November 29, 2008

A Good Outreach Story

Pastor Debbie George in Kenmore, WA posted this note on her Facebook page and game me permission to post it here. This is a story of her stepping out beyond her comfort zone to give the Lord an opportunity to use her among some people who desperately needed His light to shine through her.

God wants us to be at peace, but he wants us to move beyond the comfort of the familiar to share His love with the unfamiliar, sometimes in less than comfortable situations. Bless you Deb for answering that call and setting an example for the rest of us.

If you think your lacking.. Think again.. My Shelter Night
Posted by Pastor Debbie George

Several weeks ago I had answered a Craig’s list add to sing during a weekly Friday dinner that a youth shelter offers in Seattle, right by the U of W. The shelter is for the 18-25 range and is run out of the United Methodist Church for many years now.

The add said they welcomed on types of music including gospel, so I went ahead and answered the add, told them I was a worship pastor etc. They wrote me right back, excited for me to come and set my date at Friday November 28th.

The above information was about all I knew about the event. I figured that I would go and sing songs of encouragement and just let the Love of God flow out and over the youth. To be honest, I was nervous because this was so far outside my experience not in terms of seeing homeless people, I work in Seattle after all and our church has done many outreaches where we go to the streets. But this was my first time singing and somewhat performing rather then “leading” worship. I knew it would be different, but was still not quite prepared for what I saw and felt while there.

The night started with meeting a twenty something street girl named Lakita.
Lakita approached me the moment I got out of the car with my guitar and asked if I was singing etc. She proceeded to tell me how much she hated men, how she did not feel comfortable at the shelter because of the men and went out in very colorful language to tell me how she beats the crap out of anyone who crosses her... whew.. My first thought was along the lines of.. “Debbie your not in your comfortable little neighborhood suburb”
Translate too.. “Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas Anymore!”

But yet... Are these not the people that we as Christians want to touch with the love of God? I found that after my initial culture shock, I was thinking. Lord... How do I touch the Lakita’s of the world?
How do I get out of my comfort zone enough to earn their trust and bring some light to their hard life? I did not come up with the answers in the five minutes that it took to walk with her, but at least the question was asked and I know God Always answers.

Of course I knew Lakita would be hustling for cash, so after she walked us to the Alley, Yes I said Alley... She asked for coin, which I happened to have and gladly gave and wished her well.

The Alley... Well, picture a dark alley with lots of drug addicts and you have the picture. What we were not prepared to see was the needle exchange and the brillo exchange set up in the alleyway. So many young people lost to drugs.
I felt safe walking in, but then I was not alone going in either.

As soon as we got there and started setting up the person in charge asked me if I was a Christian, to which I replied yes. He said “cool” but… oh here comes the B word.
He was gently trying to tell me that not everyone might appreciate Christian music and if anyone gave me a bad time to come find him... Great!!!! Just when I thought I had all my nerves under control... I explained to him that I did not have or play any other type of music and that the songs I brought were ones of hope and that I was not going to preach to them or sing actual church worship songs so we should be ok hopefully.

Because it was an open feed, there were all types of people there and ages. The young ones seemed to be more the drug addicts and there were plenty of alcoholics there as well. Plenty of non-sober people and I saw a good portion of people that just did not have all their mental faculties. They were pleasant and wanted to talk. We sat on the stage for a good half hour before the music and just listened to one gal, show us her stuffed animal, talk to us about her job etc.. I really do not think she had a job, the mental faculties were not there but she went on and on and I just kept thinking. Oh God.. Their minds are gone, Help!!

The music started and the people were lined up out the door. My job was to really just provide background music. After the first song, I introduced myself and heeding what the person in charge had said, I just told them that I mess up a lot in life and I was going to sing songs for them about messing up and always being able to get back up no matter what.. They clapped and seemed to be ok with that vain of thinking.

It was just so different for me to not be in a “flow” musically. It was the LONGEST HOUR OF MY MUSICAL LIFE.. Honestly.. I kept looking to my left to ask Susan what time was it.. All that said.. I did see several people completely zoned into the music and hanging on the words. At one point as I was singing a song called “Hold Me” I looked to my left and saw a young lady waiting in line for her food and she had her head back, eyes closed and was absolutely soaking in the words. I could feel her soaking. I looked in front and there was an older man that was just staring at me, I kept wanting to avert my eyes until the Lord spoke and said HE is Listening, sing to him!. So I looked right at him on the final song and sang about how the Lord loves you no matter what you have done.

There were some funny moments as well. Someone said out loud “ Baby, I got a song for you” umm yet I bet you do. But I just shrugged him off and kept going..haha

I was invited back. Will I go back? Yes I will because I know that seeds were planted and I want to see them grow. In my flesh, I would like to just walk away and go back to my neighborhood Starbucks and hang out with friends, because that is where it is comfortable. But were not called to be comfortable are we? We may think we have things that we lack, but just the fact that you’re on a computer reading this report, says you have so much more than these people have. In this Thanksgiving week, think about all you really have, because I tell you there are hurting people all around us who truly have nothing.

1 comment:

  1. That is a beautiful story; thanks for sharing it. I can't think of a better use for the God-given gift of music than to share it with those in need.