" Frankie, Jess, & myself drove out to Reid Park to meet with Patricia Wheeler. Upon entering the neighborhood one thing I realized was that there weren't people outside playing or communicating with one another. It was at this point I began to realize the culture we are entering into. There were no nerves, as the area was not new to me. I grew up in similar conditions so i was no stranger to what the Lord is leading into. We arive at Pat's house & were greeted with the biggest smile and warmest hug! There was no beating around the bush with Pat, she knew what we were there for so it didn't take long for us to dive deeper into her needs. Frankie and Jess had met Pat before, this was my first time meeting her so i mostly listened to the conversation. Pat began to tell us all the things she needed done. Above all things she really wants her washing machine fixed. This was interesting to me because above food, money, or anything else she wanted to wash. Washing gave her a sense of purpose. She said cleaning was a gift the Lord had given her. After telling us her needs she began to go down some rabbit trails of her life and how things are now. It was so good to hear her talk about the Lord. She is passionate about the Lord! Sundays are the days she looks forward to most. She said she gets all dressed up and catches the bus early to make it on time. She loves going to church. Pat didn't ask many questions, when you hang out with her you mostly do the listening. Listening to her is not a chore though. As I sat and listened it became a joy. Pat will make you laugh so much! Frankie had to ask her to stop because his cheeks hurt so much!! Upon leaving I realized that though we are going in with what we can do for Pat, the Lord is going to use her to teach us.
We will be blessed more than we know through Pat. Im thankful Pat's heart towards the Lord has not been hardened by the events in her life. Until next time, I pray this verse becomes more real to our group as we dive into relationships. " So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God BUT also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:8)"
A. Nikki H. "...hold loosely to our version of who He is,and-in the inevitable days ahead when our ways, thoughts,values,& goals conflict w/ His--realize we are the ones who do the changing."
I am now friends with her and committed to being God's provision for at least the next nine months through the Justice Project. We were not together for very long today, but that time slot had been divinely set apart for us from before the foundation of the world. She felt more awkward than I did, what with having the benefit of prayer room interaction under my belt. I will forever be grateful for the priceless training and experience that I have received through 24-7 and the example that has been set for us there. I arrive in the Spirit's power, free of fear and any discomfort despite the air of oppressiveness that hits me as I drive up to the house. The front door opens into a home filled wall-to-wall with family, ranging in age from grown children to toddler- sized grands. The warmth of the house takes the chill out of my bones on this bleak March day. Making our introductions, we sit down together at her one table, my explaining to her the part we are about to play in her life. We first go over the details of her physical needs. She is not expecting much. Most of the work that needs doing can be done by a set of skilled hands. She needs more hope than anything else. I am able to get the beginning of the back story as I ask her how I can pray for her. The tale is all too typical: the care of children and grandchildren has fallen to her, together with that of her mother who suffers from dementia. She is out of work and is suffering the telltale physical and emotional signs of stress. The needs are far greater than those on the surface. After praying, I open my eyes to her tears. Holding her hand, I tell her she is no longer alone in this and that we are available to her in the weeks and months to come. Reluctantly I take my leave after picking up on signals of dismissal, reassuring her that I will be back before too long.
With a heavy heart, I drive away but choose to not leave Reid Park just yet, touring the neighborhood to see what is available to the lives that are represented here. Beyond the wonderful recreation center at the top of the hill there is nothing. I make the observation that there are no stores. Merchants are unwilling to invest in the 'hood. Residents must travel many miles to just pick up a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk. This deeply angers me, a society that knows only how to value the dollar bill. After awhile I make the turn to go home, a journey made in total silence. Music would be inappropriate right now. The sense of injustice builds as I drive past our city's new light rail line, hideous yet expensive artwork lining the tracks. That's how our tax dollars are spent, not on providing for the impoverished, not for improving the condition of our schools and making investments towards excellence, but instead used to create a facade for a blighted part of town.I am frustrated by the curse of generational poverty that drowns people in hopelessness. Those grands of Evelyn's don't stand a chance when all that they know is all that their grandma knows. I will share my findings with my life group this coming week and challenge them to leave behind their comfort zones that they have been locked behind by well-meaning but misguided parents whose idea of being the Church is confined to the four walls of a building. My personal return will be in the company of my man who has volunteered to step up to the physical challenges that keep Evelyn's house from being less than a home.
I want to plant some flowers. I want to sweep away the hopelessness. I want to breathe new life into my dear Evelyn. Hear my prayer, O Lord: Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth... -K
Last Thursday our group split into two
teams & got together with our two families.
We had connected with them several times by phone & let them know we’d like
to come, bring coffee & snack food, & just get to know them. It went
really well. One of our residents, R, graduated from South Meck
in ’82, the year they won the state football championship. One of the guys in
our group graduated from the same school a few years later, so they had tons to
talk about. As a non-native Charlottean, it was pretty fascinating hearing
them talk about good players and where they are now, all the ways the city has
changed, etc. R & his family are very active in their church. The other
team had a great time with our other adopted family, headed by a single mom who is very engaging (had to be, as she is
one of 9 siblings).
R needs help with some car repairs, & our single mom is interested in a vegetable garden. That’s where we’re going to
Doing acts of social justice doesn’t look pretty. Celebrities often make serving others look attractive, but, in all reality, it’s dirty, hard work. Doing justice isn’t about a one-time photo op. It’s about a lifestyle of serving others. It’s not a glamorous life, but it is incredibly rewarding. Psalm 106:3 says, “Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right.” This isn’t talking about people who do acts of justice every once in a while, but about those who aggressively pursue justice on a daily basis. The other day my friend and I were talking about his romantic prospects. I asked him what he looks for in a lady friend, and he replied, “Compassion sure is sexy.” Do you look for character traits like compassion when you are looking for love?