The Downtown East side is not scary. I know there are some bad people around here, it is true. There is some stuff that is not great at all, like the drug abuse and crime. Folks are generally down on their luck and having a hard time. But there are also a lot of wonderful things happening here, like proactive people who work to prevent overdose and save people’s lives. There are countless groups of people who are supporting and pouring into the lives of the poor, feeding people who have no money left after their welfare cheque goes almost entirely to rent. Relationships are built down here, and love and sacrifice are markers of our community. Irrespective of the danger there are people who live to love others, and scorn the bad knowing that God ultimately has the victory over every power.
Are you willing to join their ranks?
I mean, this is warfare on the front lines, in the heart of enemy territory. There are countless lies that are told about the Downtown East Side by people who are afraid of what they don’t know, afraid of facing the reality that is our broken world. It is easy, so very, blindly easy, to sit in ignorance and declare it all too hard and too dangerous out of personal feelings of fear and guilt. At this point I would like to bring you some Disney (honestly, one of my favourite quotes):
You think the only people who are people,.
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger,
You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew.
– Pocahontas; ‘Colours of the Wind’
Most folks are ready enough to talk Jesus, to talk social justice, to talk reform, but are never willing. Most Christians count themselves ready to share the gospel, ready to share their faith and do the whole ‘make disciples of all nations thing’, and that’s pleasant. It makes for a nice biography: “Josh was always in the word and ready to share his faith with anyone”. From here there are so many analogies that I could go with, but I like the picture of a soldier. See, soldiers are trained, taught many techniques and tactics for battle, military life, self-discipline and much more. They are thoroughly equipped for battle by their superiors and, concluding their training, are completely ready to go forth and fight for country. Though, without a willingness to go and fight, that training is useless; if a soldier is ready to go to war, and still refuses to move to the battle line and engage, their training and readiness is redundant. It becomes a damning metaphor when we apply it to living for Christ…
So, are you willing to join the ranks?
I certainly hope so. To throw aside fear, presumption, contempt and judgement for the sake of loving those whom Jesus loved dearly is a radical way to live. Even if it is not a possibility to take up the mantle full time, you can still jump in and begin to learn and experience just what it is to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Now here comes the plug, but I don’t mean it superficially; I truly desire that you would lay down your life for Christ even for a short time, to listen and learn how to love the ones society calls unlovable. RAW is just around the corner; Like, 4 weeks away. RAW stands for Ready and Willing, and is a phenomenal opportunity to learn how engage with Christ, both in your personal life and on the battle field. From Sunday the 19th of March, through to the 22nd, we’ll be hosting you all in the Downtown East Side, eager to show you it’s beauty, vibrancy and goodness. We have a whole bunch of prayer and worship, wonderful speakers and heaps of practical, hands on experience engaging with the community, stuff that you can take back home and apply to your own community. Our hope is that you are not only ready, but willing to jump in, to leave comfortability and pleasure for the sake of the gospel. The link to find registration forms is below. You have 4 weeks left. Go for it.
Grace and Peace