Today was a more relaxed day than previous. It began bright and early as I had stayed over night at the Hypothermia shelter. The wake up this morning was fairly uneventful as was most of the night. However, there was a discussion on being blessed by God over breakfast. One man could not figure out how anyone who was in the Hypothermia shelter could believe that they were blessed by God. The man was obviously hurt by his situation of being homeless. However, there was strong opposition against this man. So many others believing that God has blessed them so much. They are blessed because of the community at Rising Hope that surrounds them. The blessing or lack there of does not stem from their homelessness, but how they are being helped in this terrible time. The people in the shelter never wanted to blame God for their hard times, but believed that in these hard times God sent them ministries like Rising Hope to bless them and help them through this tough time in their lives.
It is hearing things like this that make me believe that the people in this community, this hidden culture in Fairfax, seek a spiritual presence in their lives. They feel God’s blessing and they believe he was there. The groups adamance that Christ was helping and their feeling of his blessing makes me think of all of the stuff that I take for granted and never thank God for. I sleep in a bed, I can make my own hot meals, and I don’t have to worry about certain things. I can’t even think of how often I thank God for having allowed me to have these things. These are things that this man received at Rising Hope and he was thankful for the opportunity for Rising Hope to be able to share these things with him and provide him with the love of God.
The day was tough. I got almost no sleep last night and was drudging through the day working off of only about an hour of sleep. However, God continued to bless me and teach me new things. As we were getting ready for prayer service those of us leading had spent the night before at the Hypothermia Shelter and were exhausted. When on of the staff ladies at Rising Hope walked in we were told another group came in on the second Friday and did the worship service. It was a blessing. While we played a few songs still we were able to sit back and take in the rest of the service, as well as be able to focus more on interaction with the community.
After lunch we came back and had some community time. It is so nice in this time where we are bombarded with all the things we do to have a time of detox. A moment to get away from all the stuff happening and allow our brains to catch up with all the happenings.
This evening we had our introduction to what is known as VOICE (Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement). VOICE leads the community in a very well hidden culture in suburbia. VOICE reaches out in low income communities and tries to build them up. Check out their website (http://www.voice-iaf.org) to learn more about them and how to get involved. We talked about power and how power is gained through debate. It reminded me of the Middle School debate team I was on because he was teaching us how to organize. How we as the church use power to empower and organize people for a cause. It is amazing to see people gaining the upper hand bearing fruit in terms getting things done for the good of the community. I feel that this introduction has taught me about getting the right tools. About how not to let people walk all over you. About how to empower people to express the problems they have. VOICE takes the voiceless and gives them a voice. Takes the faceless and gives them a face. It takes this Hidden Culture that people often take advantage of and brings their problems to the forefront of society and tackles them to make change.
Today is just another example that while it may seem like a slow day there is so much going on. We must always be thankful for everything we have. We should not wait until we lose everything to become thankful for the meager things we have. This community often has nothing and yet it is where I have seen true examples of faith that I have not seen within many Christians I have met in my life who are much more privileged.
Please share these experiences with your friends. I want people to know of these cultures. To know whats going on. To feel a yearning to help these communities. To again see these faces and know what they look like and have that yearning to help them. I truly believe in the song Amazing Grace in these times.
I once was blind but now I see
I was once blind to this community, but having my eyes opened now has completely changed my life and I will never be the same.