We are beginning our summer mission team season. This time is exciting for us because it gives us the opportunity to greatly increase our work with the homeless. Last year our plan was to completely disrupt the normal activity that takes place in and around our community. We did this by placing ourselves in the areas that drug dealers and gambling rings liked to set up. This approach was born out of my daily parish walks in the community. On one particular day the dealers seemed to be omnipresent, so out of frustration, I just set down on one of their corners knowing that either they would physically remove me or they would move on. Thank God they moved on. This year we’ve decided to step up our activity. Instead of just disrupting the activity in the community, we want to change the community completely.
Atlanta is notorious for its treatment of the poor and homeless. The local government has sometimes taken its divinely given right to use “the sword” to extremes that are not consistent with its biblical mandate; that is to say, government cannot restrict our free love of neighbor. For instance, just today Roy, one of our Street Missionaries, was out near Centennial Park when he noticed a woman on the sidewalk weeping. He stopped to attend to her and decided to take her to Subway and purchase a sandwich for her. A City Ambassador, a tourist and public safety assistant, stopped Roy to see if he was OK. Then while in Subway an Atlanta Police Officer came in and asked Roy to step outside. He gave him the speech about how ‘they’ scare conventions away. Roy asked if he was being detained and he said “no” so Roy went back inside.
Our attempts this summer to transform our community will be with practices that exhibit the exact opposite spirit witnessed by Roy – “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit.” We will be enlisting the help of churches, ministries, volunteers, mission teams, Street Missionaries, and all others who are willing to love the poor by being with them. We don’t want to change the community by simply moving the “undesirables” out, we want to transform lives in the name of Christ and in doing so transform the way a community sees itself and functions with its neighbors. Thus we will come armed not with the sword, rather with the power of love. We will come bearing gifts of friendship, listening, sharing, time, resources, and truthful speech. We will come prepared to offer the marginalized a stake in the broader community and a secure place in the human family. We will come with the promise of refreshment for the weary; to reunite the far off with family; to attempt to find the able work; to seek to get the mentally disabled support; to give the addicted assistance; and to find the churchless a local worshipping community that welcomes them with Christ’s peace as members.
We need your help in this mission. We need you to volunteer with us. We need you to supply basic essentials like socks, t-shirts, and travel size hygiene items. We need you to financially support this great work. The needs are immense but we are undaunted for we walk in the Spirit and trust in the power of Christ released through His body.
Donations can be made online or sent to Church on the Street, P.O. Box 54717, Atlanta, GA, 30308. Packages can be sent to 530 Piedmont Avenue, Suite 210, Atlanta, GA, 30308. If you would like to volunteer you can email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 770-634-1122.