Part of the challenge and also part of the fun of ministering at our Church In The Margins grace meal on Saturday nights is to be ready for whoever comes in the door. We have the space, the food and the fairly loose format of sharing the scriptures with a short teaching, discussion at dinner based on a question about where God is this week, and group prayer.
In recent months the Women's residential program with women coming out of incarceration that housed in a nearby apartment building has closed, and so a consistent source of our guests since the beginning of CITM is gone. Instead, we started getting a group of local teenaged boys coming.
Both Turk and I enjoyed the boys, but they were always high energy and impulsive. Sometimes their behavior caused problems, and some of the other guests lost patience with them. Sometimes we had to tell the boys to leave, and they did so disruptively. There were disrespectful; interactions with some of the adults there, with the unintended comedy of some adults who had been extremely disruptive in the past complaining about the kids' behavior. It got to the point where it wasn't a safe place for our guests, and so we decided that the boys couldn't continue as guests at CITM.
We haven't given up on them. They need the gospel, and despite their chaos, they kept coming back. They responded to the fatherly attention, freedom to be themselves and interest in them as people that they found at CITM. We realized that we can't be the ones who decide who gets to "be the church" or hear the gospel. We have kept praying for them, and we are going to provide a time and space for them at the cafe. Mid-afternoon on Saturdays, before CITM, we're going to have a youth hour or two, with opportunity to bang the drums, help cook some food and talk. Turk and I will be there, and we may talk to any men who are part of the cafe community who have interesting skills/hobbies, especially music, and who are interested in ministering to these young men. Pray for us and for them.
Written by Ferdinando Turkovich
The Lord required Abraham to give up his only Son. In this act, Abraham showed his utter faith in the Lord to provide.
Around June of last year, I began the long and drawn out battle for the legal right to have access to my own flesh and blood, my only son. This battle ended in December with the courts deciding that it was best for the child that my parental rights be terminated.
How could I ever come to grips with such a terrible and gapping heart wound? The thing is Abraham had faith that either way God would provide. This of course doesn’t take the pain of loss away completely. I still from time to time feel the longing to see and hold my own son.
I have learned in the last few years that when the Lord is requiring something from me he will replace it with something greater. It was through this process that I was introduced to a group of neighborhood boys that began to come to our Saturday night Church and Grace meal at the café. Church in the Margins is a low requirement Service surrounded around a meal with a question asked around the Central theme of “what is God doing in my life this week”? When our boys showed up (about 5 in total), my heart began to leap for joy inside my chest.
Now these boys have come with their own challenges. They have unfortunately been asked to leave on several occasions, but they ended up coming back week after week. They seemed to respond well to music and cooking. So we tried.
Unfortunately, we have recently had to ask them to leave and not come back to church. This decision honestly broke my heart. The sitting for 1 hour 45 mins to 2 hours was just too much for them and they became disruptive and downright vulgar at times buying for attention. It was heart breaking to watch and even more challenging to keep my composure. It felt like we failed them, that we too let them down like so many other adults. In fact, some of the very same disruptive people that attend our church made suggestions of us turning them away.
So Scott and I turned to the only place we knew that could provide for a safe way to engage these wayward souls: Jesus. And did he provide. With the boys being so responsive to performance arts we have decide to invite them to join us for about an hour every Saturday afternoon to just chill out.
It was in the letting go that God the Father shared his love for these boys and planted deep within my own soul a place for these boys.