I have been struggling on figuring out how to process all that the Lord has been showing and teaching me this summer. From 9-5, Monday through Friday, I walk into several different "worlds" and before starting this position I never knew some these even existed 5 miles from my house.
One place is filled with people who come from different countries around the world trying to figure out American Culture, learn english, try to find a job, get their kids in schools and have been labeled with the expectation that they should be self sustaining within three months. I am amazed at these peoples lives and am captivated by their cultures. We always hear it said "people in the south are so hospitable" if just smiling and saying hi to someone is considered hospitable or if we believe that hospitality is only a gift that God has given to some then I believe we have sadly mistaken the true definition. My new friends have shown me what true hospitality is and I have quickly learned it is not just a smile and a quick hello, how are you. They actually welcome you into their home, they don't mind that we see their dirty dishes in the sink, a floor that needs to be swept or that their home is not decorated to the finest. As soon as we step foot in the door its oh please sit down let me make you some chi tea(its so yummy!) and we can talk(more like a game of charades) or please stay longer let me make you one of our favorite meals (homemade egg rolls with a side of lettuce is becoming one of my favorite meals). Here are people who have very little, living off of food stamps, struggling to learn how to communicate with me but yet are so quick to give and welcome in.
Then I step into another world, an inner city neighborhoods that truly does feel like I'm walking into a 3rd world country at times. One night a week Emily (the other intern I'm working with) and I get the opportunity to have dinner with a family who actually live in the different inner city neighborhoods around town. Last week we got to learn more about a specific neighborhood we work with that is called Orange Mound. As we were listening to stories I begin to feel like I've been living under rock cause I had no idea what peoples lives were really like this. That it's not abnormal for people who live in a house in that area of town to not have electricity or running water. That people actually do live life using buckets of water to wash their hands, flush the toilet and take some sort of bath. That even though a house may look decent on the outside it wouldn't be a surprise if you walked into it and there not be one piece of furniture. There are children(as young as four) in the neighborhood who don't have parental supervision and so they just roam the streets any time of day. There are girls as young as 12 years old getting pregnant by grown men and who are able to make the decision to keep the baby.
Once a week we going into one of the clinics that is located in the same inner city area and get to talk with patients about their spiritual health. We have a couple intro questions to ask which then helps us lead into sharing the gospel. I remember the first day of doing this I was so nervous but now it is easily the highlight of my week and the hardest part of my week. I have not had any patience tell me that they didn't want to talk about their spiritual health or reject being prayed for. I'm not the best with estimations but I would confidently say at least 80%+ of the people that I have had the chance to talk with had never heard the gospel before. They think just by going to church and doing good deeds is how we get to heaven. They hadn't heard why Jesus had to die, that we are all guilty of sin and that Jesus truly is the only way and our only hope!
The first morning of starting the internship I read John 4:27-42. Jesus just finished talking with the samaritan woman and the disciples came back to meet up with Him but are so surprised to see Jesus talking with a woman, a samaritan woman at that. She leaves and the disciples figured that Jesus had to be hungry at this point and are encouraging him to eat something. Jesus responds "I have food to eat that you know nothing about" the disciples were confused by His statement. So Jesus goes on to explain... My food, is to do the will of God and to finish his work. vs35 "Do you not say, Four months more and then the harvest? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest."
I remember praying that morning and asking God to open my eyes to see the harvest fields in Memphis and by God's grace He has been faithful to do just that. They are ripe and there are a lot of acres to cover....