A ministry of loitering
From a blog by Fresh Expressions USA
Dustin Mailman is a Ministry Intern at King Street Church, North Carolina. He likes to spend time at the bus stop by the superstore. He finds that it’s a place where he can listen to people and connect with the community. One day a week he sits with those moving from one place to another, sometimes in silence, other times in deep conversations.
He met a woman named Patricia at the local homeless shelter once and all he had heard about her were negative comments. “I’ve never seen her not drunk”, “She’s cussed me out about a million times”, “I heard she just got arrested again, she deserved it.” Everything about her seemed to frustrate those who live around her.
Later, he saw Patricia lying across the entire bus stop bench groaning in pain and frustration. Knowing what others had said about her, he was a bit hesitant and almost left without speaking to her. Against his better judgement, he decided to introduce himself and learned that she had been kicked out of her home. She was using the bus stop bench as a place to sleep. He sat down with her, listened to her, prayed with her, and gave her some of the sandwich that he bought earlier. He took time to be with her that day, and when he left he thought they'd would probably never have an interaction like that again.
A few days later, he saw her while he was eating lunch at the shelter. He wasn’t sure if she remembered him, so he didn’t say anything to her initially. The next thing he knew he was getting a big hug from behind from Patricia, and she kept talking about how much it meant to her to have someone slow down, actually listen, and spend time with her. She asked him to meet her again at the bus stop. As he continued visiting the superstore bus stop, other folks eventually learned who he was, and why he was sitting there. Eventually, the bus stop became the place that he was meeting with people to be in relationship and ministry with others.
To an outsider, his time at the bus stop would be considered loitering. To those who need the bus stop, it’s an opportunity to be in relationship and ministry with someone who will listen and love them. By slowing down, swallowing his pride and doing his best to be incarnational, he allows people the opportunity to be heard and loved, rather than be looked down upon and ignored.
Jesus was hanging around healing pools, busy street intersections, and wells. Jesus revealed to those around him their sacred worth. Jesus didn’t let his divinity get in the way of his ego. By keeping his eyes, ears, and heart open for those around him, Jesus changed the world. If we don’t keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open, we may be overlooking the incarnational Jesus that may be right in front of us.
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