In my short life, one thing I have come to grips with is that there are many times to speak, but there are way more opportunities to keep silent. If you do not mind, I will go ahead and add in “to listen”. Most of the time, my duty with CSM Denver is to coordinate and help execute missional experiences in the city of Denver for short term missionaries. My focus is to not only serve the city but to teach our students about the many issues that we as Christians need to address in order to bring the kingdom into the city. This often-times puts me in a place of speaking in to students’ lives.
This spring, however, I got the opportunity to dream up, lead, and participate in an experience that allowed me to learn. The Urban Intensive was extremely humbling to dive deeply into the ins and outs of homelessness. We were able to look at homelessness from every angle such as age, race, and gender.
One of the most impactful experiences from that week was we, 3 other guys and myself, were given the opportunity to sleep in a shelter here in Denver with 300 other street men. The night began with a meager meal filled with empty calories. Our group rendezvoused afterwards in our bunks and, as we were lying down, the fire alarm went off. With much frustration, we all emerged like corpses from our beds and were herded like cattle outside so the fire department could disarm the fire alarm. 20 minutes and a street fight later were back inside from the below freezing temperatures and were laying in our bunks.
With each cough and loud snore I became increasingly frustrated and angry that someone would dare keep me awake with their loud and interrupted breathing. I wanted to leave because it was loud, and I resented the fact that other people were in charge of me and I began to be humbled by how much this bothered me. In many cases, people on the streets refuse to go into the shelters because they feel their autonomy is threatened and have been hurt, in some cases badly, when they were not in charge. I myself had wondered why these men or women did not join a program or get help which often times leads to a surrendering of freedom.
As I was stepping off of my high horse, I could almost feel the weight of hypocrisy on my shoulders because I often-times do not surrender my autonomy to Christ even when He has my best interest, freedom, in mind. “When Christ calls a man he beckons him to come and die.” (Dietrich Bonheoffer). I fell asleep watching the men in the park across the street in the freezing cold maintain their freedom. I wondered how hard it must be to have been hurt so many times and still trust in others. I wondered how we, as Christians, could respond to this pain of distrust and point others to a Savior that not only wants you to surrender to Him, but allows us to have freedom from the many other things that enslave us.
- Jay Fincher, CSM Denver Associate City Director
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