Friday, October 30, 2009
We still have one meeting left, which will happen today with Jim Beverly, a well-known authority on world religions. We've met with all the others earlier in the week, and everything was great. Two of the organizations we met with were focused on poverty and caring for the economically poor. Another was focused on art and artists, asking: how can art play a bigger role in our Christian faith and vice-versa? The last one we met with was focused on homosexuals, asking: amidst the wide spectrum of Christian opinions on homosexuality, how can we offer those dealing with it a safe-haven for discussion, counseling, and understanding? Of course, this has offered all of us, individually and collectively, an abundance of fodder for thought and discussion. For me, it's been nice to meet with these organizations a second time because I'm not swept off my feet with each new place we visit. Last year, these people were so insightful, compassionate, and dedicated to their causes, after each meeting I was convinced their respective cause and perspectives on that cause were the only things that mattered. This year, having become "a bit less vague to myself", I'm more certain of my personal goals. Nonetheless, this year's visit to Toronto has still had a significant impact on a few beliefs of mine; specifically, what Geoff Ryan at 614 Salvation Army shared about our undeniable call as Christians to identify with the poor. Geoff, his wife, and their 3 or 4 kids live in Regent Park, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Canada because of the poverty and gangs that are present there. He has chosen to live in this neighborhood because he believes there's no other way to have a significant impact on it. So, his kids go to school there at a sub-par inner city school, and when there's a shooting or a fire in the middle of the night and everybody is outside, he and his family are outside, too--immersed in all the action of the neighborhood, living side-by-side with these people. Of course, the difference is that he and his wife have chosen to live there, the others have never had a choice. He explains that Christ had all the choices in the world, he was God!, but he chose to humble himself and become one of us, and absorb the sins of the "neighborhood". This is how Geoff theologically explains his calling to the inner city, and it's a passionate one. Just one example here of some of the amazing things we've come across this week. We pray that amidst all the info-influx, we are able to personally take steps towards making these ideas and concepts concrete realities in our own lives. Thanks for reading.
Posted by Denny Flanagan at 7:36 AM