I celebrated my one year anniversary about a week and a half ago. I can't believe that it's already been one year since I've moved to Pittsburgh. Many things have happened in that year and I'm excited to see what's in store for the upcoming year. Can you believe that in my first year that both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Penguins win the Lombardi and Stanley cup! I think the people of the 'burgh have done all they can to make me feel welcome.
I've done a lot of reflection over the past year and I feel that what's happening and how I'm being used has really come to light over the past week. While waiting for my church services to start a man came up to me (this man has lived his whole life as an african american in the northside) and told me that I must be doing something right as african american teenage boys don't hang out with adult males too often as they've been betrayed by their adult role models so often in their upbringing. (bear in mind he was generalizing and painting with a broad brush) This is about the 4th time I've had an african american adult come up to me and say this over the last month. I even had a lady who told me this and then gave me a hug and as I hugged her she grabbed my hand and put $50 there! (Those of you who have teenagers know it's not cheap to feed them)
Let's go back to last year and what I thought my life would look like and then what it looks like now. This is important, my calling to Pittsburgh was to be an assistant to Jeff Hartings so he could fully utilize his resources in the Northside. Those of you who know the story of Saul and David from the bible will relate to this, I was to be Jonathan's (King Saul's son) armor bearer.
I remember when coming out here I thought I'd be part of the fundraising arm of Urban Impact working through their "Play Ball for Kids" program in utilizing the Steeler players to get the local business engage with their resources (people, money, facilities) in helping the Northside. I figured that I'd be golfing with guys and having meetings, talking to Steeler players and getting them utilized in our programs. I get to Pittsburgh and I find out the Jeff and I are going to be running our high school basketball team in a saturday league along with doing our other outreach basketball programs during the week. I thought, ok this is what Jeff is having me do, so be it. After the leagues were over baseball came and Jeff and I were put in charge of the whole baseball program. With all that being said, it's one year later and what I had envisioned for my life in Pittsburgh is totally different than how I thought it would look. This doesn't change the fact that I felt I was called to Pittsburgh and called pretty strong. Again my calling to Pittsburgh was to assist Jeff in his duties with Urban Impact.
I've recently have had some great validations that I'm right where I should be. One of them happened early monday morning as I was walking through the park to get coffee and a couple of the 11-12 year old boys I knew called out to me. We started talking and they wanted to know when we could hang out. (I know now that this isn't "normal" behavior for young African american men). Sunday, I called one of my regular boys to see if he wanted to attend church with me. He couldn't but he would be free later, I told him I'd pick him up. I went to pick him up and he had 3 other guys with him who wanted to hang. I picked them up and picked up number 5 and 6 down the street. Come to find out 3 of them dropped what I considered better plans to hang out at my tv'less apartment and eat chili dogs. These guys will hang out on Friday and Saturday nights if I wanted them to. There is no way that as a 16-18 year old that I was every going to hang out with an overweight, balding 45 year old who doesn't let them swear and talk inapproipately. But hang out the do!
I know that I'm sure I'll disappoint one or two of them over time but right now I'm amazed at the relationships i've built and how God has worked through me in these kids lives.
Stay tuned as I move into year 2!
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