You can tell someone about the Tenderloin but until you've experienced it for yourself it's hard to realize. The smell of urine and feces on the sidewalk can be horrid. The sights of men and women sleeping on the sidewalk can be hard to handle. Watching people use drugs, at 10 am, is quite the experience. But there are also some great people. Many smiles. Lots of dogs. And wonderful people serving the area in Jesus name. People who are there to intervene in Jesus name.
We parked the car and began heading to the conference. No more than two blocks into the walk (we only parked three blocks away) I witnessed my first drug deal. It was two young men looking to score a bag. The first man they approached didn't have what they were looking for. As I heard them ask to score, I wish I would have stopped them and told them where this lifestyle would lead them.
Just a few short steps away we made it to the conference. I was able to hear John Ortberg speak and he is amazing; it was very inspiring! Worship was next and followed by an interview. Afterwards we went to our service site. It was a quick introduction and then right off to serving. Our girls went out to find a place to serve while I got Isaiah situated (Charity was already working registration). Sophie and Leah found the Tattoo table and were working alongside a young lady name Kiley (I think) who was so amazing to them.
Now these girls didn't just sit there and beg to partake in the carnival. These girls served other kids their age. They prepped the tattoos. They helped to put the tattoos on. They picked up the trash when it fell on the ground. They asked kids their names and gave out hundreds of tattoos. They sat in the hot sun and served their Savior by loving on other kids. It was so precious to see. At one point, as I thought about serving with my family, I almost shed a tear because it was so precious.
The time to serve came to an end and we decided to head home early so we could prep for my speaking engagement next week. As we talked about the time serving it was great to hear the girls thoughts. It was fantastic to see my wife so fully of joy. Charity said, "We should do this every weekend!"
When we got in the car looked at me and said, "Daddy, next year can we come here again and do the same thing?" She got it! My kid got it! It reminded me of the words of Christ:
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45When you think about your life, is there room to serve? Many people are serving already but maybe you could find a time to serve with your family and find the joy our family did.