BY HUNTER TATE
This summer I feel like God has been teaching me how to grow in humility as I learn to live out relational ministry. God is teaching me how to be intentional with people. A simple quote by author Bob Goff, “Intentional love is never wasted.” inspires me in this area.
One of the best ways I’ve learned to extravagantly love people is to prioritize their unique needs ahead of my own. My prayer is for Jesus to provide His wisdom for me in this area. Everyone has a different way of giving love, receiving love, and dealing with the difficulties that are specific to their lives. Intentionality is a skill that I have been really hoping to personally grow in, which is why I am beyond stoked to be a part of Summer of Service here in the Tenderloin.
One specific story that inspired me to grow in my intentionality involved my new friend *Katie. On a Friday in June, our team took bags of snacks into the Tenderloin in hopes of finding someone who could be blessed by lunch and a good conversation. Near the local laundromat, I met Katie, who when asked if I could eat lunch with her, didn't respond in the way I was expecting. She remained silent and simply pulled out a small plastic crate. It was set out for me right in front of a similar one that she was sitting on. Katie was very sweet right off the bat and when handing her the brown bag with the snacks, jokingly asked if fried chicken was in it. She made it very clear she was craving fried chicken yet was very grateful for the food that we were both sharing.
Katie currently lives on the street where I’d met her and has even made friends with the woman who is the landlord of the building next to her area. For our friends in the neighborhood who live in one consistent spot on the street, walking past them is the same as walking past someone’s living room. This was why it meant a lot to me when my new friend offered me her crate to sit on. She opened up her area to me and provided me with her living room chair right when we first met. Most of what we talked about was her gratitude towards our willingness to love the Tenderloin and the places she notices are hurting here. She told us briefly about how her friend *Sarah had recently experienced a drug overdose only days earlier and Katie had saved her life by using the Narcan (overdose reversal drug) she had with her. Finally, Katie said her goodbye and made sure I knew that I owed her fried chicken someday.
The following day in my friend's apartment, a few friends and I had a wonderful morning of fellowship over brunch. Joy and I cooked chicken and waffles for the group and our friend Emma from Finland and had never tried the dish before. What started out as a conversation of a cool breakfast meal that we wanted our international friend to try, led to something much more.
Sitting around the tiny black table in the apartment, we all realized that the group’s stomachs were full and all of the waffles had been eaten. The one thing that was left on the community plate was a piece of fried chicken. My friend Meredith stated the obvious that we all had forgotten about saying, "Hunter you should go find Katie." Immediately my friend Isaac and I left our building and turned onto O'Farrell street to deliver the chicken to our friend. When we arrived Katie was sleeping with her friend sitting next to her. We gave the chicken to Sarah who was very kind in assuring us that she would give the chicken to Katie when she awoke. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I saw Katie and heard about how she happily awoke to her snack. Although Katie’s craving was a small joke she made when we first met, I felt as if Jesus provided it for me as a tool to put intentionality into action.
A few days later, our outreach team and I had the opportunity to head out with sack lunches again. I remember leaving our building without lunch and heading straight to the fried chicken restaurant. Sitting with Katie in her living room against the apartment building wall felt as if we were just two friends catching up.
Lately, Jesus has been teaching me to walk through the small doors that He opens. The cool part is that these small doors allow you to walk into a much bigger room than you would have been able to enter on your own. Often times I really need Jesus to give me a little nudge out the door, and when it came to Katie, I am very thankful that He did. I’m also thankful for the provision of delicious fried chicken along the way.