Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Life is unfair. Why can't I get what I want? If I only had... I need... Why me?
I think we all get that way from time to time. I catch myself saying it all the time. But, as much as I say it, do I realize what God has given me? Can I even begin to count my blessings? There's a hymn that says, "Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God has done! Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done."
It's easy to get caught in the "me" game. When I have to do something I don't like, or when I see my friends getting ahead of me, I sometimes think, if I could only have that I would be happy. But I don't think that I have taken all the different blessings I have had in my life.
Yesterday, I went to volunteer at the SAY YES! Program at Central City Community Church. A friend of mine works there , and I thought it would be good chance for me to see what's happening in the city. Central City Community Church is a church located within Skid Row, and their SAY Yes! Program is a program designed to help disadvantaged children after school.
As I showed up, I saw a group of kids eating snacks and goofing around. Afterwards they sang some songs, and then had some free-time. Honestly, I felt a little awkward, because I just went from an environment of calm and computers to chaos and people. I didn't know what to do. But as free-time started, I was watching a few boys play, and looked up to see a small boy crying. He got into a fight with another boy and was walking my direction. When he got close, he stood right next to me and decided to stop. My heart broke and I gave him a big hug. He grabbed my hand and stood there for a good long time.
I eventually got pulled away to start tutoring. I was helping out the 4th and 5th graders. I got assigned to help a girl named Tatianna. Her homework was to write a page about sharks. It wasn't too hard, and we finished it relatively quickly. Afterwards, we got to read a book, which was really fun. I was really proud of her for doing her work so well and having a good attitude. When she was in front of the rest of the kids she didn't seem like someone who would want to listen, but when we sat down she did well.
After dinner, we took the kids home, and Tati lives in a SRO Hotel. SROs are Single room occupancy hotels that are scattered throughout Skid Row. Basically, people pay for a single room with no bathroom or kitchen. Her whole family lives in one room. Some of the floors are old, and the place looks like it might fall apart at any moment. The SRO that she stays at is one of the most violent places to live in Skid Row. Kids grow up there learning to fight and be angry with the world. When we were walking to the car to drive them home a man was on the street screaming at another man. He was cursing at him saying he wanted his money back. Other people were yelling back at him, telling him not to swear because kids were walking around, but this man didn't seem to care. He was angry; kids or no kids. After we dropped the kids off at the SRO, I was standing at the entrance waiting for the rest of the volunteers to come down, and this same man walked in to go to his room.
What an environment for a kid to grow up in. Where violence and anger is all around you, where in the stairways poop just sits in the corner, where drunks, or worse, drug addicts high on ... something are stumbling around.
These kids try to live.
to grow up into adults.
to ... play.
Life IS unfair.
But not like you think.
Please help me pray for these kids. Pray for their families. And pray that God will CONTINUE His work in the city. (Note: I have heard many people say that they want to bring God to Skid Row, when the reality is God is IN Skid Row working daily)
Do you want to partner with me to fight injustice, poverty, and helplessness? Email me about ways you can help.
-Jonathan Liu, CSM Los Angeles Scheduler