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So this weekend I went to San Francisco with a group of great people from Temple Baptist Church, and I need to tell you about it. Here we go! Be excited. I know it's long but hang in there, this is good stuff.
We traveled so SF and met up with an organization called City Impact. They are located in the Tenderloin and that's where we did our serving and where we stayed. Yep I said the Tenderloin. What City Impact does is basically show God's love to the broken people who live in their community. Reach out to the people who become isolated from society, and to tell them that someone loves them so much that he died for them, and his name is Jesus Christ. They have a church, a thrift store, rescue mission, a school, and it's all to bring people to Jesus Christ. Everything City Impact does is centered around Christ. They are all truly great, loving, followers of Christ and it was a blessing to have to opportunity to meet them and to come along side them and serve. It was also a blessing to be able to meet some other people while we were there...let me tell you about them.
Yesterday we got to gather up some food at City Impact, cans of soup, bags of chips, and bags of cookies. We carried them a couple blocks through the tenderloin to a building called Single Occupant Housing (SOH). As we were carrying them people on the streets would look at us and ask for whatever we had. It made me feel sad but I knew we had to get the food to the SOH because our goal was to reach out to those isolated people living in the buildings and share Jesus with them. When we got inside we split up into groups and started knocking on doors. *knock knock knock* "City Impact, we have some food for you!" Then wait....no answer....next door..*knock knock knock* "City Impact, we have some food for you!" No answer...waiting a couple more seconds..then all of a sudden you heard someone coming and slooowly open the door, just a crack so you could see half their face. Some would open it all the way but others were very timid. We would begin the conversation by saying hello would you like some food? Most of them said yes and took the food. They were very grateful. It's nice giving something to someone in need who didn't even ask for it. Then, if their reaction wasn't to say thank you and quickly shut the door, we would ask their name and if there was anything we could pray about for them. That's when the stories started coming out. It was awesome when they opened up to us and shared a little piece of their lives with us, complete strangers knocking on their door. One man when asked what we could pray for said his mother who had dementia. And for his siblings who were taking care of her. Another woman asked us to pray for her family also. A large amount of them asked us to pray for their health. One woman had just gotten out of the hospital, something was wrong with her left leg. So we prayed for comfort and healing. One of the ladies I remember the most was Gloria. She talked to us for while. She told us we filled her up with encouragement and she asked where we were from so she could go to church. She moved to San Francisco many years ago from Alabama to go to school. Another woman named Della ended up there because her home burnt down so her sister came and brought her to SF. She also had a cross on her door so we asked her about it and she said she was a Christian and told us she prays all the time, mostly for other people she sees or encounters. That was so encouraging to me because often times we can be selfish in prayer. I know I can. To know that these people had so little and they still asked us to pray for others...wow. Such a humbling experience.
These are the faces of only a few of the people living in this SOH. Such a cool way to display their pictures :) I loved it. These people touched my life and made me rethink how I live. I have always had a heart for helping others but coming along side those people in those buildings, loving them and listening to their stories while I stared into their broken eyes, really touched me. I don't think this will be my last experience doing something like this. Whether it's in SF or Stockton/Lodi. I want to reach out to those people who seem to be pushed away and forgotten. It saddens me when others talk about them like they don't mean anything. Like they aren't worth it. They will say, they smell, they're disgusting, they did this to themselves. But hey guess what!!!!! None of that even matters. Maybe they choose the wrong path and now they are in that situation because of poor life choices. God forgives them, and so do I. There's hope for the brokenhearted. And sometimes all they need is a little ray of hope, a ray of sunshine coming from groups like City Impact to show them they are loved. And they are so loved. God did not send Jesus to die on the cross just for the wealthy, the well off people, the clean people, the people that have the chance to go to school, shower every day, have a meal every day... He died for everyone. To save all of us. And he loves us all the same. He loves you just as much as the homeless man that asked me for my blanket and pillow as I walked by him on our way to City Impact from bart. Just as much as he loves the man who offered us drugs as we walked the streets of the tenderloin. Just as much as the angry, broken, woman who yelled at us with a colorful vocabulary after we knocked on her door offering her food. She screamed hateful words to our team how we didn't belong there and she wanted us to leave and leave her alone. It was a very scary and emotional experience but it was Satan trying to scare us off because he doesn't like when believers do God's work. But the enemy will not win :) We are stronger than that! This morning we had church with City Impact and before the service we spent an hour in prayer with the staff there. I spent some time praying for that woman. Unfortunately we didn't find out her name but God knows who she is. I knew I needed to pray for her as I walked away from her door with a frightened face and tears in my eyes. At first I was scared but then I just got really sad for her and my heart broke because Satan lives within her and she desperately needs the light of Christ to shine in her life. I really hope someone or something can do that for her. Satan was angry and definitely didn't want us spreading God's love in that building so he used her to try to scare us away. It's in those times that we as a body of Christ cling together and hold strong against the enemy.
I know this was a really long post but you can't go away from an experience like this and not share it with people. I want to share what I experienced because it changed the way I look at others and the way I want to live my life. As I drove away from Temple Baptist in my 2012 Honda Civic with my seat warmers on to my house in a gated community, my heart was heavy for those I met who live in the SOH and are so isolated from society. Then I started thinking about how little they have and once I walked in my room and saw my new steve madden boots that I absolutely love, God continued working in my heart. Life is soooo not about material things. My boots don't matter, the salvation of my brothers and sisters is what truly matters. So that's where my silly title came from because when I walked into my room and thought about the money I spent on my boots it hit me that I need to not care so much about the things of this world, but caring about God's will, and his perfect plan, and his promise to us the body of Christ, and sharing all of that with others. This mission trip didn't end today when we left San Francisco, it just began! Because it continued as I got home!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog post. It means a lot to me that people actually read all this and can hopefully make sense of it and take something from it. This weekend was an awesome experience for me, I encourage you to go out and serve and love on the unloved. I really enjoyed going out and being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Here's a link to City Impact if you'd like more information or are interested! :) http://sfcityimpact.com/