The smell of pot filled the late night air. The parking lot was dark and filled with guys, who all looked rough and well-cultured to the city. Being a young white caucasian girl, I was definitely in the minority. I stood with two other girls by the entrance to the liquor store, waiting for two young women who we had seen walk in. As we waited in the cold Chicago winter air, I watched as two guys pulled up towards us in their car. One was smoking pot. The other stepped out to check his tire, which looked completely fine to me. I stood there, realizing with every part of me that I was in a dangerous area of the city. My mind knew it. And yet my heart felt something completely different. My heart knew a peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7), a peace that reminded me that I am safe in His arms.
As the two women walked out of the liquor store, we stopped them and simply asked them if we could bless them with a rose. We handed them each a beautiful red rose and asked if we could pray with them. In the middle of the parking lot, surrounded by the darkness of drugs, alcohol, and brokenness, we formed a small circle and placed our hands on these two dear women as we lifted them up to the Lord.
I have been told that the light of the world lives inside of me. I have been told that this light was not meant to just be around other light. I have been told to shine that light in the darkest places of the world.
And so I went. I saw a young woman stand on a street corner and get picked up by a guy. I saw two semi trucks, in which the men were "doing business" with the young women. I smelled the weed and the pot and the "purple haze". I saw the streets lined up with police cars responding to a tragedy. I walked into a restaraunt and saw a country of the world represented right here in this city where I now live. I saw light be brought to a dark place as our prayers were lifted up.
I was with a ministry who does this every week. When I mentioned that I find this ministry amazing, the woman laughed and said, "Oh really? I guess I am just used to it."
Shouldn't I be used to it? The Lord has sent me to this city for a bigger reason than just to study the Bible at Moody Bible Institute. I remember visiting the city with my dad last year, before I had decided to come to Moody. I remember the moment that I looked outside the window of the tall building that I was in and my heart just broke. I was burdened as I saw people walking throughout the streets, so many of whom I knew were lost and in need of the hope that I have. While being here at Moody is a huge part of why God sent me here, there is an even bigger world out there. It's a world filled with lost people, a city whose people represent so many countries of the world. At times, the Lord has sent me to the people of the world. This time, the Lord has sent them to me.
"Seeking the lost is not about our abilities. It is really just all about our obedience. We need to just go. We have lost out there who need to know about Jesus. And we must do all that we can to seek them."
I should be used to this. Evangelism is not just for those with the gift of evangelism. We are all called to evangelize. Maybe we are living with "tunnel vision", getting to where we need to go and not even seeing the people around us. Maybe we have given in to apathy, not expressing with words that we do not care about the lost people around us, but expressing it with our actions when we do nothing about seeking them. Or maybe we have given in to fear, another of the Enemy's tactics to prevent us from doing what the Lord has called us to do. But fear of what? Rejection? Why do we fear rejection when we do not even personally know many of the people that we come into contact with every day? I have come to find that most people are wanting to know of the hope that we have. There are so many people around us who are so lost, broken, and feeling purposeless that they are yearning to know how they can have hope. That hope is within us.
There is something freeing about stepping outside of the "bubble" of safety and comfort that I stay in most of my everyday life. It feels good to adventure into the dangerous unknown to reach out to the lost people who live in it every single day of their lives. There is a sort of peace about walking the streets with Jesus, stepping outside of the "American Christian" lifestyle that I have grown up in all of my life. There is so much more to this life than living in comfort, in safety, in luxury, and in selfish ambition. Why do we hold on to that which we have no hold to anyway?
We are living for eternity - for "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:4-5).
Our inheritance is in heaven. This earth and everything in it are temporary - everything except our souls. The souls of those who I walk the streets with every day are eternal and it should break my heart to know that some of them are going to an eternity in hell because they do not know of the hope that I have in Jesus Christ. That should burden me. It should overwhelm me. It should spurn me on to action... to just go.
I should be used to this - to living life as the adventure that it was meant to be, to going out into dark places... for that is where the light of Jesus can shine the brightest.
Lord, break my heart for what breaks Yours. Burden me with an overwhelming passion for the people of this city who walk these streets every single day, broken and hopeless and in need of You. Give me the courage and the strength to bring them this hope that I have in You. Keep me from selfishness, from keeping this hope to myself. For if I did not know that You were my atoning sacrifice, I would also be without hope. Continue to burden me and break me and give me the strength to obey You, for I am reminded that if I love You, that is exactly what I will do (John 14:15). Amen.