Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New friends from Denver

It blows my mind the amazing people that I meet everyday in Denver.  As we say to our groups that come to Denver, everyone has a story, and it is so true!  If you just slow down, and sit and listen you will come to realize this.  Also, the amazing impact you can have on someone just by taking the time to hear their story.

I first met my friend Michael on the street corner of 16th and California where he was selling the Denver Voice, a magazine sold by the homeless, for the homeless.  He shared that he is from Jamaica, and was brought here through a magazine company that turned out to be a scam.  He had been selling the papers to try and raise enough money to go back home.  It amazed me that he continued to talk to us, even though at first he may have been worried about missed opportunities to sell the paper.  We asked him about problems in Denver, and he said teen runaways.  As he talked, it amazed me, as if the problems in the city he shared about made sense to him and he understood the cycle people living on the street may be facing.  He'd met some guys outside the Rescue Mission who explained to him that they just wanted to do drugs for the rest of their lives, but Michael on the other hand was very motivated to sell the papers and do something with his life.

Not only that, but Michael was someone who spent a lot of time with the teens on the streets, truly trying to get to know them and hear their stories.  It was interesting to see the people who walked by us while we were talking to Michael, and to see the looks on their faces. Some people looked at us like we were crazy, or they were worried for us talking to someone on a street corner, and it made me upset.  Others were busy on their cell phones and in a hurry, never even taking the time to look over.  I wonder sometimes are people so oblivious or self absorbed in themselves that they don't bother to think of helping those around them.  Or at least smiling and acknowledging their presence.  I was inspired by Michael and his honesty.  You could tell he cares about other people a lot, before himself.

I ran into Michael a couple weeks later, in high spirits as always.  He told me that he had been praying the night before, and had decided to stay in Denver; a place  he said he hated just the week before.  He felt God had called him to spend more time in Denver, and that his work here isn't done.  He told me that it wasn't going to be easy, but that God never told us our lives would be struggle free.  He had a smile on his face, and I could just see the spirit of God totally moving in him.  He said that a lot of the teens on the street consider him like their father and they look up to Michael because of his caring and nonjudgmental spirit.

I am in awe of Michael and the way that he completely gives up his own desires to go home to a comfortable life back with his family in Jamaica, to listen and follow God's commands.  It reminded me of the Gospel stories when God calls his disciples to leave all that they have and follow Him.  I am inspired by Michael and through these encounters with him have been convicted in my own walk of faith and am searching my own heart: Am I truly willing to give up all of my worldly possessions to follow wherever God calls me, whenever it may be?  I believe this is something we as followers of Christ should all ask ourselves.

-Julie, CSM Denver Summer 2010 City Host

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