When Worlds Collide

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When Worlds Collide

Posted by admin on December 9, 2010

On Wednesday April 21, 2010, I witnessed something I hope never to forget.

Worksite #16 of the Flower City Work Camp was on St. Jacobs Street in Rochester, NY between April 20 and April 22.  Ten teens ranging from Grade 7 to 12 were doing minor home repairs for the home owner.  After lunch, the Student Shepherd, was leading devotions.  She read and discussed Genesis 22.  It was where God had commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.  Abraham was obeying and trusting God even though from a human perspective it was insane to sacrifice your own son.

Our teens consisted of 5 boys and 5 girls, most were from Rochester suburbs.  All had the desire to serve and obey God, by spending their spring break helping a needy home owner fix up their house.  These kids lived in nice homes in safe neighborhoods.  They looked forward to a future of opportunity and excitement.   They are good students with great friends.

I was sitting on the porch.  The students were sitting on the steps while the Student Shepherd was leaning against my wife’s car facing the porch.  As she read from the Bible and talked about the scripture, I looked above the Shepherd’s head at a gold house with brown trim.  Sounds were coming from the house; screaming, cursing and the sound of objects being thrown against a wall.  In the front window sat Juan (Childrens names have been changed) watching the teen devotion across the street from his house.  Once in a while, he turned his head and looked into the house, then turned his attention back to us.  He watched almost the whole time.

How do I know his name was Juan?  He came to visit us the day before and played soccer in the back yard.  Laughing and playing with a Mr. Mac and other kids, he was like any other 9 year old boy. 

Earlier that day, during a prayer walk around Juan’s neighborhood, we met some nice folks.  We also witnessed some teens teasing and screaming at a Pit Bull Puppy.  They were trying to get the dog to snap at them. 

I regularly heard people yelling at each other on the street.  It wasn’t the friendly banter between neighbors.  There was a woman whose car stopped at a nearby house.  As she got out of the car, she screamed at someone in the car saying that if they got out of the car, there’d be hell to pay.

The day before, two adults from Juan’s house had a yelling match in front of their house in the street.  All the neighbors came out to watch.  Nobody tried to stop them.  Screaming also came from the house next to Juan’s house.

Anger and cruelty is normal for Juan’s neighborhood.  His world is filled violence, anger and shouting.  Sadly, I suspect Juan will face a life of little hope, pain and limited choices.  Meanwhile our kids will face a life of hope, happiness and opportunity.  That just doesn’t seem right.

In my mind, the two worlds collided. 

Our kids and the neighborhood kids are so much the same, yet worlds apart.  Juan’s world saddened me.

Does God love our kids more?  No.  Juan has equal value in God’s eyes.  Juan and his neighbors need Jesus.  And that is why Flower City Work Camp is so important.  The students of Worksite #16 were one of 54 candles lighting the darkness in Rochester this week. 

Our kids not only shone the light of Jesus for the home owner, but into the houses all around.  Juan wasn’t the only kid to visit us. 

Another teen name Tim lived next door.  He is nearly blind and loves to play music.  For two days he was nearby, listening and talking with us.  As we drove away for the last time, one of the kids said with sadness, that they would likely never see Tim again.  On one level, that may be true, but the memories they left on each other will last forever.  Tim accepted Jesus as his Savior.  Almost all of our kids surrounded Tim and prayed with him.

What did I do during the devotion?  The only thing I could.  I prayed for Juan and his family.

Another of the students made a comment on our last ride back to Browncroft Community Church.  He said, “It was hard to believe there was a world so different from theirs was just a few miles away.”  These students were touched and changed by the experience just as they touched and changed those people on St. Jacobs Street.


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