SF2011:Tenderloin

Due to a lack of internet these posts are a little behind. This is from Monday 30th May.

I’ve now moved into the Tenderloin, to the YWAM San Francisco base.

As I was saying the other day, it’s not the most well respected area. There are a lot of problems here, and a lot of people with problems.

I found these images a few months ago but didn’t want to share them for fear of completely freaking out my Mum but it’s too late for her to do anything now!

I think they’re really interesting. You’ll notice that most of the graphics peak in the same place. And yup, you guessed it, it’s right here where I am!

And I was right, at first this place is intimidating but on our first night we were sent out with a set of questions/tasks to help us get to know the neighbourhood. Every time we stopped to look at the piece of paper or check the map someone would immediately ask us where we were wanting to go and offer us directions. These are people who look, and often smell, a little unusual. They’re probably going to spend the night sleeping on the sidewalk (translation: pavement) but they are so kind and eager to help you.

One man, Nathaniel, stopped us as he was coming out of his apartment block and asked us where we were from. He immediately identified us as Christians and encouraged us that, even though we’re in the roughest part of town, we’re protected because God is with us. This from a guy who you wouldn’t want to meet down a dark alley but who was so gentle and generous in his attitude towards us.

Today we did some prayer walking in the area. In the seven by seven block square that is the Tenderloin there are 90 “massage parlours” which are really fronts for human trafficking and prostitution. There are also a couple of “hotels” on every block which are really SROs – Single Room Occupancy hostels – which are always dirty and crowded and often filled with drugs and prostitution. There are people on every kerb, people walking around with all their possessions in a trash (translation: rubbish) bag, people blatantly drunk or high. Praying is difficult here. It’s difficult because you don’t know where to start. It’s difficult because when you do start, your words seem completely insufficient. You feel like you should be down on your knees begging God for the redemption of this place and these lives but also that you should be “doing more”. However, we have to remember that God hears prayers that go unspoken, the very yearning of our hearts. That He is mighty to answer even a prayer that feels faithless and feeble. And, that prayer is a powerful weapon with an awesome God to answer and it is never doing “nothing”.

I really like the Tenderloin. It’s quirky. Never dull. With wonderful people who just happen to be in really awful circumstances. God is undoubtedly at work here. I think I’ll grow to love it. Quickly.

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One thought on “SF2011:Tenderloin

  1. You say that it’s hard to pray there, because it’s hard to know where to start.

    I remember that feeling when I went out to the Philippines to work with prostitutes. Before you go you feel able to pray for huge miracles, that God would turn everything around, through and outwith the work you are doing. Then you arrive and see just how deep the roots of suffering, poverty, pain, injustice etc lie… and it can be debilitating.

    I eventually found that it was all I could do to find joy in the smallest of things. I had to see individuals, individual moments, and conversations as the place where blessing was and where God could use me. Its not that I believe/believed that God couldn’t do bigger, it was just all I could find hope in when surrounded by such mess.

    I pray that you find hope. I pray that you find joy in the tiniest of things, and in all things. I pray that that joy would radiate from you and light up people’s hours and days. I pray that you see God move in ways you would never expect.

    With love,

    Ruth x

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