For the first time ever, iServe included 3 events in a single day, which was great, just a lot. We brought a children’s program to the Missionary Church in Brooklyn (oldest MC in NYC) in the morning and to Fountain for the Nations Church (2nd newest MC in NYC) in the evening, but in between we went out to the apartment complex in Patterson, NJ.
It was my third time in the NJ neighborhood, but it still blows me away. I was really hoping that I would run into the little girl that played my shadow last time I was there (read about here), but she wasn’t out today.
I’m comfortable doing a lot of bold tasks, but, though I think I do a good job hiding it, canvassing still always makes me a little uneasy. To put the kids program on, we arrive about 30 minutes before we want to start and walk up to everyone hanging outside in the neighborhood, say hi, and invite them to our party. I feel really uncomfortable approaching the small children, but they are often hanging out alone and unsupervised. As a little kid, I would have run away and called the police if an adult stranger invited me to a party, but a lot of these kids really do fend for themselves in a lot of ways. And I saw that more today than I ever have before.
Just as we were about to start, I grabbed a student and ran back across the street to tell all the kids on the playground to come over. At the park, a little boy, couldn’t have been more than three or four years old, stood grabbing his bloodied arm. It wasn’t anything serious, just a nice scratch from a tumble on the sidewalk. He cried and held his arm, but didn’t make nearly the scene you’d expect a three year old to make in that kind of situation.
Two sweet, little girls (maybe five or six) were trying to comfort him. I had talked to the girls extensively in my first sweep through the neighborhood, so I was able to stop and try to help the little boy without being an absolute stranger. Somebody’s mother walked out on the patio of a third or fourth floor apartment and yelled at a few of the kids the little boy had been playing with, but she totally ignored the injured child. Plenty of adults were in the general area, but nobody except the girls, who I later found out were his sisters, stopped to help a bleeding three year old.
As I was on my knees trying to comfort the boy, I could not get the image of Jesus inviting the little children out of my mind (Matthew 19), and the phrase “the least of these” from Matthew 25 repeated over and over in my head.
I left the student with little boy to run across the street with the hopes of finding a first aid kit in the van. I wasn’t able to scrounge anything up to cover the wound, which I felt terrible about. By the time I ran back he had stopped bleeding and seemed to be doing okay, so we left him with his sisters and hug. But I can’t get the tug of the the hurt little boy that everyone saw and nobody else stopped to help out of my heart.