Today one of the clients fell down across the street from the Mission in epileptic shock. It turns out she was suffering from withdrawl from not enough alcohol in her system. An ambulance took her to the hospital where she was promptly released. They have no hold system here, and won't treat self-inflicted status unless you have full payment. She returned a short time later to the mission and talked for a long time with the staff, but it's unclear how much of anything they said got through to her as she was still very drunk.
Later at the evening meal I found myself talking to a man who was also very drunk, and said he was being abused by the devil. He also thought of killing himself every day. This was immediatly interrupted by silence for the reading. When we continued, he didn't remember having told me that, didn't want prayer and believed Jesus was a myth. He then demanded more juice and left.
I had barely crossed the room before I was pulled into another conversation with a client I routinely avoid and who we think is bipolar. He clearly had not taken his conversation. His way is talk at you, but in such a way that it demands answers from you. He will string you along asking questions about whether or not agree that Christians should act in such a way or do such a thing. But all of it is a long about why of trying to manipulate you into agreeing with something that he wants to have happen. I finally extracted myself from this conversation to go somewhere else only to have him follow me and begin another conversation about how he didn't have any money or a job. I've already had this conversation with him before. I proceeded to tell him about thirty times in the next five minutes that he should spend all day every day looking for a job until he had one. The most preposterous moment of this was when at one point he said he didn't know what he was going to do tomorrow, other than eat. I of course told him he should look for a job. He didn't listen.
From here were going to go out to a pub to debrief on the day, and ran straight into a man who said the police had sent him there. He said he'd been robbed, had no money and wasn't dressed to sleep outside. He was clearly altered, probably from drinking. And however much of his extensive life history was true, half-remembered or even false, I don't know. But he was definitely scared. We walked him several blocks to a hostel where we were going to put him up, only to find them completely full. In the end we walked back, gave him a sleeping back and said to come back during the day to talk to the staff at the mission. I found myself surprised during this entire encounter at how cynical I had become, not really believing anything the man said at any time. And that concluded our night.
There is a very delicate balance between doing the job of the mission and not losing the heart of it, and the compassion of God. It's very easy to get worn out, and burnt out, to start to not care. To find yourself being used and abused and uncertain if you are really making a difference. But the key with this is to press on. And that seems to be the single focus on this trip for me. Sometimes we cannot see the end, and have to continue on in blindness, doing only what we know his word says. Our feelings are as dangerous to our cause as anything, but our lack of feelings can be even worse. But we have to strive and persevere, doing everything we can to stand; and in the end to stand.
"But we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." Romans 5:3-5
Yours in Christ,