Lord, introduce Mercy on me

Before I go into this next part of my three-part post, I should give you all a little bit of context into where I work, Mercy Community Church. This will be a very short little blurb about what Mercy is and does. Don’t you worry however, I will be giving a much deeper in-depth description of what Mercy does throughout the year!

Mercy Community Church is a church where the congregation is made up of mostly people struggling with homelessness and mental health issues. The founder, Chad Hyatt, saw a need within the homeless community for a place of worship, and a safe place for the community.

We start each day with songs of prayer and then we move into an hour of discussion based bible study, and on Sundays, we have a full worship service. Mercy also does programs such as yoga classes, a foot clinic to tend to the congregation’s feet, opens a clothing closet, runs an addiction recovery meeting, and takes a meal out onto the street daily.

Mercy church is very relationship-based, we have a clothing closet not because homeless people need clothes, but because Mary’s shirt is all torn up and needs a new one. (Not the exact scenario we opened up the clothing closet for, but you get what I’m meaning) The coolest thing I think about Mercy is that every day we go in, one of our main goals is to deepen those relationships we have with people and go and make a friend.

Before coming into Mercy I was expecting that Pastor Chad, Pastor Maggie, Wes (The other YAV I’m working with at Mercy) and I would be serving, and the congregation receiving, all of us teaching, and the congregation learning. However that is not the case, we are all equal in the community, we are all serving, and we are all receiving, we are all teaching, and we are all learning.

 

Advertisements

Jump on in, let’s see if you can swim (Part one- lost your swimsuit?)

“People exist to be loved; Objects exist to be used. The world is in chaos because these things are the other way around.” The 14th Dalai Lama

They say your YAV year is supposed to be a beautiful unordinary year, and let me tell you this first month alone has been way out of the ordinary. That is not to say that this month has been bad, in fact quite the opposite, and I have learned so much already. Let me give you a little rundown of this past month. (in three parts!)

When I arrived in Newark for orientation, one of my bags, filled with most of my clothes and items for the next year in Atlanta, was nowhere to be found. Days went by and the airlines continued to send me the same email “We have not located your bag, but the hunt is still on” until 5 days later when they called me and told me my bag was more than likely stolen and that I would need to fill out a claim form so they could reimburse me.

(Time for a tangent!) Two years ago back at my house in Dallas, while I was away in Chicago for school, my hot water heater exploded and flooded my whole house. At the time my family believed in the house had been destroyed and that the house needed to be gutted. This was extremely hard for me, but throughout this challenge, I grew and learned. Possessions are just things, they do not make us who we are, all that matters is that I am safe and loved, the rest God will make up for.

Meanwhile back at orientation my one bag that made it was filled a few pairs of everything, everything except for any shirts. And upon realizing this my first thought was “Great… I’m going to be known as the guy who never changes his shirt” I told Bridgette, one of the YAV staff, what was going on and immediately she scrounged up a few extra white shirts for me to wear. And then a few days later, the YAV staff showed me even more love, and they sent me to target to restock on a few shirts or anything else I needed. (Shout out to Bridgette and all the YAV staff who helped me, y’all are great!)

Throughout this ordeal of losing my bag, I really saw the power of community and those around you, not only with the YAV staff, people whom I had just met, but also within my freshly met housemates offering me support through laughter while filling out my claim form for the airline. The claim form for the airline was a little ridiculous asking for very specific details of what was in the bag, so my house and I decided to have a little fun with it, writing down joke items I could include;

  • Printouts of every YAV blog from 2006 and on
  • a copy of the bible signed by Jesus
  • All the books of the encyclopedia of Britannica in Finnish

And a few weeks after I got to Atlanta, I went back home for a wedding and upon arrival, I found that a group of my best friends and girlfriend had gone and put together an emergency wardrobe for me to take back to Atlanta with me. (Love you guys!)  This whole debacle to pulled me closer to my new YAV community, old friends and family, and showed me how loved I am and how deep my support system is. The rest is in God’s hands and he provided… some shirts!

“For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” Timothy 6:7

Adventure is out there!

