Friday March 30th Game Night photo of students playing Rock Band
Last Friday’s game night was a truly a blast. Almost everyone was engaged in something, and all of the games were diverse. One group was into the board game Dominion, another was playing the interactive video game Rock Band, another group was playing various card games, while still another was playing sketching games. We also had a large amount of free sugar available to the students, and our donation-based coffee house was brewing some amazing Direct Trade Rwandan Coffee. In addition to that, one of the men in the Thursday small group pulled two of us aside in the chapel for a very quality discussion about some difficulties he’d recently had in life; we were able to listen in the Spirit, share some thoughts, and pray together. About an hour and a half later we all went back into the game night to return to the fun… and it lasted until almost five am: the momentum was just that strong. All in all, it was a great night.
It was contrasted sharply by the scene Saturday night after we shut game night down and I started to take one student home. Just up the street, where the stabbing occurred off campus earlier in the year, a large group of partying students had a bonfire. They were yelling, drunk, and obviously angry and stressed as what appeared to be a couch had gotten thrown into it and it was blazing almost twelve feet into the air. They were milling about and yelling about not calling the cops or fire department, but the blaze was obviously getting past their control as it approached the porch and a tree. A few of the thirty to forty students were trying to dump coolers of ice onto it, but they leapt back yelling, unable to get close enough. I called it in to the fire department (though I doubt I was the first) and watched until they arrived. Several individuals and groups were leaving the crowd before the fire department arrived, and one young woman ran past our car crying. I asked if she was ok and she said yes and kept running. Several other groups near the bonfire scattered and ran. Eventually, the fire department showed up.
As I drove one of the game night students home, I saw more parties like the first everywhere. There were also more drunk people than usual—many of them yelling and making gestures at my car and every other car that drove past. Parties and drunk people are not uncommon at that time of night in that part of town; what was uncommon was the number of parties, the intensity, and the aggressive and angry feel to all of it. I carried it with me and pondered it as I drifted to sleep.
The next morning I awoke to a beautiful, peaceful day. My girlfriend and I went to a palm Sunday march that a few of the local churches put on, I cooked some food for a large group of college students for lunch after services were over (which is our weekly custom), and the rest of the day proceeded in a very peaceful manner. Both game night and Sunday were sharp contrasts to what I saw Saturday night. Game night was community in love having fun and dealing with life’s difficulties together; Sunday was community at peace in God and life. Saturday out in the city was extremely different… even though people were together the ties that bound them felt different, and the very spirit of the night felt angry or like it was hungry and missing something. There was a feel to the evening that I still can’t put words to but that lingers in me internally; it is not a good feeling.
That sharp contrast still sits heavy on my mind today. I am not sure what all I am supposed to do about it, so I continue to pray and see what God wants to show me from it. It does seem appropriate, however, to ask you all to please pray that God’s light, God’s love, God’s way would penetrate into the darker parts of our city. I don’t know how or what form it would take, but I would like to see the churches and our ministry reach into this place better and not just provide a safe haven/alternative to it. Thank you for your prayers!