We shared a chair, one of us on the edge of the cushion, while the other one perched upon the arm rest. The only light fluttering into the dank, musty room came from the front door being cracked open. A ray of sunshine illuminated an ashtray that was filled with gnawed on chicken bones and smoked joints. There was no electricity and entirely too much clutter packed into one living room. As we shared about the vision of Champions of Hope for the neighborhood and mapped out the mentorship program to the mom and grandmother, my mind couldn’t help but flash back through other times and situations we, as a staff and our mentors, have faced. Times where a family member, even a younger sibling, has passed away. Instances of great loss when a house burned down and everything was gone. Teens running away, moms being absent, abuse taking place, finances running out, young girls having babies, etc. Life lived in South Dallas is rough! The children in our program, along with their families, often face enormous obstacles and setbacks. Their lives can be filled with heartache, pain, confusion, and dark situations. All of these things can often leave mentors feeling discouraged, hopeless, and helpless, consumed by the sheer need surrounding the family and child.
When I think about Jesus walking the earth, it always gives pause and wonder to my heart. How could the Almighty God, Creator and Maker of this universe show up as one of us, entering into pain, suffering, and humanness willingly? On top of that, how could He go to a lowly region, abide among the poorest people, and fill His life with their suffering and desperation? It simply blows me away when He is approached by someone who had the equivalent of AIDS or Ebola in our day and age, and He stooped down and touched them as He healed them. Did you read that? He touched them! In a word He could’ve healed and restored all, but He chose to enter into their world of isolation and being outcast and touch the greater pain in their hearts.
The thought of entering into the pain, despair, poverty, or need of those in this neighborhood can often leave me staggering by the weight of it all. Many come down, viewing their involvement among the men, women, and children here as charity. They give time and money in phases, and then retreat back to the ‘safety’ of their comfort zones up north. However, when I think about Jesus walking around South Dallas, what I see is something totally different. I see Someone who is long-suffering in His pursuit to enter into the lives of those here. He’s not consumed by the darkness, but rather shines His Light brightly. He touches, He heals, He loves, He gives away all He has, and He does it all again the next day whether there was any fruit or reciprocation from the previous day’s investment. I think about a Man who just sits in the need with the one hurting, not trying to fix or lecture, just weeping together.
Our kids and families desperately need Jesus. They need someone who will enter in, sit in the pain and darkness with them, touch their hearts with care, and be long-suffering in these things. The call of Christ to love is a costly one, but it is this very love, and that love alone, which will bring transformation to this broken community.
-Christina Hickman, Relationship Coordinator