I used to have wild dreams of living in the inner city; I once had a friend who would ask girls on their first date if they would be willing to raise a family in L.A, and even be willing to sleep on the floor…My heart leaps with the possibility of having such a life. To live on skid row, to live every day where violence and danger is a true reality; to be Jesus’ hands and feet and lean desperately into the Lord for protection. ‘Anywhere but here,’ was my constant prayer. West Hollywood? Sign me up. Somalia? You got it. India for two years? You don’t have to ask me twice.
And the tangible darkness of those areas brings excitement and a sense of “seeing” God’s hand at work. Yes, the Holy Spirit lives in me and moves in me and around me always, but when I am in desperate circumstances in another country or city, I can see His hand so much clearer.
Last night while I was giving my sweet Floyd a bath, admiring his little pot belly and creative play, I was struck with the danger of this mission. We have the luxury of a clean, safe house, I am still in Huntington Beach, the town I was born and [essentially] raised in, surrounded by church family, real family, and the friends that have become family since elementary school. We are clean, and have enough to get new clothes and hair cuts when necessary. Money isn’t falling from the sky, but we don’t fear where the next meal will come from or how clean the water is. So what is the danger, you may ask? In taking on this call, I invited myself into the spiritual trenches, where I am called to battle day and night and morning and midnight for these boys against the principalities of this world.
I first learned of this weight of a call at the IJM Global Prayer Gathering last March. My sweet friend Sarah and I would lay down in our hotel room, exhausted from prayer. We would hear story after story of God’s faithfulness, and equally as many stories displaying the continued darkness in these countries, and then would pray for hours at a time. Then we would go back to our hotel room and collapse. For two short days, we were given the opportunity to lift the weight that these faithful advocates carry day in and day out. And I realized in the midst of my exhaustion how carrying that weight for them is just as important as sharing the country’s dust on my shoes.
So I sat with Floyd, admiring his little pot belly, relishing in this innocence, listening to the silence of Clark reading, and thinking of the things that must plague each of their minds, the memories all three of the boys must have that haunt them when they least expect it, and I pray. And, even if it is for just one short year, I want to carry that burden for them, away from them, and place it on my own shoulders, and pray.
This is the present darkness that God has invited me into. It’s a spiritual awakening that God is near, and evil is real, and we are called to advocate and fight for the orphan through prayer and intercession just as much as we are called to feed them. We must carry this weight for them, because this present darkness is much too much for them to bear.
And so this is not the danger I anticipated my future to hold. My body isn’t in physical harm’s way. I don’t foresee myself ever having to choose between proclaiming the Gospel and keeping my life, or taking malaria pills, or stopping gang fights in my front yard, as I used to wish for. This present darkness is actually a scarier reality for me. It is entering into the trenches for these boys, standing between them and the evil that is so pressing upon them, and praying.