Friday, April 16, 2010

Simple Compassion

“I’ve never felt more alive.” This is what one of our students said during an evening debriefing session about his day in the city. I couldn’t agree more. We had just finished serving at one of our new ministry sites - Mean Street Ministries. This ministry has a simple focus: love people, and meet them right where they are. I like to call it fringe ministry. Up and down Colfax Avenue, a street notorious for crime and prostitution, there is block after block of cheap motels. These run down rooms are where many of Denver’s poor call home for weeks, months or even years.

Our task was simple. Divide up into teams of three and go door to door offering burritos, pastries and resource guides. As we pulled the van into the first motel parking lot, my heart was beating fast with anticipation and questions. What would we find waiting for us behind the door? Would people really want to open their doors and talk to us?

At first, the faces behind the doors reminded me of the rooms where they lived; tired, neglected and worn out from a hard life. After a while I heard the Lord saying to me, “these people are special to me, show them my love.”

I wasn’t really sure how best to do this, but I watched Jerry, one of my teammates who had been doing this for years, and it was like behind each door held a new or old friend for him to meet.

Each story was just as unique as the individual behind the door and God loves each one of them beyond measure. A few times we were able to listen, share and pray for people. Other times, we just shared a simple hello, a smile and a burrito.

The streets can be a mean, dark and lonely place. My time with Mean Street Ministries that night reminded me of the beginning of a poem we read to students during our prayer tour.

O Brother Man
O Brother Man, fold to thy heart thy brother: Where pity dwells, the peace of God is there; to worship rightly is to love each other, each smile a hymn, each kindly word a prayer.
~John Greenleaf Whittier

The ministry of Mean Street is simple. They connect with people right where they are and with kindness. I believe that on Monday and Tuesday nights when the Mean Street vans are out that Colfax isn’t as dark and lonely because of their light and kindness.

-Keysha Boggess, CSM Denver City Director

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