Before I share details of the first day at City Impact, I just want to share my journal entry from a couple days prior to leaving Davis. I was quite nervous and unsure of what to expect, praying God revealed that to me during the week.
July 3, 2014– As I get ready to leave for San Francisco in the next couple days, I am beginning to have thoughts and questions on what my week will be like. Mostly, I am excited to experience God’s love and all He has in store. I am excited to serve and build relationships, meet new people and bond with my team members. I am excited to step out of my comfort zone to experience God and love on His people– both the staff at SFCI and the residents of the Tenderloin. However, I am worried about my safety during the trip. I am nervous because of the lack of details I have received and nervous to step out into the unknown and experience people unlike me in culture and background. I pray that God fills me up and reignites my passion for servitude. I pray that His love be displayed for me this next week. I pray I can be useful and my time will not be in vain.
Looking back on what I wrote before the trip, I just realize how faithful God is, how He hears every prayer and answers, how He totally uses us, even when we believe we are not ready to be used.
Finally, Monday rolled around and I found myself on BART headed to Powell Street, walking a few blocks from Union Square into the heart of the Tenderloin. My quiet life is Davis dissipated, our group met the two other teams we’d be serving with (a 50+ person group from a Korean church in San Jose and a small group from Nacogdoches, Texas), then we headed out for a prayer walk through the TL and Union Square.
So here’s my journal entry from day numero uno:
July 7, 2014– I’m sitting on a rooftop of 230 Jones Street at the heart of the Tenderloin District in SF. It’s breezy and the clouds are pushed swiftly overhead by the strong ocean breeze. The view from up top allows me to almost forget what I’ve seen on the streets below. But the constant screech of sirens drawing near and other street noises remind me of the brokenness I’ve seen today. A swift and short walk from BART in Union Square to Jones Street, the home of City Impact was a glimpse of life in this neighborhood– shifting quickly from brilliance, flashiness, high-class living to filthy, poor, forgotten, brokenness in just blocks. We were led by a City Impact staff member on a prayer walk through the city where we walked directly into a drug deal and witnessed individuals with wide eyes and deranged smiles (clearly marked by mental illness). The smell of urine, alcohol, marijuana lingered on every street corner– pungent, sour, and pervasive. These people are so broken and, even worse, forgotten. What are their stories? Who have they loved and been loved by? What have they seen and heard and felt in their lifetimes? How have they experienced God? My prayer for this week is that I see how God loves and heals these people, broken to the core– but no less broken than myself. I pray that people with mental disorders and handicaps and in vulnerable positions, like the man named David we met tonight who verbally harassed our group calling us “home wreckers” and “hypocrites” from outside the gates of City Impact, come to know Jesus as their savior. I pray Jesus protects them from the spiritual warfare that curses their (and my own) daily life.
Amidst this brokenness, I must remind myself that although it seems the devil has a stronghold on this drug-infested, crime-ridden neighborhood, my God will always remain on top. As a mentor of mine once reminded me during a hard time in my life, if Satan were the size of tiny little gnat, God would be a grown man’s show stomping him down.
My God is great, despite all this wickedness. I know He will reveal that to me this week and show me just how much He loves each one of His creations.
God answers every prayer! I don’t have much more to say beyond this journal entry about the first day of life in the TL, but am excited for you to read about how God moved in me and this neighborhood over the 6 days we served there. Stay tuned. 🙂