Kensington, Philadelphia. Free use photo from wikimedia commons.

Okay so I’m a Springsteen fan, and if you’re not, I’m sorry. You may want to check out a few of his songs that I was reminded of on a recent mission day on the Streets of Philadelphia. The following are a few thoughts (more like cracks in the heart) in case you may be inspired to get down and dirty – or just rub elbows for an hour – with those souls who have found themselves caught in the Badlands.

Hopeless Stares

A small team of us was led by a reformed drug addict of Kensington around the street corners and back alleys in the heart of that neighborhood (which has been labeled the heroin hub of the east coast, or “Walmart of heroin” because of the relatively low cost of it here). We intentionally left our church pews of comfort last Sunday morning and, armed with hygiene kits, water bottles and love, approached whatever man or woman lying, sitting, stumbling on the sidewalks that would allow us near. The downward gazes, the hopeless stares, the apprehensive faces soon changed into smiles as we offered them our simple gifts. But what I noticed even more was the reaction to a little bit of that Human Touch. That and some heartfelt prayer with them seemed to bring eternal hope.

Hope for the Soul

Signs like these can be found throughout Philadelphia and many large cities in America. Free use photo from Flickr.

This life isn’t all there is, no matter which side of the tracks we find ourselves. A little downward spiral and any one of us could land there, as I personally witnessed in a friend of ours some months ago. But with the persistent love of a few – and I believe the guiding hand of God – he was found and brought home. I know of others who were bound in similar chains and are now free. There is hope for these souls we met as well. “Lauren” was literally on her way to rehab when I stopped to talk and pray with her that morning. I reminded her that JESUS SAVES for real, as several city signs call that out.

We weren’t Born to Run, baby we were born to love. Love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40) are the commandments that Jesus called the greatest. Simple frustrations tend to creep into my beautiful life because: traffic or long lines or people that are rude. I need to remember the unspeakable brokenness in this world, break through the Brilliant Disguise of my protected realm, and share the love. It’s highly doubtful anyone’s life was drastically changed because of us on Sunday, but God can work through any little touch. Who is your neighbor and how can you love them?