I may be able to get involved with a ministry downtown sooner than I thought. Last Sunday I went to a church plant meeting in a neighborhood that has one of the highest number of prostitution businesses in the city. It was a little scary going downtown with sketchy directions to a neighborhood I had ever been to but I found the community center just fine though.
I walked inside with a couple other people, all of us carrying dishes for the meal. It was pretty chaotic inside. People were setting up tables, setting out food, and herding kids. I put my salad on the table and quietly sat down at the table with a million kids and one mom-looking lady. I was soon introduced to the pastor, Jeff, who explained what the meeting was all about. It was an informal way to introduce the community to Jesus, see where the immediate needs were for that week and pray and worship together. Jeff introduced me to Leslie who explained a brief history of the neighborhood and how the construction of the highway killed it.
After some time of chatting we prayed and started eating. Once again chaos. After the food we sang some songs. Most of the praise choruses were sung by the music guy, the pastor and me. People didn't seem to know them, however; everyone sang for the hymns. People then started sharing praises that happened throughout the week. Two teens accepted Christ this week. One ladies son almost died but a "chance" encounter with a nurse and CPR saved him. Another lady was finally able to go to the next city and see her sister. Then we started praying for each other. It was awkward. Most people had never been to a church and weren't comfortable praying out loud. But they all knew that prayer was the thing that was going to get them through the next week.
You could tell just by looking at the people in the room that they had had a hard life. But they loved Jesus and each other and were fighting to make their neighborhood a safe place to live again.
I loved it. I'm going back tonight and I can't wait.