"Start spreading the news, I'm leaving today! I want to be a part of it. Newark to New York" ~Frank Sinatra (kinda)

Today's the day! My bags are (over)packed, ticket in hand, goodbyes said and done, and I'm off to Stony Point New York for my orientation into the YAV program. I am extremely excited to follow this path God has asked me to walk down. I am so thankful for all the love, and support from friends and family since I have announced that I am doing the YAV program, I am so blessed to have such a large support system behind me! Thank you to everyone who has helped to get me here.

In light of recent events, I feel I should explain a personal philosophy of mine, that love is a way of life. As we walk through this journey called life we should clothe ourselves with love and spread this to everyone we meet, because love is a transformative force and through its power we can change the world. No one in this world is that different from the other, we are all more alike than we realize, we are all flesh and blood, we desire the same things, fear the same things, and are all gods children. In this time of such hate we must come together with our fellow man and rise up stand together and love #LoveTrumpsHate

Now I gotta jet, literally, but this is just a small taste of what you can expect from this blog along my journey this year!

"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." ~Colossians 3:13-14

“Let us love the world to peace”

“‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:31

Earlier this year as I was heading to class on an early morning train ride on the Chicago L. A downcast young man hopped on board. He began speaking in a trembling and nervous tone, with his eyes down to the ground, not to anyone specifically just to anyone who would listen. “I am embarrassed to say this or to even have to ask for help from strangers, but I have no more options. I am homeless, cold, and hungry and I need help.” Tears started streaming down his face as he said this. He was not asking for money, but for someone to buy him a meal, or some soap and deodorant so he could clean himself up for an interview he was going to have in a few days. I looked around the train and was astonished not to see a single person pay this man any mind. Just ignoring him as if he were invisible.

I told him he was very brave to speak and ask for help from a bunch of strangers. I opened my backpack and gave him a knit winter cap that a friend of mine made for me, one of the pairs of gloves I always had in my backpack and the apple that I had not yet eaten from my breakfast. He graciously accepted my offer and then I asked if he would like to sit next to me on the train. We sat and he began telling me about how he was just 18 years old and had been living on the streets for a few months after running away from his abusive alcoholic father. He then went on to tell me that since living on the streets he’d began to feel invisible, no one would really give him the time of day. Most people would avoid turning their heads in his direction at all. He felt as if he were being ignored into oblivion. He then began to tear up and said something I will never forget “Being out here with no one can kind of drive you mad, especially when everyone around you just acts as if you don’t even exist to begin with, and you reminded me that I do.”

We were nearing his stop, so he hugged me with a smile on his face and thanked me for showing him love, for listening and talking with him. I told him to never give up, to stay strong and no mater what the big man upstairs always loves him.

When I was looking for what was next on my path of life, I thought a lot about this interaction with the man in the train. I wanted to do something to help the people of our aching world, now while I’m young and have nothing to tie me down. My sister Stevie, who was a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) in Tucson Arizona working with those in the borderlands in 2010, pointed me toward the program and encouraged me to apply. I checked out their website and found the Atlanta site which was solely focused on helping those struggling with homelessness. I applied immediately and felt that this was where God was calling me to go.

Recently a family friend of mine asked me what I hope to bring to those I’ll be working with down in Atlanta, and it really got me thinking. I told him that I would like to instill two things in people that I meet in, not only Atlanta, but anywhere in life; love and hope. I believe that those two things are essential for life to thrive.

I believe that we as humans on this earth, no matter race, gender, age, class, or religion are all brothers and sisters. We are all one in this world and we need to do what we can to help our family of man. In the words of one of my favorite people, the 14th Dalai Llama “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

You can support me in this next year in many ways with…

• Your prayers: pray for me and for the people with whom I will work this year.

• Your interests in my journey on my Year of Service: Follow my blog, The Breath of Life is Whisperings of Love, at www.jeremydemarest.wordpress.com You’re already here, so bookmark me, you know you want to!

• Your financial gifts: Please consider giving a tax-deductible gift and pledging an amount, given as a one-time gift or in installments of the course of my year of service. Complete and mail the attached Covenant of Support form and checks to “DOOR National Office 430 W 9th Ave Denver, CO 80204, or you may give online at http://www.doornetwork.org/donate and include “Jeremy Demarest-Atlanta” in the donation designation box.