As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.
Sunday, December 18, 2016
The Making of a Prosperity Sandwich
I have just returned from Urban Hope where I experienced their annual Youth Sunday. While it was all wonderful, there were three ingredients in this slice of bread that you need to know about.
There was a pantamimed skit written by Kevin, a 20 year old man who shared in this mimed skit of about 5 minutes, the story of physical, spiritual and emotional abuse that he experienced at the hands and mouths of his father and classmates. By the end of the abuse part of the skit, Kevin's white shirt was black with punch and slap marks from the youth who were involved in the skit. Each youth had a large word on their individual white shirts that represented who they were in Kevin's life. Among them, one wore "Dad" and demonstrated his abuse of Kevin. Kevin's responses were so genuine. Anyone could see that the emotions were real. Two other youth wore the word "Bully" and did their part in being sure Kevin knew his place in their world. One girl wore the word "sister." At one point, in pent up rage, Kevin slapped "sister" so hard that she went almost sailing across the front of the church (in a moment of incredible acting portraying an actual event years before).
In the remorse of slapping his sister, as Kevin cowered at the foot of the cross in the front of the church, the assaults began again and were interrupted by a youth wearing "Jesus" on his shirt. The punches and slaps continued worse than before on "Jesus" whose shirt was quickly covered in black punch marks. "Jesus" stopped the abuses of "Father" and "Bullies." and helped Kevin to his feet. Kevin's shirt, previously covered in the wounds of black, was as white as snow.
To see portions of what I have just described, watch this video, produced by Matt, Urban Hope's "in house" professional videographer. (Look carefully, you'll see me in it as well.)
To listen to the entire youth message, click here.
The third main ingredient was added to this lower slice of bread as I sat with Annie and her family at lunch. Annie is an outgoing four year old who gives me a big hug every week and wants me to know everything she's been thinking about. Annie's family of four has been living in one room of her uncle's house since their own house was boarded up a few weeks ago. Annie's Mom told me today that God has been with them through this and they are pulling together the funds for a down payment on a rental home right around the corner from Urban Hope. Annie's Mom explained further some of the many challenges they've been facing in recent months - too much and too confidential to share here. It was after she shared with me all of the challenges they've faced that the third ingredient in this slice of bread was added....
She said "There is a pinhead sized light at the end of the tunnel and this light is a blessing from God."
"Oh how cliche can you get?" you might be saying to yourself.
That wasn't the ingredient that Annie's Mom added... Here it is:
Annie's Mom looked at me and continued with "And it is out of that blessing that I will now be a blessing to others."
My suburban upbringing in our great Christian Faith would never allow me to be a blessing to another person if the measurable blessings to me in life were just the size of a pinhead!!! Suburban Faith and action calls on us suburbanites to bless others out of our abundance, not out of our as-of-yet unmet need!
Mark 12:41-44 (NIV)