Friday, July 20, 2012

Joining together your mind and heart

Life in Houston with CSM for me has been an experience of ever shifting perspectives and shattering perceptions. As a city host, I came into this experience knowing certain things in my head. I had encountered and processed enough poverty and homelessness in my life to know that there is no intrinsic difference between those individuals and me; but over the course of my summer in Houston, I have come to realize that while it is important for me to know certain things in my head, it is infinitely more important for me to know it in my heart and show it in my actions.

One of the situations that has prompted this understanding has been working with The Bread of Life ministry. The Bread of Life exists to provide creative and lasting solutions to the problems of hunger, homelessness and HIV.  Some of their solutions come in the form of an Art Therapy program, a Culinary Arts program, and also allowing a number of people without homes to sleep in their building at night.

One week, I took my group to a game night they were hosting. We played card and board games with some of their guests, ate a meal that had been cooked by students in their Culinary Arts program then we had ice cream with the guests before they pulled out the mattresses to sleep for the night.

This experience was amazing for me because it was truly the first time that I was fully able to bridge the gap between "us" and "them" in my mind. While mentally I am aware that there is no actual difference between the man that sleeps on the corner and myself, and I convey that truth to my groups and those around me, even as we serve at the numerous sites that provide food and social services to the community, a divide still exists.

I have been able to make large improvements in my perceptions in this area, but at The Bread of Life I played a card game that I had grown up playing with my family - only this time I played it with a group of men I had never met before and they also don't happen to have a permanent place to call their home. I ate delicious food - and it was made by the hands of a few homeless men. I ate ice cream alongside a woman who had just cleared my trash off the table - and she also happened to not have a building to which she can claim ownership.

God is doing great things in and around me. Sometimes I get a chance to notice a few of them.

- Tyler, CSM Houston Summer 2012 City Host

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Houston!

No comments: