The loveliness of Paris seems somehow sadly gay
The glory that was Rome is of another day
I've been terribly alone and forgotten in Manhattan
I'm going home to my city by the Bay
I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill, it calls to me
To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars
The morning fog may chill the air, I don't care
My love waits there in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you, San Francisco
Your golden sun will shine for me - Tony Bennett
It's been a few days since I and 13 others from Willowbrook traveled 12 hours on the road to and from San Francisco, the first missions trip in the history of this small church. Needless to say, I was very excited. As I have watched our tiny church grow spiritually over the last 2 years, this trip was a long time coming. When I learned we started planning this trip over a year ago, I couldn't help but notice how young our church was spiritually. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of growing to do myself. Only a small handful of the church have done a kind of missional work, while the rest have mainly stayed around the Portland metro area.
When I spearheaded Harvest Share with a fellow FM church in the St. John's district in Portland, I thought those in our church would be rearing to go. Food pantry stuff is our specialty, so I thought the transition would be easy. It wasn't as much as I thought, but it helped us make connections with fellow Free Methodists around the area.
Then Night Strike. Night Strike was a slow warmup for many in our church. However, as time progressed, and as God's Spirit started tugging on people's hearts, more came, more saw, and more experienced what it's like to reach out to find the lost, just as Christ tells us in many of His parables. Night Strike is a God-send. I believe Night Strike was a tremendous stepping stone for many of our members; preparing their hearts and minds for what God has called them to do.
Then San Francisco. The Golden Gate City. It was like a gentle smack in the face. When we pulled up to the YWAM on Ellis, right in the middle of the infamous Tenderloin district, the faces were instantly etched on our souls. Homelessness, drug peddling and abuse, alcoholism to name a few were there in the open. All we had to do was open the door, walk outside, and there it was. What intrigued me most about this area was the concentration. There's the Tent City folks here in Portland, but nothing of this magnitude.
The police allow all of this corruption and sin run rampant in this area of town. It's ALLOWED! We heard so many stories of how the police would pick up people who "belonged" to the Tenderloin from around other areas and drop them off in this district like they were yesterday's garbage, and the district is the dumpster.
When we talked and interacted with the rejected and down-trodden, the stories they shared were truly amazing. They've experienced more life than the brokers I saw on Market street chatting each other up about their summer homes. They don't even know how their underbelly is rotting, yet they have the gall to talk and pass the homeless as if they were invisible!
Many people of different backgrounds came to the Tenderloin to serve those who were down. The more who came, the more hope I saw on those weary faces. Just like how I see parents in Sherwood abandon their kids, I see a city, a country, abandon the homeless, the drug abusers, the alcoholics, and cast them aside. HOW?!?!
I ask you that.....