Friday, 26 January 2007

Hustle and Flow

I watched a movie last night, Hustle and Flow. It is not a movie I would recommend for believers, or anyone else for that matter, without severe qualification for language and content. But I want to make a couple of points.

For one thing, the movie actually portrayed a Christian (Key’s wife) in a good light. In most movies in which Christians are portrayed nowadays, they are characterized as psychopaths or caricatured as narrow-minded and bigoted ignoramuses. I was surprised that this woman was portrayed as a genuinely “nice” person with a kind heart.

Second the movie portrays a certain lifestyle, along with its immorality and language issues without pulling any punches. It is a lifestyle with which readers of this blog (if there are any) might be fairly uncomfortable. But it is a real lifestyle, the periphery of which I have been acquainted (see my posts below about my prison ministry). There really are people who live like this, in every city in our country, but they are real people, and not only do they often have dreams of success and finding better lives, they need Jesus just as much as anybody does.

We in our comfortable western WASP civilization have no idea of how some of these people think. Often they know nothing else. We sometimes think all they need to do is turn their lives around, start living their lives right or “pull up their socks.” We criticize them when they don’t, saying it’s all their own fault. In fact, it is almost impossible, because they know nothing else. To think they can find happiness with a middle class job, in a middle class home is just an illusion. It would be like putting them on Venus. It is completely foreign to them. I mentioned Ralph from my prison ministry days. One night he had nowhere to go, so I put him up in my spare bedroom. He slept on the floor because he couldn’t sleep in a bed. I have heard of cases where a mother would place a gasoline-soaked rag next her baby’s head in its crib, to keep it quiet while she “partied”. What chance has that baby of a “normal” life, aside from God’s grace and intervention?

DJay, in the movie, dreamed of becoming a rap artist, and in the end, seemed to have met with some success, but that’s in the movies. I have sat with inmates or inner-city residents, addicted to drugs or alcohol, with virtually no education, and listened with a saddened heart as they told me of their dreams. Ralph dreamed of owning his own mechanic shop and working on cars. I actually did give him a job installing truck accessories, but he was absolutely incapable of the discipline needed to hold it down. One day he just didn’t show up and that was that. Another hoped to be an advertising copywriter. Women told me they would like to work in an office, or in sales. They would picture themselves sharply dressed in business attire, but with no skills, education or experience, many just went back to the one job they did know and at which they could earn a living -- hooking.

It has been several years since I was involved in this type of ministry. I look back and wonder if I did enough. I regret not doing more, but then I just don’t know what more I could have done. The challenge is overwhelming.

What’s the point of all this? All I can say, I guess, is this; if we have a chance to help someone come to know Christ, however distasteful we may find their background or lifestyle, we must not just "pass by on the other side of the road".

Take Care

1 comment:

Kate said...

I did street ministry for three years. I've been forced for health reasons to take a break and I miss it terribly. What more can you do? When you see someone panhandling, shake his hand and ask him his name. Look him in the eye and offer to buy him lunch. Treat him like a human being.