“We are called to love people (even those who are incapable or unable to love back) beyond the mistakes they have made- and, in so doing, we come face to face with shame, personal biases, and our own painful stories.” ~Romal Tune
These challenging and grace filled words culminated a full day of learning what happens when we, as leaders, respond to God’s call to serve in places where compassion and justice clash. As I listened to Romal’s story, my heart was pierced by the perspective from a young boy’s view, “I watched people come and go in and out of the doors of that church across the street…I wondered what happens inside that building…no one invited us to come…they didn’t even know my name.” Ouch. Sad. Tragic.
Late that night, a woman sitting on the steps of a church asked a colleague and me for spare change. Before we could answer she said, “I’m hungry.” We gladly agreed to buy her food and the three of us began to talk and walk together. As Romal’s words, “they don’t even know my name” flashed through my thoughts, she extended her hand and said, “My name is Deborah, and I am a Methodist.” After we introduced ourselves, she told us about her daughter, her father, and some details of the circumstances that led her to ask for food.
She asked why we were here (I wonder what happens inside that building?) and, when we told her, she and the employee at the pizza franchise were thankful some of our group walking by the church heard her voice and responded (I watched people come and go in and out of the doors of that church across the street). We were grateful for the resources to help, that we didn’t have to say, “We wish we had been intentional” and, more importantly, we learned her name – it’s Deborah. In those moments it was a privilege to join her around the table of grace set for us each day. Change IS a contact sport!
Allison Posell, Licensed Professional Counselor
Aldersgate UMC, Montgomery, AL