Two weeks ago I wrote about connecting to the community. At that meeting there were a lot of ideas/programs I learned about. One deals with connecting local clergy to the police that patrol in their area. I really like this idea and would like to connect with the officers that patrol where I live and work. Sort of. I mean, I would really like to meet with them and know them, but I also fear the lecture I am likely to receive when they figure out which church I pastor.
I realize that not every city worker is going to be discontented with our outreach endeavors, but I also know I have received lectures from those I have encountered. First it was the cocky new cop late one night when one of our guys was rushed to the hospital after an overdose on meth (a man who has now been sober for 9 months--ever since that event scared the desire to use out of him). The second was from the fire chief when one of our women knocked her head against the cement and then started having seizures.
I understand their perspective and can appreciate their frustrations, really I can. But I also know that when I get lectured it is from a "homelessness in general" perspective not a personal one. For instance, the fire chief talked about how he used to work downtown and how "this problem" hasn't gotten any better. He's talking about homelessness and he's right, there is still far too vast of a homeless population. He sees any endeavors as fruitless.
I, on the other hand, don't look simply at homeless in general (it is a huge social ill that is not likely to vanish anytime soon), but I look at the specific folks living on the street. When I look at those stories (particularly those of the men and women who have stayed at our church) I see 3 who have found regular, healthy, and safe housing. I have seen 2 men find/achieve/fight for sobriety. I have seen a couple be reunited, and a number come to Bible study each week and learn the word of God and the love and grace that is offered to them through Christ.
So, I don't really see it as fruitless. I look at the specifics, the city officials like to look in general.
I would like to know the officers and even be able to work with them, as long as working with them isn't simply a one way street--meaning I get to do all the things they say without being allowed to work within a Christian paradigm.
I'd also like our conversation to deal with more than the homeless. Every day there are a million teenage boys loose in our neighborhood...I'd like to work on constructive things for them to do (constructive things that do not include smoking pot on our property...or in general...). I'd also like to do constructive things with the police so that I don't hear gunfire at night or worry about the parade of patrol cars lined up on the street behind me preparing for a raid.
There's a lot that can be accomplished if we work together, it just means getting over our fears and prejudices....and by "we" I think I mean "me"....at least that's where it has to start....because I certainly don't think the call will be coming to my phone any time soon.