Kimberly Fleek spoke to our Perspectives class, and told us about a gutter in Bangladesh. She told us how she had been seeing that same gutter everywhere she went (over 27 different countries) ever since she'd been traveling (since 1997). She described how she just kept wondering, "God, why haven't you done anything about this? Why is global poverty increasing? Why is the world so dark?" She told how simple the question returned to her was, "Kimberly, what are you doing about the gutter?"
When the sun goes down you cannot fault your house for being dark. When it's nighttime, everything is dark and we don't find this strange. Instead you ask, why has no one turned on the lights? We live in a world pervaded with darkness. We cannot be surprised when evil seems ubiquitous. Is the brokenness not to be expected? Oh, but He is making all things new. And oh, He wants to use us as His hands and feet. And so, instead we must turn the lights on.
But how do we turn those lights on? Sometimes Jesus drives me crazy. I read stories about His life and I totally jive with the disciples, who always ask Jesus the same exact questions I'm thinking. They need a to-do list, they need it spelled out for them, and I need that, too.
So when it comes to serving God and building bridges of love and crushing evil under my feet, you'd think I'd take that literally, too.
Not so much.
I was driving home from a friend's house last week when we passed the women's prison in Cranston. And I drive past it relatively frequently, but somehow I saw it differently in the twilight and was struck with a curiosity about prison ministry. Actually, not even that, I really just thought to myself, "I was in prison, and you came to me." And then I thought, "Huh, maybe I should go there."
But hold that thought for a minute.
My classmates were discussing immigrants today, and one girl remarked, "Whenever my mom drives past Hispanics hanging out in front of the Seven-Eleven looking for day jobs, she says to me, 'Bonus points.' Which I know is racist, but it's okay, because they're illegal." Judgenotjudgenotjudgenotjudgenot, I tried to breathe to myself, as I exchanged glances with my friend, who started talking about a TED blog he read about illegals. "It's hard," he said, "Because technically undocumented immigrants are indeed illegal, but they also have no path to become legal if they wanted to." And I breathed a sigh of relief to myself, that he said what I wanted to say.
I want to be an immigration lawyer 1) because I love liberty, and I love justice, and I think it's unconscionable that the immigration system we currently have is the seat of so much controversy and disrepair, but also 2) because I love Jesus, and He has called His followers to love the alien in our land. I am convinced immovably that I need to take a part in caring for immigrants, and that my career can be the same thing as my ministry.
But this way of thinking, though it's confirmed a lot for me about the trajectory of my life, has created some cognitive dissonance. If I feel that way, what am I doing to love the immigrant population around me right now, sans law degree? And furthermore, I'm not just supposed to care for the foreigner, but also the widows and the orphans and the hungry and the sick and the oppressed and . . . the prisoners.
On the one hand, that's a lot of caring for just one person to do. Especially one person who has trouble even giving her friends a phone call to catch up. On the other hand, the caring is not the end unto itself. Focusing on the need is the fastest way to burn-out. Instead, caring for these demographics is a way for bringing Him more glory. And I love Him! And because of that, I want to love others in His name!
The darkness of this world makes my heart hurt. It is overwhelming and almost immobilizing. It is not always easy to see how God is actively at work redeeming this world. But what if instead of asking a heart-heavy "why" I pursued a love-driven mission to share light in this dark world? It's surprisingly basic, an incredibly literal understand of what Jesus said and did, it seems too easy. All the people. Love them. Turn on the lights.
So when school finally ends in two weeks, I'll have a few extra hours to spare. (When I'm not working, studying for the LSAT, catching up on Perspectives homework, and attending to the laundry list of things I ought to give some attention to . . . I guess overcommitment is another post for another time.) If you know a good prison ministry in Rhode Island that I could get involved in for a month or two, let me know?