Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Roman 8:22-25 ‘We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.’
Today in Hunting Park our team seemed to express a commonality of theme, namely, a figurative “isolated thundershowers” in the lives of the people they met. During debrief this afternoon, the nearness of death and a sullen consuming despair seemed to permeate the discussion encounters we experienced.
Early in the day, our group, Eight Street Community Church, spent a great deal of time with one older gentleman who was dealing with the overwhelming grief of the loss of his wife. He expressed an unwillingness to thrive and a despondency for the length of life, but he was willing to spend time in discussion, and we tried to encourage him. At the end of the discussion, he allowed the team to pray for him. The best we could hope for was a small spark of hope for his future restoration and his ultimate salvation.
Later, we were working with a family on the outside doorstep in the breezy afternoon, grateful for a bit of shade from the overhanging roof tops. Just before beginning a blood pressure measurement, there were gunshots heard on the next block up the road from where we were working. People began to accumulate in the street and shortly afterwards, a police car arrived. Our team was in no danger, and being so far down the road, we are not sure what actually happened or if anyone was hurt. After finishing with our family, we had a prayer time for that situation, before heading to the next street in parallel, where the other half of our team was working.
Susan Post, executive director of Esperanza Health Center, spoke to us before we began our Hunting Park street missions, and she told us to look for both the brokeness and for the shalom, or peace, within the community. Our mission is to seek glimpses of God among the darkness of Satan. Today, darknesses, hanging like little black rain clouds over the individuals experiencing troubles of death and violence, would seem like the end of our story yet for Susan’s bidding. We strive to find the shalom.
It would have been wonderful to report the shalom was found in a monumental faith ingathering where many came to know the Lord, but today that was not what the Lord allowed. Rather, the bright spots observed were more like tiny seeds, or perhaps even only seeds hoped for. There was shalom in the seeds of prayer after the gunshots, in the small family working hard and enjoying community who opened up to talk with us on the doorstep, seeds in the smile on the older gentleman’s face when he passed us a few hours later, and seeds in the next block over from the shooting where grandma was rocking peacefully and children scampering after the ‘doctors’ in scrubs because violence, devastation, and fear though near, are not everywhere. This shalom is a preserved reflection of God’s creation glory and in observation reminds me there is unseen redemptive hope for us and our Hunting Park neighbors through the gift of Jesus Christ our Lord!
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