Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mission Reflections

" I used to have all of my teeth, but 20 years of doing crack took care of that. I lost all of my kids except this one. She is my gift. I tried four times to have an abortion. Once the cab didn't show, once the doctor didn't show, once I didn't have the money. The last time I couldn't find the office- it was across the street from where I looked but God must not have wanted me to see it. " It was too late then, so I had to quit doing crack for the baby. I haven't done it since- I'm clean for three years. The boyfriend left and I got kicked out, but I'll make it for her. God has a plan.. can I have that Bible? I have actually never read one."

An African American woman got a job, and at the end of two weeks, quit. Her supervisor kept assigning new tasks before any of the others could be completed, in a vicious cycle. In relating why she left the job, the woman added, "And this supervisor was black too, so it wasn't about 'that.'" Clearly the expectation was that a non-black supervisor would be looking for her to fail- racism of low expectations.

In Bible study, one African American woman offered a story about her old neighborhood. Tensions arose when Koreans began to move into the area and buy up storefronts and open businesses, disgruntling long time residents who had not been able to do this. The Koreans could. One store was well known on the street for when the Korean owner would take the money to the bank. An African American man made a plan to rob her. "I saw this was going to go down." She crossed the street to protect the woman. "I did not know her, but what he was going to do was wrong, and she could get hurt. She was pregnant too. I tried to get between him and her. Then he pulled out a gun. …" "People from the neighborhood asked why I got involved. I said, 'I don't know this woman, I have no reason to wish her harm.' I just saw what was right and did it. I didn't care that she was Korean."

"I was always the one who wouldn't amount to anything. I always just tried to make everyone happy. When my Dad was sick, he was living in a motel with his wife. She didn't want to take care of him. He had diabetes and ulcers and sores. What did I know about that? And I had a job and an apartment. But I was like, OK, so I came down. He was so sick. I took him to the hospital and the sores were smelly and oozing. I learned how to take care of him. And she just sat there. I gave up what I was doing. She just told me what a loser I was, that I was a screwup. When he died, I was like, now they told me to plan a service. She said she didn't know what to do. It was so hard. Who was I? I know over the years I drank and did drugs and people made fun of me. And I just wanted to do the right thing. My sister is perfect but she couldn't help and they laugh at me because I ended up here. Well, I had a job until all that happened. Sometimes I just cry. I feel like a lunatic. You probably think I am. I don't know why I am not a strong person. But I think I can make it. "

I think they will accept me in the Lydia Center ( for long-term recovery) – did I tell you I only have one more interview? I am CLAIMIN that for myself! I hope God answers my prayer.

"He made me give him back his cell phone. He gave me a prepaid one. He won't return my calls. I thought we were getting married. He wants space, but then he calls and yells if I am not around. I don't know why he is so mean. "

"He says he is going to rehab. He wants me to come to Montana with him. I just got a new job. What if I go and he doesn't change? Then what?"

Her liver is so swollen her abdomen is distended. Advanced hepatitis.

"I got a job but the price of gas is so high, I can't get there in my car."

"I need to get to the doctor. I need to get the Access bus. I called to schedule my appointment, but the appointment they gave is tomorrow. I have to give 24 hours notice to get the bus. I called to find out when the bus can come, but then when I called the doctor I can't get an appointment then. How will I ever get my leg checked?"

"I saw a man on the street. He asked me for a quarter. I had 35 cents, but I had a truck full of scrap metal to get paid for. So I gave him the 35 cents. It felt so good. I felt bad for him that he was homeless. Now I am."

What you do for the least of these, you do for me.

What if, in the end analysis, the person who is the least has become you?

I have finished my three weeks of required time at the Mission. I try to figure out if I can fit in just one weekend shift a month with my course load. I wonder who will rise up and fly, who will leave before they should. A few women had left in my time there and more had come. And I find it hard to know that I will not see the end of this story for their lives. That there are scores more in every community, each with a story. And it can seem like we would have nothing in common, but long before we talk about the details, I know we all share one thing. We are all equally beloved children of God, and all equally sinners. And that one thing is the biggest thing we could share.


Ivy said...

Hi. Are you at Phillie or Gettysburg Seminary? I will starting at Gettysburg in the Fall semester. Peace.

LawAndGospel said...

Welcome Ivy! I am a 1st year at Gettysburg, getting ready to begin my spring semester next week. How exciting that you will be here in the fall.

The Unlikely Conversationalist: said...

I'm amazed by the me, the chance that we have in ministry to get involved in some messed up and wonderful lives. I got invited this morning the the home of a couple who a member of our congregation kept off the streets. They are in a new place and are doing better than ever. Its really powerful to see what love for a neighbor can do.

DogBlogger said...


Diane said...

thank you for sharing these stories.