"I think that when God looks at this neighborhood he feels a lot of compassion toward his people. As I think about it I just sense the depth of pain that’s here, and am reminded of how God heard the groans of the Israelites when they were in slavery, or even in Genesis where it says that the ground cried out with Abel’s blood. God heard it and had to come see justice happen..."
- Alison, InnerCHANGE Los Angeles
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There’s a sense of this pain and compassion, but also this joy and delight: “These are my people who I made, and they’re pretty awesome!” And [God] delighting in watching them come into the fullness of who he’s called them to be, and making small steps toward that. There’s this both-and of compassion, a desire to see justice come and right the wrongs for his people, and yet also the delight and joy of being with his people, and watching them come to know him.
Alison Joined CRM’s InnerCHANGE Team in Los Angeles in 2015. Soon after she moved into the neighborhood, Alison met a girl from her building named Sara (name changed).
So the story of how Sara and I started to do DBS (Discovery Bible Study) together is kind of a ridiculous one that involves me not really gauging age-appropriateness. She came and asked me, “Are you Christian or are you Catholic?” She was 6th grade—11 years old. And I launched into this giant explanation of the Protestant Reformation and how actually—Catholics and Christians—we’re all the same people, we’re all Christians. Somehow, she was still really interested and really engaged. She was tracking with me, and all of a sudden she started asking me all these questions about God, and all these random things that she had heard from other people that she wanted to know. Apparently I was now the person who had the answers.
At the end of our conversation (it was like an hour long), I was feeling maybe I should ask you to do a Bible study. So I did. I said, “Hey, if you want we could read the Bible sometime.” And Sara was kind of like, “Uhhhh…” She didn’t really say anything, and I didn’t really know her that well, so I couldn’t read it. And I was like, probably a bust. Oh well, I tried.
And then just a couple of days later she came to my door: “Hey, why haven’t we started reading the Bible yet? Didn’t you say we were going to do that?”
“Oh! I didn’t know you were excited about it! Yes, let’s do that!”
So at her great demand we started reading the Bible together. And turns out a 6th grade girl whose 2nd language is English can’t really read the Bible super well. There are a lot of big words in there so we were having some difficulty trying to work out the story. A lot of the time was actually spent looking at what does this word mean? So many things get lost in translation. So we ended up using pictures as a way of processing. I would tell her the story and she would draw out what had happened. And then for our DBS questions, because she isn’t really an external processor, instead of talking about it she would draw out her answers and what she noticed in the story.
The really cool part has been to see how from this one little Bible study with this girl, so many things have emerged. My team leader Paul is really gifted in music. This is a natural [connection] point because Sara’s brother is a musician. So they started doing Bible study together, and then more teen boys started coming. And now they have this music collective where they work on songs but also study the Bible together. It’s this really cool, beautiful thing that emerged from my Bible study with Sara.
And her younger brother is now in a Bible study too, because he was like, “What are you guys doing? I wanna do it? Why can’t I do it? I’m excited!” So he and one of his friends both have all of these questions about God. “We love talking about God. We want [a study] like our siblings have.” So now they meet with one of my teammates and do Bible study together.
So all these kids are learning to hear from God, are discovering who he is, and are excited to know God. But we also get to have fun in the process too! It’s not just DBS. The little kids are playing soccer, and these teen boys are getting to do music. Sara and I are always baking. That’s what we decided to do. And so it’s just been a really fun process all around for these kids’ development, and for me to discover new aspects of who God is and how he speaks in really beautiful and profound ways.
What God is doing is hardly ever what I actually think is happening, or what I would like to see happen. I see little glimmers of things God is doing. I see Sara, who is growing up into this beautiful young woman who loves God and is excited to follow him. There are a lot of really small glimmers of light and hope that are coming forth. And God is present in this little glimmer, even if I want there to be a wildfire—right now! We start here with these smaller pieces, and are patient with it, and tend to it, and are protective of it, and cautious with it, but also bold, moving forth in the power of God.
Our DBS toolbox can help you use the same Bible study approach that Alison shares about. Request it here.
ABOUT: Alison has served with InnerCHANGE in Los Angeles since 2015. She desires to be God’s transformation agent and see people come back to life, filled with love for Jesus and love for their neighbors.