For the first time ever I had a hard time leaving my "work" at work last night. My heart was broken to the point I couldn't even think without bursting into tears, I came home and when I was alone in a quiet place, I just begged God to calm my heart but the tears wouldn't stop coming, there has been a shooting every night this week in our district and it's really hitting close to home. Last night, I had planned to talk to the girls about disrespect, and I did to a point, but God lead my heart in another direction. I wanted to know more about the lives my girls live, I wanted to know what they were thinking about whats going on in their neighborhood, how they coped, what they were thinking. I got truth, honesty, real honest from the heart answers from these girls. Some of their responses included:
"It's like a war zone out there..."
"The world is ending..."
"I don't think I'll live to be 16..."
"I just bow my head and hope to goodness they don't kill me..."
I asked about the gang violence and found out that one of my girls has been and continues to be in gang fights, she's been hurt pretty badly, which is why she's stopped coming to Metro Kidz, I found out that the girls are harassed on a regular basis to join gangs and when they tell them their not interested they hope to walk away alive.
I found out that there have been time after time when the knock at the door at 3 a.m. is homicide investigating a murder on the block. That they have to concentrate at school while rival gangs are dukin' it out in the hallway.
I knew in my heart this stuff was all real, but it didn't become 100% real to me until I heard the fear in my kids voices. Even the boys, last night there was a shooting in the neighborhood while we were signing kids in and so I drove a lot of the kids home, one of the boys said, "Miss Colleen, thanks for driving me home, I was scared..." this kid is one of the toughest kids who comes to Metro Kidz, it broke my heart that a "tough" had to admit his fear and while I knew it was a good thing...it still hurt. It hurt to watch these kids finally open up...but this is what I have been praying for. I just want to know why I am so blessed I get to come home to a safe quiet neighborhood everynight and these kids suffer...go to sleep fearing whether or not their going to make it past the bus stop in the morning.
I told the girls last night that the four walls we were in, was a place where they could let it all out, share whatever was on their heart, get angry, pray, be happy etc. And it felt like they'd forgotten I was there...and just let it all come out, we prayed for their friends...for the city, they begged for prayer for their neighborhoods, their schools. It was the saddest night of my Metro Kidz experience, but at the same time we hit a spot where I think we're all on the same page and I have 100% gained their trust. They were telling me about their families, what their moms and dads do, about the new gang that is about to flood Baltimore and a multitude of other things.
Last night for the first, I couldn't help but ask God why, why lord did you place ME here...in a place where I get to pick bullet casings off the ground like it's not a big deal, in a place where I get to spend the majority of my days hanging out with people who are high, drunk or both, people who have no idea how they got to this place, kids who suffer day after day, momma's who sell their bodies to put food on the table, daddies who deal drugs to pay the bills...I've reached the tough point in my job, the one where I've been longing to be, out of my comfort zone...now I have to just pray that God can keep me strong in this war zone...
So as you can imagine there are some things you can pray for:
*The kids, they need all the prayer they can get at this point
*The neighborhood it truly has turned into a war zone
*Pastor Mike and all of us, that we can continue to listen to God's wisdom and guidance and that we'll continue to have the umbrella of God over the church
*That the girls will continue to feel like I am a safe person that they can talk too
*Monday some of the girls are coming to study with me for exams, I want that time to be a time of not only studying, but relationship building...so that I can deepen my relationship with them.
Thanks friends for continuing to support me in this tough endeavor!