Denver: No one wants to go, but in order to move forward, uptown or downtown you must go through it. What is your Samaria? Pastor Bruce Duell spoke to the youth and leaders last June and said “that every city has an inner city” that has people who no one wants to reach out to; or associate with. Samaritans, Jacobs Well, The woman at the well, East Colfax in Denver; 8th Avenue in Manhattan. Evangelism happens when people who are called to inner-city missions reach out to the homeless; the addicted; the depressed and the least of these in our cities. The least of these get lifted up when they are invited in to the story; and that starts for this group on Emerson in front of Morey Middle School in Capitol Hill. The students ages 11-13 who pass the way of these mean streets, ride their bikes through the adult book stores,the gay bars, Planned Parenthood, the liquor stores, and all in a school zone. Evangelism isn’t pretty. What would happen if Jesus was standing at the corner of Colfax and Washington Street and asked the woman at the water fountain for a cup of water? What if Jesus walked into Charlies, the gay bar, and asked for a cup of ice on this hot day, with no shade trees? “Sir, if you knew who I am, a gay man; a woman who is thinking about an abortion at Planned Parenthood; an old addict heading down for a bottle, begging for money with a cardboard sign, or a student making her way past it all, you wouldn’t ask me for anything!”
Hope in the city
The sun is high and beats down on the group, who stops at every station of the cross. Watching, praying, singing and talking to people. Writing in their journals and reading a verse from their bibles. “If you drank from this well you would never thirst again.” The addict hears and laughs. The woman doesn’t want to talk about her dry spell that lead her to the clinic, the bartender at the gay bar shakes his head, and wants to say something but he bites his tongue. But Jesus knows everything, the five husbands and now living with the man. He tells of the abuse and the torture the gay man has gone through and he opens the book of the child who has been exposed to this dark world. And the group prays for them all. They sing songs that ring down Colfax, and the drunk addict is tapping his foot and raising his hand. “I heard the gospel and I followed but I’ve done too much to taste anything good.”
Life Giving Water
Denver and New York are similar in some ways. The night on Eighth Avenue between 42nd and 52nd takes on a different aura. The crime tape; the broken bottles and remnants of blood; stain the asphalt and the sidewalks of Colfax and Pearl. The scene is partially illuminated of the overnight terror that plagues every Samaria. And yet when we awaken and hear that “Everyone needs compassion, the kindness of a savior – the hope of nations, ” the Samaritan is the one who tells everyone and lives in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island and Hell’s Kitchen are changed for good.