing, white skin and clean appearances. It's understandable, I mean, we look like...Christians. Like THOSE Christians you see, fitting into the church mold and looking entirely out of place when they go to minister. But it's who we are, and most people there are totally okay with it. But when we're around crowds who aren't used to seeing us, all of a sudden I felt a little awkward and uncomfortable and helpless.

Our group was small this particular week, and we got started late and ended up deciding to prayer walk instead of talking to people like normal. We all ended up talking to people we knew at some point, but most of the time we spent praying, observing, and getting glares and second-take glances. And for the first time in a long time, my heart felt incredibly heaven and burdened. Conversations were difficult, talking felt like it took so much work (partially because most of us were also really tired), one guy that I know and wanted to talk to longer was dragged off by his friends, the donut shop we always go to was closed for the holiday. Nothing felt normal or familiar about these streets this week...and I didn't like that. It felt more like my first time out there - unsure, out of my comfort zone, no idea what to do or where to start.

Standing on a street corner, I heard some giggles about us, saw lots of people stare us down, and watched police car after police car pull people over, chase people down, go after trouble...and I had to hold back tears. With so many people out, I felt like I hit a wall that there was no way around of hardened hearts and spirits numbed and possessed by drugs, sex, alcohol, debauchery. It was a good time to prayer walk, because I had no idea what to do or how to be used. Quite honestly, I just wanted to go home to my comfortable bed and get out of the filthy city. I didn't even feel much compassion for the people out there, but more frustration at why they don't care, don't want to listen, and just want to numb out all of there pain and never turn to God.

But as hard as it was, it was a reminder of how much work there is to do, how badly it needs to be done, and how utterly dependent I am on God for my words, my safety, and my usefulness for his Kingdom. He may be sending us to bind up the broken-hearted, but if we're not relying on his power, it's utterly hopeless.

1 comment:

Kid Feed Mommy said...

My dad (who works with gang members every day) said something very similar to me a couple days ago. He said there are times when he sees all the homeless people and gang members and starts to feel depressed, thinking "What's the use?" But then he is reminded of the success stories he has seen, the people he has been able to help. Even one life helped is worth it! It's so great that you have been a part of this ministry for a year now. Thanks for continuing to share your journey.