“You made me feel like I mattered.”
Those words cut through me like a knife to my soul. After a chance encounter in Corydon with one of our former café’ regulars this young women said, “You and Preston made me feel like I mattered.” Now we know her story. It’s like many we see in this world gone mad. It is one of an absent father, one of drugs, of abuse and God knows what else? A father who spent her life in and out of jail and on more than one occasion of us having to call the police over her acting out, her drug abuse and violence.
What made the chance (not) meeting so poignant, was to see her well when we have seen her at her lowest. She seemed happy and sincere and for a street hardened doubter like me, I believed her. I told her that I was happy to see her—and I was, that I was proud of her—and I was, and that I loved her—which I do. That’s what God does, changes hearts. Pastor Dave Stone said it best, “The greatest evidence of God is a changed heart.” And, in this case it was mine.
You see in this urban ministry that we’ve been called to, justice leads to callousness, to cynacism and mostly, it leads to anger. After 9 years, I have a lot of anger. I have come to believe that we have gotten it all wrong when the Bible teaches us, “Vengence is mine, sayeth the Lord,” (Romans 12:19) it’s not, “Alright, God is going to get all of you that has wronged me now!” It’s God, being our heavenly father protecting us from the rage, from the hurt, and from the sin.
What happens is we take the poor, those we believe and feel are inferior to us and we dehumanize them. They become the butt of our jokes, of Facebook posts and of office gossip and laughter. But to God, they are his child, his precious—precious child. Someone sent me the article a couple of days ago of the police officer in Texas who fed the homeless man a sandwich of feces and then bragged about it.
Now I have heard all of the excuses over the 9 years about this is how we cope, that it was a joke—a story, and there was no harm meant. But, like I said in my last blog, I have been on the other side of those excuses and I can tell you without question that it is devestating and that you can never forget the pain.
So I have to tell you that God orchestrating this interaction with someone from our minitry’s past was a blessing for me and the work being done here. But, it was also a shot across the bow how easy it is to cross the line into superiority, into an elitest mindset and crimes against those the resurrected Christ himself demand that we protect. And, anger, a rage that we can’t control because God didn’t mean for us to take this burden on our own.
All I can say to the young woman doing the hard work of life is that you do matter and more importantly you matter to God. You are his precious daughter and He sent His son to die, just for you.