Saturday, December 15, 2007
Juarez Reflection: A Feast of Praises
The steam of the nearly boiling water warms the otherwise frigid kitchen of the small church Salon de Sociale. In the background is the ruckus of rowdy Mexican youth and the leaders that are working tirelessly to keep them entertained as they offer a relevant message of Christ. I have been commissioned to cook for this overnight event. It is nearly ten, and I can't help but worry that the children are getting anxious to eat -though truly, this may be the best meal some of them will have all week; a spread of feasts for a crew of peasants. I subtly remind myself that eating in Mexican culture generally happens later, but I still cannot shake the nagging of my brain.
My thoughts dwell on the youth here and the frustration one of the leaders confessed to me; the realities of in-depth inner-city ministry had met this visionary minister face to face. He has been wrestling with some real and weighty issues in his work: How does one overcome the street life and show the great joys of the love of Christ? How does one stop the cycles of poverty so that a group of youth can see that there is more to life, namely the love of Christ, than drugs, violence, and an eclectically active sex life? How does one show the love of Christ in a place that teaches their children to lay Him on the wayside? How does one keep hope when every effort seems to end in disappointment?
I am reminded of a time of worship recently when the leaders, having pleaded with the youth to stay and worship, lifted their praises to Christ; hopeful; prayerful; alone. In the middle of one of the songs, the youth boisterously flooded the room returning and paying no attention to the meaningful praises of God, and the leaders continued to sing even amongst the obnoxious distraction. In that moment, my mind's eye dreamt and saw a time when these children, by the faithful and exhausting efforts of these young leaders, might someday bow their entire being at the throne of Christ, thankful for the life they have been given; worshipful for the mere chance to do so; reverent of His mighty power and love. I saw them – beautiful. I realized that these rough city kids had returned because they found no other like it anywhere else. They needed this place of safety and hope. Could they have found an even more "relevant" place to be in the druglord's house? definitely. But they would not have found the hope and Christ-like love offered here.
As my mind revels in the idea that one day the praises of this youth would ascend like the pungent altar incense of old, the rising steam from the boiling water reminds me of the task at hand. I thank God for His goodness and ask Him for encouragement in this desperate place for those that are faithful. I stir the pot and chuckle. We may not live like kings here, but tonight we're all sure as hell gonna eat like one.