From Davison MI, currently living in Flint.
Jan. 23, 2013
“So many people talk about doing something, getting out there and being a part of the change. I got sick of the talk and decided to walk the walk.”
I am a closet introvert. I have been for a while now. I like my time, my space and my distance. It refreshes me. This mindset is contrary to my calling. For some reason, I am not sure why yet, but God has always been calling me to reach out to those who are on the outskirts of society.
From the year I spent in New Zealand to the street ministry here in Flint, there has been a pulling on my heart for the least of these.
That’s why I was not surprised when God spoke clearly and told Sarah and me to do something new. I wasn’t surprised but I wasn’t overly excited. It goes against my introverted nature.
For over 3 years now I have surrounded myself with people who live on the streets. Some know my name, some call me “the cookout dude” or my personal favorite “that Jesus guy.” It has been a journey for my heart and I’ve learned to allow my heart to break for those who have little, those who need very little.
The Flint Stories Project was, in the beginning, supposed to look a lot different than it does now. It was supposed to be official with funders and supporters. Sarah and I met with people who loved the idea and wanted to back it all the way. Most of who still do.
But as life moves on, plans change, ideas change and The Flint Stories Project has taken on a completely different meaning and purpose.
So many people talk about doing something, getting out there and being a part of the change. I got sick of the talk and decided to walk the walk. Our first time out to find a story, it was raining. We walked up and down the streets looking for someone, anyone to talk to. What we got was more than we expected.
The more stories we have heard the more I am convinced that if you want to start changing things you need to start by listening. Otherwise, how can you effectively change a bad situation to good if you do not know how it affects people? Listening to these stories, recording them, writing them down, making them real, and posting them, it is all part of this grand heart change for me. Seeing people for more than the dirt on their face or the drugs in their veins. Seeing them the way Jesus does.
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I came to Sarah with this idea. Sarah, who has refined it, perfected it and has made it much better than I could have done on my own, has partnered with me to give a voice to those who cannot speak or who will not be listened to.
We are not reinventing the wheel and this isn’t anything new. We all have a desire to be heard and we all have a call to listen. Listening to someone’s story, there is healing in that. There is restoration. There is a heart connection that lasts.
My hope is not that you read a story on here and think about how nice it was or how tragic it is or how things could have been different for that person had they made better choices. We are all one bad choice away from being exactly where they are but by the grace of God he has us where we are. My hope is that these stories stir up inside you a desire, a passion for those who are hurting and that you do something about it. Yes, you can share these stories along to your friends and family but, do not stop there. Be an advocate for those whose voices are not loud enough to reach other people’s ears.
As we experience relationship and connection with vulnerable people, we can add our voice to theirs and work with them as agents of change. And as we make changes to policies, practices and perceptions, we can build a foundation for social change, moving forward towards a community in Flint without homelessness.
And it all starts with listening.
Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of the down-and-outers. Speak out for justice! Stand up for the poor and destitute!
This is the fifth story in a series we are calling Flint Stories Project. Please continue to check back for more stories. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every one has a story. We are listening.