I like being on time. I like meetings that run on time. It's an OCD (obessesive complusive disorder) thing. So when our team found out last minute that we were going to lead a worship service for a Hispanic men's rehab center instead of going to a soup kitchen, I twitched a few times, but smiled. When we arrived "late" only to find out that we were 2 hours early for our slot, my smile waned a bit thin. But then when i discovered we'd left the lunches for the team back at the headquarters, well... I thought we'd reached a closed door for the day.
But God had other ideas. Because Sister Anna Villafane and the fantastic people at "Way Out Ministry" in the Bronx have specialized for 42 years in opening doors for those who seem trapped by circumstance. Their precious staff shared their lunch with our students, and allowed us to restart our time of sharing with them. Jorge insisted on giving each student an apple (manzanna) and before long a comradarie connected folks who seemingly had little in common with one another.
But then three students shared stories from their own lives of how God had opened doors to release them from drugs, alcohol and violence in their own families. A student with a Puerto Rican background stepped in to translate many of the truths in culture-transcending power. The meeting ended with the men sharing how they saw open doors in education, in transforming their minds through the truth, and in giving their lives in service to others, as they saw the students modeling.
The 'way out' will of course take more than good feelings and intentions. Doors will open to new tasks for these men as they are mentored back to sobriety. But for a day, students and residents shared apples and open doors, sure that there was hope ahead.