I came across this definition on that famous internet site called Wikipedia: Twitter — An online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send text-based messages of up to 140 characters known as tweets. For those who already know what twitter is you don’t need that definition and for those who don’t know what twitter is I’m not sure the definition really helps.
A few people close to me had been suggesting to me that I needed to start tweeting so I finally gave in and joined the twitter club. I have overall enjoyed the experience from both an educational standpoint as well as a personal feedback standpoint. I am positive that I have learned more from the people “I follow” on twitter than anyone has learned from my tweets. However I have discovered a problem with this as well. As twitter is often up to the moment news I have found myself following some people who give up to the minute news that is less than encouraging. As a moth is drawn to the flame I must honestly say I am drawn to the issues that God has been speaking to me about over the past several years.
I find myself following people who are working with the homeless, abused, hungry and/or disenfranchised within our modern society. It is amazing that as the world watches the NASA rover Curiosity send pictures back from Mars we can literally put a craft on the planet Mars but we cannot solve homelessness or hunger in our world. Perhaps a better way to say it would be that we don’t have the will to solve the problem because I believe the problem is solvable.
Back to twitter. Recently I read the updates from a court worker in Edmonton, Mark Cherrington. Mark works in the Alberta court system with young people in Edmonton. Here is a series of posts he made on Tuesday August 7, 2012 from court. I’ll just use numbers to help you follow along from his postings.
1. 27 year old mom in court asking judge for an Emergency Protection Order. Mom has significant brain damage.
2. Mom had been in jail for most of her teen life for violence
3. at 14 years of age, raped at her mother’s wake by her uncle
4. then because involved with gang, Indian Posse no supports. Involved with horrific violence. Left gang at 24.
5. Now a strong mom of two small children. Father of baby still in gangs. Kicks in door and rapes mom in front of children
6. Tells judge every time she gets beaten by this man she wonders if she will see her sons in the morning.
7. Judge grants Emergency Protection Order. Another mom waits in line and another and another. All have a story of abuse.
It was that last tweet that got to me. When Mark, sitting in a courtroom in Edmonton, says that there was another mom and another mom and another mom waiting in line in court to tell their story of abuse I just lost it. It struck me that this is just one day in one courtroom in one city in our great country but honestly we have a huge problem.
In Zechariah 7 God told His people, “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.” Then we read their response, “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen…so the Lord Almighty was very angry” (Zech 7:9-12)
In Saskatoon the men’s homeless shelters have been full to overflowing throughout the summer. On July 30th the play about Human Trafficking, She Has A Name, played to their second largest crowd in the cross Canada tour here in our city. We had the privilege of hosting two of the actors overnight at our place. One of them asked me, “What is it about your city?” I wasn’t sure what she meant so I asked her to clarify. She said that as they have traveled across Canada Saskatoon is clearly known as the sex capital of Canada. Our city slogan is: Saskatoon Shines. I seriously doubt that when they coined that slogan this is what they were thinking about.
God calls the church to be salt and light. Those words speak of influence. Light dispells darkness. Salt can preserve. Saskatoon has darkness and a sense that we are rotting from within. Our city needs a fresh infusion of salt and light. Our city needs the church to stand up and declare that we actually care about homeless people. Our city needs the church to wage a war on the underage abuse of children within the sex industry. Our city needs the church not to just throw a few dollars at the social ills that plague us but to actually use people to get involved with other people. People caring for people. We need leaders from within our churches to move outside of our comfortable pews and establish relationships with the widows, the fatherless, the alien (immigrant) and the poor amongst us because they are amongst us.
We have agencies/ministries working with bare bones budgets trying valiantly to do what they can to help those within our city who are in need. The church needs to step it up another notch, roll up our sleeves, sharpen our own pencils and get involved both financially as well as personally.
It is not an either/or approach but rather a both/and approach. Money is needed but so is personal relational time. Maybe we as the church need to actually think of shutting down some of our own in house ministries so that we can leave the buidling and go to where the real needs exist.
In Matthew 28 Jesus instructed his disciples to “go”. He never instructed us to build church buildings and wait for people to come but often that is what the church has done. In Matthew 16 Jesus said He would build his church and the gates of hell would not stop Him.
The issues I have listed here are not too big for the God I serve. In Isaiah God was looking for a servant. After Isaiah had encountered God he writes in Is. 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me.” It is important to note that he said this after experiencing verses 1-7. (go back and read them…its worth it) So this is what I am praying for…God in your grace reveal yourself to your church in Saskatoon once again in such a way that when you call for servants to go for you into our city there will be a plethora of people saying “Here am I. Send me.”
If you want to follow me on twitter you can find me at @rgwilson9