We started out first day of working with WICM with a round circle discussion in the Place of Hope. Margaret Mullin and some of the people involved here gave us an incredible look at the work they do here and the challenges that they face. Mostly she just told us the stories of people touched by the ministry here. Some of them are stories of great triumph — people who overcome addiction, bad backgrounds and gang affiliations who managed to pull their lives together. Some of them were not necessarily triumphs but there was still much evidence of God’s love and care touching their lives in some really profound ways. So many of the stories, sadly, even the triumphant ones, end in tragedy and death. She walked us through so many names on this banner. But even through the stories of tragedy, hope found a way to shine through.
Margaret says that the biggest enemy that they face is what she called anomie. It is that sense that the people have here that as bad as their life is right now, there is zero potential of it getting any better. When they fall into this sense of anomie they see absolutely no reason to try and do anything to get out of it and so easy get caught up in addiction, gang activity, illegality and worse. If you cannot break that spirit of anomie with a new spirit of hope, you will never get anyway.
This, more than anything, makes me realize that the kind of ministry that they are doing here is worlds away from the problems we are trying to help people with in Cambridge. Yes people struggle there and we do have a ministry in helping them, but this is in a whole different league. We are not in Cambridge anymore. Our issue isn’t anomie, of course, because most can have hope for their own life. Our issue is apathy — the temptation to withdraw into the conclusion that there is nothing we can do to change anything so why bother trying.
It is amazing to see what they really have accomplished in the lives of people here. Margaret clearly has an amazing vision and annointing from God to accomplish what are clearly miracles in people’s lives when you look at it. What a privilige to be part of it for this little while.
After our long opening discussion we saw another look at how they do church here when it was suddenly decided that, despite no preplanning having been done (due to anticipated bad weather that hasn’t really materialized) that they would go ahead an hold the church picnic in a park anyways. So some of our people were sent off the the grocery store get everything needed. So glad to have a Shirely Love and Theresa Miller here who can plan a menu for 60 at the drop of a hat! Others will be soon busy loading chairs and tables and taking people to the park.
We’d never plan a major event in the life of our congregation like that, would we? But somehow God’s spirit in is clearly at work in the frantic preparations. We don’t do church like this but.. we’re not in Cambridge anymore and I somehow have no doubt that it’s all going to be something quite amazing and unexpected.