But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
I haven’t often had trouble with loving others. By God’s grace I just tend to love people. When my apartment was broken into I wasn’t angry. I was able to think of the people who broke in as people, broken people. Why would I be angry, I’m here to serve the broken aren’t I? It saddens me when people make wrong choices, but it doesn’t change the fact that my God loves them like crazy. I want to love with His love.
So I guess this is why God has been working so hard to break up the bitterness I’ve been feeling towards another downtown community.
It started in my apartment sitting around with the Jane and Finch interns and one of the Victory street leaders, Prophet. Prophet was pointing out all of the little ‘hoods’ that surround us. He said that Jane and Finch isn’t really the most dangerous place in Toronto. There are just so many little ‘hoods that are all labelled “Jane and Finch” that it just looks like everything is going on here. He then told us which neighbourhood he thinks to be the worst. I’d never heard of it so I wrote the name down in my notebook planning to look it up later.
The next day David, an intern who works with the Youth program, told me about a shooting that had taken place in our community.
When I was home for Thanksgiving I made Ronnie open his letter from Urban Promise so I could see it, our executive director explained what happened in that letter as told by one of our youth: “She explained how young men from another community came into the community and smeared mud on the mural of a young man they had murdered a couple years prior. These youths then proceeded to ‘shoot up’ the community and a young man from the block was now in the hospital as a result of the shooting, fighting for his life.”
Well when David told me the name of the rival community it gave me chills. I’ll give you a hint: its name was written in my notebook.
He told me that that was the reason that the kids hadn’t been hanging around outside as they usually would be. They were scared, or at least their parents were. I thought of how empty the community had been, and how much I’d missed the sounds of children at play. It gave me an awful feeling.
A few days later I got a call from the intern director giving instructions about the activity we would be doing that night. We’d be walking around downtown with a group from the Salvation Army, learning about the things that go on in the streets of Toronto.
He told me which community it was by. My mind went back to that notebook and I told him, “I don’t like that name much right now.” He gave me a lecture starting with “Now Rumour,” and then going on to tell me that it wasn’t fair to dislike these people just because they’d wronged us, it wasn’t a one sided fight.
The next night I found myself with a group that loved this community just as much as I love mine. Together we walked along stopping and praying for this community. I didn’t feel great about it, there was a mixture of feelings inside of me. I understood that these people were broken just like those I serve, but my heart was still heavy with the idea of my kids being afraid in their homes. I thanked God for bringing me to a place where I could pray for these people. Throughout the night I saw a lot of sad things and prayed for a lot of broken people. I realized that I need to pray for my big brother more. I learned a lot. My heart broke a little.
Ever since God’s been causing this community to show up everywhere I look, from when I’m at an art exhibit with friends to when I make Ronnie open his Urban Promise letter for me. I guess it’s not enough to pray for my community, this whole city needs healing.
So pray for healing in Toronto. Pray for healing in my community. Pray for healing inside of me.
What an awesome God we have.
“I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn’t like the peace that this world can give. So don’t be worried or afraid.”
– John 14:27