Archive for February, 2010

Going to School on the Streets

Posted in Uncategorized on February 10, 2010 by Stephen Tickner

This past Saturday I joined up with the Bowery Mission and a couple of hundred people to participate in their “Don’t Walk By” program. We spent four hours on a cold weekend night scouring the streets and bus terminals of upper Manhattan looking for people who were homeless and in need of help.

Unfortunately, our transportation van was filled with a variety of people needing help. They ranged from the mentally handicapped to South American immigrants to people with master’s degrees who had suffered a bad stroke of luck. It’s amazing how the face of poverty changes when you actually look at it in it’s face.

What I want to write about, however, is what happened the following Sunday. After church I went to eat a nearby fast food restaurant. As I was engrossed in conversation while eating my meal I was interrupted by a strange woman. She obviously had mental problems as she could barely talk and snot ran down her nose. She was asking for money so she could get something to eat.

In that moment, I just wanted her to get away! So, to speed up the process, I gave her some money and some of my food. Remembering the night before I also gave her a card for where she could get help. That’s not what she wanted. She threw the card down on my table and left to go panhandle some more.

What strikes me about this interaction upon reflection is how I treated her. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I should help her but I also wanted her to leave me alone. I didn’t treat her as a person, I never even asked her for her name. I learned that there is a difference in myself when I’m backed up by an organization and when I’m on my own.

Homelessness and the homeless are big issues that we need to address but I realize one person can’t change the world. What saddens me though is how I responded to this lady. For that brief instant, I could have treated her as a child of God. I bet she goes throughout life being looked over, spit upon, or dismissed. For once, I could have been a light to this woman. Opportunity missed!

What I take from this experience, though, is the lesson it taught me. Next time someone comes up to me that is in need, I know what to do. Treat them as human being and try to help them as much as I am able.

I enjoyed my experience working with the Bowery Mission and I hope to do more. The people I helped ended up teaching me a lesson. But I wish I didn’t have to learn it!

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“From the Cross to the Lynching Tree”

Posted in Uncategorized on February 9, 2010 by Stephen Tickner

Check out this interview with Dr. James Cone. Really digest what he is saying, it’s worth meditating on some of his points.