>What an incredible last (full) day in SE DC. It began with a spontaneous worship set from 11:30 pm to 12:45 am, and closed out with several debriefing sessions. The day went pretty much as the previous one. My group woke up and went to the Mayfair Mansions Community Center for GED tutoring again. I met with Mijajuwon, and we got to work right away. Today’s challenge was algebraic word problems, but Mijajuwon eventually got it. Again, it was amazing to see his confidence level and his enthusiasm skyrocket as he grasped the concepts. At one point, he just chuckled as he put his head on the table – he couldn’t believe that he was getting it, and that it was that simple.
On our way back, we had some more amazing conversations with neighborhood residents on the bus, and we stopped by favorite Afghani-owned fried chicken joint for a 15-piece wings and mambo sauce! We returned home, and after a brief rest, I (and about 10 students) traveled to the coffee shop to visit Mack and have some coffee.
After dinner, a group from Yale came to lead us in some worship, and it was a sweet time of singing and being together. We were grateful that they would travel so far to come and serve us. One of the Plunge coordinators then shared a creative message from Luke 19. It was a great catalyst for our small group discussions for next steps. We are spending a lot of energy on next steps and what God desires of us individually and corporately. Our conversations were filled with pressing each other to truly apply what we have learned and seen. After all, what we did here in 5 days is not nearly as important as what we’ll do back home, but in order to what we need to back in West Chicago, we need to be here to see and experience.
Ideas like learning Spanish, controlling spending, volunteering to tutor were put out there. Surprisingly, I realized that there was a subtle tendency to reduce our learning here to the simple idea of reaching out to people along our daily routine. Some of us shared that we just needed to be more missional along our daily schedules. However, to do this subtly shifts the equation. We didn’t need to come to DC in order to learn to be more missional with the people who we meet daily. Rather, all of us in the team realize that the Bible puts a priority on ministry to two specific ‘classes’ of people: 1) the nations; 2) the vulnerable – the poor, fatherless, widows, sojourners.
The truth of the matter is that it is very possible to go about our daily lives and actually avoid these types of people. Life in the suburbs makes it possible to never cross paths unless we intentionally go out and pursue. We can’t just say that we will be more loving to the people we meet, not with what we’ve seen and have been taught. We are accountable to God for the message we’ve been given, and it is a message to God’s people concerning the least of these. To live out this message will require some foundational shifts in our daily lives, weekly schedules, and overall priorities.
We spent the rest of the night and morning talking about what our responsibility to the vulnerable and to the Church is. A ton of great ideas are brewing and some decisions are being made. We’re still talking about our story and our next steps, but we’re definitely excited.
If you’ve been following this series of blogs, I’d like to first thank you for your continued interest and prayers. Second, I’d like to ask you to stop for a moment and pray for the city. God is doing some amazing things in SE, and urban ministries are definitely feeling the pinch of a down economy. Third, would you consider talking to someone from our team? If you are a Christ follower, what is your responsibility to the poor and to the least of these? Do you take Matt 25 seriously, that whatever you did to the least of these, you did unto Jesus? I say this not to stir up guilt, but to invite you into what God is doing – that you might experience the kind of fullness, the kind of joy I have right now. I understand more than ever the kind of people who are on God’s heart, and spending some time with them brought me closer to Him, and for that I am grateful.