Written By: Jordan Williams
Hey everyone, hope you are all doing well. Once again, this last week has been very convicting and has left a lasting impression on Me, Corrie, and Samuel. The guys at CityTeam are continuing to grow and are showing a lot of maturity by staying focused and humble through this confusing season of managerial shifting within the CityTeam staff. A lot of aspects of the house have been temporarily altered like the rules of the house for instance, because the staff have their hands full. It is evidently hard for a lot of the guys to deal with, because the structure that CityTeam provides for their lives is a huge factor in the success of their recovery (because structure is one major aspect of life that they did not have before they got to CityTeam) but it is great to see how they are handling the change and persevering through the adversity.
Unfortunately, the surprising realization that this is our last week on site is finally starting to sink in. It is such a surprise to us because it feels like it has flown by. A part of me really does not want to leave, but I am excited to take what I learned from the guys here and the staff and apply it to my life going forward.
Saturday was one of the major highlights of the week for me because it was visitor day and I got to see familiar faces for the first time in over a month! My parents and grandparents visited me in the morning and I got an opportunity to show them around CityTeam, meet the guys and staff, and share with them a little bit about what we have been doing here and how we have been growing. Later, we all went with Corrie and his parents to Jack London’s Square and got to hangout and catch up a little bit more. And if that wasn’t cool enough, when we walked back to CityTeam, we were surprised by a bunch of our Chico friends who didn’t tell us they were coming! So I got to repeat the process of showing them around introducing them to people, and sharing with them about what we have been doing on site and how we have been impacted.
Later Saturday night, we had a program night at ReGeneration Church in downtown Oakland (where we watched a brief video of injustice issues we have been being exposed to and discussing this summer, had a praise and worship time, and each work site got to share a video, spoken word, or dance that expressed what we have been doing and what we have learned to all the visitors). Me, Corrie, and Samuel presented a poetic spoken word piece (expressing what we have been experiencing at CityTeam, what we have learned, and what we will take away from the experience) from the perspective of us both before and after our stay at CityTeam, from the perspective of the men we have been working with, and from the perspective of God and the Bible and what he has to say about injustice issues and broken/restored Shalom relating to what we have experienced. I thought the presentation went really well and it was fun to see what everyone else had been doing for their presentations.
One other highlight of the week was our program day on Monday. We talked about the injustice and broken Shalom that surrounds the issue of Human Trafficking (work, organ donor, sexual, etc. exploitation). We focused mostly on the issue of the sex trade and sexual exploitation because it accounts for about 79% of the world’s human trafficking victims (and an even higher percentage in the Bay Area). We listened to a speaker that had done missionary work in the Philippines talk about the huge problem of the sex trade and share a little bit about her experiences interacting with girls caught up (voluntarily, or involuntarily) in that lifestyle. We also listened to a speaker, who came to talk to us from a local organization called M.I.S.S.S.E.Y. (Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting, and Serving Sexually Exploited Youths). She gave us insight on how big the problem has become in the Bay Area, how one becomes caught up in that lifestyle (the different risk factors that increase the likelihood of becoming a victim of sexual exploitation), and the kind of support the organization provides for sexually exploited youths (anything from clean diapers and other resources for their children, to basic resources for themselves such as food, water, shelter, counseling, etc.).
After listening to the speakers, we had a reflective and intercessory prayer session for the issues discussed, and for healing and restoration for people who have been sexually exploited and for those who have participated in perpetuating the problem. It was a very heavy time full of a lot of emotion for everyone, but the Holy Spirit was clearly present and was moving throughout the course of the night.
Overall, this week has been filled with many mixed emotions, such as: excitement for the growth the men at CityTeam are experiencing, sadness about the prospect of leaving on Saturday, and feelings of being overwhelmed after the huge topics and issues discussed on Monday. Well… I guess just another week in the life of the BayUp’er after all right? Still, as I have said before, lots of thanks to all of you for your prayers and support! It really does make a difference and I would not be the same person without all of you, so thank you again. Until next week, I’m keeping you guys in my prayers and I can’t wait to see everyone when I get back. Peace!