I wanted to share this story. It is from a man named Neil Alberson. When I first met him, he was the head custodian at the First United Methodist Church in Bloomington. I count him as one of my spiritual mentors.
Four years ago, he left Indiana to respond to a call to be among the poor in Guatemala. He’s coming back to Indiana this Easter. He shared in a e-mail today this report of his ministry:
On Jan. 1st I moved out of my gated community with it’s guardian, gardener, house keeper, beautiful grounds, modern appliances, etc. to some thing more rustic the average rent being from $20 to $ 30 a month and even that is a struggle for some to pay. It’s been a good experience and a thing I felt compelled to do. I can’t really say why except the walls bothered me …. to serve the poor and yet be in a place where I was for the most part sheltered and isolated from the very people I believe God has called me to share my life with.
As you may recall in my last news letter, (of too long ago) I have in the course of things helped start an AA meeting, and then out of that started an Al anon type meeting that is named La Casa de Paz or the House of Peace. It’s designed for family members of alcoholics who suffer in abusive situations. Machismo fueled by alcohol is a powerful foe to battle here, especially when your all alone in your own shame. The majority are from very poor and humble places. have little in the way of education, power, money, or influence of any kind, and are for the most part destitute apart from the grace of God. There is little in the way of a safety net here to get food, rent or mental health aid. Due to years of abuse, there are those who have little or no power to even speak, the emotions that seem to rule them are of helplessness, depression, and hopelessness. There are those so plundered, body, soul, and spirit of even their identities, that even if they had a voice they don’t even believe any one would want to hear it. These are the voiceless poor, the prisoners of there own silence, and they are our most honored members. Their stories are the most important for they are yet to be told.
Out of this I’ve written a little book for our number. It’s been a work of faith as less than half of our group can read at all, the highest grade we have is the third, and for most Spanish is not their first language. Every week they amaze me when we get together as they quietly smile and laugh …… and I am blessed by them in ways no words can express.
I read this and thought of all the stories that are yet to be told in the neighborhoods around the churches I serve. I also thanked God for Neil’s ministry.