A Back Alley in Athens

While on a missions trip in Greece, I saw God’s love be about as blatant as it could be in a back alley in Athens. After packing up bags of blankets and a giant container of soup, our team joined a local ministry and headed out to a rundown part of the city. The curbs were lined with litter and a collection of the city’s broken people sat along the sidewalks. 

Not entirely sure as to what the game plan was, I watched as these Christians plugged in a speaker, set up a table to serve soup, and got ready to go to work. Some of us handed out food while others of us got to know the people who were there. If we got a chance, we prayed with them.

These were the drug addicts of the town. We were told that cops didn’t really go down to this area and that people didn’t really care much for these addicts in general. Yet here was this group of Christians, loving on them and feeding them, unoffended by their sin. They weren’t there to judge, but to care for those whom God loves, just as they did every Thursday.

We heard some difficult stories and prayed some good prayers, happily handing out Bibles and more information to anyone who wanted them. It was powerful to watch the unconditional love of God stare right into their hurting souls. It reminded me of a dream Vineyard Pastor Robby Dawkins had that he shared in Darren Wilson’s documentary, Furious Love.

I saw the Lord show me this picture of this church filled with drug addicts, with prostitutes, with drug dealers, with gang bangers, with people from all different forms of crime life. And they were in this church and they were doing everything wrong! They were having sex in the pews, they were drinking, they were doing drugs in the pews, they were selling drugs to each other….

And I remember at one point I hollered out and I said, “If you’re not gonna honor God’s house and respect His house, then get out!” Exactly what probably the majority of pastors or leaders would say. And I remember the Lord speaking back to me so clearly and saying, “Why would you send away what I have sent in? Why would you send away what you’ve been asking for?” And I said, “I didn’t ask for this.” And he said, “You asked me for the lost! Now, keep it simple. Love them. And let me change them.”

Robby Dawkins (Furious Love, WP Films)

God is there when we love others. In fact, he counts it as love unto himself. “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). That’s why Mother Teresa served to the best of her ability. Shane Claiborne witnessed it first hand when he saw in her,

this deep conviction that when you give to the poor, you should give your very best, because you are doing it to Jesus. Don’t give your scrap clothing; give your best pair of pants or shoes to the homeless. Don’t feed them rice with a skimpy amount of gravy and no vegetables—you are feeding a king… so do it with excellence.

Shane Claiborne (Follow Me to Freedom: Leading and Following as an Ordinary Radical, page 242)

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