Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Unlikely Connection

This week, I've been hosting 1/4 of a group from Spokane, WA. I get to host them for 2 1/2 days, and so far... I've been having a blast!

I really have come to love the kids I am with. They are funny, caring, outgoing kids. But one in particular cracks me up to no end. His name is Scotty.

Let me tell you a little about him. He's a white kid from Washington state. He's one of the shortest guys in his group, and is slightly soft spoken at first. During our prayer tour, he mostly looked distracted, so honestly, I didn't know what to make of him.

Today, I was given the opportunity to go to Salvation Army Compton, which was not only my groups first time, but ... mine too.

As we arrive, I am quickly informed that instead of working with kids, we will be doing something else. Apparently, today is Cesar Chavez day, and the kids had no school. I was initially disappointed, because I felt really unsure what my group of 12 was going to do. They might need 4 in the kitchen to help cook dinner, but that didn't start until 4:30, and I had 2 hours to kill.

We get a tour of the facilities, talk a great deal with the workers at the site, and around 4:00, we run out of things to do. Scotty comes up to me and starts asking with great earnest, "Can I go play basketball at the gym?" I remember seeing the gym during our short tour, and I also remembered they had a few people already playing. I said to him, "Sure, see if you can get into a pick-up game." And he bolts out of the room.

Now, remember how I said Scotty was short(er)? Well, on top of that, he doesn't exude the confidence of an athelte. But with a smile like his, how could I tell him to stop.

A few other guys go to join him on the courts, and I start looking for things the rest of the group can do. After about an hour working on various projects, I make my way back to the courts to see how the rest of my group is fairing.

Three of the guys from my group are on the court playing ball. In addition to them, there are about 7 other guys on the court. Not trying to sound too stereotypical, but... there are 7 other players that are in that game... all of them black... all of them 6 ft tall... all of them look like athletic.

But here's the thing I see. I don't see white/black, poor/rich, CA/WA, oppressor/oppressed... I look out across the court, and I see breaking of walls. Scotty takes a shot, and hits a long 3. His team explodes in excitement and joy. You see, Scotty has (once again) hit the game winning shot. One guy starts calling Scotty, "Warning" Cause if he's got the ball, it should be a warning to you that he's gonna hit a long bomb.

Hugs, high fives, laughs, pats on the back are all exchanged. And joy leaps from my heart. I cannot contain the smile. I cannot help but to laugh with everyone else. On his first try, this high school boy was able to break down walls that have stood in LA for centuries. With a passion and willingness to step outside of the norm, Scotty is suddenly "one of the guys."

And ...





-Jonathan Liu, CSM Los Angeles Scheduler

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