Tonight my son Parker and I ventured down to Mosaic Community Development (MCD) to serve dinner to about 30 homeless men and women. Paul and Michelle Gardner have been involved with MCD for a long time, and JD and Michele Senkbile have been serving there recently as well. We’ve looking for missional pathways into the city, where Coram Deo can partner with already existing ministries to make a difference in the name of Christ. MCD is on the short list.
It was a really interesting experience. If you’re a Coram Deo person reading this, I hope you’ll take the time to serve at Life on the Brick (the Monday night dinner) in the coming months. You’ll be thankful for the worldview-shaping and the jolt out of your “normal American” bubble.
On the one hand, I’m frustrated by the complexity of homelessness. The people I met tonight weren’t earnestly trying to get off the streets and back into society. They were, for the most part, people who had made peace with being homeless. Some of them are even proud of their ability to “make it” on the streets. That doesn’t make them less needy or less deserving of ministry. But it does make for a much greater challenge in figuring out how to serve them effectively.
I’m also challenged by my own utter ineptness when it comes to having conversations with people who aren’t like me. I wish you could have been inside my head as I was desperately trying to figure out how to have even the simplest conversation with my new friends. I mean, think about your standard conversation-starters. “So, what do you do for a living?” Nope, can’t use that one. “Do you come here often?” Shoot, I don’t even come here often. I’m the new guy. “Who are you rooting for in the Big 12 Championship?” Oh, yeah, you don’t have a TV. “What do you do in your free time?” Hmm… most of your life is free time. Nothing like a basic conversation with a homeless man to show you your need for the gospel in a whole new way. I think I see why Jesus liked hanging out with the down-and-outers. There’s something refreshing about their simplicity and honesty. They have less to hide and less to care about than most of us.
I come away with more questions than answers. But there’s something desperately redemptive about that. This fallen world is a complex place. And if we’re going to pray and work so that God’s will gets done here just like it is in heaven, it’s going to take a lot of good question-asking. Redemption is free, but it isn’t easy… especially on the Brick.