As I walk through the neighborhood and talk with my neighbors I have been saddened by the difficult stories I have heard. Life in East Garfield Park is a struggle for many. The despair is evidenced by the liquor bottles and empty crack bags strewn along the streets and in the parks. It seems there is broken glass and rubbish everywhere.
While I know we could bring in busloads of people from outside the neighborhood to clean it up, I recognize also, that the sight of outsiders coming in to work for a few hours and then leaving to go back to better neighborhoods can add to the sense of powerlessness of the residents. The issues we face are complicated and difficult.
So, we join in the struggle in small ways and we begin to see rays of hope.
Kids who would otherwise be roaming the streets are eager to participate in our Starfish studio film production classes. The reading levels of the participants of the Nettie Bailey Student Achievement program are continuing to rise preparing them for entrance into college and gainful employment. The mothers of our Breakthrough Beginners want to join the community of support developing around their children. Homeless men and women are engaging passionately with our Bible studies and devotions.
I think we all want to participate in something that is bigger than us, something worthy of our best effort, something that will truly transform the lives of those who live amidst the hopelessness. For me, that is Breakthrough. I love what involvement in this ministry does in me. My prayer life is enriched. My heart is made tender. I meet real heroes day after day. Jesus is at work here and I am so glad to be in the middle of it.
"If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time ... But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." Lilla Watson, A Brisbane based Aboriginal educator and activist.