Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Subway Tokens and Other “Random” Acts
Today was a great day in Toronto. The weather was beautiful, my CSM team was amazing yet again, and I got to experience several different aspects of urban ministry that touched my heart.
Towards the end of the night, we experienced what CSM calls L.I.F.E Skils - "Living in Faith Everyday". This is a program that every group will do at least once while they are in the city serving with us. The basic concept is that we as Christians should live out our faith at all times in very practical ways. Three components of L.I.F.E. Skills are prayer, service, and storytelling. We should be people who dance with God, people who give to others without reason, and people ready and willing to tell our own story when the chance arises. So, our team broke into two groups - Jake and I, and then Jennifer, Jemica, and Jessica. We had two hours to lead ourselves in this exercise. Jake and I went to a park that overlooks the skyline of Toronto and talked about our excitements, fears, concerns, struggles, etc. for the summer and for life in general. We then walked to a bridge that overlooked the Don River and prayed for each other, the rest of our team, the city of Toronto, and other things. We then looked for ways in which we could act out our faith in a gift of service to someone without asking for something in return.
Well, Jake and I couldn't really find anyone in need of help. So, we decided to talk to a guy who was probably homeless sitting on a bench by himself near St. James Anglican Cathedral on the corner of Church Street and King Street. His name was Fred. Fred was genuinely nice, eager to talk to us, and shared a lot of wisdom about Toronto. We chatted for about 25 minutes and before we left we invited him to Sanctuary (a really cool church/community downtown), and I gave him the only thing I had in my pocket…a token for the subway. Looking in retrospect, Jake and I didn't really accomplish the mission of the L.I.F.E. Skills challenge. We didn't actively help someone for no reason, which was supposed to lead to our "storytelling" of why we were helping them in the first place. Instead, we had a conversation with a really cool guy in a churchyard. But, I think we served Fred more than we could have imagined at the time. We assumed he was homeless because he definitely looked the part. There's no way of knowing, but we could have been the only people to acknowledge him or have an actual conversation with him. I may have been the only person to give him something that day. Or, maybe we were the 50th to talk to him, and maybe he didn't need my subway token. But that doesn't matter. What matters is that we saw Christ sitting on that bench, and we showed him love. We asked his name, we shook his hand, we laughed with him, and we gave him all that we had. Fred may never see us again, and he may never remember us. And that's okay.
- Jason, CSM Toronto Summer 2008 City Host