I remember walking around Skid Row for the first time. I was fifteen. I came to Skid Row with a group of students because I loved Jesus, and it seemed like the sort of place he’d spend time in. By fifteen years old, I had looked at my mind and been shocked and disgusted to find that it was horribly selfish. I felt like I didn’t know anything about how to love people, but I so badly wanted to love.
So I prayed. I prayed on that trip that God would let me see Jesus in people, and He did. I saw so much Jesus. He was in everybody. The people I met were beautiful, and I had to let them know. So I told them. I smiled and listened and held a lot of hands and, for some reason, received a lot of kisses on my forehead. I did these things because didn’t know how else to love. I must have seemed too attentive, I was so excited. I found true, immeasurable worth in the people I met, and I wanted to remember everything about them.
Years later I realize that loving people actually does look a lot like it did when I was fifteen and didn’t know what I was doing.
That is why I love what God is using my friend Jason to do in Skid Row. Jason is loving people. He is sitting with men and women face to face, where they are. He is listening. He is expressing the beauty and dignity he sees in their being by drawing their portraits. And these aren’t just portraits. These are people’s stories, beautifully and painfully human stories, being told.
These portraits, created using found materials, will be housed in a street gallery in the heart of Skid Row on May 9th in a show entitled Sacred Streets. I urge you to tell people about this. Visit Jason’s kickstarter. There he explains his project much more beautifully than I can. Pray. Donate if you can. Come to the opening on May 9th. Sacred Streets is such an important project: it is redemptive, it is made with the members of the Skid Row community, for them. And for us. There is a lot of beauty on Skid Row, a lot of Jesus in people. Jason is just helping all of us learn how to see it.
Visit Jason Leith’s kickstarter here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1431232529/sacred-streets-giving-beauty-to-skid-row/backers