Sunday, October 25, 2009

You Never Know What's Gonna Happen

Interrupted bible studies. Lack of engagement. Violent crime on the street. For some reason, whenever there's a small group of us on the street, you never know what's going to happen. I can head out to Broken Hearts pumped about what's going to happen and how we're going to see God move. And when I see a circle of just 4, 5, or 6 of us, I get a little deflated. Not because the Holy Spirit can't use just a few, or that we're unable to accomplish as much with a small group. Maybe it's lack of energy from each other or just a weird vibe that comes from feeling outnumbered by the darkness...but it seems that very often when just a few of us show up to minister, all bets are off. Of course sometimes that small group can be unique to minister specially to one or two people and really have deep conversation. Last night, that was not the case.

We met up in the Del Taco parking lot as usual to find only 5 of us there, and right about then it started to feel weird for me. The streets seemed quiet and it was one of those "what's going to happen tonight?" nights. We briefly spoke to "Jay", a guy who's met several of the Friday nighters and some of our team, but he didn't want to join us for prayer because he'd been smoking weed. So we prayed and then headed out to the corners where eventually more and more people started showing up. I saw a few familiar faces that I hadn't seen in a while, including one who was actually excited to see me. One who, just a few months ago, would barely talk to us. He even asked if we were having bible study and said he'd be there.

We lingered around the donut shop for a while, observing and praying and trying to decide who to talk to or whether to walk around. There weren't a lot of people we knew and it seemed several people were busy with transactions of some sort. So after some quick hellos to various people, we walked a few feet where a man standing by himself said hi and asked what we were up to.

We stopped and talked to Luis for a while. I couldn't really tell you what the conversation was about, because after about the first 3 minutes, nothing made sense. He said he liked church and would want to come to our bible study at one point, later deciding he didn't want to come this time. Jeremiah and I politely listened to him, trying to follow along, but his thoughts were incoherent and unrelated from one point to the next. We asked if we could pray for anything before leaving and he just said to offer a praise of 'hallelujah'. So we bid him a good night and set off for The Refuge service.

Once there, we met up with the rest of the group plus Jay, who had come back for bible study, and one other guy who was sitting on the sidewalk. I met him, but didn't get a chance to talk to him; but according to Jorge, his thoughts weren't particularly coherent either and apparently he'd just gotten done shooting up. Jeremiah started talking to a guy who was getting out of his car, probably to go to 711, and ended up talking to him until we started bible study before he had much of a chance to leave. :)

Though the night had picked up some and didn't feel so quiet anymore, the conversations were a bit odd because of the mental conditions of those we met. 

Then, about 10 minutes into Jere's talk, some commotion started to arise on the street in front of us. 3 young men ran and jumped in the car parked next to us, squealing out of the parking lot amongst shouts and people beginning to swarm; nearly hit Antquan's car as they drove over the curb onto Santa Monica Blvd and away as fast as they could. Quickly, more yelling and ruckus caused commotion on the sidewalk, and more and more people began to congregate to see what had happened. Antquan had been keeping somewhat of an eye on the situation, sensing from when he'd seen the car (which looked stolen) parked there, that something was up as he watched the guys hanging out on the sidewalk while 2 others sat inside the car.

So his first thought was that it was  drug deal gone bad and someone had been stabbed. Jay, who had left bible study and ended up in the middle of the chaos, came back shortly and filled us in on what'd happened. Apparently the guys had tried to steal a car nearby, and the owner of the car caught them. Getting caught, they somehow had the steering wheel of the car and hit him over the head with it, then took off, leaving him on the sidewalk, bleeding. Jay had stayed with the guy until the ambulance came and took him away. Several other police cars arrived, and our bible study was officially over as a helicopter flew over head and it was all we could focus on. We prayed briefly, again because focusing was so hard, and ended up hanging around for a while to help police with details and their reports.

Strange night overall. One of those that, after things calmed down, and after we handed out our leftover pizza to our other friends on the street, we were just trying to process all that had happened. The night felt weird from the beginning and just got worse, ending with that reminder that this is dangerous territory...but also that we need to be here for that exact reason.

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