Written by Corr…
Written by Corrie Emmons
So as I write this entry, I am sitting on the second floor of the City Team building here in Downtown Oakland. I just got back from Church in Berkeley at a place called The Way Christian Center. That is the church we attended last week with the fellows from the program. It’s fun being able to get out with the guys here, because they normally aren’t allowed to without special permission.
I have been reflecting on my first full week at City Team and have come to the conclusion that I love it even more now than I did when I wrote my last entry. I tell you this so that you may know that new stuff is always happening in this place. People are being changed and formed each day through this program, because every day is one more day sober, and one more day closer to recovery. I am starting to realize how much of a process healing from addiction is. Just yesterday, we got to celebrate the graduation of two men from the program, Cory and Paul. The graduation was a beautiful time, as the families of the men were present as well as mentors, church members, current members of the program, and alumni of the program. It was a privilege to hear how these men had come to give their entire lives to Christ, and are on a path to be clean in sober for the rest of their lives. What really struck me was what Cory said in his speech upon receiving his diploma. He said that this whole program is not simply about getting sober, and abstaining from whatever you are addicted to, rather it is about having your life completely transformed as a follower of Christ, and a doer of his word. He said that there is never recovery or healing without God. I still can’t get over how remarkable it is to see the redeeming power of Christ working right in front of my eyes. Being a part of City Team has humbled me greatly. Our God is so good.
A lot of you may be wondering what I actually do here besides listen to peoples stories and live life with them. That is a valid question, because I am here to do some work right? Well the answer is that our team here has done a lot! This past week we have been serving in the form of administrative support. This basically means that we are helping the staff with stuff around the office. Currently City Team Oakland is very understaffed as they just were forced to let go a lot of employees to save money, and cut down on finances. So this means that the remaining staff is super busy! On top of being super busy with the normal demands of running a non-profit organization , they are in the middle of fundraising season. On July 19th, they are putting on their annual fundraising banquet. So Jordan, Samuel and I have been busy making copies of donation forms, addressing letters, stuffing letters, and making lists. Other stuff we have done was clean out the walk in refrigerator (which really needed it), organize the basement which is where clothing donations come in, and other miscellaneous jobs. Every day holds something new for us!
After being in Oakland for two weeks now, I have found it to be quite a fun and charming city despite all the problems that manifest here. Contrary to the city across the Bay, Oakland has a slower, more relaxed pace. People here are very friendly, and there is a strong sense of community. On Friday night, the whole BayUp tem met up at Jack London Square down by the water for Dancing Under The Stars. Every Friday night at 8:30 during the summer, free dance lessons are offered at the square, as well as a couple hours of dancing! The night we went was merengue night. So now, I know how to merengue! The whole night was just an absolute hoot. Then yesterday, I got to participate in a 3 on 3 basketball tournament at a local park in East Oakland. The tourney was put on by a church to get people together, and preach non-violence in the communities. There was all kinds of stuff going on, like dance groups, Christian rappers, preachers, gospel artists, etc. As for the tourney, my team, which consisted of Jordan, our fellow BayUper Mike, and I took second place. We got to play against some really good local ball players, and got some respect around the area. I am so blessed to have been given the gift to play basketball. The sport has opened many doors to create relationships with people that if I hadn’t played would have never happened. It’s a universal language.
A rather interesting truth I have stumbled upon in Oakland that has changed my perspective on this place entirely is the through the encounters I have had with people and events outside of BayUp that relate back to God. The basketball tournament was something we found on our own, and the entire event was saturated in Jesus! I have met many homeless and afflicted people who have tremendous faith in spite of their own dire situations. I even had the privilege to sit in on a bible study in the shelter one night, and I was blown away once again by how much people trusted in God. Being homeless does not mean you don’t know God, and being an active member of a church does not mean you know God either. It is ALL about your heart. In the midst of all its problems, Oakland is a town where God is moving very strongly.
Thank you to all who are praying for me and the rest of the BayUp crew, and please continue to do so. Please also pray for the men involved in the program here, that they may find themselves and God, and become healed from their disease of addiction.
I love you all, and God Bless!