So last Sunday the girls and I went to Sunday night church at the slum where we teach for the first time…it was quite an experience! Pablo, the pastor, picked us up from the subway station in his rickety, old, much-loved car that likes to stall every five minutes.
We arrived at 7:25, and the band was in the middle of playing some worship songs. When we arrived there were only 5 other people in the pews, but people filed in for the next 40 minutes until the pews were full.
We worshipped for a full hour at least. It was beautiful. There were no fancy projectors or powerpoints–everyone knew the words by heart. There were no exciting ¨mood-setting¨ touches either–the light shows, skits, solos, and videos we have come to expect in a church. The people were there to meet God. I could sense how desperate the people were to meet Jesus there, and the desperation was contagious. Living in that Villa is so dangerous–even going to the church service isn´t 100% safe. But still they go, every week, trusting that there is a Kingdom that is not of this world that is advancing. Trusting that this Kingdom does not use knives, guns, and threats to advance, trusting that there is a love stronger than abusive marraiges, one night stands, and sex addictions, trusting that in this New Kingdom little children can play on the streets without fear, no one will have to fight the street dogs for dinner in the garbage, and everyone who is sick has hope to be healed.
It is sometimes easy for me to believe that this Kingdom is coming, because I have lived a life in which I have never gone hungry, lacked medical care, or been abused. It´s easier to believe in this New Kingdom when you have a nice home, and a safe neighborhood.
This is not the case of many of the people who live in the Villa. Often, it is quite the opposite. As I looked at the people surrounding me in the pews, I realized what an extraordinary faith these people have. It is miraculous that they can proclaim this New Kingdom in the midst of the hurt, the poverty, the sickness, and the brokeness of the Villa. They come every Sunday to praise God for his goodness, his grace, and his mercy, and to invite his comming Kingdom into the Villa; they teach me so much about true faith.