Monday, June 20, 2011

Love Covers Tent City

So this summer I am nannying part time and interning for a non-profit called Faith that Works part time. Faith the Works has a vision of helping women to put their faith into action. Over the past several years, FTW has helped me by offering women's bible studies, funding much of my mission trip last summer, supporting Mercy Ministries, connecting me with new women in the community, encouraging me in my walk with the Lord, and helping to equip me to put my own faith into action when it comes to helping underprivileged women, both locally and abroad. 

One of my roles as an intern this summer is to make and sell soda tab bracelets. Since Faith that Works has a heart to help women in need, one of the ways I have been able to my faith into action is to go down to Tent City once a week and teach women living there how to make these bracelets. Tent City is a homeless camp in downtown St. Louis where men and women live in a community and look out for one another. There are four different camps along this little strip by the river. Specifically, we are working in one of the camps right now, because there have been some uprisings and violence in the others.

This past week, I went down with Terri (the founder of FTW) and another woman involved in our bible study. With it only being my second time to Tent City, I knew I was not yet ready to venture down there alone. As the wheels of our SUV crush over the rocky train tracks, I begin to prepare myself for what is coming. Lord, give me your eyes to see. As I gaze through the window to my right, unable to avoid the impoverished of America, I can’t help but wonder how these people make it—how they get to this point of homeless? I mean, as humans, we all come from somewhere…parents, brothers, sisters, aunts uncles, grandparents, friends, neighbors, coworkers. Each and every one of them has a story to tell—a life that matters. I think that is what really gets me during my time in Tent City—these are PEOPLE with more hurts and heartaches then I could ever imagine…men and women with stories to tell.

As our SUV approaches the camp we are going to, the rubbish and brokenness beside the little gravel road never fail to stir something deep within my heart. Actually, the physical appearance of the camps in Tent City—trash, broken equipment, run down tents, stained mattresses, junk scattered through the weed-infested grass, tattered clothing and blankets abound—very much mirror the way society views the hearts that reside there as well. To so many Americans, these people are nothing more then broken, run down, stained, weed-infested, tattered “trash.” It is almost as if their living situation, living without a home, becomes their identity in the eyes of others. The trashy environment that surrounds them suddenly becomes the image to define their hearts and minds. Oh how wrong this generalization is.

I often wonder if the community that these men and women live in actually makes homelessness a better choice then living in a home but separated from this kind of community. As we pull up and park the big black vehicle in front of the cluster of tents and shacks before us, before we can even get a foot out the door, men and women are running towards us. This sight never gets old to me. Huge smiles and warm embraces are shared. There is no stench in this kind of love, none whatsoever. This is beautiful. They are beautiful. They are treasures.

Matthew 13: 44 says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” What a picture of what Jesus has done for these men and women—they are the treasure hidden in the field. The Lord joyfully gave it all, His one and only beloved Son, so that He could buy freedom for these men and women—He gave it all to purchase these souls in this trashed, run-down, weed-infested field. Oh what a faithful God we get to love. In fact, it is through THIS love…through knowing this Jesus that I get the privagledge of loving on these women in Tent City. This is the only kind of love I have ever known which wiped out the stench, the pain, the brokenness, the sin, the hurts, the stains, the weeds, the regrets…this love covers over a multitude of sins.


  1. this is beautiful Courtney Lynn. Keep writing...keep sharing these stories that God may break all of our hearts even more. That the Spirit will move us into action!

  2. great post Courtney. We will have many adventures this summer I am sure.!