Saturday, February 27, 2010

Walls


One of the reasons I was drawn to Broken Hearts, and continue to be, is that there is a level of rawness to the people hanging out on the boulevard. Everyone, from them to cops to the community, knows what goes down on that street corner and the type of people who hang out there. So there's no hiding. Most people are pretty open about their illegal activities, as well as their brokenness. 

I hear people who have been on missions trips to third-world countries feel similarly - that people are so down and out that it makes it much easier to reach them. Yet in Hollywood, we're not seeing hundreds come to Christ like you might on a trip to Africa or India. And it finally clicked me with the other day that while people are openly broken, they've also got up some of the thickest walls you can imagine.

For some reason I think I've often taken that rawness for transparency and vulnerability, but I think I was wrong (as I often am about my thinking in this ministry). Last night Antquan explained to some new volunteers the idea of the people we meet being in imaginary prisons, like walking around with a cage around them that they think they'll never get out of, and that others can only enter into so far without the key. But that finding that key is the hard part. I'd never heard him explain it quite this clearly before, and it totally captured what I was wrestling with. 

One of the first barriers is getting people past years of learned thinking that this way of life is just how it is and there's no getting out, and now it's just learning how to survive in that jail cell they carry around with them all of the time. Which, from the brief counseling knowledge I've acquired, probably takes a loooonng time to get through. Then there's finding that key. How do you find it? What unlocks the cage? How many failed attempts will there be? And do they even want you to unlock that cage? 

Last night I spent about a half hour with a guy I've known for a while, hearing about how he's abstained from meth for a month already, but is high on weed 24/7, according to him. I tried to find out more, like why he feels the need to be high all the time. After peppering him with questions (only because I know subtlety doesn't work too well with him, especially when he's already high), the furthest we got was that he can't deal with people when he's sober. Without saying much, it was clear there's probably all kinds of hurt and issues that he just can't manage with a sober mind, so he has to cover it up with some kind of drug, even if he's clean of meth. 

That's how many of my conversations go...ask questions, try to hear what they're not saying, and not get very far. They might be open about what they do and their sin, but try to get to the reasons why, and you run into that nearly-impenetrable wall with no key in your hand. 

I believe more and more that two factors - the Holy Spirit, and time - are the only things that will break down these walls. I really wanted the chance to simply pray with our friend last night, but didn't get an opportunity. Because my words and questions can only do so much, but the Spirit has a completely different kind of power that can break through those barriers. And despite the lack of opportunity to pray, Antquan's sermon spoke perfectly to what we'd just been discussing, and he actually stayed and listened to the whole thing. Antquan had planned it earlier, had no idea what "Jay" and I had talked about, and yet God used the perfect words to solidify his message through us.

As far as the factor of time, continuing to get to know him, sharing our lives, letting him see how we live ours, and loving him through the day-ins and day-outs build trust and leave an open opportunity for that day that he just needs to have someone hear him out. But that might not be for months or years down the road. I know that because I've seen it happen with people...after months of befriending them and getting the short, simple, safe answers, someone will eventually take away one of those bricks from their wall and let you - and Christ -  in just a little bit further. And if I've learned anything, it is to be faithful to our calling just as God is faithful to us. Because when someone's ready to come to Him, he's there to set them free.


3 comments:

Michelle S. Kim said...

I miss this....thank you for sharing so quickly last night's experience.

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Jonathan Reyes said...

Yes yes yes, Like you said, I think it is a matter of asking the right questions that would get them thinking in their jail cell and no one can get to them. When it comes down to it, it is a heart to heart with the Holy spirit that will ultimately change our ways. I guess that's why God works from the inside out... He is already in the cell, and is working fervently to talk with us. :D

But one thing I truly admire about broken hearts is the proactive prayer. Prayer is essential, and it works :D