“Hey you in the green shirt!” I heard the voice coming from the other side of the fence. Looking down to remind myself that I was indeed wearing a green shirt, I began to approach the fence skeptically. Perhaps it was just another sad story used only to manipulate and then after you’re conscience struck, only to ask for a few bucks.
“They said those in the green shirts were supposed to pray for us!” She continued. As I drew closer I could make out the figure of an emaciated woman who probably could have slid between the iron bars of the fence without any effort. A small boy was standing close by at her feet. They had not been at the community event that afternoon, but had heard from a distance and sent out a desperate plea from the other side of the fence.
“How may I pray for you?” I asked and she presented a litany of things to pray about. Looking down to where the boy was I saw another volunteer in a green shirt kneeling to talk with him. The lady on the other side of the fence repeated her list to the other volunteer in case she didn't hear the first time. She also confessed an alcohol addiction. When she finished emptying her burdens, we reached through the fence, joined hands with her and began to pray in the name of Jesus.
Many of the people that live in my community are like this lady. They are on the other side of the fence where prosperity and plenty have no name. They struggle with addictions and coping mechanisms that only provide a temporary escape from reality. They have more mouths to feed than they are able and finding a decent job without a high school diploma seems nearly impossible. They are on the other side of fence struggling, but not without hope.
God has called his children to reach through the fences, to pray and care for our community, to fellowship with them in the midst of suffering and to love them through our actions. As we do so, we find that the love of Christ melts the iron bars that separate us. We find that we are no different from our neighbors because we are all in need of God. We find that God longs to break down those barriers making a way through Christ to join with those on the other side of the fence.