I attended a small Christian college in the suburbs of Denver. Colorado Christian University only took one city block in Lakewood near the intersection of two main roads, Alameda and Wadsworth–which is also a trendy shopping, eating, apartment living area called Bel Mar. Positioned between having Downtown to the East and mountains to the West, CCU could not be more perfectly placed.
CCU required undergrad students to have a certain number of ministry hours before they graduated. First semester of freshman year, I attended the ministry fair. There were so many opportunities to work with, but that semester I had all afternoon and evening classes (yes, no 8am’s for me! But it only lasted that one semester.) Feeling discouraged, I near the end of the tables and come to a board that reads, “Westside.” A girl greeted me and gives me an introduction on the ministry. There was going to be a volunteer meeting later that week, at a time I could attend. I took the information papers, but don’t really remember reading them. I was just excited that this could be a possibility–Thursday evenings was the only time I had available and Westside ran a street church on that evening.
At the volunteer meeting, I met AB. She had a slide show of pictures with stories of certain kids. The neighborhood was to the west of Downtown Denver; AB has been living among these kids and their families for years–her love for serving them and sharing hope with them was captivating. For me, growing up in a small farm town and living in the country, everything about this ministry was completely out of my experience and comfort zone. Yet, I knew in my heart that this was it–my ministry.
I didn’t just get my ministry hours. I got a family. When God started piecing together the future plans for the move to Ohio, I had been with the ministry (properly called The Third Story) for almost six years. Change is hard and it was the kids, AB, street church, other volunteers that I had become close friends with that I wanted to cling to and not let go. Knowing that I would no longer be physically part of the family tore my heart. AB was supportive and encouraging; she still is. The older kids seemed to understand; change is so constant for them, I think they handled it better than myself.
I could talk for hours about street church–but the stories of just the kids wouldn’t be complete. Street church would not be complete nor AB…not without the dog tales! (pun somewhat intended.) When I first started, I heard of Jack. Jack is a legend–he would bark like he was singing when we sang songs before the Bible story; you quickly learned not to leave your plate near the table edge as he could swipe it clean in one bite; and he was master protector, yet so gentle. The kids would lean against him at story time and always said his name in the prayer requests. About a year and a half into the ministry, AB adopted another dog. Still in her puppy years, she brought so much enthusiasm to Jack’s older years. Although a rough transition beginning,these two were a perfect combination.
This is Sofia. My first memory of her was when I was returning from getting kids on my neighborhood pick-up route. My partner and I led our kids down to the basement area (that AB rents) of a church where weekly club takes place. If you’re expecting peace and quiet, club would not be your dream destination. Between the kids’ conversations and giggling, games and never-ending jump rope, Jack barking, AB yelling for everyone’s attention…it sounds like chaos, but it actually runs smoothly considering everything.
Everything including Sofia. On that first evening she came to street church, I walk in to see the younger boys running in huge circles across the room with a puppy chasing them. The next time I see her, she was at home chasing the freshly falling snowflakes with the cone around her neck. After recovering from her eye surgery, Sofia started attending club again. One eye didn’t stop her momentum; in fact, we had to have kids keep their personal Nerf footballs at home, because Sofia would tear it to nothing otherwise.
The only change I noticed in Sofia was how light affected her attention. When we would sit in the kitchen for our before-getting-kids meeting to discuss the evening agenda and such, Sofia usually sat in someone’s lap. However, she was obsessed with the sunlight that came in from the small window to the linoleum floor. She would watch for any movement in the shadow parts that would cause the lighted parts to shimmer. More like a cat motion, she would pounce at the light, wagging her tail and could not be easily swayed to leave the room until the kids arrived.
I have been thinking of Sofia lately. Not that I am obsessed with light on the floor or only have one eye, but my eyes are causing me to have a different view of and in light. I am not one for the dark–even before my balance problems, I never have been one to like dimly lit rooms. In light, I can see more fully. However, with my right eye now n a constant greyly dark veil, my vision is dimly lit. And now, light…especially the color white…is almost illuminated. Light now causes me to squint. It makes lip-reading more challenging and working at this computer even more slow as I consistently have to refocus my eye. The strangest part is how it affects color otherwise. Some tones look different in shade when I test blink my eyes.
My eyes are playing the controlling game. My left eye, once the weak, now wants to lead. My right eye now acts like my lazy eye. I tell myself, “Focus,” all day as if it is a comforting word when my eye goes in a haze. I am trying to be patient, give the medicine time, and not become obsessed with fear–the future will shimmer with changing shadows, and it’s out of my control. Then I am reminded: my future is Light…and when my eyes are truly healed, there will be no grey, no shadows, no blur, no refocusing, no swollen optic nerves, no more fear of darkness.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” Hymn.