Today is the 2 month anniversary of me starting my time in Washington, District of Columbia. At first, it seems like it has been a lot longer than that because of the multitude of experiences that I have had the privilege of having while here. But, at the same time it seems like I haven't been here for very long. I think part of that has to do with the pace of the ministry life here, but I'm not quite sure.
There have been moments that have allowed me to be tested in patience, humility, and servanthood. While those moments often came at the most 'inconvenient' time possible for me, I guess that the biggest lesson was to go ahead and never plan anything. Why? Because something is always in store that is unexpected. After reading this morning's headlines, I hate to think that sorrow is often a part of that story.
But, pain is a constant part of the human existence. On a daily basis, I have seen individuals who are struggling with mental instability, homelessness, poverty, injustice, discrimination, lack of hope, and a constant cycle of a world that views them as: a blight on their city, a statistic...if they are viewed at all and not just completely forgotten. And, in a city full of organizations that were built on the idea of individuals having dignity and worth it seems unfathomable that it is so visible to the willing observer.
As a student of politics and a Christian, I am disheartened by much of the discourse that goes on (if any) concerning urban politics and society. While it was one of my favorite courses so far in my discipline, God allowing me to see the problems head on was quite a blessing.
Seeing a man dig out of a trashcan just a few blocks from where I reside, seeing a kid not be able to do problems well below their grade level, and seeing the long lines for social services make me (as a hopeful member of government one day) want to explode in rage. As a Christian, I feel that Jesus in the temple overthrowing tables of money changers is completely appropriate in many instances I have found myself in this summer.
The brokenness of communities however, is not a lost cause. Non-profits and especially, churches are doing valuable work trying to take care of their neighbor. Many have been fighting these problems since the 19th century and emancipation here in Washington. Thank God that they have. No longer is DC the murder capital of the nation as it was in the 1990s. But, the problems go far beyond the headlines. The voices of those who can't get a voice in the halls of the federal government, the voices of the immigrant trying to begin life on a fresh start, and the voices of men and women trying to do the will of God by reconciling race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, and political affiliation to see that what unites us is Love.
I have a few weeks left and I can't wait to see what is in store.
- Tim, CSM Washington DC Summer 2012 City Host
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