Monday, September 26, 2005

Community, and healing

I have some friends that started a rehab home. They lived there and brought young men that were struggling to get free from drug or alcohol addictions, to live with them. They provided counseling, support, a place to live and a safe place to re-enter society from. I don't think they did anything incredibly new, or innovative, just a caring response to the hurting, and outcast. I admire them very much. They moved on to the next phase of their lives, and one of the young men that had been with them has taken over the house. He is also a good friend of mine and I meet with him occasionally to talk about things.

Now, this house also hosts a house church, or a faith community as I like to call it. They have a variety of mostly young people that come for a time of worship, and bible conversation. Sometimes there is teaching, sometimes reflection, and always some eating. I have had the pleasure of sharing with them a couple of times and I must say they are a great group. The community goes beyond a meeting, and they spend time together regularly outside of their "service"

I talked to my friend about this, and he said this community really helped him. The love of the brethren allowed him to begin to trust again, to begin to love and be loved, to allow him to re-enter the "normal world". The house provided a safe place for him to live, but the church provided him a safe community for him to love. I think this is unique.

We home schooled our children. Many people expected our kids to be weird, nerdy, not well socialized. But infact the opposite is true, they are very mature, well spoken, and comfortable around adults and their peers. You see, I think we have it backwards a bit. Children do not learn to be adults by being with other children, they learn to be adults by being with adults. They enjoy their friends, and we encouraged them to have friends and drama classes and what not, but they spent a lot of time with us, with the adults in our church, and with the adults in our neighborhood. And they learned to be adults. I think it is the same with many other kinds of situations. We pile all of the addicts in one group, all of the people with sexual issues in another, all of the mentally disabled in another. And we do them a disservice I believe.

This is a great joy to me though, because the church is the perfect entity to welcome these different subcultures into itself. And allow them to experience love, acceptance and the responsibility of community. Funny thing, it also teaches the "healthy" people a thing or two about themselves, their own issues, and their own lack of love and acceptance. It keeps us from being pharisees. What a beautiful model of healing community. I am very proud of my friends, they have done a great thing. A God thing.

the rev


Keith Lowell Jensen said...

I strongly agree.
I worked with adults with developmental disabilities and there has been a big movement in the last few decades to stop segregating them. Integrating them into society is good for them and good for society. We should be able to see and love and know all the member's of our society and if we segregate certain members it will isolate all of us.
Thanks for making this point.

Rebecca said...

hurrah! I agree completely Rev.

A lot of people have come to my church once or twice, and have said afterwards 'it wasn't what I thought it would be like'. I think they think that our worship will look really different, really edgy, but it's not. We look like most other churches on the surface. It's only if you stick around for a while that you discover what a motley collection of individuals we are - people from all over the theological, ideological, socioeconomic and cultural makes for some good stoushes at times...

I'm not 100% sold on forms of church that focus on people with a core interest other than Jesus. Doing stuff with skaters, with musos, with eastern suburbs-dwelling lawyers is all well and good, but creating communities where we only mix with people just like us...surely that's not what the Gospel's on about?