This is the first blog in a series of ten (yes ten) by South Atlanta Community Facilitator, Dan Crain from a mini-book called, “Can you help me?”
Can you help me?
This lone question changed everything for me.
I was in Orlando, FL having just finished a Masters of Intercultural Ministries degree from seminary and in that space of not knowing what God had next for our lives. Through Christ’s leading I had connected in with a ministry called Compassion Corner that serves neighbors on the streets and was facilitating a Bible Study on a Tuesday morning when I asked that question to the group.
The question was formed like this, “The ministry I am a part of, Polis Institute is in the process of redesigning our website and I was wondering if there was anyone here that could help us with a picture for our website?” Two hands in the back immediately went up, a woman and a man. I asked if we could connect after the Bible study in the side room and they agreed.
After the study was over we went in the side room and I told them what I needed help with; drawing a picture of someone that is homeless to possibly use for our website. Immediately the woman started to cry and thank me for asking for her help as she shared that she is an artist, but was currently homeless and no one ever asks her for help as they assume she has nothing to give. She always is identified by her need. She ended up drawing a great picture.
In the meantime a man immediately sat down and was hunched over the desk drawing something for forty-five minutes. When he was done he stood up and handed me one of the most brilliant and detailed drawings I have every seen of a person that was homeless sitting against a wall with his head resting on his arms. He thanked me for letting him help and then walked out. He ended up drawing this;
That was the first time I began to realize the importance of asking for help from those on the margins. It did something in him and in me. This was the start of a long journey that I still am on to this day as I seek to give up power to affirm and recognize the gifts of those around me.
As I began to learn more about trainings like Dignity Serves, Asset Based Community Development and Saul Cruz’s work, “Giving Voice to the Voiceless”, I began to discover that my role in helping those in distress was not going to be about trying to help at all, it was going to be about asking for help from them. Because it is in asking for help that I began to discover God’s work among those I was supposed to be helping.
This is why I stopped trying to help people in need a few years ago. I found my help to be controlling and very co-dependent, which ended with both parties frustrated. Now I simply ask for help from the most vulnerable because it is that place that I seek to live out the reconciliation of Christ among the most vulnerable.