Mikey and Anthony

Last week I wrote about one of our staff who has lived with a very real fear of being shot for over 30 years. This past Sunday one of our Discerners in Chicago lived that reality. Michael (Mikey) Taylor, our Discerner, and his cousin Anthony Jackson were returning home from a night out. While at the bus stop they noticed a car full of young adults slow down and look them. At first they were not too worried because the bus was approaching. The car quickly turned and circled back through the alley. Meanwhile the bus was delayed at the stop light. As the car came by the second time, four shots rang out. Mikey dived behind the bus stop bench and the bullets barely missed him.  Anthony wasn’t so fortunate. Three shots hit Anthony, one in the leg and two in the shoulder.

As I am writing this Anthony is recovering from his second surgery. Initially the doctors and Mikey thought Anthony had been shot twice. There were two obvious entry points. Twenty four hours later they found a third bullet in his shoulder.

Today Mikey and other family members are at the hospital with Anthony. For the first time in 48 hours the prognosis is no longer life threatening. There is just a whole lot of healing that needs to take place, both physical and emotional.

All of this is taking place in the middle of our Discover season. This week our Chicago program is hosting 57 participants from Indiana, Georgia, and Oklahoma. DOOR hosts programs in five cities. We invite people to our cities to “See the Face of God in the City.” One of the reasons Mikey chose to work for DOOR this summer was his desire to show visitors another side of Chicago. He said, “I want to show people how Chicago really is, and that it is not a war zone. There are some people that want to help improve the city. I won’t stop teaching and telling the multiple stories of Chicago until people have a deeper understanding of our city!”

There is a part of me that doesn’t know what to do with these events. Why would God allow this to happen? The truth is, these kinds of tragedies are happening every day. Mikey knew this when he signed up for DOOR. Yet he wanted to and continues to want to show our participants another side, a more hopeful side, of Chicago where God is present.

This blog is dedicated to Mikey and all of our racialized and marginalized staff across the country. Their willingness to come to work every day and speak truth to power is a living testimony of the power of salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16):

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Please keep Mikey, Anthony, and their friends and family in your prayers. When we hired MikeyMikey one of the first questions his mother asked of us was, would he be safe? She recently lost her other son. Facing another death in the family would be more than she could handle.

 

Quinten, in his own words

This year both of my boys will be spending the next 12 months in another city with DOOR’s Dwell program.  Kyle, my eldest, will be in Chicago and Quinten, the youngest, will be in Miami.  This also means my wife and I became empty nesters this week.2013-12-27 13.01.42 My wife and I have been asking ourselves lots of questions lately.  Did we do a good job?  Did we make the right decision to raise our children where we did?  I suspect that the answers are still a few years away.  Yesterday Quinten wrote his first blog. I read it on the airplane and cried.  You can read more about his year by clicking on this link. In the meantime here is Quinten, in his own words:

How to start? I find myself sitting in the most iconic American town I’ve ever been in, surrounded by people the look exactly like me. It may seem weird, but white people cause me to feel uncomfortable. I grew up in a neighborhood in Denver where I was one of the only white persons, and where I was immersed in minority culture ever since I could remember.

My parents intentionally moved into this community to, I believe, give my brother and me a different perspective on social understanding of the world. We weren’t just observers of the social injustices, we lived it, experienced it, and felt many of the feelings that are associated with those issues. As a result my comfort and interaction with white people reflects that of the community I grew up in.

Now why am I in this town with these people? Why did I choose to do service with people who don’t have a strong connection to the people that were going into serve? And through this week I’ve had to question whether my own experiences are authentic or not. I find myself stuck on a sort of cultural border with part of me trying so desperately to embrace one culture and identify with that, and bound to another based on reasons that I’ve never been able to control and a mentality of disconnection to the people I was around. How do I navigate through my confusion, and how do I identify myself?

I think I may never find the answers to those questions. But what I can do is open myself up to more cultures and experiences; open my perspective to a wider view of the world, and just maybe cultural boundaries can be lowered enough that I can see all around me.

My next year will be spent living with people from the very culture that causes unrest in me. I am going to break the barriers of my own fear through intentional community.