Friday, January 30, 2009

New Ministry in KC Featured in Washington Post

Marty Denzer wrote an article a few weeks ago on A Simple House - a new ministry of friendship and service to the poor coming to Kansas City. It was started by young adults in Washington, DC, where there are currently two Simple House sites. A Simple House co-founder Clark Massey and other members of his team are pictured at left in front of the soon to be operating Simple House in Kansas City.

The Washington Post had a long article on DC's 'A Simple House' on Sunday. It is well worth reading the whole thing to see what a tremendous gift this is going to be to our community. (Found on Amy Welborn's blog where she has other links and info.)

Excerpts from the Post article below:

Laura's quest to serve God has meant, in essence, turning her back on the material comforts and professional aspirations of her suburban upbringing. And there are others just like her at Simple House and a growing number of Christian "intentional communities" across the country, where residents share a living space as well as a common spiritual purpose. For the devout Catholics and evangelical Protestants in their 20s and early 30s attracted to these communities, it is not enough to attend church, pray before every meal and spend hours at Bible study. It is not enough to ask, "What would Jesus do?" The preferred question is: "How did Jesus live?"

At Simple House, as at other Christian intentional communities, the answer demands devotion and sacrifice. None of the missionaries at Simple House has an outside job. Laura earns just $200 a month to minister to about two dozen families in Southeast, doing everything from delivering food to helping a couple deal with their daughter's suicide attempt. She and her housemates have taken vows of poverty, obedience and chastity. They pray every morning and evening and attend Mass daily. In their rowhouse on T Street NW, they have no TV. No Internet. No alcohol inside the house. And no sex. Ever. What the young women lack in amenities, they make up for in sightings of rats and roaches.This is what it looks like to reject careerism and affluence in pursuit of spiritual fulfillment. This is what it looks like to become a modern-day radical.
. . .
When doing missionary work, Simple House volunteers wear four-inch crucifixes because, as Clark puts it, "Christ has good street cred."
. . .
That's when Laura met Clark. She was a student at Catholic, and they both volunteered with the same organization, working with disadvantaged children in Northeast Washington but never really getting close to them. Laura and Clark decided they could do better. During long walks around the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, when Laura's much shorter legs worked double time to keep up with Clark's long stride, they brainstormed ways to create a more intimate and loving ministry. They wanted to live like Jesus, among the poor, befriending the poor. They wanted their lives to be the antidote to something Mother Teresa once said: "Today it is very fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately, it is very unfashionable to talk with them."
. . .
Simple House calls its work "friendship evangelization," and it's messy and often frustrating. This is not like giving food to those dying of starvation. Gratitude is often elusive, and the problems the missionaries see -- signs of child abuse and neglect, drug dealing, repeated stints in jail, even a girl refusing to attend a private high school that could help lift her out of poverty -- don't lend themselves to simple solutions. At times, to avoid losing their faith in the power of God to change lives, the missionaries debrief one another by asking: "Where did everyone see Christ today?"

Whole article.