Last night our missional community (kinda like a small group) from church got together with another group to hear about what they are doing and How we can possibly partner in serving them. They call themselves Dope Church, and this is part of their mission: God has brought us together as a community of disciples who exist to help others know and follow Jesus, especially our neighbors who are struggling addiction, poverty, and exploitation. We are working to build trust with them through faithful, loving presence rigth where they are, in their best moments and their darkest hour. We pray as the Holy Spirit knits us together as family we will experience hope, healing, and whole-life transformation. Dope Church is a church for people in the depths of addiction, a place for the most broken people in our city to belong and hear good news. Whether high as a kite, coming off a bender, or clean for a decade, the community of Dope Church exists to love and show grace freely, in the knowledge that Jesus’ grace and good news truly do change lives.
Can you imagine. This isn’t easy work. Every Saturday, the people who are Dope Church meet every Saturday in a motel room in one of the worst parts of the city. This motel is a known hub of drug activity, exploitation, poverty and addiction. We are talking serious stuff- pimping, dealing, sex-trafficking…this ain’t no soup kitchen. They are slowly establishing relationships with the individuals and families (yes, families) in this hotel, meeting them where they are at, offering friendship, food, prayer and whatever support they can. Unconditionally. I think this is such brave, raw, heart-wrenching work. Work that takes the Spirit of God, a servant’s heart, and a constant reminder that we can’t rescue anyone. We can’t make all the bad things untrue. It’s too big for us. But we can love one person at a time. Give them a hot dog, offer them a shower, ask them to joins us in worship of One who can rescue us all from the mire of the world and our own making. I can’t wait to learn more about how we can come alongside them and be a part of this mission.
One brother relayed this story: Sometimes we just hang out around the motel, and sometimes we take a walk up the Pac Highway and just talk to people. One day we met a man who was disoriented and ashamed. He had been high since Monday (this was on Saturday) and was coming down. He needed to get back to Bremerton (40 miles away) and didn’t know what he was going to do. He had no money and when we asked him if he had eaten anything he said he had some candy that morning. We took him to get a sandwich and just sit with him to hear his story. We told him about the gospel, about Jesus’ fierce love for him, the sacrifice he made on the cross, how this gift God offers is free and doesn’t require anything from us, not even getting clean and sober. His jaw literally dropped. He had never heard this before. He truly couldn’t believe that a God who was perfect and holy could possibly offer his son to redeem his people and not ask for something in return. Grace was too much for him to understand.
But isn’t grace too much for any of us to understand? Isn’t it just too scandalous, too ridiculous, too other, for us to even comprehend? The clean and sober among us find it so offensive that we invent our own rules and conditions to receive it. We need to work harder. We hustle hard for our belonging. We please, perform and perfect. We need to Go to Church and Behave and Be Nice. We need to join Bible studies and prayer groups and say the right things. We distance ourselves from God when we feel unworthy, even though he says, Come. and then there’s that Shame again, that feeling we are not enough. Not smart, thin, strong, fast, rich, righteous, clever, or worthy enough to be loved. We made this up. Because grace is too much to bear. We need the same grace that this man on the street needs. Grace that will cover our Shame and help us get home. To paraphrase the song, Home is wherever we’re with Him, whether that means in a dirty small hotel room coming down or a beautifully appointed living room in the suburbs. The need is the same. And He is with us there, always seeking us. What would change in our lives if we could in faith believe he is calling, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away…” and that the Most High God of the Universe says “So precious you are to me, so honored, so beloved.” (Isaiah 43:11)