“If we were left to ourselves with the task of taking the gospel to the world, we would immediately begin planning innovative strategies and plotting elaborate schemes. We would organize conventions, develop programs, and create foundations…but Jesus is so different from us. With the task of taking the gospel to the world, He wandered through the streets and byways. All He wanted was a few men who would think as He did, love as He did, see as He did, teach as He did and serve as He did.”
- David Platt, Radical: Taking Back your Faith from the American Dream
This evening, in Vancouver, we served dinner at Union Gospel Mission. It is amazing how a simple “hello” can change a person’s demeanor. Union Gospel Mission helps people quit addictions, provides housing on a case by case basis, provides worship and spiritual guidance, provides hundreds of meals every single day and much more. It was an honor to get to serve God and serve the people of Vancouver. After serving dinner, we were walking down the streets on our way back to our hostel and one of our tour leaders, Traut, remembered that she still had her Union Gospel Mission (UGM) “Volunteer” sticker on; just as she thought about taking it off she felt the Holy Spirit tell her not to take it off just yet. Less than a minute later, a man named John approached us after seeing Traut’s sticker. He was crying; he told us he wanted to be free from his life of alcoholism so he could be able to be a part of his family’s lives again. We walked with him back to UGM where they arranged a meeting to meet with him tonight. Before we parted ways John allowed us all to pray for him. He said, “I love God but I can’t pray. It is not my thing, but you guys can pray for me.” He wasn’t asking us for food or money. John wanted to be free. He wanted to be with his family.
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” - Mother Teresa
We also gained another roommate! Elle arrived in our hostel last night! She is from England and has been wonderful to get to know. She asked us if we knew of any place good to go for dinner and so we invited her to have dinner and serve meals at UGM with us. She said yes, even though she had never done anything like that before! She and I were elbow deep in raw chicken together at one point! I bet she’ll never ask us for another dinner idea again! We will be sad to leave her tomorrow but we know God had a reason for her joining us tonight even if we don’t see the direct results ourselves.
I am so thankful to have been a part of this Vancouver team. To be able to walk down these streets and just have a tiny taste of what Jesus saw and realize how far I am from loving others as Jesus did is such a blessing. I have learned so much from the Athletes in Action staff. We all think we would be kind and loving to the homeless, the hungry, the drug addicts, etc. but when you walk down a street surrounded by these people you will be surprised the thoughts and emotions that swirl around in your mind that the world says is normal and justified. HOWEVER: Their sin patterns are no different, no worse and no less destructive than our sin patterns; All of our sin patterns just look different in the world’s eyes. Though we come with good news, we are no better than them. The grace and love God wants us to share with them was paid by the very same blood that covers our sins of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I was reminded of these truths after reflecting on another conversation on the street we had with a woman named Michelle. She told us some of her story as we told her some of ours. She initiated the conversation, had a surprisingly witty character and was just a joy to talk to. I, personally, thought she could do stand up comedy! God created us each uniquely beautiful. How awesome is He!