Saturday, July 2, 2011

Community Building

It's hard for me to decide exactly what to write about this past Thursday with Broken Hearts.

It was so good, and there's so much to choose from in regard to what to say to convey it all. In short, it demonstrated growth and the achieving of goals for this community.

We had our White as Snow laundry service for the month, which has been happening for less than 1 year, so we're still getting the word out and learning. But this week there wasn't an empty washing machine or dryer, and I don't think I even got to say hi to everyone there, it was so busy. Loads of loads of free laundry was being done and people from across the spectrum were connecting with each other.

Not only that, but I think the activity around the laundromat which is normally closed at that hour of the night brings many of the people we see on the street to congregate and hang out. Another 5-10 people were hanging all night outside, not even there to do laundry.

For me this meant connecting with people from other churches, my church, continuing conversations with friends from the street I'd been interacting with throughout the week, and a few conversations about permanent housing.

But even better to me was the fact that about 25 people stayed for our bible study, including 3 little kids who'd come with their aunt to do laundry (that was a first!) We had to explain to two different set of cops over the night why we were there and that we weren't loitering or doing anything wrong. I sat on that sidewalk, observing the group, and realizing how cool it is that this community continues to form and grow. People actually take time out of their nights to come listen to the word of God, eat, and pray with us. They're interacting around a different context from just drug deals or hanging out on the street corner. It's legitimately a church on the street, drawing in all kinds of people out of curiosity. 

As usual, Antquan gave an amazing sermon regarding not looking back once your "hand is to the plow" (from Luke) and going against the desire to keep one foot in the world when you choose Christ. After breaking up into groups, people conversed about the sermon - and life - for about another 2 hours.

We desire to meet the physical and spiritual needs of people on the street. Our free laundry is growing to the point that we start earlier and may have to start coming with many more quarters...we're working with people to find permanent housing, giving away clothing and blankets, and feeding them every Thursday. We're challenging them spiritually through the Word of God, exhorting through prayer, and asking serious questions about life and how it should be lived. Transformation is being seen as individuals are discipled and more volunteers want to join whatever this crazy thing is that's happening every week.

It sure isn't easy...but I can't think of anything much more exciting.