Thursday, April 4, 2013

Throwback Thursday: "Mama D's House"

Originally posted in January 2008

Mama D's House

On Saturday morning, I drove to the Dream Center for our weekly visit to Herndon Homes to visit the kids . . . I arrived there before Jeremy, so Pastor Paul insisted that I come with him to Mama D's house. We drove down the street to a dilapidated structure, and I felt my apprehension grow as Pastor Paul warned me that the house would smell badly (Mama was bedridden and had no bladder control) and that she rented her rooms to prostitutes and drug dealers . . .

Pastor Paul squeezed his Bronco into the tiny driveway, I took a deep breath in (to fit through the door) and nearly stepped in a pile of something nasty (either vomit or diarrhea - I didnt double check). The first thing I noticed upon entering the house was that it did, indeed, smell strongly of urine (along with a hodge-podge of other equally gross and unmentionable scents . . . )

Mama D was out of bed that day, smiling widely at us from her wheelchair, several men were passed out on a dingy looking couch, a pregnant woman stood in the middle of the room, and an adorable little boy (probably somewhere between one and two) ran up to us as soon as we entered the door. Pastor Paul lifted the boy into his arms, telling me he was soaking wet (although apparently even having pants on at all was a big step up). I was somewhat surprised at the level of delight everyone seemed to share at Pastor Paul's visit. For some reason, I assumed that people like this would rather not share the same space as a conservative white pastor who disapproves of their lifestyle. To the contrary, Pastor Paul was obviously close to all of these people, calling them by name, kissing their foreheads, and playing games with their children.

After joking with everyone a little, hugging all around and passing out food, Pastor Paul insisted on grabbing hands to pray. We gathered around a small stove, the only source of warmth in the old, drafty house. Somewhat hesitantly, I held Mama's wrinkled hand and laid my other hand on the shoulder of one of the men passed out on the couch. As Pastor Paul began talking to the Lord, people began emerging from rooms all over the house, asking to join in our prayer, and adding their own prayer requests to our list. One of the men requested that we praise the Lord that he had been released from prison the day before (he was arrested for drug trafficking and aggravated assault): his two sons, who were grinning widely, flanked him on either side. A woman walked in from outside wearing dirty Sponge Bob slippers and asked us to pray for Mama D's health. A white woman emerged with a nasty black eye and asked to join our circle as well. . .

After prayer, the woman with the black eye thanked Pastor Paul and gave both of us hugs. Pastor asked her where she got her black eye and she sheepishly responded "from my man"
"Is he still your man?" Pastor asked. Looking down, she murmured a quick "yes" in response, bursting into tears. Pastor Paul pulled her into a hug, and tears welled in his eyes as he whispered to her that she was worth more than that and that "real men do not hit their women." My own eyes blurred with tears as I realized that this was probably one of the only times in this woman's life that she had been treated as worthy of love, as a daughter of a King . . .

To tell you the truth, I cannot remember ever feeling as overwhelmed by what the love of Christ in action looks like as I did at that moment. Like so many of the disciples and Pharisees, I have a tendency to disapprove of and avoid these people and their lifestyles - yet over and over again, these are the very people and the very places where Christ chose to spend most of his time and ministry. As we left, I hugged each and every one of them, kissed the little boy's forehead and walked away changed by having encountered the face of Christ in the place I least expected it . . .

7 comments:

  1. This made me cry.
    I am going to hug all of the people I visit this afternoon. A great big hug. Even if they smell. Even if I am in a hurry. Even if they make me madder than a hornet. They are getting a hug inspired by Becca.

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    1. I love this (and you obviously) :-)

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  2. This is so much what we were talking about in small group last night. I wonder where God is leading me? Well, into more showing Jesus' love! That part is obvious.

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  3. I love this so much. This is how I feel when I'm in Cambodia or visiting homeless camps here in the U.S. I'm so, so drawn to the least of these (and this most definitely has not always been the case). Love you! Glad you re-posted!

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    1. That's one of the reasons I love you so much :-)

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  4. So encouraging! Thank you so much!

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