I am a part of a non-profit community committed to the long work of transformation and empowerment among families transitioning out of homelessness. It is widely known that our roots are firmly planted in the soil of Christian spirituality. That distinction can sometimes bring up as many questions as it does answers in the non-profit world. One such question that I have personally heard a few times is, “You are doing great work here, but where is the Gospel?”
There is no doubt that this question is loaded with all kinds of assumptions and possibilities for disagreement, but when answering that question I usually just find myself telling stories. One of those stories is about David.
David was one of the first teenagers Nicole and I met after we moved into Joshua Station. He had a few clear goals which we became aware of soon after meeting him. He would get good grades, go to college, get a good job, and never look back.
David is well on his way to accomplishing the goal of graduating college and is nearly certain to find a good job afterward. But as it turns out, he decided to look back. He surprised me one Tuesday night by coming to volunteer at Kids Club. He had a blast playing games with the kids and really seemed to be grateful for the chance to do so.
On our way to the light rail, I asked him why he came to hang out with us. His answer captured my attention. He said, “I know what it’s like to feel like you are all alone as a ‘homeless kid’ and I felt like I wanted to make sure these kids knew that they weren’t.”
The core of the Gospel is found in Jesus. Jesus, according to Christian theology, is God incarnated among us—God taking on human flesh. Jesus—God incarnated—constantly found Himself in places marked with hardship and among people who felt like they didn’t belong for a variety of reasons. Over and over again Jesus had the opportunity to move on to bigger and better things and never look back. But over and over again He looked back and even went back to offer companionship and love to those who might otherwise feel like they are all alone.
This tendency of Jesus captures an essential truth of the Gospel and so does David. The Gospel is being lived out before my very eyes when kids who could simply walk away and never look back give of themselves out of compassion and love for those who are where they once were. In David is but one example of where I see the Gospel at Joshua Station.
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