I just returned from a very powerful weekend in downtown Omaha. We did something called the Urban Plunge which is done by Christ for the City International. We hit several ministries to the homeless and poor. I will try to post something about the different ministries we visited over the next few days.
It's hard to believe that you can see a whole new world just by driving twenty minutes from your home in western Omaha. But north Omaha (on the east side) would be surprising for some people to see.
On Friday night, we went with Angels on Wheels ministry to some low/no income apartments. As we were instructed on the evening activities, we discovered how faith-full these "Angels" really are. We delivered goodie bags to people beginning on the 12th floor and worked our way down.
We sang Christmas carols in the hallways and knocked on doors to see if people wanted to step out and listen. On almost every floor, there were at least two or three (out of like 10) that answered.
When someone would open their door, we would greet them, give them their bag, and ask if they had a favorite Christmas carol. After singing, one or two folks would stay behind and ask if they could pray with/for the apartment resident.
The Angels are a very charismatic group, which is strange to me, and yet comforting too. These people truly believe that God will answer their prayers! They prayed for healing and for folks with addictions. Prayers were dotted with "Praise Jesus!" and "Hallelujah!" Some muted spontaneous singing even broke out during the prayer time!
I enjoyed the singing/prayers/encouragement of Diane. She prayed for one woman who answered, but could not speak due to a cold and asthma. Diane prayed for her airways to open up and the cold to go away!
One particularly moving incident was when a little 7 year old (daughter of one of the Angels) put her hands on one woman's stomach and prayed for a healthy birth for her unborn child, and that the baby would make Jesus his/her Lord and Savior.
I must say that I choked up watching the faith of that little girl. You see, some of the parents at my church (and I'm sure I would have done the same) were very hesistant at the thought of sending their younger children (junior high) to the downtown area. And yet, this little girl was walking along with adults in one of the poorest, most harsh neighborhoods in Omaha. I wonder if we hang on to our kids too tightly instead of letting them be dangerous for Jesus.
The Angels told us (that sounds weird, huh?!) that the area used to be very dark. Prostitutes were rampant and drug deals were happening right in front of them. But they kept bombing the place with prayer and showing Christ's love, and things are clearing up!
Did I mention that they usually do this out on the street? Usually it's the homeless that they bring coffee and cookies to, and pray for. This weekend it was the "nearly homeless." People with little/no income, elderly, and/or no family to help them or give moral support. They were a pretty desperate lot.
Even though the Angels did things a little differently than me, I've got to honor them for putting their money where their mouth is. Their faith is genuine. Their faith is put to the test every weekend, while I just go and sit in church services, or enjoy a night at home with my family. They are ministering to the people that Jesus would be ministering to. So, in that sense, I can really say that I spent part of my weekend with Angels...and it was a bigger blessing to me than they will ever know.