BY JOY SPARKMAN
I remember the day I arrived in the Tenderloin. I was full of excitement for what the next few months would hold and everything I’d experience, but driving into the city I immediately realized the Tenderloin was not the San Francisco I thought I knew. The city I saw when I came on vacation with my family and in movies was different from this one. My excitement quickly turned into shock and fear.
Here at YWAM San Francisco, I work with our Outreach Department. We host teams of Middle schoolers, High schoolers, and College students, and I see the shock when they walk into our building, resembling the same one I had when I first arrived. The cool thing is I also see the transformation as the week progresses. I see these students who are hesitant begin to step out; I see students as they learn to love our friends on the street, as they choose to sacrifice their time, money and talents to love those that are less privileged than they are.
As I have spent these last 6 months on staff God has taught me so much about how to overcome fear. I’ve never been good at facing my fear, especially my fear of vulnerability. Hosting teams has helped me monumentally as I have been challenged by God to step out and not let fear rule my life. I see as students step out and face their fear as they go out and do ministry on the streets all week. They challenge me without even knowing it to step out in faith and trust that God will protect my heart. They believe so fully in Jesus, His love, and His power, that it overpowers their fear of man, empowering them to rise above and step out in faith to love our friends who live outside.
Not only do the students we host teach me so much about facing my fears so does the community on the street. They show so much love for the students we bring, they share their lives and stories with them, they pour into them and encourage them to stay in school and stay away from drugs and alcohol. They choose vulnerability 9 times out of 10. Our friends don’t pretend to be someone they are not-they are honest and real. They show me how to be real with God, simply by living their lives. If they can be honest and vulnerable with a bunch of teenagers from all over the nation, then I too can be open and vulnerable with the one and only God: the Creator, my Savior.