Yesterday we packed up our son’s college dorm room. He had to decide what he wanted to pack in a pod for a few months and what he wanted to keep for the summer. He had a tall hamper with lots of clothes in it that (desperately) needed washed, most of them he would keep for the summer. Diane and I wanted to help him out and take them to a laundromat. We looked for laundromats on our GPS. The first one we were headed for was in a very sketchy neighborhood in downtown Providence. We decided to head out of town to our hotel and find one on the way or near the hotel. (Our hotel does not have a washer/dryer.)
After heading toward another one (that ended up no longer being there) it struck both of us at the same time that when we found one it was not like to be in an upscale neighborhood. The laundromats in the very nice neighborhoods are called dry cleaners. They are places you drop off your items and let them wash them and then you pick them up later and you pay per pound. The kind of place we were looking for in the Providence area, a self-serve one, was going to serve poorer people and was going to be in a neighborhood where the poorer people, who did not own a washer and dryer, lived.
We found one. It was in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood. It was next to a Mexican restaurant that had Latin music pouring out of it. In the laundromat, Univision was on the television and we were the only Caucasians in the place. We spoke to a lady who used to have a washer and dryer, but her landlord took it out because the washer made the water bill too high. We didn’t mention Jesus to any of them, but we hope they saw Him in us when we gave twin seven year old girls a box of Pop Tarts (after asking their mom). We hope they saw Him when we gave the lady who worked there two big boxes of Lucky Charms for her kids at home. (We had these things with us after cleaning out Matt’s room & took them because they weren’t out of date.) We hope the people there saw there was something different about us.
I think about Mike Slaughter when he talked about the church he pastors being in Dayton, OH, one of the 10 fastest dying cities in America. And he always says, “Name a better place to do ministry than in a dying city.” I agree that we’re going to make a bigger difference for Jesus in the poorer places. And any apprehension or uneasiness that I felt being in a different type of neighborhood than I’m used and to being around people different than myself didn’t last long. I count it a blessing that we were able to show some of His love to some of the people He loves in this Hispanic neighborhood.