As we walked from the church where our congregation gathers each Sunday to the crime scene, I could not help but focus on the agonizing situation that I was about to enter. Dilapidated houses served as a shelter for families whose hopes about the bettering of the Shelby Park neighborhood were shattered. Broken beer bottles and cigarettes crushed under the weight of each step that I took. Each breath seemed to be labored as if I was able to inhale the brokenness of the neighborhood around me.
Each breath seemed to be labored as if I was able to inhale the brokenness of the neighborhood around me.
When we arrived to the alcove where the murder occurred, there was already a group memorializing the life of the victim.
My heart instantly sank and tears burned my eyes as I put myself in her shoes. What if that had been my family member? Someone that I loved the most in the world?He was a young man, a father of twins, whose life seemed to have just begun. We joined in their conversation and asked if anyone would like us to pray for them. The girl I was standing next to asked for closure. I asked how she knew the victim and she responded that she was his cousin. It literally took my breath away – I was just expecting her to be a part of the community. My heart instantly sank and tears burned my eyes as I put myself in her shoes. What if that had been my family member? Someone that I loved the most in the world?
We were walking back to the church when we walked past two older gentlemen, “D” and “J,” sitting on the front stoop of a home. As one of my teammates was talking to “D”, I noticed “J” reading the card that was tied to the single rose with an attached Scripture expressing our condolences that we were handing out to the members of the community. He interrupted us to ask if we were the church on the corner of Shelby and Oak. After responding that we were indeed from that church, he thanked us for “bringing humanity back to the neighborhood again.”
he thanked us for “bringing humanity back to the neighborhood again.”He said that over the last five years there has been senseless tragedy after senseless tragedy and it is great to see what Sojourn is doing. He even hesitantly asked if he could come to church dressed casually in what he was wearing! God is using Sojourn to lead neighboring people to Him despite what we may view has unusable situations.
Jessica, a friend whom was a part of my team during the prayer vigil, unknowingly spoke some encouragement to my tired soul while we talked to “D” and “J”. She declared that nothing would change if all of the people who desire to see this neighborhood improve decide to move due to impatience or fear. This truth has remained with me during the last couple of weeks. She was not aware of the persistent struggle within my heart. With the end of my internship quickly approaching, I have to make difficult decisions about where I am going to continue to live and pursue career opportunities. I have grown to have a great community within this city and have cultivated a heart to share the transforming power of the Gospel with the friends that I have made. However, that does not erase all the fear in my heart. But what the past ten months have taught me is that I cannot base my behavior off of my fear. I must trust in a God who has proven faithful every time despite my fear and doubts. I am in a time of transition where I honestly do not know where my next steps are but I am choosing to trust that He will not forsake me. Please pray that I am able to fully trust in His promises and follow His leading.
I must trust in a God who has proven faithful every time despite my fear and doubts.