When volunteers come to participate with Urban Bicycle Food Ministry on Wednesday night I try to always give a disclaimer that includes the dangers of what we do. It is indeed not the safest bike ride you can participate in. As all cyclists know, it is a dangerous activity. Though, this ride has other elements of danger: riding among Memphis traffic, through alleyways, under bridges, and meeting with people who live on the street. Most of us don’t think twice about it. Not once have I ever felt threatened while fulfilling our weekly mission. But, I know the dangers are apparent. This doesn’t bother me. There is a strong since of security with this activity.
Recently some folks in Raleigh NC who participate in a similar ministry to UBFM were threatened in a way that is quite disappointing. This has exposed a new danger to our mission. It is a case of injustice and a good example of how to approach it. It seems that a group of people who have been providing breakfast for the homeless community for nearly fifteen years were threatened with arrest by the local authorities. This is quite sad. I have yet to experience a threat of this nature but UBFM could potentially be faced with it some day. The group in NC has responded with a non-violent approach. They have rallied numbers of people to contact local congressmen, protesting against the law, which forbids them from feeding the poor. I do believe this is the best approach. If an arrest is appropriate to make a point, then so be it. Many non-violent activists have welcomed handcuffs to uncover injustice. However in memory of Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech (it was delivered 50 years ago today) here is a thought to be mindful of:
“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
I believe that being a Christian is not supposed to be safe or comfortable. If it is, you might be missing something. When a person makes the commitment to follow Christ and forms a covenant with God, things are not suppose to get easy. Life becomes something else, a mission or a calling. The person’s gifts and talents become more relevant and unique. And if they are willing, God leads them to the places they can put their gifts to work. But, there is no guarantee it will be safe, especially when injustice is involved. One may, very well, feel threatened. Nevertheless, we do it for love. And I believe that love is God living through God’s people.
Peace be with you!