Jesus in the Awkward Silence
BY JESS THAMAN, SUMMER INTERN FOR OUTREACH
Wheeler Mission, a partner ministry if Grace, is a multifaceted ministry that seeks to serve homeless individuals in Indianapolis through the love of Christ. The Mission has a Men’s residential shelter where men in need can come for a place to stay and eat. On the second Saturday of every month, volunteers drive downtown and pick up around nine men from the shelter and bring them to our 146th Street campus. During this time, the men have the opportunity to attend the weekend service and have dinner as a community with Grace volunteers.
Poverty, homelessness, inner-city. These are words that I have heard many times throughout the past few weeks during my internship with Outreach and Partners. I’ll admit that each word makes me slightly uncomfortable. Each word makes me ask the question: who do I think I am? Let’s be real. I’m a 5-foot, suburban, college girl. What business do I have trying to help others who have struggles that I will most likely never experience or understand?
These are the “uplifting” thoughts that were crossing my mind as the men from Wheeler Mission climbed out of the van. Everything got a little chaotic for the first few minutes as we scrambled to make sure all the men had what they needed and didn’t get lost in our airport of a church. Once we were all in our seats, it seemed as though we were all a little relieved. I began to ask the men the generic questions. What’s your name? Have you been here before? And then there was silence, nothing but awkward silence until the service began.
It wasn’t until later that I began to see that this silence was not something to be avoided, but a gift from God himself. Despite the incredible differences there might be between us, our humanness bound us together with a connection created by our Father. The awkward silence and generic questions were no small thing in the kingdom of God. During that evening, the simple presence of each other was enough to change everything. Just by stepping into the room, we opened up our lives for Jesus to break in and show us the love and grace He has for each of us. Regardless of what our lives look like from the outside, we all needed our Father to be with us that evening.
Awkward as they might have been, these silences were just the beginning of what Jesus had planned. After the service was over, we headed to the room where we would be eating dinner. We served salad, green beans, and meatloaf. Jesus brought us side dishes of peace and laughter. Walls were broken down between us, stories were shared, and love was everywhere. We were simply friends sharing a meal. That is what Jesus does and what a blessing it was to be a witness of it.
Poverty, homelessness, inner-city. Just three words in our vast language that strain to define us as people. They push us around and leave us tong-tied in our seats. These words, however, cannot define us. To truly love each other as the church, we must throw away all the words that attempt to tell us who we are. When we see ourselves and others through Christ, love spans the silences and differences between us.
There are many different ways that you can get involved with the Wheeler Shuttle. To check out these opportunities, click here.