At this time last week I was in Niagara Falls, NY with my middle schoolers for a missions trip. The majority of people who heard I was going to Niagara Falls for a missions trip offered similar sarcastic responses: "Really roughing it for the Lord!" "Gonna witness to tourists?" etc. However, anyone who has spent any time on the New York side of the falls know there is mission field here.
Prior to our trip I was told that the New York side of Niagara Falls was poverty stricken. I was given the statistics that between 70-80 % of all buildings in this area were abandoned. Quite honestly, I assumed this statistic was an exaggeration...it wasn't. I've been in a lot of big cities. I've come to expect the run down neighborhoods, the crime infested sections of the city, etc. What made Niagara Falls so different was that the entire city was run down. There were no nice areas. No thriving areas. Just deserted building after deserted building.
After working in a soup kitchen, my students and I went for a prayer walk (something very new for them--this was the first time the majority of them ever prayed out loud). As we were walking through the streets in extremely high temperatures (the heat index was 105), some of the students decided that they wanted to pray that people would find transportation so they could drive to their jobs instead of having to walk. More specifically, they prayed that people could get cars with air conditioning to find relief from the intense heat.
Ten minutes into our walk, we met Lord B. That's really his name. Lord B. Lord B. was a skinny black kid with a feeding tube coming out of his stomach which he no longer needed but no one had bothered to remove. He claimed to be eleven, though he looked more like nine. He wanted to hang out with my kids. After all, he explained, "Lord B. doesn't pass up a chance to hang out with some chicks."
So, wanting to stay close to the "chicks," he decided to finish out the prayer walk with us. After listening to the students pray for the government and that people would find jobs, Lord B. announced that he wanted to pray.
With his eyes wide open he looked to the sky and shouted, "Dear Lord! Please get rid of all these cars. Get these cars off the street so we don't ruin the atmosphere. Get rid of cars so we can get rid of the pollution and save our ozone layer..." Lord B. went on and explained to God how pollution worked in a way that would have made Al Gore proud.
After he shouted his "Amen," we were strangely quiet. The students were a little rattled that this scrawny kid from a shack of a house and a useless feeding tube was praying about the environment.
I'm glad all of my prayers don't get answered. I'm glad that most of my prayers don't get answered. Because sometimes, I don't really know what I'm supposed to be praying for.