A man who is involved in The Lighthouse homeless ministry showed up drunk on the doorstep yesterday morning. He was devastated and frustrated. And so were we. This man has been in and out of rehab. Recently, he has seemed to have a lot of success, but he’s spent the last five days on the street.
Our hearts break for him because of his struggle. He struggles with the pain from his past, and he struggles to overcome the addictions in his life. He made a committment to follow Christ just over a year ago, but it’s been a long process with him…many ups and downs.
We’ve been there with him through the process. Something that I have learned since moving to San Salvador is that here in the city there are no such things as “magic programs” that work to change lives. It doesn’t happen that way, not at all. It’s a never-ending and sometimes painful process to walk through life with people.
But we want to see them find Shalom in thier lives. Shalom is mentioned in the Bible and it is the idea of a peace that brings every aspect of life into harmony, and where every person and every community can grow experiencing this peace and harmony. Shalom seems far from many cities around the world. It seems far from San Salvador on many days. The newspapers tell us murder rates are up again, and gangs are growing. People struggle with hunger, and fear, and find themselves tied to addictions which destroy their lives. Shalom seems like a distant dream.
But God calls us to work to make that dream a reality. He wants to reconcile people to Himself. He wants to restore them. That’s what He does. The systems, communities, and people in the city are broken down. They are crying out for restoration. We need to answer that call. We need to have the heart that God has for the city, and reach out to those who are broken.
In his book, Generous Justice, Tim Keller explains our task so well. He writes:
“In general, to “do justice” means to live in a way that generates a strong community where human beings can flourish. Specifically, however, to “do justice” means to go to places where the fabric of shalom has broken down, where the weaker members of societies are falling through the fabric, and to repair it. This happens when we concentrate on and meet the needs of the poor.
How can we do that? The only way to reweave and strengthen the fabric is by weaving yourself into it.”
So our work becomes walking through life with people. Our task becomes to bring hope, and peace, and restoration into those who feel like they can never experience that. That is what Christ came to do, to make Shalom a possibility. That is what He calls us to do…to weave ourselves into the lives of others with our words, with our resources, and with our actions. I want to do better at this, I want to be one who brings Shalom into this city.