Thursday, June 2, 2011

Streetwalking with Jesus: Reaching Out in Justice and Mercy

If Streetwalking with Jesus doesn’t break your heart, exercise your “mercy muscle,” bring you to tears, and move you on a visceral level to submit your mind, body, and spirit more fully to serving the Lord as He appears in the “distressing disguise” of the poorest of the poor, then have someone check your pulse.  
Knowing that I am not as well-versed in some aspects of social justice as others, I selected this book to read.  I had an inkling that it would help change the way I see some things.  I had no way of knowing that it would challenge me in every aspect of my life to become more Christ-like, to love more deeply, and to be a better vessel of the Lord’s mercy.     
I couldn’t possibly put in a single blog post all of the thoughts, feelings, ideas, prayers, and challenges that Streetwalking with Jesus has stirred inside of me.  Suffice it to say, I will never be the same now that I’ve read this book about a man and his wife dedicated to a ministry I can’t imagine being a part of even as a volunteer. 
John Green and his wife Carolyn have extended God’s love and mercy to countless men caught up in addiction, affliction, poverty, and prostitution in the Chicago area.  This heart-wrenching look into the lives of the men they serve through Emmaus Ministries and how and why they continue such a difficult outreach program will show you some of the ways Christ is working in and through people today.
John, Carolyn, and the many people who have come together to make Emmaus Ministries possible clearly illustrate that people need a hand-up, not a hand-out. 
One day when John Green was deeply disturbed by the homelessness, brokenness, violence, addictions, and injustices he saw around him in New York City, he “yelled at God” and “demanded He do something about this mess” (pg. 16).  Three days later, the Lord spoke to John through morning prayer and completely changed the direction of his life.  That particular morning in 1989, the words from Micah 6:8 pierced his heart:
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. 
And what does the Lord require of you? 
To act justly
and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV)
From that day forward, John’s paradigm shifted from that of someone with “typical middle-class American values” (pg. 17) to a changed man ready to embark on a new journey in which three questions would dictate how, with whom, when, and why he would spend his time, money, and energy.  These three questions were the ones that guided John, his wife, and Emmaus Ministries in years to come: “how can I live justly? To whom do I show mercy? And how may I walk humbly with you? (pg. 17)” 
The stories of what this couple, this ministry, and these men have been through will shock, disgust, enrage, inspire, humble, and bring you hope.  The atrocities in this book are only palatable when recounted with a profound sense of the love, compassion, and mercy that Jesus offers to all of God’s children.
I highly recommend reading Streetwalking with Jesus if and when you are ready for a radical transformation in your spirituality, understanding of justice, unlimited mercy, and the necessary steps for a much closer walk with Christ.       
This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company.  Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Streetwalking with Jesus.  They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible.
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