So now that I had an “accountability partner” in Christ Jesus before Chicago, establishments of an interactive Bible study, exchanging scriptural text messages, Christian books, and so on kept me in line with Him. Honestly, if I didn’t have this established Christ-centered friendship or FFe in the back of my mind, I would have strayed, I would have fallen into the same traps as I did a few years ago. Accountability is crucial in your walk of Faith. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Similarly, James 5:16 states, “therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Traveling, working, experiencing new environments ALONE isn’t how He designed us to navigate His beautiful Earth.
Reflecting upon my job, my boss and I were in charge of the summer junior programs, which included working with kids from age 6 to 18 years old, in sports such as: softball, track & field, and basketball. Even though that was our main focus, we were still highly involved with our adult programs, ranging from basketball, softball, and cycling to archery, powerlifting, and sled hockey, to name a few. What became quickly obvious was the importance placed on our commitment and involvement with the kids. Remember, this is Chicago. Crime and poverty runs rampant. I sadly saw this first hand. These kids are basically not cared for. We’re the only thing in their live that’s consistent and helpful. We’re the only light in the extensive darkness they endure each day.
With one of our kids, we can no longer give him free stuff and merchandise because his family takes it and uses it themselves. In other cases, kids are simply on their own, parents aren’t involved, parents are either drunk or high most of the time; basically, no parental involvement whatsoever. This should be a significant statement and should elicit some emotional response. Rethink all of this; inner city kids, in wheelchairs, in mainly non-supportive families, in poverty, no transportation, violent neighborhoods, etc, etc; basically the most difficult situation to be in. And I’m not exaggerating with these living situations. Another story, one of our boys lives with his grandparents. When his grandparents were out of country for a week and a half, he simply didn’t shower, he didn’t take care of himself, no deodorant, nothing. As much as these kids barely having anything, they’re still heavily reliant on caregivers. Part of our job is to remove them from dependency because as one gets older, especially if you’re in a chair, the more you must rely on yourself to arrange transportation, schooling, and independent travel. As these kids are getting spoon-fed and consistently reminded go to the restroom, our job was increasingly difficult and stressful because of the counterproductive difficult domestic circumstances.
Every week, we had softball practice in the West neighborhood of Chicago, near Wrigleyville. For every practice, every week, we have to arrange transportation through a third party company, to pick the kids up for practice. Because the kids are in chairs, specialty buses, equipped with wheelchair lifts must be used. In that, time is projected to about two hours before and after practice, dedicated for pick up and drop off for our kids. For my part, we have the responsibility to contact not only the bus company for scheduled pickup times for each kid, but also to contact each kid to notify them of their individual pickup times. If this sounds confusing and frustrating, it was! Remember, these kids, these families live in nearly inhospitable and government subsidized apartments, with economic resources very limited, so it wasn’t uncommon for telephone numbers to be disconnected, changed, or impossible to reach. So for contacting 90% of our kids, we had no idea who or what would be at the end of the telephone line. This was one of the many enduring weekly frustrations we had to deal with, not including weekend trips, tournaments, and outings. Willingness to endure, the definition of patience was one of the many lessons I learned throughout the summer.
As the midway point of the summer approached seemingly instantaneous, I found myself letting go of my living circumstance. Strictly speaking, letting God supervene, letting Him set the scene for where I’ll be living for the second half of the summer. Remembering back to how worried, how concerned I was at the beginning of the summer, where I’d live, how much money I’d need to spend. All these superficial needs, all these trivial concerns were completely absent at the midpoint in the summer because I knew all things, issues, emotional feelings were irrelevant and unimportant because God doesn’t want us to have a heart of concerns for ourselves, He doesn’t want us to worry about tomorrow. “Therefore do no worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough to of its own.”-Matthew 6:34. So I gave it to Him. I gave all my worries, all my concerns associated with where I’ll be living to Him.
Literally a few days before my friend and his girlfriend was moving out of their place; meaning, I had to be gone by then too, a co-intern at RIC offered me to stay with his family near Midway airport. Whoa! Just mentioning it to him once, back early in the summer, I wasn’t expecting the offer. As much as the offer was enticing, I examined the commute comparison of Lake View to where I could be potentially living near Midway. In Lake View, I literally had a two-minute walk to the bus stop, then a 15-minute bus ride downtown and that’s it. Midway, I had to find someone to drive me 10 minutes to Midway airport, take the Orange Line (CTA subway) for 25 minutes, hop on another subway (Red Line) for another 20 minutes, and then walk 10 minutes to work; an hour long commute, on good days. Hum. This situation may be much different. It doesn’t matter. I have no other choice. Plus, there’s a reason why God has opened this door, so I accepted. I literally moved in the day after Danny, the offering intern, said I could stay with him for the rest of the summer.
After arriving at his house, I was quickly met by his mom and brother, offering to carry all my stuff into their house. Being stubborn, I denied multiple times, saying I could do it all, but immediately realizing their Chicagoan temperament, it’s difficult to tell them no. Expecting the “not so greatest living arrangement” or random corner bedroom, I was bewildered, they were basically giving me their entire basement; with a bathroom, television, comfortable couches, chairs; above and beyond my expectations of hospitality. “But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”-Philippians 4:19. “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”-Matthew 6:31-33. How true is this right now? What you just heard, can we not say He provided for me? How amazing His Almighty, for providing answers, for providing a loving, respectful, accommodating family, beyond my finite expectations and restricted possibilities of where I’d end up.
Overtime Intermission: Let’s do a quick reflection again. Going into the city of Chicago, I had no idea where I’d end up and putting trust in God, He provided me a comfortable, “home away from home,” beyond my expectations of what was in store. And we are not done! You still there? Hanging on, right?! I hope you are enjoying my story because for the second half of the summer, God begins to position circumstances and people in my path for “Jesus Christ divergent opportunities.” In other words, people and conversations began to spawn out of nowhere, designating these seemingly inconspicuous humanized construction signs that illuminated, “talk to them about me.” Expressly, I began to see, I began to recognize opportunistic times to share the Gospel, share His name with people, which I’ve never experienced or seen before now, especially as consistently as they appeared. Opps, forgot it was break time. This time, go get some food or a healthy snack, like almonds, carrots, or celery to tide you over, plus some water; drink plenty of water throughout the day, 64 ounces or more!
Thanks for reading, we will see you tomorrow, have a wonderfully blessed day!