God lives in us, and we live in in community.
Most of the people we see have been abandoned by so many people throughout their lives. One way to show God to these people to foster community. Every week, we sit around a table and let God speak through relationship. And he has spoken powerfully.
Our Monday Bible Study started off as an awkward attempt to talk about the Bible, but it has grown into so much more. We start our time off with a “powwow,” where we ask anyone who’s willing to share about one struggle they are dealing with and one reason to praise God that day. This alone has been life changing.
For instance, nine people sat around our table last week, and as we went around the table to share, everyone had tears in their eyes. A lady shared that she rushed over to make it on time because she could not miss the opportunity to share what was on her mind this week, simply because she had nowhere else to share it; this community had become one of the few safe places where she could talk through the struggles in her life. As we wrapped up our tearful sharing, a lady—who we will call Grace—pulled up a chair at the table. Grace has been talking to us for a while now about feeling the call to be baptized. She asked if she could share something, and we nodded. She went on to say that she had just come from the doctor, where she had been diagnosed with cancer. Tears rolled down her face. We were the first people she had told. We huddled around her, put our arms around her, and prayed together as a community—as a family. And I knew that God had his arms around her. She went on to say that it will be okay because she has Jesus.
This table fellowship creates a space of empowerment for our brothers and sisters on the street. Their world is lonely. Isolated. Most people won’t even give them a second look. The power of our time together comes through breaking this marginalization by giving people a voice. A voice to share what’s on their mind, a voice to actually give their take on the scripture we’re talking about, a voice to share what’s weighing them down, and a voice to share how thankful they are for the people around them.
In my few months at River City Ministry, I have seen the image of God reclaimed in people who thought they would always be broken. I have seen God reshape Grace’s life—full of violence, substance abuse, and poverty—into one of repentance, healing, and faith. She and so many more have experienced this reclamation through the healing power of people. Relationship. Community.