If you’ve been in our Drop In Center you know it is far from perfect. It often reminds me of a home where 50 plus kids blow through 3 days a week like tornadoes—leaving messes, stinky socks, shoes, dishes and belongings strewn about. Things are broken, work about half of the time or are jimmy rigged together. (One of our favorite jokes is “#nonprofprobz”.)
Running such a hub where there can be upwards of 70 or more guests a night between kids, volunteers, people dropping by donations, interns and so forth, it can be easy to fall victim to wanting to look like we “have it together.” I have often found myself giving reasons to new comers for why things are the way they are, as if I have something to be embarrassed about. It’s silly really.
One of our incredible volunteers who serves as a weekly volunteer in our Thursday night Life Skills Classes, as a mentor, on 2 monthly dinner teams and serves on our Board said something to me during a conversation we were having last week that I loved. We were talking about how much “Church” happens in the basement each week. How it truly is an Acts 2:42 space.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:42-47
Our little basement on the corner of 8th and Monroe on the edge of the Whit is what we would all call a refuge. It is a home, a safe place, a quiet place, a place where the streets pause and we can be ourselves. Our basement is full of all types of people coming from all walks of life—from kids, to staff, to volunteers, to interns. It is a space where people eat together, give generously, laugh hysterically, weep freely, rest peacefully, encounter Jesus and grow through uncomfortable, incredible, stretching and powerful moments into the people God desires for us to be. Humble people of compassion, mercy and hope. In the midst of this conversation she was affirming that it really is true how much incredible life happens out there on the floor (we were standing back in the kitchen).
She proceeded to tell me how easy it was for her to stand back in the kitchen and see all of the things that we need and all of the things we don’t have—we don’t have enough of a lot of things—like sponges. She said, “I was washing dishes the other day and was so concerned that our sponges were stinky and that we needed new ones.” I laughed at her laughter pointing out that its ok that our sponges are stinky. People have stinky sponges all of the time in their homes.
Stinky sponges, broken vacuums and personal belongings strewn about are a sign of life and far more important things are going on around our little refuge than worrying about whether or not our sponges are stinky. Life is happening. Relationships are our number one focus. Kids feeling cared for, welcome and safe takes precedence. Working dryers, good smelling sponges and an organized space is nice, but in the midst of “keeping up” our prayer is that we don’t lose site of the incredible life we get to live as the church everyday in that little basement on the corner of 8th and Monroe on the edge of the Whit, because in our little refuge there is much to be proud of and to be thankful for.
~ Tauna Nelson, Program Director