But because I promised Abraham to send him reflections, I shall write stuff down.
Thinking back at my own experiences throughout the two days and that of the few others that I heard from, I have been wondering,"What we have achieved?" We have these stories of people. Mostly their sorrows and challenges, but also their joys. What do we do with these stories? I realise that I have this strong, if not easily articulated conviction that we are all connected, each one of us.
Don't think it is coincidence that I plucked out The Kingdom of God (eds. Morgan & Peterson, 2012) which I bought at the book table as a freshie in VCF FOC:
"Being human means seeing oneself in connection and relationship to others... persons in community bear [God's] image."
"The interconnectedness of human persons is the image of God"
And as I think about the profoundness of that second quote, it struck me that solidarity and community is both a task and a gift for us. We are called to love our neighbours as ourselves and it is precisely through obedience to this command that we know God more intimately. He is the Triune God- three Persons and yet one God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit existing in perfect love. We see each person as image bearers of God but 'not simply that each person bears the image of God' (Bradley), because God is too great for individualistic conceptions of Him. Rather, striving for solidarity and experiencing community, we catch glimpses of the beautiful Triune nature of God. Not only that, we participate in this Triune nature as we lay down our lives in the service of His people in love and joy, seeking to glorify Him. Is that not fellowship? (Wonder and joy.)
As time layers over my memories, it may be hard to remember the exact details of each individual that I met, and I would probably never cross paths with them again. I'd rather focus on viewing these stories in light of the grand biblical narrative of which I am also a part:
How does God view these individuals? Do I need to change how I view and feel about them? How is God calling me to respond?
It was when we were heading back to Macs after having failed to find any homeless individual that I spied N. as he was laying out the cardboard on the floor. One of the first things he told us was "I am homeless". Subsequently, we found out about his coloured life. Membership in a gang, fights, family rejection, living on the fringes of society, staying in the lives of his 2 children without a place to call home or a handphone... I dare not say I empathise because his experiences are so different from ours.One thing he repeated throughout our conversation was "I am an ex-offender." I am an ex-offender without much to offer, so there is little place in society for me. I am an ex-offender, and nothing much can help me. (I am an ex-offender, rather than a father?) I could link all these back to what I learnt in the module Rehabilitation of Offenders- these are the cracks which ex-inmates fall through, the self-labelling, and how desistance does not cover this man's experience of having turned over a new life but still under the label ex-offender. More importantly I think, is the renewed desire to learn more so that I can apply this knowledge in the future.
It is in this way that I pray those who came will be able to make sense of their experiences, and truly, all praise to God for these revelations.