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If you took a walk through downtown Danville, you probably wouldn’t notice a small pile of broken glass. After all, there isn’t anything especially noteworthy about broken glass and discarded garbage on many of the tougher streets in downtown.
Even if you recognized the shattered glass near the gutter for what it was, the remnants of a crack pipe, you might not flinch unless it was your first time seeing one. Before it’s broken, it’s nothing more than a thin, short tube that occasionally has a bowl to hold the crack rock.
In Grace and Main Fellowship’s area of focus and intentional, missional involvement, crack is a particular scourge among our beloved. Addiction to other substances is very common as well, given the tendency of crack addicts to indulge in other addictive behavior before and after becoming addicted to crack. If you spend much time downtown with Grace and Main, you’ll have a story to tell about the plaguing effects it has had on many of our neighbors and neighborhoods.
But if you know the story behind this particular pile of downtown detritus, then you’d see the Kingdom of God in that pile of broken glass.
One of our brothers, Eduardo, is one of the greatest bakers and chefs that we’ve ever had the pleasure of getting to know. Ed is a natural joker and laughter with whom it is a pleasure to sit down and swap stories—each story a little bit better than the last. Ed has also been addicted to, enslaved by, crack since long before he met Grace and Main.
This loving and generous man, who regularly opens his home and table to our many other brothers and sisters downtown to provide them a meal from his meager supplies, felt the chains of bondage around his wrists and began to ask us to pray for him so that he might be freed from his addiction. As we always do, we prayed with him immediately and continued to lift him up daily in our prayers.
Recently, one of Grace and Main’s leaders was out with Ed when Ed turned to him and asked once again for prayers. They stopped in the middle of the street near the gutter and prayed immediately.
Ed then surprised us by taking out his crack pipe, dropping it to the gutter, and grinding it under his heel. The pop and scratch of the shattering glass was met with Ed’s thankful prayer, “Thank you, Jesus.” This symbolic moment rang with the sound of chains being broken. Then, stooping over to pick up some of the glass, he asked one of us, “Looks like crushed sin, doesn’t it?”
So, Ed and Grace and Main did what we always do when one of our brothers or sisters finds liberation from sin and death—we threw a party. There wasn’t anything special about the cake, it was just a local grocery store cake and wasn’t anything like the wonderful cakes and pies that Ed brings on some Thursday nights to our community dinner. But, this cake was especially delicious not only because written on it in the loving hand of one of our leaders were the words, “We Love You Eduardo,” but also because it was a testament to our eagerness to celebrate liberation and grace wherever we might find it. So look closely around you, wherever you might be, because It might just be that you can find the Kingdom of God in the midst of a pile of broken glass.