Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Gathering

So, for about a month now we've been experimenting with a nameless church group, for the moment we will call, The Gathering. The goal of the gathering is to promote a Christian support group amongst the homeless and formerly homeless people of Raleigh. This is a picture from our first ever meeting, just a few weeks ago. I am very excited to be a part of this movement and I am excited to see where goes. When people ask me, "what is the gathering?" I usually get frustrated at my inability to share Hugh's vision with just about anybody. But here's a story that I think explains what it is we are trying to accomplish.

Week 2 of the gathering.

My friend Stephanie showed up 5 minutes late, and found herself locked out of the building. As she is about to bang on the door, she sees Ronnie coming down the sidewalk. They greet each other, and when the question of, "how's it going?" comes up, Ronnie explains that he is extremely frustrated. Ronnie spens the next 45 minutes talking out of control about losing jobs and people not supporting him and his large distaste for how he was treated at church earlier that morning. Stephanie, was at loss for how to respond to all of this, but is somewhat successful at calming Ronnie down at least somewhat before they decide to join the rest of the group.

At this point, Stephanie and Ronnie had missed almost all of the discussion, but there was a moment at the end where it was asked if there were any concerns we should know about that we could be praying for. Ronnie immediately jumped in with his story from church that morning, having to do with the loss of his job and his need for money and work. Before Ronnie could get anywhere in his story, another homeless guy named Everit jumped in and said something along the lines of, "Man Ronnie, at some point you just have to look at your situation and say, 'is it everybody around me, or is it something that I'm doing?' Listen, you've lost 4 jobs in the last 2 months. I used to go through the same cycle all the time, and I finally thought to myself, 'is it the world that's messin up my life, or is it something that I'm doing that's causing this?' Nothings going to change unless you start taking some responsibility for yourself"

A few of the other guys off the street chimed in and talked about the situation for a little bit. Stephanie realized that she was in no position to give Ronnie the advice that Everit had given him, but it was exactly what Ronnie needed. I think this story embodies the whole purpose of our little group. I'm looking forward to hearing more discussions like this in the future and to building a strong community in downtown Raleigh.

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