On November 1 I started my 18th year at DOOR. One of the most consistent questions I have had to respond to is the “safety” question. In the mid 90’s people were worried about AIDS. In those days some people thought AIDS could be passed through casual contact – a simple handshake was something to be feared. Then there were the years of the “Bloods” and the “Crips.” People wondered if by wearing blue or red paraphernalia they would mistakenly be identified as gangbangers.
I have witnessed DOOR groups as they cross to the other side of the street because a group of boys, more often than not African American boys, were coming towards them and looked dangerous. I have been questioned by adult sponsors who believe that the iPod wasn’t misplaced but probably stolen, by a person of color who was seen wandering around the building.
The hard part about any of these questions or concerns is that it only has to be true once for it to become a universal “every time” fear.
As a parent of two teens who are learning to drive I understand being concerned about safety and well-being.
As a person who has been working with teens and young adults for over two decades I can’t help but wonder if the safety questions are mostly indications of how little we understand the gospel. The call from Jesus is about self-denial and cross bearing. It is about being salt and light. When we take this call seriously for ourselves and accept the reality that Jesus also calls our loved ones into ministry. The safety questions almost seem unchristian.