Class Journal #3
June 30, 2004
Three topics arose today as we visited Skid Row, the interrelationships between Rich and poor, how to deal with the overwhelming problems of the city, and also what missions means to todays evangelicals. First we spent time discussing the appointment with a wealthy CEO that Jude did with other class at other times, and how it is important to meet with people like that because they are doing things for the poor, and it is important for us to be stay connected to the because we can become very separate, often times anti-rich, even to the point of leaving the rich feeling unwelcome. Bigotry toward the rich and those who live in wealthy areas can be feelings that arise within the poor and those who serve them, but if this happens then the cycle of bitterness and oppression is not broken and people are not freed from those sins. If the rich dont feel welcome in the poorer, urban churches then there is yet another segregation taking place. What a holistic-relational Christian community seeks to do is not only bring together multi-ethnic, multi-generational but also multi-economic peoples to the community. Problems do arise however because many rich dont want the poor meeting in their nice suburban churches on Sunday, and many rich dont feel welcomed in poorer churches because they are often times objectified for their money.
What is most important is that we continue to try and bring people together because the there are many things to be learned from each subset of culture. One person stated that, If we go to the rich we will lose the poor, but if we go to the poor we will also gain the rich.” This is because there are lessons to learn within those who are poor that are deeply rooted within the Biblical message and cries of the Spirit. These are some observations that those who are poor make that those who have money can learn from: People with money often get too caught up with their own image, and dont pay attention to anyone else; they are often times empty, searching for something they cant find; they are lonely; we are all the same deep down inside.
Christa spoke to us about prostitution in Thailand and what her and her husband are doing to help offer positive alternatives for the ladys there. Two things that struck me most here were the possibilities of creating jobs for these girls in ways that not only help the women but one that is also positive for the community.
Christas talk struck a chord with in me concerning foreign missions though. Looking through this very present experience of being in Skid Row and feeling the overwhelming needs of those hurting around me, I felt as though helping those in Thailand is a far off dream. I understand the role of foreign missions, but wonder how one can look through the problems of our own cities and into the problems of foreign cities. This is not meant to critic Christa and her husbands call but rather to ask how can I, as one who feels called to minister to those in my immediate community help those outside of it? What is my role in helping those hurting and objectified Thai women? I want them to be free from sexual oppression, I want to see them liberated from Buddhism, but is there a place for me to truly support foreign missions when I feel so strongly about rescuing those so close to home? One response the Spirit gave was, by educating those around me of the injustices in the world.” The Spirit showed me that though I am may be unable to support or serve those ladies in Thailand in any ongoing way, I may be able to educate and empower others do to so, even those who are poor and oppressed here in the States. It is possible by informing those around me of such injustices that some will find a way out of their own holes in the form of serving others who are in similar or worse situations.
Finally our visit to Mosaic felt left me with critical responses. In many ways I saw what Mosaic was saying as putting a new hat on an old form. Mosaic is a homogenous group of people seeking to grow (by spreading the Gospel) by reaching those who are like them, practically speaking, the majority are around the age of 24, middle-class, and single. It is a church still built on the foundation of evangelical tenants, where preaching is at the center of what is done, and worship is regularly understood to come through forms of music and art. They are basically a typical American protestant church that has hyped itself up enough to appeal to the young crowd, which is not in and of itself bad, but it is lacking in multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and multi-economic peoples. Further as a Quaker Christian, I find a church community that is built around a pastor/speaker, the Bible (or word) as foundation, and worship limited to acts of music and other art forms, to be lacking in the talk of the Light of Christ, the Priesthood of all believers and contemplative and sacramental lifestyle. I find these latter things to be at the heart of not only true postmodern” movements but also at the heart of church that are socially relevant and active, driven by the spirit of God in a given community.