It has been some time since I talked about the group of boys that I’ve promised to walk with through the next 3 years. Through the most torturous season of their lives, also known as “Middle School.” If you didn’t already know, I lead a group of about 20 boys with a couple of awesome co-leaders in the middle school environment at our church, it’s called Transit.
In Transit, this summer has been about trying to get together to just hang out, get to know each other more, and work on a service project or two. Unfortunately, the 2 weekends that were being offered to do service projects I had already had prior commitments, so the co-leaders of the group organized this past weekend to have some of the boys go to downtown Atlanta to serve lunches and connect with about 200 homeless people. (did I tell you how awesome the co-leaders are?)
During group time on Sunday it became apparent that for the boys, this was huge.
I believe one of the biggest things any parent could ever hope and pray, is that their child “gets it” or that soon enough things are going to “get real” for them. We also have to understand that prior to this moment, for the most part “it’s” not going to be real, and we really have to be sensitive to this fact.
What do I mean by “it?”
Well, it could mean a lot of things, but from the discussion time on Sunday, “it” meant:
- Child Abuse
- Losing it all (and the fear of)
- Hunger (to the point of almost starving)
- Not knowing when you will have your next meal
- Not knowing IF you will have A next meal
These are just a few things that became real to these boys, however the rest of “it” that also became real was not all negative. During the time they spent downtown, they played football, talked, and even a few of the boys prayed over some of the homeless people along with some of the other adult leaders. In that small amount of time, the rest of “it” became real.
The “it” that I’m talking about here means:
it God doesn’t become real to some people until some of the aforementioned “it” things are experienced. Directly or indirectly we all experience certain “it” things, and for most people this will place a tension on our hearts to do something about it, although many times we don’t.
As Christians, we are not allowed to ignore this tension and we must do something about it.
So our group did something(sans me), and “it” became real to them, and it was awesome. So awesome, in fact that they want to continue to go at least every other month. This result is definitely more than any of us had ever expected, but we are so grateful that for some of them, “it” has finally became real.
I remember my mom working at a grocery store that accepted Food Stamps, but waited on payment until the beginning of the month when they were issued. It was a special store for people that needed help, not a “real” store. Sometimes we would have to deliver food to shut-in’s. Some of the people were mentally ill, some didn’t bathe. I learned to love the people. They were just like me, but had fallen on hard times for one reason or another. It was a great experience and probably had a lot to do with why I’m a social worker in adult welfare now. That’s the first time I really got it.
Wow, an amazing transfer of legacy from your mom to you. That’s so cool.
Delivering to the shut-in’s must have been really tough.
I am not sure I totally get it, I have had some setbacks in my life surrounding poverty and some real life scares when it comes to helping in downtown Baltimore. Least to say, it will be a hard day when I finally get it and have to return.
Indeed it must be tough to look at serving your downtown should you ever experience stuff like that, thankfully they were just scares.
I find it interesting that you know that “day” is coming and you also know that it’s going to be hard, we’ll be praying for you, brother.
I can’t really put a finger on when “it” became real, but I do remember that “religion” without action is worthless. There is no better (and yet sad) feeling than seeing someone hungry and providing a meal for them. That’s the heart of the kingdom right there. Jesus said it… and I believe it.
I’m interested in why you chose to use the word “Religion,” as opposed to “Faith.”
Care to ‘splain?
Yeah, sorry, force of habit. I despise the word religion. To me doing “religion” is doing something because you “have” to do it. It’s just what it means today.
With that said, how I meant it was the way that James uses it:
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
I seriously hate the word too, I’m not even going to say it. In fact writing this comment is even spending too much time on it. AHH I can’t stop, maybe I’ll just change the subject.
Preseason for the 49ers starts Thursday. November 13th the Giants are going down!
Yeah, the summer after my freshman year in high school. It clicked and God showed me that “it” was real. That was when it happened for me. Enjoyed your post, Ben.
What happened that summer?
This is awesome, Ben! Thank you for serving and ministering to young men. I am encouraged to be more involved with the youth at church.
“It” became real for me over years of visiting nursing homes and going on a missions trip. I want it to be real for my kids as well and think serving poor and homeless needs to be a higher priority.
Awesome man, and I’m glad that you’re encouraged!
That is awesome, Ben! It’s always great to hear about people who are pouring into the next generation, and raising up young men to follow Him. It’s lacking so much.
It became real for me when I started doing ministry to college students. Sitting there, hearing some of their stories of pain and loss and seeing how they were still following God (or wanted to follow God), made all of “it” very real to me.
Man, it’s so obvious from reading your stuff that you are also pouring into other people’s lives, and it’s so encouraging.
I watched a Nat Geo documentary called “The Human Experience” on Saturday. Two guys stepped into the lives of others to experience what it was like. They lived homeless on the streets of NY for 5 days. They lived in a leper colony. They lived numerous people suffering from AIDS.
It was intense to hear they’re experience and how it altered their perception.
Almost every week, a traveling hobo would show up at our doorstep. Mom would give him a good meal. He sat and ate at the steps of the kitchen door. He was unshaven, had unwashed hair, and wore clothing stained from weeks of dirt and grime. He always came to the doorstep of our plantation home. I was 10 years old and had no clue….UNTIL, in my late 20’s, a homeless young man showed up after our Sunday meetings wanting something to eat. I opened up a can of soup, warmed the bread, and sat down and talked with him….and recalled the times ‘FRANKIE BOBO,’ had come to eat at our home. “IT” took some 20+ years, before “IT” finally hit home. Thank. God.