I visited some of the children at both apartments after work today. I did a walk through to say hello and see how their week is going. I did not knock on any doors. I only spoke with those who were outside and available. At the north apartments I was greeted by friendly hellos from some, and sullen looks from others. The former know me. The latter have seen me, but have not yet gotten to know me. So, I asked about their day and how the first week of school is going. One little girl said that she loves art. I asked her if I could see her projects when she begins to do them and she agreed. Some other girls colored pictures, while a smaller girl cut out flower shapes with drawn smiley faces on each petal. They smiled sweetly as I complimented their work.
As my rounds of that complex neared an end I conversed with several children who sat on their porch. I noticed a book near the door. A New Life Application New Testament paperback, with the words “Are You Thirsty for Streams of Living Water?” printed on its face. I wasn’t surprised. Low income housing does not necessarily mean that people do not know God, or that they do not have an interest in him. I remember thinking, “Yes. Yes, I am thirsty.”
I said my goodbyes and then walked to the east apartments. Three of the regular girls came running to me. The scenario was similar to the other apartments. I asked about their week. They told me a bit about school and how they are doing. Three older boys did their best to look cool. You know, nonchalant, like they could care less to see me. I kept the conversation with them simple. I told them I was simply there to say hello, and not to gather any one for church. They seemed to relax a bit, especially when I moved on to a few other children. One little girl stood with her mother in their balcony on the third floor of the apartments. They both waved happily. I waved back and conversed from below, inviting them to church Sunday and letting them know I plan to be around from time-to-time.
Missional community deliberately sets aside overt message delivery which is free from apparent concern in favor of overt care and interest. This adds personal credibility to the pervasive message of God’s love through Jesus in the lives of the missional interlocutor. I feel alive in this milieu. It is risky because of its organic nature, meeting people on their terms and in their contexts; indeed, choosing to live incarnationally in those contexts to some degree.
I find myself wanting more interaction with them, especially with the parents. I pray it will be possible in the coming days as I explore what it means to be a missional disciple.