June 1, 2008
Dear Family and Friends,
It is not at all unusual for Andrew and me to be solicited for drugs in our neighborhood. Recently we went on a walk to get some much needed exercise and were flagged down by a guy in a red sedan who was eager to offer us his services. “Oh, no thanks,” we replied, waiting until he had driven off to laugh about how frequently this occurs. Only minutes later a cop car drove by us for the third time as he kept an eye on our course throughout the neighborhood. We waved to him, hoping our friendly faces would convince him we were up to nothing nefarious.
Another time when local police were concerned about our presence they pulled over in front of our house and asked, “Do you live here?” And yet another time they asked warily, “Do you know what this neighborhood is about?” referring to the rampant drug activity (of which they initially thought we were a part). To each question our answer was yes, we do live here and we are not naïve about some of the things that go on in our neighborhood.
The fact is that being white in our community comes along with several assumptions on the part of those who do not know us: we are either here for drugs or here to give hand outs, as several local organizations are known to do. We are here for neither. It can be funny and also frustrating to constantly come up against these assumptions, but it always leaves the door open for further conversation. If we are not here for drugs and we are not here to just give hand outs…then what are we here for?
Not unlike the assumption of some in our community that we are here for drugs, people from the outside looking in often assume that the drugs and violence and crime are why we are here. We are not here because of the drugs and violence and crime, we are here in spite of these things to speak a message of love and healing to people whom God cares about. The police officer who asked us if we knew what this neighborhood is about, however well intentioned he was, at the moment, had a very limited view of this community. God has a plan for the people of North St. Louis and we must all look past skin color and drug deals and violence to see what God is orchestrating for this community, for all of us, as participants in His plan of redemption.
We are so excited when we have new people to wave to as we take our walks, but even more exciting is when we have the opportunity to share with them why we are here—whether they are a new neighbor, a drug dealer, or a local police officer. Along with asking “do you live here” on that one occasion, that particular officer asked a few why questions as well. Andrew’s response was that God called us to live here and serve the community. Almost in disbelief the officer shook his head and said, “It must’ve been God who called you here.” Indeed it was and it truly is exciting to be sharing in a part of His plans for North St. Louis. Please continue to pray for our community and for our ability to be bold witnesses of the love of Christ to our neighbors.
For His Kingdom, Andrew and Adria Medlen